FAMILY RELAXING – LE VICTORIA

February 28, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (1)

Tags: ,

Picture 1 of 14

Approaching Le Victoria by boat

We arrived at Le Victoria by boat from Trou aux Biches. Over the turquoise lagoon, with wind in the hair. Victoria is an exotic sight as you approach, with its palms erupting in a thick plantation along the beach, the thatched roofs of the hotel just visible here and there.

Four star Victoria is a kids and family haven, but it felt good for us too as adults. Casual and casual-smart enough for a beach holiday. The beach was a pleasant place to be in the afternoon with comfy sunbeds placed both in and out the sun and palm shade. Swimming was more of a challenge as the lagoon is rather shallow where we were at low tide and to get in deeper shoes would have been welcome, because of the corals. They do apparently sell swimming shoes at the shop.

The pool meanwhile is large, and attractive. In the evening with lights all around, the area looks softly romantic. In fact all around the beachfront Le Victoria felt festive and welcoming in the balmy  breeze.

There are 3 restaurants, the main restaurant spilling over to the main pool, a small Italian one, and a very pleasant beach restaurant where we experienced innovative style. Here you can choose your fish and watch it being grilled.  We experienced the main restaurant the next day at breakfast when long counters were covered with a wide variety of breakfast favourites. (One of our party complained about the orange juice, however – declaring it not to be freshly squeezed.) That night we missed the dancing at the outdoor dance floor – being too tired after our 3 days of inspections and touring.

Rooms at Victoria are generous. The Superior rooms (60 sqm) take 2 adults and 2 kids, and family rooms can take 2 adults and 3 kids. As if in celebration of the children, the décor of these rooms is playful, with big starfish in bas relief. The Junior Suites allow one kid giving uncluttered luxury at 75 sqm and the Senior Suites at 120 sqm are for adults only. Instead, the excellent formula of connecting rooms is in full swing.

All rooms in true Beachcomber style have ample bathrooms and balconies. Nothing special about the colour scheme of my Junior Suite – perhaps a bit dull even. But who cares, when you can go out onto your balcony, entranced by waving palms. My Junior Suite had a glimpse of the lagoon through the sea of palms, and was at the furthest point in the crescent. Those placed at the tip of the crescent are close to the beach, and all are sea-facing, another Beachcomber formula for success.

My room at Victoria can be seen in the gallery above. I believed this was a Junior Suite, but now wonder if it was a superior room as the sofa showed signs of being extendable.

Recently they have upped the price of the ground floor Superior room. That may not sound generous, but it is. That is because families were inevitably requesting the ground floor, and with these rooms on request only it lead to many disappointed families. This way those who really want them can make sure they get them.

In comparison with Paradis, Victoria is of course a lower category. It certainly is in a different league from Dinarobin and Royal Palm, to name two top Beachcomber properties we inspected. The one thing that struck me was the service at Victoria – I noticed it perhaps by its apparent absence.

Finding my room was a challenge, and my suitcase was left standing, not placed on a stool. I found myself scrabbling on the floor for garments. And while crouching down there saw the floor was crawling with small creatures. Probably ants, but one CAN predict all sorts of things in the tropics. It was exactly where the connecting door was, so I had haunted images of children running through the connecting door with crumbly biscuits…it was their fault ;).

My idea about the kind of guests for Victoria is families who are more laid-back, sporty, fun-loving and who definitely do not have a five star budget. Not for families who are constantly sprucing up their homes nor ambitiously marshalling perfection. Or maybe it’s just for families who want to escape from all that for a week or two yet enjoy a decent four star standard. I hope however that the miniature pet problem (insects) was a flash in the pan coming after drought and heavy rains. Further, I do suspect the hotel will get a few complaints if it doesn’t up its staff quota.

I tested one facility – with visit number two to a hotel dispensary in Mauritius. That was faultless. Instant medical care! The cuts on my arm were not yet obviously healing – so the doctor kindly covered it with “antibiotic”. If one could only see a doctor or even a nurse that quickly in Sweden. When I broke my arm on an ice slick in December, I spent 8 hours at the emergency unit at Södersjukus before leaving with a set arm.

This stay at Le Victoria was 2 February. By 7 February my arm had healed totally and was later declared fit for swimming at yet another hotel  – Four Seasons.


TRANSFORMED – TROU AUX BICHES

February 27, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (6)

Tags: , ,

Picture 1 of 27

Beach walkway at Trou aux Biches

Paradise and the board walk at Troux aux Biches.

