It is the clarity of water that gets your attention first. Sitting in a speedboat in the middle of the ocean, you can count starfish on the sandy bed below. With a brilliant, reflective surface, the water is quite unlike anything I have seen before; deep blue on the horizon, turquoise a little further up, and a pale green that spools around you. The water is transparent, no hidden agendas here, and shallow enough for you to dig your feet into the rich texture of sea sand. One of us would have actually done that, if it hadn't been for the fact that we had to get to our resort, tucked away in the north east side of the island country of Mauritius. The incredibly scenic ocean, familiar-yet-foreign Indian faces and sugar plantations paint a pretty picture. And then it strikes you that this is actually Africa! If you have been promising your family a vacation that allows them to turn into happy beach bums and takes you away from all the noise that defines everyday work, Mauritius is the place to head to.
The massive private villas are beautifully decorated and have fabulous ocean views
Arriving by speedboat, we are greeted by a genteel bell boy, who remained the face of calm and high spirits through our time there. As I make my way into Constance Le Prince Maurice, the first thing that strikes me is the subtlety. It is a luxury hotel, but nothing seems to be in a hurry to scream out to say so. Thatched roofs, lazy palm trees, a quiet lagoon and the rich, deep burnt sienna colour of the wood make for a picture that's exquisitely desirable. I was told later that the endearing qualities of the resort have made it home to several celebrities. In fact, a certain highprofile publisher who vacations here each year with his stack of books has a habit of leaving half-read manuscripts across the resort. Needless to say, given their love for discretion, the staff ensures every one of them finds its way back to his room unblemished; t's almost as though they never left his side.
The resort opened its doors to the public in 1998 and 15 years later, the 89-suite property remains untouched by time. Its feng-shui-inspired architecture enhances its 148-acre footprint that includes a fantastic fishing reserve. Sixty four junior suits, 12 family suits, 12 individual villas on stilts and a princely suite make this property an interesting choice for the luxury vagabond, who is in search of his piece of solitude in paradise. Each room has an exceptionally comfortable bed, soft down and feather duvets, and a range of pillows. The dark wood floors are polished to perfection and the room is kitted out with a flat-screen television, an iPad mini, a much-needed Nespresso machine, an iHome Ipod docker and a thoughtfully stocked minibar. However, if you want a life less ordinary, the villas on stilts are recommended. Ideal for families and with direct beach access and a private heated pool, this is a vacation made in heaven. It also helps that three of the villas overlook the fabulous fish reserve. There are also two palapa-covered loungers on the sand reserved just for you and stocked with chilled bottled water, should you doze in the sun while the kids frolick on the beach.
Enjoy a truly Mauritian-style salad at restaurants in the resort
If food is an important part of your vacation, the resort won't disappoint. The menus have been designed by French executive chef Michael Scioli and F&B manager Samuel Pellegrini.
L'Archipel, the resort's main restaurant, overlooks the pool and the beach and is part al fresco. It offers la carte and themed buffet dinners . Though vegetarians are usually at sea on island resorts, the chef here is happy to accommodate your preferences and whip up something off the regular menu. While you eat, it's best to ask Jrme Carlier, head sommelier, for his recommendation of ross to go with your food. A perfectly rounded meal.
Other than L'Archipel, there are two bars - Lotus and Laguna - both of which offer an interesting choice of aperitifs before and after dinner. While we were at the resort, there was also talk of a sushi bar being set up soon.
If you decide to tuck the kids into bed one night and take your wife to a magical dinner, it has to be at Le Branchois, which is on a par with several Michelin-star restaurants. This unique floating seafood restaurant has five decks and is situated near the natural fish reserve. It can be reached via a wooden pathway bordering the mangroves - locating the restaurant is half the fun. Le Barachois overlooks the lagoon and is a combination of five floating, tented pontoons linked by teak gangplanks. While the dinner menu is simple, the experience is exceptional, accompanied by an occasional splash as a lone fish dives into the water.
The time here is truly well spent, bringing you a step closer to the concept of barefoot luxury, Mauritius-style.
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Golf: Go golfing on either of the two 18-hole championship golf courses, just 5 minutes from the resort at Constace's Belle Mare Plage. The 'Legend' and 'Links' golf courses, which have been hosting the MCB Golf Tour Championship, offer golf lessons from the Marc Farry Academy. Golf courses are complimentary for all guests at Le Prince Maurice and there is a free shuttle service to and from the hotel.
Other Activities: The hotel provides a wide range of land and water sport facilities, including waterskiing, fly fishing, boat excursions, catamaran cruises, deep sea fishing, scuba diving PADI & CMAS and parasailing
Kiddy Time The Children's 'Les Petits Princes' provides a games room, dining area and private childrens pool for children aged from four to 11 years. Indoor and outdoor activities are organised daily under supervision.
Getting There There are daily flights from India to Mauritius. Indians are issued a 30-day visa on arrival.
Best Time to Visit Mauritius enjoys a relatively mild climate. The most pleasant times to visit the island are between the months of April and June, and between September and December