BLUE WORLD – BLUE PALACE

May 22, 2011 in GREECE | Comments (19)

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Turquoise water clear as crystal washes white stones on Blue Palace beach

By the iconized arches, the pool is as blue as all the pictures. So is the sky.  Even without Photoshop and all the image makers of Starwood, this is a blue and dazzling world. No point in taking a picture of the arches – they are on every tourist website.

The  terraces of Blue Palace are magnificent with or without pictures. Distinguishing, memorable. The  international set chill out here in serenity induced by views – endless sunbeds and infinity pool. Communing with laptops via wifi – free, like the air.

Down below is the turquoise sea. A very rich and startling turquoise. Beyond is the hump of Spinalonga island. Brown and coppery –  traced with old walls – the colour of the land.

Mountains are a perfect backdrop. A burnished richness in the tones echoes the natural stone that distinguishes the hotel and its famous architect.

Hard to tear yourself away from the terraces. But there is so much to do…

Firstly you must enjoy your own pool. More than half of the rooms have pools. Here you feel ownership, blissful privacy …. gentle sun and cold May water…

Or you could take the funicular down to the sea. Startlingly beautiful sea because the water laps onto white stones that create the crystalline turquoise dappled effect you dream of. Wooden walkways on the beach keep your feet comfortably off the stones and there are plenty of sunbeds with towel service.

Mesmerizing to hear the water lapping, and stare across at Spinalonga  with its castle that once protected a city at nearby Elounda (4km). Later the island became a leper colony and even later won fame in Hislop’s bestseller. Wind swoops down out of a blue sky and lifts the hair…

Nearby is the spa, Blue Palace’s beach restaurant, and its Greek taverna. The main restaurant is way up to the top on the funicular, above the lobby. The gourmet restaurant is half way up the slope…

Restaurants at Blue Palace are not cheap – but we did try the  beach restaurant. Sadly service was quite surly. We came at 3pm (it closes at 4pm).

One of the best assets of Blue Palace is Plaka: just 5 or 10 minutes walk along the road. This is a really pleasant little fishing village, also built in natural stone, where in no time at all we met a man with a guitar once played by Jimmy Page; and were treated to raki, the pure and fiery cololourless liquid they make locally all over Crete. Come back and have a party, he urged. Play the guitar and the bazouki (?

The most magnificent thing about Blue Palace is its isolated position – with only delightful Plaka as a neighbour. Fresh fish and Greek traditional fare are nicely presented along the waterfront in simple but chic restaurants that have kept a traditional feel. Not too many tourist-hungry pizza signs in Plaka. Plenty of all that in Elounda…

Elounda is tourist town. Some call it the St Tropez of Crete. Lots of five star hotels. Designer shops. Lots of curio shops and even more restaurants competing to urge you in. Cheaper than Blue Palace. But not as relaxing.

Its a joy to return to our hotel. Now it is evening. We have new “designer” sunglasses. New hats. And we head for the wonderful terraces.

On a chillish night its best to retire to the Turkish nooks that line the bar area. They are intimate and magically lit with lanterns. Perfect spots for your wifi and evening mail.

But now it is time to retire, because morning in the superior bungalow with pool is simply wonderful, with sunlight streaming in and the terrace golden. We don’t want to sleep it away.

Our bungalow is actually a room in a long block. These traverse the slopes.  What is basically a long pool in front of a block is divided into private pools. Sunbeds on the floor of the terrace give privacy to your neighbours – but in some cases you see the pool rather than the sea from down there. Your own watery world.

The original hotel built in 2003 was added onto in 2006 with the south wing – among the flatroofed accomodations in terracotta or beige lies the Royal Blue Villa. Lady Gaga stayed there – or so I heard on the grape vine. Quite roomy, and quite stylishly simple with white furniture. Gone are the days when stars destroyed their hotels…

These days people destroy their hotels in Trip Advisor. Well, not pop stars – but ordinary people outraged by walls that block their views or not-so-honest marketing. We all mean well I think. We want to promote our products as we call hotels in the travel and hospitality business. We feel that pictures will CREATE reality. Perfect pictures. Perfect reality. Travel is all based on dreams…

That is the idea.

Managing expectations is quite another concept. If you dont promise too much they wont be disappointed.

