To celebrate my 30th birthday, I was looking for somewhere really special. I’ve travelled all over the world but was looking for somewhere special to relax and wallow in my denial – but in total luxury of course! If you’re also choosing where to celebrate and – consider this a 'head’s up'!
A friend suggested Mauritius and after a little research I was convinced. The hotels in Mauritius all look amazing; the beaches are pristine and prices seem to be more reasonable in comparison to similar destinations like the Maldives or the Seychelles.
Mauritius has a rich history and has been in French or British hands for hundreds of years. It gained independence in the 1960’s and has gone on to become one of the world’s premier luxury holiday destinations. The French influence is especially noticeable, in the names of some resorts (Port Louis, Grand Baie) and in the architecture of many of the hotels; there are lots of grand plantation-style properties dotted around the island.
I booked a week in Mauritius flying direct with British Airways. I’d decided to stay in two hotels to be able to see more of the island within a short period of time. The first was The Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel - and the name isn’t misleading in the least. Paradise Cove is right at the northern tip of the island, not far from the busy port harbour of Grand Baie.
It’s beautiful white sandy beach contrasts sharply with the sparkling azure waters, and the hotel itself is beautiful. From the moment I arrived, the feeling of space and light immediately made feel relaxed and calm, which is just what I needed. They offer a range of rooms, from Deluxe Rooms to Junior Suites, so there’s something to suit most budgets.
I chose a Premium Deluxe Chamber and was immediately glad; the rooms are spacious and wonderfully decorated, mirroring the colours from the beach. You’ll have a huge four-poster bed with draped muslins, all very luxurious! I also booked a half board package (breakfast and evening meal), so I was treated to a bottle of bubbly once in my room. They offer B&B and all inclusive rates if that suits you better.
In terms of sightseeing, Paradise Cove can arrange a variety of activities for you; like Catamaran cruises, 4X4 day trips and tours into the mountains and forests. Although since I was here for relaxation, I chose the more sedate option of a massage– heaven!
On my first morning, I was excited to have booked the ‘Walking with Lions’ tour – about a one hour drive away at the Casscavelle Nature Park.
The main attraction for me was being able to walk with one year old lion cubs - a real dream come true. They are such wonderfully cute animals, yet deep down you know what dangerous but majestic creatures they will become.
Besides the lion cubs, the park is home to a wide range of animals including giant tortoises, crocodiles, flamingos and hippos. It’s similar to a safari park back home, but you do get a real sense that these animals are really well looked after and their wellbeing is paramount.
The next day, I hired a car and set off exploring the island. Car hire isn’t massively popular in Mauritius but it’s still a great way to explore; the roads are pretty decent and the scenery is both beautiful and rugged. There are loads of tiny little coves to discover, plus private beaches and you’ll see lots of sugar cane fields and even the odd tea plantation which you can visit too.
I headed to the south of the Island as I’d heard about a place called Chamarel; a small village that’s famous for its waterfall and the seven coloured earths. These are sand dunes comprised of distinctly coloured sand and the strange thing is; you can take a handful of different colours and mix them together and they will spontaneously separate. Scientists still aren’t sure why!
The drive was fantastic and I lost count of the number of waterfalls I spotted from the road, so I would definitely recommend the trip.
After a very relaxing day by the beach and far too much delicious food, I was transferred by private air-conditioned car to my second destination for the next few days.
The Domaine de Bel Ombre is a 2,000 acre estate in the south of the island. The resort has a couple of hotels - Heritage le Telfair and Heritage Awali, plus a beach club and water sports centre. It’s nestled between the mountains and the ocean, meaning the views in any direction absolutely breath-taking.
I chose the Heritage Awali, on a recommendation from a colleague (thanks Aaron), who told me the hotel offered one of the best all-inclusive packages he’d ever experienced – and he was right.
The Heritage Awali offers a great change of pace; vibrant and African influenced, it was a nice change to the tranquil serenity of Paradise Cove.
The décor reflects the African side of Mauritius and is all very modern in style, with lots of colour lots of dark wood. They even have a signature fragrance that wafts around the hotel (and you can take some home with you!)
There are several room categories, but they’re mainly of a similar standard but the price varies depending on the view (Garden view, Pool View or Beach View). As much as I do enjoy an upgraded room, I decided I could step outside and have the views for free anytime, so I didn’t book one of the upgraded options this time.
The rooms each have thatched roofs and are very comfortable, but since I was celebrating, I was really here for the food and drinks. The Heritage Awali’s all-inclusive package is truly fantastic; I won’t do it justice here so it’s worth checking out their website, but I will give it a try.
All-inclusive can conjure up images of stale buffet food being endless re-purposed, with plenty of cheap, not very drinkable local wine by the case load. Here, nothing could be further from that.
At the Awali, you have a choice of 6 restaurants; one of which is at the sister hotel Heritage le Telfair and another is at the beach club. The food is of a high standard and wouldn’t be out of place in any high-end London restaurant. Most menus are al carte and offer a range of cuisine from traditional Mauritian, to Mediterranean, to Japanese. By the end of my stay, I was bursting at the seams.
In addition to the great food and drink, if you book the Heritage Awali all-inclusive package, you’ll also get a free 45-minute massage, aerobics classes, boat trips, snorkelling, windsurfing, bicycle hire and much more. I spent a few hours just cycling around looking at the scenery and the hotel are happy to make a packed lunch for you if you fancy a day out – just ask.
After a couple of days of complete R’n’R, I decided I needed a day out so I booked a day tour into the Frederica Nature reserve. I spent the morning on a quad bike (very unlike me) but was really surprised by the diversity of animals we saw and so close up. My favourites were the deer, but I wasn’t so keen on the wild boar!
The afternoon was a little more sedate - I had booked a guided 4x4 jeep safari. We stopped for a while at beautiful waterfall and just soaked in the view and throughout the trip, my knowledgeable guide/driver would point out animals that I wouldn’t have spotted in a million years. All in all it was a fantastic day.
Turning thirty, no big deal! As long as the rest of year is like this…
You can fly direct from London to Mauritius (BA or Air Mauritius) from around £800, although indirect flights are often slightly cheaper and can be a great way to get more out of the trip. Emirates stop in Dubai, which gives you the chance to create a wonderful twin centre trip. Another option is to twin Mauritius with South Africa for a luxury beach stay and safari.
I stayed at Paradise Cove and The Heritage Awali - if you contact me I can search for the best rates for you.
If you're looking for a longer holiday, we can tailor-make a trip which includes somewhere like South Africa for a safari or self-drive - see our suggested itineraries.
If you’d like to plan a stopover, multi-stop trip or holiday in Mauritius, we can arrange it all for you. We can book every aspect of your tailor-made holiday in Mauritius, including fights, transfers, accommodation and local tours – just ask. Contact Alarna to discuss a similar trip or request a quote by email.