This is the latest luxury resort from Beachcomber. With sites running out for new five star hotels in paradise, Beachcomber has joined those companies that have taken over properties to get hold of nature’s gold – sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons sheltered by coral reef.

And so the old Trou aux Biches has gone, and the new five star deluxe is unfolding after 2 years of building operations. Held back by unfortunate drought, in which the water reserves of Mauritius sank to one third, the resort is only running at a fraction of occupancy while perfection is reached.

Date set now for launch is April 4 when L’Oasis complex with reception, shops, main pool, miniclub, and four additional restaurants will be complete. Work will continue on some suites till 30 September during which time Beachcomber will extend half board to full board. In all there will be 333 suites and villas, and 6 restaurants.

Meanwhile all Mauritius is watching.

We visited the resort for yummy lunch on 2 February. Two restaurants surrounded by water on the verdant palm lined beachfront seemed far away from drought. The most obvious effects were seen in the gardens. Vast and beautifully laid out gardens were in places more reminiscent of Palm Springs than the verdant tropics due to lack of water after a period of construction.

Fortunately they have left lots of beautiful old trees on the property so our hopes are high for this lovely spot.

Our favourite accommodation is usually on the beachfront. Trou aux Biches will be no exception. These are delightful accommodations all with private pools – 22 senior beachfront suites and 44 beachfront suites. Stylish villa-style buildings each house 3 suites.

 

The views from these suites are of your own plunge pool, but clever design hides your neighbour’s pool. Further you view the frothy luxuriance of palms along the beach and glints of turquoise water.

Further from the beach, 27 spacious villas  will be much in demand, offering perfect privacy round your swimming pool encircled by walls. Several details appeal very much – from the long bathroom you walk out to an open air bathtub, encircled by yet another stone wall. Another favourite spot will be the huge family sofa on the patio overlooking the pool. Apart from that you have a proper family living room, and a really proper kitchen. It’s not compulsory to cook there of course … you have your own butler, apart from 6 restaurants on site. 10 villas have two bedrooms (4 or 5 people) and 17 have three bedrooms (7 guests in each).

Apart from the 90 Junior Suites and 110 tropical junior suites (with outdoor showers), there are to be 40 family suites. All these suite types are all built in crescents around swimming pools, a nice way for kids to make friends and families to be able to keep an eye on the kids.

A highlight of any visit to Trou aux Biches must be the spa. You are greeted by an attractive free form pool, pointed sloping roofs, and a relax island. We saw a delightful treatment room with open sides and thatched roof. The perfect climate for that.

In the background to this big venture is a lot of support from the local community. Noone was fired from the old resort, and 400 people were kept on the payroll. More than double that will be hired. In addition Beachcomber are building a post office and a police station to help the community.

Trou aux Biches has very sheltered waters. Hence boats are a feature. It is a short ride to Grand Baie with a choice of restaurants, cafes and shops.

From the beach at Trou aux Biches we took a boat to Le Victoria. More about that later.


SPARKLING – HILTON MAURITIUS

in MAURITIUS | Comments (0)

Tags: ,

At the entrance to Hilton Mauritius a big crowd was waiting for their tour bus. That does reduce a feeling of exclusivity. But after that the hotel looked pretty pretty. Sparkling tropical.

First a warm greeting with welcome drinks that were deliciously fruity, sparkling and non alcoholic. The lobby where we sat had views and interesting Asian or Hindu artifacts.

 The pleasant surprise was the sparkling waterways and landscaped pools in lush gardens. In the evenings they light bonfires to create magical ambience.

Hilton is actually not that big. It has 175 rooms and 18 suites. We saw some attractively decorated rooms, including senior suite below.

 

The hotel has two bars, four restaurants and “fantastic” spa to quote our Hilton guide, with four signature products.

Hilton Mauritius 2 Feb hotel inspection

CUTE & KIND – THE SANDS

February 26, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (0)

Tags: ,

We arrived as the sun was setting. A dazzling and warm welcome from this family-style resort came with drinks by the pool in the balmy air. Later we were hosted to a meal in the restaurant, where the food was really excellent (including a spit of grilled fish hanging from a tower); but the air conditioning dropped a waterfall of cold. It was a hot night, so the people on the other end of the table kept asking for the aircon to be switched up, while at our end we kept asking for it to be switched down.