That’s why I am grateful to Trip Advisor. So when I travel I will never expect too much…

I am only delighted, as I was with Blue Palace.

A magical place. Every moment perfect.


CYPRUS – BACK IN THE MAGIC

April 2, 2011 in CYPRUS | Comments (60)

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Garden setting, mountains and beach

Spring again in Cyprus. Back in the land of Aphrodite…

They call Anassa the queen. The most beautiful hotel on Cyprus and surely one of the world’s treasures. It is an astounding piece of art created out of marble, inspired by history. Motifs from the ancients, are mixed with medieval cloisters, fountains, domes and cupolas and even a real Byzantine church is part of the hotel, nestled in a village square where in summer they have village type events. And of course weddings.

The grand hotel with its gleaming lobbies and terraces offers exquisite suites, including Adonis and Aphrodite – some might give their nest egg to spend a week in those two suites – with jacuzzi on the balcony overlooking the ocean and  long beach.

Apart from the usual choice of swimming pools, Anassa basks in the privilege of an unspoilt beach – tawny sands stretching up to golden cliffs on one side and the mountains of the Akamas peninsula on the other. The beach would of course look freer without the wooden walkway to the sunloungers in one corner. And much better without the string of lights that were still there by the bar when we arrived. But it is still beautiful with its cinammon sands against the blue of sea and sky.

And there was almost noone there again.  Last year it was cappuchino on the beach and the waiter ran because I requested my coffee hot – a coffee cost 7 euros.  This year my choise was water. My bottle of water (a stiff 4 euros) had a sparse elegance I felt worth picturing.

And yes the sun was warm again. 20 degrees. On Saturday it was really hot – enough to burn us.

We also had a weekend of lavish meals yet again. So much seafood, wonderful salads, Italian specialities, melt-in-mouth desserts in extaordinary displays of tempting food passions…

ROOMS

This year we had a garden studio suite.  Deliciously light and Mediterranean in feel. Our balcony had some four hours of sun in the morning, a pleasant place to be with a view of deep blue sea between the hotel on the right and garden suites on the left. The garden suites have a peaceful village style setting along winding paths – and all manage some kind of seaview or other. A little cold at this time of year to wander in light clothes to dinner (a few minutes walk – or a  quick breezy buggy ride=.

Last year our studio suite in the main building had an extra large terrace with fabulous view of the sea, which saw the sun about two hours a day. In the high summer at 40 degrees, the shade on the terrace is probably divine. But I still prefer the idea of the rooms on the sunset side, which face the mountain and sea  –  balconies just the place for sundowners. Or the ultimate – if only if only – the Aphrodite or Adonis suites which have everything you wish.

More about them later…


BEACH & GOLF – BELLE MARE PLAGE

March 10, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (0)

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Fabulous beach and lagoon

Wonderful setting on a long dazzling white beach. The fringing lagoon within the sheltering coral reef was a heady turquoise, a little ruffled by wind. The depth seemed perfect for bathing – it was the only lagoon in fact where I saw people really ACTIVELY  swimming.

This is quite a big resort (235 rooms and 20 villas), so there is a sense of buzz and action. Here you have a choice of 4 pools with sunloungers, 7 restaurants, shopping arcade, plenty of watersports of course and TWO golf courses. A shuttle goes every hour to and from Le Prince Maurice via the golf courses. For those who want to get away to delicious privacy I suggest the villas. I was shown an attractive two bedroom villa with pool, elegant bedrooms, roomy lounge with plenty of sofa space, small kitchenette. That is for the butler that comes with the villa.

 

View of the pool from upstairs bedroom

I also saw a deluxe suite with lounge and bedroom. Bedroom below. This suite can be connected to a prestige room.

Belle Mare Plage has of course a spa, fitness centre and, most important for a family resort – a kid’s club with pool.

HOW TO GET TO BELLE MARE PLAGE

1 house by car from Mauritius International Airport 


RODRIGUES – BACK IN TIME

March 6, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (1)

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Rodrigues - kitesurfing adventure

The island of Rodrigues is like Mauritius 20 or 30 years ago – or so they say. In spirit it feels faraway and free – with little traffic and only a few hotels on natural sandy beaches with Casuarina trees. Few palm trees. No five star hotels. Yet some of the world’s true Royals frequent the island, seeking barefoot chic.

