While savvy travel connoisseurs took note of its rare beauty a long time ago, arguably the world’s most exotic and beguiling expanse of ocean is finally enjoying its moment in time.
At long last, the Indian Ocean and its islands have caught the attention of American sybarites, who are discovering these seductive sanctuaries as post-safari beachfront respites as well as stand-alone vacation retreats replete with impossibly azure waters, lush mountains, just-caught seafood and unique African culture.
In particular, the languid island of Mauritius has solidified its destination status in recent years with the opening of two top-of-the-line resorts on its spectacular shorelines. Once the domain of sun-seeking Europeans and South Africans, French-speaking Mauritius is now trending as a more global bastion of oceanic escape.
On opposite sides of this 787-square-mile island, the world-class Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita and the St. Regis Mauritius are both creating waves and redefining oceanfront African chic.
THE ST. REGIS MAURITIUS
Photo courtesy of St. Regis Mauritius
Along Mauritius’ southwest reaches, the petite Le Morne Peninsula officially holds title to the island’s superlative beaches. The shallow, crystalline lagoons of Le Morne beach sparkle with unimaginable hues of blue and green, lapping over vibrant coral reefs strewn with tropical fish, and bordered by powdery sands as far as the eye can see.
It is here on the island’s most prime real estate that the St. Regis Mauritius rises to glory, an exquisite collection of rock-hewn, colonial-inspired villas, crowned by dramatic spire roofs, a nod to traditional Mauritian style.
Each of the resort’s 172 couples-oriented suites and villas peer over the dazzling ocean blues, many with direct access to Le Morne Beach, less than 50 feet from the luxurious villas.
Natural light illuminates the earth toned and hardwood furnishings, augmented by splashes of blues and pops of cream – a fine example of understated luxury done right.
Private patios and terraces are adorned with modernist stools and tables, constructed from tree trunks of varying widths and heights, facing the awe-inspiring backdrop of the iconic Le Morne Brabant Mountain.
Beyond the villas themselves, a labyrinth of stone walkways serves as the resort’s arteries, branching off to myriad common areas each more stunning than the next. The resort’s central pool is a masterpiece of high design, a grandiose union of swimming and reflection, defined by marble lining and towering palm trees taking root in the intra-pool planters. Beyond the haute splash grounds, the seafood-centric Boathouse Bar & Grill channels shipwreck chic, constructed as an adaptive reuse of recycled metal, boatyard vestiges, and volcanic rock spilling onto the downy sands of Le Morne Beach.
The Boathouse is just one of five unique on-site restaurants; others include Simply India, helmed by two-time Michelin-star Indian celebrity chef, Atul Kochhar, acclaimed for his modern interpretations of classic Indian cuisine, and Floating Market, an exquisite Asian restaurant constructed in traditional Thai style cast over vast water gardens.
You’ll find the bespoke house version of the St. Regis Bloody Mary at The 1904 Bar within the central Manor House, a modern Mauritian mansion purposefully designed to look a near-century old. Upstairs in the Manor House, curl up with a book in the stately library or breathtaking conservatory, idyllic retreats if ever the novelties of sun worshipping, windsurfing and waterfront libations wane.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT MAURITIUS AT ANAHITA?
Photos by Ken Sheet/Four Seasons Resort Mauritius
The 2010 debut of the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita successfully illuminated Mauritius as a shining star in the international luxury travel firmament.
Nestled in the shadow of the high-rising Bambou Mountains of the island’s serene northeast coast, the sprawling resort dots the private 64-acre Anahita World Class Sanctuary, spanning nearly three miles of coastline.
The Mauritius Four Seasons outpost takes shape as 136 individual residences and villas, with a strong focus on privacy and seclusion. Each villa’s meticulously manicured private garden includes a cool plunge pool, daybed and al fresco dining area. Outdoor showers and umbrella-topped loungers come as standard amenities.
While the sumptuous villas provide everything imaginable for unapologetic tropical relaxation, the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita still delivers an array of possibilities for the active traveler.
Golf enthusiasts can test their mettle at the resort’s Ernie Els-designed, 18-hole, par-72 course, inclusive of six oceanfront holes (including the signature 4th hole nestling the coastline), state-of-the-art GPS fitted golf buggies, an elegant lunchtime restaurant alongside the 18th hole, and a world-class Golf Academy.
If you’re not a golfer but always wanted to swing a club, discover your inner Tiger Woods in a complimentary, daily one-hour golf initiation course.
Intrepid types hop on the daily boat shuttle to nearby Ile aux Cerfs for days of exploration and sun bathing. Watersports enthusiasts maximize their time on Bambou Beach, taking full advantage of the resort’s complimentary offerings in waterskiing, kayaking, windsurfing, glass-bottom boating and paddle boarding.
Those with kids in tow will be happy to learn that the property is all about entertaining both tots and teens while you and your other half enjoy the good life.
The Hobbit Village Kids’ Club includes a supervised swimming pool and playground, and teen club Karokan offers a daily roster of activities from snorkeling to Wii competitions and mocktail-infused disco nights.
Fabulous eating also ranks high on the Four Seasons Mauritius agenda. Foodies can map out their meals in advance, heeding close attention to the weekly culinary calendar detailing the food and beverage highlights across the property.
Daily breakfast at Beau Champ is more of an experience than a meal, where spreads include a crepe and compote station, donut stand, a fresh market where you’ll pick produce to make your own juice, endless towers of pastries (displayed in a wine cellar), and a made-to-order hot menu with Mauritian specialties like “cocotte” – eggs with braised hearts of palm in spicy tomato sauce.
Dinner at Italian restaurant Acquapazza is equally exciting, but make sure to check out the weekly Zilwa festival at Bambou Indian restaurant, when the intoxicating beats of African drums serve as your soundtrack and local chefs serve up authentic Mauritian food (chock full of Creole spices) at multiple cooking stations.
Image Credits: Photo by Ken Seet.