It is a pretty little hotel with a lovely view across a bay to a headland. The hotel is compact. There are two restaurants, a nice infinity pool, a small beach and a friendly atmosphere. It feels four star, but the rooms are perhaps three star plus.

Among little things, there was no conditioner in the bathroom – but the shampoo was very good. It did have a hairdryer, and the bathroom was quite roomy with a walkin cupboard

In fact, I moved my bed into the walkin cupboard as I was paired up with someone who was very sensitive to noise at night – I have nightmares and sometimes awake with a squeal.

In that bathroom I slept better than she did, as I could close the door and open the window to let in fresh air. I am not fond of the sound of air conditioning.

I did see one little beetle crawling over the floor. I do know that in tropical or subtropical climates they are eternal – whatever you do they come back. Perhaps cockroaches are preferable to poison.

Some breakwater walls just off the beach were nicely explained to us, protection for the beach.

Attractive for people who want charm and personal place  on a relaxed holiday


CHARM DELUXE – DINAROBIN

in MAURITIUS | Comments (1)

Tags: , ,

Picture 1 of 19

Dream of paradise revealed

Dinarobin has a special place in the hearts of discerning visitors to Mauritius. Definitely one of the top resorts on the island.

Stylish, lush and exotic, with an exuberance of palms and tropical growth, sparkling waterways and fountains – situated right on the beach and turquoise lagoon. Its prime art work is the spa, with the pointed backdrop of Le Morne mountain enhancing its otherworldly beauty. This extraordinary place has different zones leaning to different cultures. Its main spiritual inspiration is zen.

Despite the serene atmosphere of the resort, it does welcome children. Families find extensive facilities here and at nearby at Paradis, including kid’s club, gym, windsurfing, waterskiing, glass bottom boat, scuba diving, catamaran cruise, golf. Not only Paradis golf course but two others are included.

Altogether here are 172 suites facing the sea with terrace or balcony. All have a sitting area, a bathroom with dressing area, shower, separate toilet. The suites are built in crescents, each with own pool, which helps to create the wonderful serenity on the beach.

Together with Paradis there are 8 restaurants. Recently, even the fine dining restaurant has taken on a menu of items that can be enjoyed on half board.

Like Paradis, Dinarobin has not played with rates in response to the recession. Instead explains Gyukkayne Tyack the hotel has concentrated on value ads. The Club concept is one of these, offering extra privileges to Club Junior and Senior beachfront suites.

Crisp black and white against burnished terracotta and ochre. Senior Suite bedroom above and lounge below.

HOW TO GET TO DINAROBIN

1 hr 30 min by car from Mauritius International Airport, 20 min by helicopter.

Chamarel & Black River Gorge

Afternoon excursion to lookout point over Le Morne, further to black river gorge and waterfall, climb to lookout, further walk to seven colour sands with exposed coloured earth and centuries old tortoises. Toilet stops in the park. Thirst – our driver stopped for us to buy water at a simple shop.


FAMILY HEAVEN – PARADIS

in MAURITIUS | Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Picture 1 of 14

Paradis - palm fringed beach and parasols

You can hardly improve on the setting on Le Morne Peninsula. Beautiful white sandy beach that stretches to sister hotel Dinarobin and beyond, plenty of palms and wide turquoise lagoon, as you expect on Mauritius, with the added attraction of the mountain beyond.

But the final factors in choosing Paradis are the wide range of sporting activities and the family friendliness. On one side of the rooms lies the beach, on the other the golf course.

You get the added bonus of access to the restaurants at Dinarobin (8 restaurants in all), and nowadays at every restaurant there are options that can be chosen on halfboard, or courses that can be enjoyed for a supplement. You also get two spas to choose from, and two golf courses.

The sturdy low-rise architecture with wide balconies, and earth or sunshine colours, have become a trademark in themselves – spelling Beachcomber. So have the well-loved formulas of spacious junior and senior suites with many connecting rooms, and family suites. All of which include spacious “Beachcomber bathrooms”. 

After spending the night in the bathroom at the previous hotel to protect my unwilling roommate from my nightmares, I gave a lot of complements to the Beachcomber bathrooms. I’d like to sleep there…. I’d say by way of humouring companions. They are certainly big enough for an extra bed.

Not that you can squeeze in extra beds too liberally at these hotels. The five star hotels keep up their standards. You can bring in one child into your room. Otherwise you should take a connecting or adjoining room for your children.