Rodrigues is a self governing island of the Republic of Mauritius. It is actually only 1 hr 30 minutes hop with Air Mauritius (or 2 days by boat). Just a teeny price supplement on your MK ticket to Mauritius will give you this refreshing experience.

Like Mauritius it is ringed by coral reef and turquoise lagoons, and most of the people speak Creole (French patois). But the people are different. Also a rainbow, but more to the burnt sienna end, as 85% of the population have come from African slaves brought to the island by white colonists.  

There is something African about the island too. Signs and shops favour giddy sun colours. People seem more languid and laid back than the people of the main island. Service is a problem concept I understand for the budding tourism industry, as the work ethic is something that obviously needs to grow for generations after annihilation with slavery.

Rodrigues has an interesting mountainous interior with rainforest, and areas of acacias in the rainshadow. Here are all the cows, as on Mauritius the cow is considered holy by the majority – who are Hindu. Cows are everywhere on Rodrigues  – along with the pigs and chickens people keep around their homes.

For us the sky was blue and as we drove up the steep hills the world was a ring of blue and turquoise. In the sky were kites flitting adding to the fantasy of freedom. Rodrigues is famous for kite surfing.

In our short visit our activity included looking out the car window, and visiting the market at Port Mathurin and a snack bar that actually served espresso.

We also took a peep into a lava tube (tunnel in the lava rock), Then of course – we inspected three hotels.

Three 3-star hotels.

Pointe Venus – Rodrigues

4-5 Feb overnight, dinner with management (from Mauri Tours), breakfast, hotel inspection

Pointe Venus sits on the hill above Port Mathurin with a big swimming pool, bar and restaurant, and partial views of the lagoon. Here we enjoyed a fascinating show of music and dancing in Rodrigues style. The dance is colonial in inspiration, with bursts of Africa still in slavery, and strange shuffles that reminded of legs in chains.  It filled the heart. For that it was worthwhile staying there.

Though Pointe Venus claims to be four star, it has been severely slashed down to two stars by many observers (trip advisor) (and our party).

On the plus side it does have a nice pool with sunloungers. But it is 10 minutes walk down the hill to Port Mathurin and the sea.  There is a shuttle once a day.

The dinner was a buffet, but not the kind of buffet that lifts the concept of buffet. A lot of perhaps overcooked stews. (But then I do not eat meat.) Breakfast was acceptable, but hardly four star.

The room was small but quite pleasant in a separate wing. It did seem much smaller coming after our spacious accommodation at Le Touessrok, and two near strangers had to share it. One of us slept on the small sofa. The bathroom did not have cockroaches, and the reason why was evident. It smelt of cockroach poison emitting from the plug hole.

I sympathise. The cockroach presents a poison versus complaints dilemma.

This little animal problem coloured the usual spa visit. It was closed at the time, so there were none of the fragrances of ylang ylang permeating the air. Then as we entered a very large cockroach came out to greet us (flying cockroach). It was stamped on and was still lying there as we filed in.

The service was as predicted not very hands on. You got rather vague looks when you tried to order things.

Nevertheless I felt that there was goodwill and good nature at work, and that it will all come right in time.

Les Cocotiers – Rodrigues

 

Feb hotel inspection

Three star. Same owner as Pointe Venus. Very Caribbean in feel, with its brightly painted metal roof, and happy turquoise theme. Our welcome drinks in coconut set a pleasant tone. The rooms were cute, with pastel covers and balconies with turquoise striped wicker furniture.

Les Cocotiers is on the beach and has three pools (one for the kiddies). The beach is narrow but it is sandy and the lagoon is turquoise.

It shares watersports and kids club with Pointe Venus – not sure where the watersports is situated.

Cotton Bay – Rodrigues

5 Feb hotel inspection and lunch with management

Yes. Charme. At the end of the road somewhere, far away. Far back in time to innocence.

We were warmly greeted by the reservations manager and other management, shown around and hosted to the “best lunch” of the tour. Those words come from a meat eater – I had a nice enough vegetarian option but certainly nothing like the splendid meals we had been having.

