Magnificent Mauritius

With its white sandy beaches, world class food, friendly locals and countless family-friendly activities, this beautiful gem in the middle of the Indian ocean has gone straight to the top of our list of dream holiday destinations!

During our time on the island we stayed at two amazing hotels, Heritage Le Telfair and The St. Regis, both were incredible and up there with some of the best hotels we have stayed in around the world!

As soon as we touched down and exited the plane, the lovely warm air hit us and we were off to explore this unknown island. Our car collected us from the airport and took us on the 30 minute drive to the beautiful Domaine de Bel Ombre in the south of Mauritius. The Domaine de Bel Ombre is a stunning area stretching from the regal mountains to a beautiful turquoise lagoon. Set amongst 2500 acres, including a nature reserve and world class golf course, the Domaine compromises two 5* resorts, Heritage Le Telfair and Heritage Awali, plus a number of private villas.

The two resorts each offer a different feel and experience. Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort, where we spent 3 nights, is inspired by the Mauritian colonial architecture. The design of the hotel embodies the style of the sugar plantations and opens out onto a tropical garden through which the Citronnier River flows. A member of “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, Le Telfair has five restaurants, two bars, a Seven Colours Millesime Collection Spa and access to Mauritius’ first ever beach club – the C Beach Club, which is reminiscent of Miami’s Nikki Beach and hosts glam day and evening parties. Non-guests can even come and spend the day and evening at the C Beach Club for just 400 Rupees (approximately £8).

The second resort, Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort, offers an all-inclusive experience and has much more of an African feel, blending the magic of African and Creole culture. Awali also has five restaurants, two bars, a fully equipped sports centre, a 2000m2 award-winning Seven Colours Spa Village, an 18-hole championship golf course and of course access to the C Beach Club.

A third option, also fabulous for families, offers an entirely different experience. Heritage The Villas is a collection of luxurious villas set within the breathtaking nature reserve. The spacious two, three and four bedroom villas are fully equipped with the latest mod cons (iPod docking systems, Nintendo Wii game consoles, plasma screen TVs) as well as free internet access and international satellite channels. The villas are beautifully framed by landscaped gardens, infinity pools, spacious patios with verandas, BBQs and even a sheltered heated shower. Golf buggies are provided with the villa for the convenience of getting around the Domaine and guests have access to all the facilities of Heritage Le Telfair and Heritage Awali. The villas are perfect for that extra privacy and making you feel completely at home during your stay.

Heritage Resorts has two kids clubs with friendly and welcoming personnel, everything necessary for the care and comfort of babies as well as a multitude of engaging activities tailored for older kids an teens.

There was so much to do at the Domaine that each day we were torn between splashing around in the pool and lounging on the beach to trying a new activity like parasailing, kite surfing or even taking a helicopter tour of the Domaine, being pampered in the spa or enjoying a round of golf on the 18 hole golf course. One of my absolute highlights from our time there was quad biking in the 3,500 acre Frédérica Nature Reserve. The reserve extends from sea level to 400 metres altitude and we had the best afternoon exploring the extraordinary landscapes, cascading waterfalls and abundance of endemic wildlife unique to Mauritius.

Another highlight for me was taking an early morning boat trip out to go dolphin spotting. We were expecting to see a few but couldn’t believe it when our boat was soon completely surrounded by dolphins, they were everywhere! We must have spotted at least 100 and we were even able to jump in with our snorkels and watch them swim all around us. It was one of the most memorable things I have done and something I feel so lucky to have experienced.

Of course, one of the things I enjoyed most about our time at the Domaine de Bel Ombre was the food! Every single meal we ate was incredible! There are 11 restaurants across the Domaine so you will never be bored. We ate in a handful of them and they were all exquisite. On our first night we dined at the Château de Bel Ombre, an authentic 19th-century mansion overlooking the spectacular golf course. Here we got a real taste for authentic Mauritian cuisine, all the dishes were served on sharing plates in traditional Mauritian style, so we could help ourselves and try little bits and pieces of all the traditional foods. It was all prepared beautifully, using fresh local produce and every mouthful was delicious. It was such a lovely setting and made for a really romantic evening.

Another meal we enjoyed immensely was the pan-Asian delights of Gin’ja. We are huge fans of pan-asian food and I have to say this was one of the best meals I have ever had. We started with the most delicious platter of the freshest sushi, followed by a main of Wagyu beef and finished off with a selection of deserts, all whilst enjoying the views out over the spectacular Indian ocean.

With so many wonderful meals it’s hard to pick a favorite but I have to say that our ultimate dining experience was at Annabella’s, the main restaurant of Le Telfair. The restaurant itself was beautiful and has been inspired by the style typical of plantation homes from Mauritius’ colonial past. The restaurant features a fantatsic open kitchen where guests can view all the meal choices presented before deciding what they want to eat, perfect for fussy little eaters, they can simply view the dishes and decide what they want to eat. Here in the open kitchen we enjoyed a private dining experience at the chef’s table with the head chef Ravi Kanhye. Throughout the evening chef Ravi prepared 7 courses including Seared Tuna and Frois Gras, King Prawn Linguini, Scallop and Palm Heart and an authentic Mauritian Curry. Not only was every course incredible, but it was so much fun to talk to the chef about each dish and watch him cook right in front of us! This is an absolute must for foodies!

