Today I will open up my diary and tell you about my trip to Mauritius’ fairytale sanctuary Le Prince Maurice, where peaceful nature meets luxury par excellence. I stayed 10 days and had an amazing time waking up each day with the early songs of the birds and spending my time between lazy beachdays, culinary experiences and exploring the island.
I landed in an August evening on the tropical island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The friendly driver from the resort hands me a refreshing towel, invites me to have some water or juice and off we go on an hour’s drive along roads that I last knew two decades ago when I was here last in a chic BMW X5.
So many friends have told me about the celebrated and worldrenowned luxury resort of Le Prince Maurice on the peaceful east side of the island in the Indian Ocean and I am mightily impressed with I get there, stepping into a glorious colonial-style lobby with high ceilings and a magical scent that immediately catches my attention.
Driven by some very friendly staff in a buggy I arrive at my suite which has an even more magical atmosphere of lit candles, gifts on the bed, bubbly and macarons, which I cannot resist sampling. And in the end, I ‘sample’ every one!
I prefer a fresh, natural breeze to air-conditioning, so the next morning with my terrace door open, I wake up to the local birds greeting me with a ‘kinka-joo’ and ‘tsit-it-it’. The terrace faces the ocean and I embrace nature and the tranquillity that lies before me. A picture which I shall retain for a long time in my mind.
At the breakfast buffet, I choose my table carefully with the best view to the ocean under an orange umbrella. Fresh coconut water, a large variety of fresh fruit, bread, cheese, smoked tuna and much more is waiting. My favourites are the small pots of different yoghurts, which are homemade with small pieces of fruit and cereal.
I make it my daily delight and try to stay away from those tasty chocolate cookies!
My day passes peacefully but quickly after strolling along the beach and discovering the resort’s hidden corners. One evening, I have an aperitif at the floating bar and met the French general manager, Christophe Plantier. The floating bar is in the middle of a lake and an enclosed fish reserve that fish and even sharks call their home. While sipping my delicious drink, I hear a loud splash from time to time and wonder just how big these fish are!
I end that evening with a selection of delicious sushi and maki at the open air Asian restaurant and admire its tastefully chosen decor. Back in my suite I discover housekeeping has lit candles again, flickering in square red glass containers which create that magical cosiness along with the colours of the wooden furniture and shutters mixed with orange touches and satin pillows (some items are truly Hermes orange – love it!).
The secluded beaches of white sands and palm trees at Le Prince Maurice are the special ingredients of this fairytale resort. I stroll along after breakfast to reach my little piece of sand between palm trees and lush vegetation on one of the smaller beaches with a delightful view of nearby islands and lay down to enjoy my book. Perfect holiday scene!
One of the two pools in the tranquillity zone (Yes that’s how it is called) just in front of my balcony is reserved for guests looking for a secluded place just a few steps from the sea and sand. Pool and beach service is offered all over the beaches, so soft towels and fresh water will be there in the blink of an eye. The staff is even on hand to delight you with a freshly cut pineapple before lunchtime.
Learning about Mauritius!
The carefully manicured lawns, walkways and little corners here and there make the stay so pleasant for the stressed and luxury-seeking individual like me with all the planes I am taking and the tons of airports and security checks I am experiencing (not always that great as everybody knows) .
I wander round and find my way to the calm lagoon which mingles with the fresh green hinterland and the natural fish reserve. On my way back I stop at the library where I find not only hundreds of books in German, English and French, but an enchanting patio where the reader can have a quiet moment. So I take a rest!
I learn from the books that on 12th March 1968 Mauritius became an independent member of the Commonwealth; in 1992 the country became a republic; and Sir Anerood Jugnauth was elected the country’s first president.
The only mammals indigenous to Mauritius are two species of fruit bats and three species of insectivorous bats. All animals which now live on the island were brought by settlers. The Dutch brought Tundjuc deer from Java and pigs from Holland. The Portuguese introduced the Macaque monkey in 1528 from Malaysia. The ancestors of the giant tortoises that can be seen today at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens and at the Casela Bird Park were introduced from Aldabra in 1875. The hump-backed Zebu cattle, occasionally seen pulling carts along the island’s crowded roads, were introduced from Madagascar.