The beach is natural, sandy pale gold, lined by casuarinas. The lagoon turquoise, but as with so many lagoons, dotted with bits of coral. We were told that the coral reef was alive and that snorkeling was excellent. I hope they have improved safety after a complaint I read in trip advisor. Boats on the water add a nautical atmosphere.

The rooms were rustic sweet. Their top suite nice enough on the rustic scale. You get many points for luxury when you can step out from pale cool tiles onto a bank above a beautiful beach, and feel sand between your toes. Comfy sunbeds too and palm trees have started to grow.

We heard royalty stays here. And the same personage stays also at Constance Le Prince Maurice.

The world of Rodrigues is small indeed.

Our minibus had been stopped by “the police”, and our Rod Tours guide told us “oh no – he stops us all the time”. One of our party joked that our driver might be having an affair with the policeman’s wife. When we told the joke to the reservations manager at Cotton Bay, she instantly knew the policeman involved though he was on the other side of the island.

“No that is not true!” she said. “He is a very good policeman who does his duty. He never takes a bribe.”

So who will visit Rodrigues?

Firstly someone who is posh enough not to need to be posh. Someone looking for another time, another place. Kite surfers. Romanticists. Laid back nature lovers. People who spend a few days in connection with a visit to Mauritius, out of curiosity.

I met an Englishman at the airport who goes there every year and stays with a family.

Whatever the reason, it will not be for pampering and traditional luxury. The next hotel on my list will…


FUN URBAN VILLAGE – LONG BEACH

March 3, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (2)

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A truly loooong beach

Former Coco Beach, now Long Beach, an ambitious new urban style resort on an endless beach, to be completed by 2 April this year. The site on 3 February 2011 was still very much under construction, but we saw two mockup rooms and a 3d model of the coming new holiday destination. Definitely a place where fun is intended, centred on a piazza with shopping, dining, nightlife, and plenty of sport. Spa too on a free form lagoon…and a football field!

There will be 255 rooms in two crescents, and the contemporary urban design has allowed all a sea-view. We saw a mockup of a superior beachfront room and a family room, both with outdoor living. Colours blue, green and coral, and the simple furniture reminds somewhat of one’s first apartment. Family rooms have an additional room with two sofas that become beds for the kids.

Quite different from anything else on the island. But it will have palms, and they are introducing some fringed thatch roofs. At the moment the beach is still completely natural and the lagoon pale turquoise, bounded by the coral reef that defines Mauritius. I hope they keep it that way…

HOW TO GET TO LONG BEACH

1 hour by car from Mauritius International Airport


GOT-IT-ALL THE RESIDENCE

in MAURITIUS | Comments (2)

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Beach forever and turquoise lagoon

Distinctive and elegant, built along a dazzling white beach and turquoise lagoon, The Residence lingers long in the memory. Most of all for the purity of colour and the friendliness of the people who work there.

The design and architecture hark back to plantation houses from 100 years ago, but with plenty of contemporary liberty. In the Residence, what might once have been dark and ponderous in the old sugar plantation days is instead rather light and white. White walls, white drapes round the bed in the Colonial Oceanfront suite, white sofas.

Small attractive items of furniture and art. As for contemporary – note the laptop in the image of Mary Joyce (click thru’ image gallery above).

Note: not all rooms have drapes. Most are without including the attractive ocean front room (GALLERY).

Rooms are built in crescents along the beach, all with sea view at the hoop of the crescent, garden view along the sides, and ocean front at the ends with lovely views the radiant lagoon. There are 163 rooms and suites in all.

The resort has three restaurants. Exception to the white and bright story is the main restaurant which has darker timbers in its plantation nostalgia. Up the beach is the elegant Plantation Restaurant, and there is another beach restaurant.

First calling with the MK fam group on 3 Feb, short of time, we rushed though the rooms. But I returned on my own private fam on 7 February and was shown round again by Mary Joyce at more leisurely pace.

I also had a fabulous lunch with the very special Ivan, who was about to leave for a new job.

The menu:

Lunch in honour of Mrs Gillian 

Amuse Bouche

Heart of palm salad with lemongrass

Flavoured shrimp skewer

Panfried ruby snapper fish fillet

Crunchy vegetables & saffron sauce

Banana milkshake with cocoa sherbet

It didn’t just taste good, it looked too good to eat. Like an art work. So I had to photograph it to make it last.