Paradis offers 286 suites in all, plus 13 villas. The villas used to be for celebrities, says Resort Manager Marc Hausser, but now they are very popular with families. So you need to book 9 months ahead.

Despite the recession, they have not discounted rates at Paradis but have maintained the rates of 2008. The Beachomber-Paradis formula is working well and 42% of customers are regulars. This October was the best in the history of the hotel. December was up 15% and January  22%. Resort Manager Marc Hausser told us that healthy finances enabled investments, e.g. in desalination to try to become self sufficient.


PRETTY PLACE – LES PAVILLONS

in MAURITIUS | Comments (1)

Tags:

Picture 1 of 11

Beach and lagoon at Les Pavillons

Pretty place. Pastel turquoise lagoon, pale golden sand – palms growing along the beach. Sparkling waterways and pools. Lots of lush tropical garden with a backdrop of tall rocky mountain.

The rooms were attractive too in a modest way. Pale browns and creams with some old Mauritian style and harmony. Not too big a resort to give some personal care. There are 20 villas and 158 rooms and suites.

Good news. I was told they are making a big effort to revive the coral by limiting boat traffic in the lagoon. It is starting to pay off. Living corals…

Too rushed and tired at this stage (after the flight and shortened night at Shanti) to take in the details. Would like to see this place again.

Brief hotel inspection 1 February 2011


NEW OLD CHIC: HERITAGE LE TELFAIR

in MAURITIUS | Comments (10)

Tags: ,

Picture 1 of 14

Beach restaurnat at Heritage Le Telfair

Lack of new beaches in the north has lead to a trend on Mauritius to upgrade existing four star properties to five star. And a new interest on the unexploited southern coast.

The former Heritage Golf & Spa Resort has become Heritage Awali.  Meanwhile adjoining it on the same former sugar plantation in Domain Bel Ombre, the five-star Heritage Le Telfair has been totally refurbished, offering 158 guest rooms and suites, with butler service to all suites.

These golf resorts lie between a sandy beach, turquoise lagoon and the green expanses of the Heritage golf course, framed by mountains. Nearby is a private nature reserve with rainforest and dry bush, to be introduced into the Heritage Le Telfair experience. Also new to the experience is the Seven Colours Spa, concentrating on Mauritian and African elements, with a full programme to inspire better living. (Former spa was run by Six Senses.)

As you step into the lobby of Heritage Le Telfair Spa & Golf Resort you feel freshness, and fantasy. It is built like a plantation house of yesteryear, using old and burnished floorboards. But the carved wooden walls, painted pure white, are too perfect to be old, creating a sense of make-believe. Or something from a dream.

You look down at the perfect symmetry of a fountain and water canal, down to the lagoon, encircled by coral reef. Adjoining is a lobby lounge of new chic contemporary furniture – not using plastic and metal but borrowing from an age of grace.

The main restaurant, with a fresh Mauritian chic, is Annabellas. Beside the beach is the pavilion style Pan Asian restaurant Gin’ja,  offering fine dining in the evening, with an informal lunch experience extended to some small (spindly) tables laid out on the sand.

We had lunch at Gin’ja twice. The first time on the MK fam trip, we were presented with a very exciting starter – a long plank (5 metres?) strewn with every imaginable kind of sushi, taking advantage of the fresh seafood of Mauritius.

Further there is a fine dining restaurant up by the golf course (5 minutes). This elegant old-style Le Château de Bel Ombre restaurant spills out to tables under an ancient tree, with golf course views. Down at the seaside and the swimming pool is bar Palmier. Further restaurants are available at Heritage Awali.

A new beach club will be ready soon just over the river from Heritage Le Telfair: snorkeling, waterskiing and various other watersports included, but supplement for scuba diving, catamaran sailing, kitesurfing etc.

The beach is the typical warm colour of “sand” (perhaps not as white as coral sand). The little Citronnier river comes down between the beach club and the Gin’ja restaurant, so after the heavy rains following four months drought, we may not have seen the real colour of the beach.

The rooms have an elegant traditional feel with dark timber floors and fresh pale colours. Room 901 in the image connects with 902.  This is being reclassified as beachfront

Heritage room 901.

