Heaven’s Prototype

Mark Twain wrote “Heaven was copied after Mauritius.” Thanks to an enlightened policy of ecotourism and preservation, this tiny, pear-shaped speck of an island smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean remains unspoiled and intriguing.

Independent since 1968, Mauritius is a 28-mile-wide micro­cosm of European colonialism and cultural diversity, an exotic mosaic of Indian, African, British, continental, and Chinese influences.

Long a favorite of European sunseekers, it boasts sugar-white beaches, dramatic moun­tains, volcanic lakes, a gracious, Creole­-speaking population, and a number of exquisite resort hotels – most of them sensitive to and respectful of the island’s natural beauty. Foremost is the secluded Oberoi, on the island’s less-developed northwest coast.

Grand without being glitzy, with 20 lush, tropical acres and a world-class spa, it exudes such an air of inti­macy and calm that it might as well have a Do Not Disturb sign at its discreet entrance.

The island’s culinary treat is Spoon des Îles, the trump card of the island’s glitterati magnet, Le Saint Géran Hotel, Spa & Golf Club, located on 60 acres at the tip of the Belle Mare Peninsula on the island’s east coast.

The first of chef Alain Ducasse’s star-spangled restaurants to open outside Europe, it draws from the island’s Creole, French, and Asian elements, infallibly showcasing the area’s renowned seafood.

For all the amenities available to visitors at the luxury hotels, the best beaches are the public ones, especially on weekends when Mauritian families turn up for reunions and food fests where all are welcome.

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