Should add a codicil. The Residence is remembered not only for the friendly people, long white beach, and dazzling pure colours, but for the food…

HOW TO GET TO THE RESIDENCE

1 hour by car from Mauritius International Airport, 15 minutes by helicopter


TOP OF THE LINE – ROYAL PALM

March 1, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (0)

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Pretty beach and perfect turquoise water. Prestige and paradise.

But first the arrival took the breath away. You swing off the road from Grand Bay and there it is. A perfect avenue of palms, leading up to the entrance. Standing there were royal guards in turbans.

Yes, you are royally received. Though a compact property with rooms in a long three storey block facing the beach, Royal Palm feels spacious and serene. As a returning guest said, “it oozes luxury”. Yet, he did not find it snobbish. Even the dress code was not too restrictive he felt.

The lagoon is a glistening pastel turquoise, and the beach is soft pale golden sand, lined with palms and sunbeds. It is beautiful but not very long, with an area devoted to the best in watersports. On the beach were some guards (as the sheltered lagoon has a lot of boat traffic, they need to keep the beach free of waterborne intruders and paparazzi).

Preventing paparazzi was my own thought, because of the celebrities that stay here, politicians and captains of industry. Along with lots of ordinary people who can afford Royal Palm’s special style and impeccable service. Entranced guests come back again and again for their holidays.

Dining is strictly a la carte even on halfboard. In addition to the main restaurant with wide verandah and views, there is the exquisite Natureaty…

 

We saw two rooms – a senior suite and appropriately a royal suite. Most delicious about the royal suite was the pool with its infinity edge, open pavilion and view over the beach (above). The royal suite has two bedrooms and a large lounge. One of the bedrooms has its own hammam!

The senior suite also has a very generous lounge space – so much so that the sofa set seems far away in the corner. Items like a “creatively old” desk and sideboard were interesting and stylish. The bedroom breathes luxury with its lighting, perfect linen and contrast of white and mahogany. Guest toilet in addition to the separate toilet en suite. For families, another suite can become connecting, by closing an outer door to the porch. Neat way to take away the spooky feeling of a connecting door to strangers,

 

Bedroom senior suite

 

Spacious lounge in senior suite

The spa is impressive, built in 2007, with 18 light white treatment rooms, and a lush courtyard with pools. One couple’s treatment room has a hammam attached, and another has a sauna. Nails makeup and hair are all taken care of. There are three fitness rooms with different kinds of machines, all very up to date.

Pools at the spa

Watersports

The greeting at Royal Palm puts you in royally good mood.

HOW TO GET TO ROYAL PALM

1 hour by car from Mauritius International Airport, 20 min by helicopter


LOVABLE – O&O LE SAINT GÉRAN

in MAURITIUS,SWEDEN | Comments (2)

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Palm lined beach

3 Feb inspection & lunch

This resort epitomizes grand old Mauritian style and hospitality. All the perfect details are there. From the turquoise lagoon, to the park with thousands of palm trees, and white beach sweeping round the peninsula. From high quality furnishings, to the hotel’s famed service and friendliness. And its Michelin-starred dining…

Guests get hooked on this style, and nothing else will do.

For all its posh reputation, the hotel feels relaxed. Maybe it’s all that space. We enjoyed the pool bar lunch restaurant, with its combination of fine dining dishes and snack favourites on the same menu. There are also two fine dining restaurants, one further along the beach. One is under Alain Ducasse and the other under Vineet Bhatia, both Michelin-starred chefs.

Sportiness is part of the hotel’s fame. It has a tennis club, plenty of watersports (free waterskiing) and a dive centre. Naturally fitness rooms and a spa, where we noted relax beds had a lovely view.

Evening entertainment is another part of the St Geran holiday experience.

The resort offers 162 suites all with terraces or balconies facing the sea. We saw a couple of rooms. Despite some new refurbishments they did feel rather old style. Not sure where the fine line goes between traditional and dated elegance.

 

Room 402

Unfortunately inspection was rather rushed and it was hard to hear what this room type was. Have not been able to find out due to their skimpy website.

Do read on – 14 more posts on Mauritius last month


FAMILY RELAXING – LE VICTORIA

February 28, 2011 in MAURITIUS | Comments (35)

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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 (6,151)

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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.



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