Mauritius Tour 31 Jan-11 Feb. Day 1 – hotel inspecttion & lunch, Day 9 – lunch at Heritage Le Telfair


REINCARNATED SHANTI MAURICE

February 20, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (4)

Tags: , , ,

New branding and a new experience. Previously it was the destination spa Shanti Ananda, now it is Shanti Maurice and offers watersports, a kids club and a Mauritian experience! Yet never letting go of its origins as a spa…the resort maintains a rich feeling of peace and harmony. It is a wonderful soothing place to be.

New ideas have come. First and best night of the Mauritius tour (31 Jan), despite tiredness, was at the beachside Fish and Rhum Shack, a rustic restaurant that the resort now opens a few times a week. At this spot the coral reef is close in, so the sound of crashing waves harmonizes with the traditional Sega music of a Mauritian band. Meanwhile the stars shine, a bonfire burns, and the air is full of ozone and the smell of grilling fish and seafood. Slender Creole girls do their traditional dance, the Sega, among us and the old sun-scorched tables in the sand. Now and then they invite us to join, and to enjoy the wild, free feeling of dancing in the sand on a tropical night.

The general manager spoke of his other ideas. All hinges on a sense of place. This is not just a luxury hotel where you forget your other life on beach and spa. This is where you discover Mauritius. Hear their music, meet the people.

The Southern coast is less developed – there is more space. The hotel is close to the black river gorge national park for example – where trekking is available.

The spa continues to be a major drawcard. Indeed, this is a delightful place of running water and lush growth. And I can vouch for expert massage. I will even go so far as to say I had the best and longest half hour back massage of my entire life. The masseur was intuitive to a degree never encountered. I would merely think please move higher, and he would. He did that all the time.

I also had a good experience of the Ayuvedic doctor. Earlier while taking a photo as I climbed stairs, I fell and cut myself. He attended to my cut and gave me good advice early that day and later. It was a deep cut but no infection developed (also saw the medical representatives at Victoria two days later and at Four Seasons on my 7th day I was declared quite recovered).

Certainly an atmosphere of calm pervades the resort. The accommodation is spread out along the beach, with four junior suites to a building. I had a ground floor suite with access straight onto the beach at the farthest spot. The suites are spacious (81 sqm) and quality feels good in every way – pleasant décor, marble floors, gigantic marble bathroom with separate shower and toilet, and outdoor shower in a small private garden.

There are also 12 luxury villas and 3 two-bedroom suite villas with private pools.

The lagoon is shallow with basalt boulders at one end. Pale turquoise. The beach a pleasant sandy gold. Behind the resort are green hills.

The evening is magical, facing the sunset. The shallow lagoon is a mirror of rose tints, with silhouettes of palms. In the warm air you can find a sunbed and lie facing the richly stirring tropical beauty.

Apart from the occasional Fish & Rhum Shack, there are 2 restaurants. I ate breakfast in one on day 2 – the all-day dining.

All the staff seemed pleasant and happy. A nice touch was to be offered a late breakfast on the beach when we came straight from the airport and the Air Mauritius VGML breakfast (3 bread rolls and a few offcuts of fruit) (not good for those who avoid bread).

CONS

The aircon was noisy but I was able to start the fans instead.

That there is more to making a hotel or spa work than ideas and expertise was demonstrated by the unfortunate fact that after my massage, not only I seemed to be confused, but everyone else. My promised ginger tea on the island, took three reminders. One of the tour group left as they were so late for her appointment.

This is personal. The management came an hour late to our meeting. Then when I stated that I had not slept on the plane and that I was desperately tired, I was promised that I would get an early buggy lift back from the Fish and Rhum Shack. Every time I reminded one of them, he just continued telling stories like the Ancient Mariner. Finally I had to interrupt him and ask for that lift back.


MORE MAURITIUS

February 19, 2011 in SWEDEN | Comments (0)

Glowing still with tropical wellbeing, back in the pristine cold. Trying to write my report – after inspecting 20 hotels (overnight in 8 of them). Beaches feathery with palms, lagoons glinting turquoise under quick summer showers. Five days left to batten down the wind shelters before a cyclone that never came. Restaurants erupting with incredible creations in tropical art. Junior suites and senior suites, villas with pools, and thousands of images…

Its taking a while. I basically circled the island twice, and hopped over to Rodrigues. One suite becomes another. One beach becomes all beaches. But some do stand out … especially when you finally escape to feel the island on your own. And its people…

Meanwhile I am putting some image galleries on pages. See http://binah.nu/orbit/?page_id=2461