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Mark Twain once said: “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius,” and within 24 hours of touchdown I knew exactly what he was referring to. This gorgeous Indian Ocean Island, infamous for it’s ex-inhabitant the Dodo, is often mentioned in the same breath as The Seychelles or The Maldives. Partly because all three are long-haul and (roughly) in the same part of the world and partly because all three are synonymous with beaches, luxury hotels and honeymooning couples. But it’s not an entirely fair comparison.
Whilst the last two are pretty much luxury playgrounds, with small (sub-100k populations), Mauritius is a ‘proper’ country with volcanoes, coves, dolphins and rainforests. Sure, there is more than enough incredible luxury and fantastic service for even the most demanding guest, but there is also a whole island with over a million inhabitants to get to know if you do want to explore past your hotel or beach.
We stayed at Heritage Le Telfair Golf and Wellness Resort in the south of the island.
Inspired by former resident, and 19th-century naturalist Charles Telfair, this spacious yet intimate plantation-style resort, is the finest of a small group of hotels located on the cusp of a white sand beach. The group sprawls across the former sugar estate of Domaine de Bel Ombre and includes it’s ‘sister’ hotel Heritage AwaIi, a nature reserve, a championship golf course and no less than twelve restaurants including one in a standalone manor house right from the pages of ‘Gone with the Wind.’
A river runs through it, quite literally, dissecting the lush tropical gardens and the resorts’ sheer scale enabled it’s designers to zone the space, creating a surprisingly intimate feel to what is a pretty large estate.
Romantic restaurants and enclaves for honeymoon couples are a short, but divisive, golf buggy ride away from the kids clubs, water sport centre and kite surfing school.
Other activities include yoga, nature walks, quad biking and mountain biking in the Frederica Nature Reserve, not forgetting that golf course and a PADI dive centre.
Our room, a double “deluxe sea view” looked out over the ocean, it’s balcony the perfect place to sit with a beer watching the huge waves breaking across the protective ring of coral, which surrounds pretty much the whole island.
Children are well catered for in a fully equipped childcare centre, its huge garden bigger than any nursery I’ve ever visited. The TiMoMo Kids Club organise a range of activities from games and activities within the grounds, right up to a pop-up cinema on the beach plus excursions to the nearby nature reserve which feels very Jurassic Park.
For older children there is the ‘Cool Club’ teen room which is well-stocked with PS3s, pool tables and more. If that sounds a bit too digital then the hotel actually host a digital-detox programme to persuade your family to forgo their screens. A free baby sitting service is included for all children, from birth upwards, and although this stops at 4pm, private arrangements can extend this to 11pm if you want to prop up the bar or linger over the dessert menu.
8.30am -5pm & 6.30pm -11pm
|Children can eat lunch and supper in their clubs, activities include beach cinema, trips to the nature reserve, sports, cycling. Babysitting can be arranged for the evenings up to 11pm.|
If I had to sum up Le Telfair in three words it would be relaxed, unfussy, luxury.
The service is incredible, and with a staff/guest ratio of two-to-one that is almost a given, but there is a friendly openness which one doesn’t always get at top end hotels. Staff are always smiley, chatty and very very helpful, but whilst their attention to detail is exceptional one doesn’t feel they’re waiting to pounce just for the theatre of fluffing a napkin or repositioning a knife.
Although I agreed with Mark Twain after only twenty four hours on the island, after a week I think he may have understated just how lovely it is.
Column 1 info here
Frederica Nature Reserve
Transfers and Day Trips
Bars and restaurants
NappyValleyNet travelled to Mauritius with The Turquoise Holiday Company
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