If the food fails to capture your heart (which is impossible!) then the spa surely will. The Domaine’s signature Seven Colours Spa is inspired by the Oriental philosophy of the chakras, an art of well-being and healing embracing the interaction and balance of the energies and colours that pervade the body of each individual. The wonderful setting of the two spas provides an oasis of relaxation, quiet and well-being. There are 30 treatment rooms at Le Telfair spread across 2,000 m² exclusively dedicated to relaxation and beauty whilst the spa at Awali is spread over 3,000m² of lush nature and the spa village contains clay huts with thatched roofs, surrounded by water ponds and lush tropical vegetation. The spa’s facilities include two hammams, a sauna, one pool with hydro jet massage and chilled pool, a hair and beauty parlor as well as outdoor spaces for relaxation. It is complete heaven and I could have quite happily spent all day, every day at the spa.

After an amazing 3 days of indulging in spectacular food, exploring the stunning nature reserve and being pampered into oblivion it was time to say goodbye to the Domaine and head to the newest resort on the island, The St. Regis Mauritius Resort.

The St. Regis is located on Le Morne Peninsula and is the latest addition to The St. Regis collection of hotels. Reclining on white sands and a turquoise lagoon, the resort is located on the south-west tip of the island and the UNESCO World Heritage site Le Morne Mountain provides a befitting backdrop.

We were completely blown away as we walked around the resort, it was absolutely stunning! From the traditional Manor House surrounded by tropical gardens, bottle palms, frangipani trees and The St. Regis’ signature flower, the lily pad, to the relaxing poolside lounge and the pristine sandy beach, we knew we were going to enjoy our stay here.

There are 172 suites at The St. Regis but I have to say it felt really intimate and relaxed. The suites are truly beautiful and offer the feeling of privacy and relaxation with many overlooking the spectacular lagoon. With huge bathrooms featuring double sinks and a tub big enough for the entire family and with butlers ready to anticipate your every need, I never wanted to leave and I guarantee you will head back home without a care in the world!

After our first three days in Mauritius we didn’t think any other food could live up to what we had already eaten but the food at The St. Regis was just as fantastic. With 6 restaurants to choose from you will be spoilt for choice. We thoroughly enjoyed all our meals at The St. Regis but a few meals really did stand out. On our first night we dined at Simply India whose menu offers a modern interpretation of authentic, traditional Indian Cuisine created by the highly acclaimed celebrity and twice Michelin starred chef, Atul Kochhar. Here we enjoyed a starter of soft shell crab, a main of chicken tikka pie followed by oven roasted lamb chops with spiced spinach and a beautiful warm chocolate cake with saffron and berry jelly. It was completely delicious and totally different to all the Indian food we had tasted in the past.

Another favorite restaurant was the stunning Floating Market, a revolution in Pan-Asian inspired food. The restaurant overlooks the beach and it feels like you are floating on water. The menu offers a selection of Thai, Malaysian and Vietnamese dishes which were all divine, we had a beautiful selection of Dim Sum which rivaled some of the best Dim Sum I have ever eaten.

On our last night we dined at the intimate Inspiration, a lovely restaurant that seats no more than 16 people and offers a unique gastronomic experience, taking you on a culinary journey using all 5 senses. Tables have been cleverly positioned so you can see into the heart of the kitchen whilst sampling the chef’s latest gourmet creations which have been prepared especially for you. This was a really fabulous experience!

Another restaurant that definitely deserves a special mention was outside of the resort but recommended to us by The St. Regis. It was a lovely authentic Mauritian restaurant called Varangue Sur Morne which serves beautiful Mauritian curries and overlooks the entire mountainous area, sweeping down Baie du Cap, the Morne and beyond. This is the perfect place to stop for lunch if you are going to visit the Grand Bassin Lake. The stunning views alone make it worth the trip!

As well as eating we spent lots of time relaxing around the pool and lounging on the hotels beautiful beach and we even braved our very first kite surfing lesson, which was so much fun! We thought we would be terrible but the instructors were amazing and we really enjoyed ourselves. Another activity that was well worth getting off our sun loungers for was the morning hike up Le Morne mountain. It took us about an hour and half to climb our way up but it was well worth the effort, the views take in the whole of Mauritius and were spectacular!!

There are so many other activities to enjoy. We did a lovely bicycle ride to Le Morne Village which gave us a great insight into how the locals live. We also did sunset yoga, horse riding, a sunset cruise and, of course, tried countless variations of The St. Regis interpretations of the Bloody Mary (they have a different signature Bloody Mary in all their hotels across the world), all of which, I might add, were delicious!

Another place I somehow kept finding myself was at the hotels beautiful Iridium Spa! This amazing sanctuary provides 12 treatment rooms plus two stunning couple treatment rooms, a hair and nail salon, beauty menu & skin care treatment by Valmont, a gents grooming salon , sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and relaxation terrace.

So whether you are wanting a relaxing week on the beach or an active-packed adventure this is the perfect destination for a family holiday. Mauritius has truly captured my heart and is one of the most beautiful and welcoming destinations I could have ever imagined.

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