Travel: Beachcomber, Mauritius

Picture: Contributed
Picture: Contributed
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WHEN, in January 2009, Beachcomber decided to give ‘the most romantic hotel in Mauritius’ a bit of a facelift, it didn’t just crack open the Farrow & Ball and call in the decorators.

It took a sledgehammer to the entire hotel, then rebuilt it as the island’s first eco-friendly, luxury resort. It reopened in November 2011 and the result is, as the renovation price tag of £60 million might suggest, quite breathtaking, with lush tropical gardens, pools and fountains and pagoda-style buildings that bring a touch of the exotic to this already exotic location. There are solar panels to fulfil all the resort’s hot water needs, a composting unit, desalination plant and waste-water recycling system.

Of course, you’re in Mauritius, so there’s the obligatory 2km beach. Or perhaps you’d like to watch the blazing sun sizzle into the turquoise sea from the spectacular infinity pool? Personally, I’d rather retire to my private villa, complete with decking, plunge pool and outdoor bathtub, where my butler has prepared some pre-dinner cocktails. Stirred, not shaken.

WINING AND DINING?

A choice of six restaurants and two bars means you’re unlikely to get bored of the same old chow night after night. The main restaurant, L’Oasis, overlooks the pool and serves international cuisine (pizzas, burgers, seafood and salads) for breakfast lunch and dinner. Then you have La Caravelle, Le Deck (overlooking the beach), Blue Ginger (serving wonderfully authentic Thai food), Mahiya (Indian) and Il Corallo (Italian). One evening we had coconut heart tartar with kaffir lime, smoked marlin shavings and young vegetables, followed by chicken tandoori and crispy shrimp flavoured with lapsang souchong tea. Another we had emperor red snapper carpaccio with pineapple chutney enhanced with vanilla, then ruby snapper tajine with olives, almonds and lemon.

For those lucky enough to be staying in a villa, a private butler cooks breakfast to order every morning, eaten on your decking as you watch the dragonflies dart across the surface of your private pool. Careful you don’t bruise, what with all that pinching yourself to check you’re not dreaming.

ROOM SERVICE?

Villas have two or three bedrooms and a spacious kitchen/lounge area with Nespresso machine. And, let me tell you, there’s nothing ‘mini’ about the bar here. The bedroom has a super kingsize bed you could get lost in, but the clincher for me was the bathroom. Or, more specifically, the outdoor bath and shower, where I freshened up for dinner under the stars, by candlelight. The decking area is perfect for lounging in the late afternoon sun and provides complete privacy, perhaps explaining why Trou Aux Biches is so popular with honeymooners.

WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR?

On the sheltered north of the island, Trou Aux Biches is about 40 minutes from the capital, Port Louis, with its colourful market, where stalls of fruit, vegetables and spices vie for your Mauritian rupees and your overloaded senses. You can visit the Pamplemousses Garden, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, a sugar factory, go dolphin spotting, big game fishing or snorkelling. A high spot – literally – of my trip was Casela nature park, home to the longest zip line in the Indian Ocean.

BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?

Boutique in every sense of the word, from the warmth of the welcome to the fact that your every need is anticipated, so you never even need to ask. It’s not small – there are 306 suites and 27 villas – but it manages to feel intimate and each guest feels special.

LITTLE EXTRAS?

The spa, which offers Clarins treatments, is a delicious haven of eastern-inspired tranquillity. It’s all terracotta walls and bamboo furniture and a pretty garden I could have stayed in for hours, while partaking of a post-massage infusion of lemongrass and ginger tea. There’s a kids’ club, free wi-fi, a well-equipped, air-conditioned gym, seriously impressive tennis courts, bike hire, beach volleyball and complimentary watersports.

GUESTBOOK COMMENTS?

Wonderful staff in exquisite surroundings.

• Beachcomber Tours (01483 445685, www.beachcombertours.co.uk) is offering a seven-night stay in a junior suite at Trou Aux Biches Resort & Spa on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, including economy class flights with Emirates from Glasgow, June departure and private hotel transfers from £1,750 per person sharing