Perhaps the best known indigenous bird was the dodo, a flightless bird that became extinct less than a hundred years after the first explorers landed on the island. It is said they were all eaten, by either humans or rats, which were on the ships landing in Mauritius. The island is home to a number of important bird species, who all seem to be outside my window each morning around 5am when they start their songs as the sun rises.
On one of the ten days of my stay, I decide to grab a taxi and take a tour to the west coast of the island. My driver is one of the locals famous for their hospitality and friendliness and he is ready to answer all my questions about the country, the new government, places to visit and even places to avoid at night. I wasn’t planning to go clubbing, but it is always good to have first hand tips from the locals.
That night, Le Prince Maurice invited all guests to a beach cocktail party with a local Sega dance around a fire. A lovely way to try the choice of fruity cocktails, taste some delicious canapés and socialise with other resort guests. I get caught up in a conversation with one staff member, an ever-smiling lady keen to know how Le Prince Maurice could enhance its guest services. I have nothing to say as everything is perfect.
I’m glad I have ten days at Le Prince Maurice so I can sample all the brilliant cuisine. At Asian Tapas, there’s a flavourful choice of maki, sushi, sashimi and tapas. The ambiance is just exquisite and the decoration divine.
At Barachois, I discover what dining in the middle of mangroves on the water in an idyllic and romantic setting feels like. Seafood fans can enjoy dishes seasoned with Mauritian spices and ingredients. But before your romantic candlelit dinner, drop by the floating bar, where the same ambiance awaits you and you’ll hear the big fish jumping!
I book myself a signature U-experience massage of ninety minutes. As I enter the Spa, which is located in a separate colonial-style building with the same thatched roofs as all over this sixty hectare property, I immediately feel that this will be pure relaxation. Before I even enter my treatment room, I take a moment to relax around the heated pool, sipping vanilla tea in the most chilled-out way, inhaling the atmosphere.
My skin feels nourished by the choice of Ylang-Ylang oil and my shoulder muscles soothed by the deft hands of the therapist and the best head-massage I have ever received ends the treatment. I decide to sip another vanilla tea before seeking refuge in the steam bath from a tropical shower.
At the U SPA you will find the range of renowned Sisley products and you can choose from phytoaromatic facials and body treatments to anti-ageing facials. Your feet will receive a unique foot care menu by celebrities’ favourite foot guru, Brice Nicham, who works between New York, Monte-Carlo and Mauritius.
The luxury of a private villa!
It was love at first sight when I crossed the threshold of my suite, but when Dalida, the ever-smiling and helpful assistant manager, asks me if I would like to experience a stay in one of the nine beachfront villas with heated private pool I cannot say no!
Staying at such a private villa, you have all you need at hand. The lovely pool just in front of your bedroom to indulge in as soon as you wake up; a dining table to have breakfast, lunch or dinner in a private atmosphere with the sandy beach right in front, but still protected from passing guests by lush bushes, colourful plants and trees.
There is an outdoor shower, adjacent to the bathroom, if you like to take your shower in the middle of nature. I definitely love it and I am grateful for the experience of a night in this beautiful villa. It would be perfect for a family holiday or a group of friends.
But there’s more – the villas on the lagoon on stilts overlooking the natural fish reserve. Here you can indulge in total nature between water and land.
I didn’t know Mauritius is among the world’s top golfing destinations.
The Belle Mare Plage Legend Golf Course created by South African champion Hugh Baiocchi on land that was previously a deer pasture is accessible for guests of Le Prince Maurice. Peter Allis and Rodney Wright designed the Links Golf Course of Le Prince Maurice, so golfers can choose from both technically-demanding courses, as they are close by.
With courses in idyllic settings for amateurs and professionals, Mauritius’ ambition to become the destination for golfers is not a dream anymore. And if you love nature, lush green, fresh air, woods, deer, ducks and beautiful birds hopping around, this is the place to The Deer Hunter restaurant is the perfect setting before or after your round of golf, where you can chill out and encounter all these lovely animals. Mr & Mrs Duck will even come and say hello to you!