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The Eden Isle

‘You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven was copied after Mauritius’ Mark Twain. Need we say more!

Constance Belle Mare Plage
Set along a stunning 2km stretch of white sand beach on the north-east coast of Mauritius, the Belle Mare Plage is a spacious hotel with an abundance of facilities. Boasting four swimming pools, two championship golf courses, six bars, seven restaurants and a spacious spa – there is little reason to leave this picturesque resort, no matter how long your stay.

Within the beautifully landscaped grounds you will find 92 prestige rooms and 137 junior suites, as well as 20 villas, six deluxe suites and one presidential villa, all of which offer plenty of privacy as well as their own swimming pools. The décor is simple yet sophisticated with light creamy colours adorning the walls, while the private balconies and terraces provide breath-taking views of the aquamarine sea or the dense green forests.

While sun worshippers can make use of the huge stretch of pristine beach, those looking to be more adventurous can try their hand at the vast range of complimentary watersports such as windsurfing, kayaking and wakeboarding. The dive centre is also hugely popular due to the abundance of sea life and offers beginner courses, excursions and even night dives for the more advanced.

A great choice for a family there are also complimentary tennis courts, a 9-hole mini golf course and a spacious children’s club that encourages the youngest members of the family to stay active thanks to its swimming pool, games room and playground.

With so many activities on offer you are bound to have worked up a serious appetite and the hotel has plenty on offer to satisfy your every culinary desire. Belle Mare Plage has its very own oyster farm and produces some 50,000 oysters a year, while a chef’s garden has also recently been opened. Here you can sample local produce and even take part in a cooking class, while the seven restaurants allow you to taste everything from Mediterranean to Mauritian flavours.

For a more relaxed evening you can try the BBQ at La Kaze beach and for those seeking a more intimate setting there is Blue Penny Café which is tucked under the cascade of a waterfall and boasts an extensive wine cellar and cigar cabinet.

Constance Prince Maurice
Found in the tranquil north-eastern corner of Mauritius, the Prince Maurice hotel promises to offer peace and tranquillity. And from the moment I am driven through the large gates that house the 60-hectare private peninsula I am transported to a destination where relaxation is clearly the key objective.

While many of the sister hotels of Constance place an emphasis on families and provide a host of activities, the Prince Maurice makes perfect use of its stunning location by simply encouraging its guests to unwind and let the days slowly slip away. Roughly an hour’s drive from the airport, it is situated between a lake and a lagoon, and offers a sheltered and naturally leafy environment.

Even the main reception offers a feeling of calm thanks to the sensational views as the nearby infinity pool seems to melt into the lagoon beyond. Great care has clearly been taken by the hotels designers Jean Marc Eynaud and David Edwards to create a resort that blends into the natural surroundings. The lush tropical greenery and dark volcanic rock has been perfectly paired with the thatched roofs of the restaurants and villas.

Once inside my room it’s clear that attention to detail has continued with parquet floors, large wooden furniture and high ceilings giving it an almost colonial feel. The bathroom features a large sunken bathtub, while opening the large sliding doors allows me to walk across a manicured garden straight to one of the swimming pools.

This garden view style suite is extremely spacious, but if you are seeking a more intimate setting then the junior suite on stilts is the perfect option. The room may be a similar size but it overlooks the ocean and feels even more peaceful.

Certainly, it feels as though comfort is a priority at this hotel, with every member of staff making sure that you enjoy a memorable experience. Within minutes of arriving in my room an employee was on hand to answer any questions I may have had and was quick to offer the service of pressing my clothes for the evening dinner. This level of service was then repeated throughout the duration of my stay, with staff remembering my name and even my drink preferences.

As in fitting with the relaxed atmosphere of the hotel, the activities that are on offer are similarly laid back. There is paddle boarding on the wonderfully calm lagoon or if you fancy practicing your swing then there are two spectacular golf course, Links and Legends, both of which are free to use for all guests. Then there is the U Spa which is set in tropical and lush surroundings. Here treatments use only natural ingredients and I would recommend both the relax and rejuvenate massages to anyone looking to leave the stress of their jobs behind.

You will also find a well-stocked gym at the spa and there is a tennis court should you feel the need for exercise during your stay. But for the most part my own stay, and that of many of the guests, was simply to relax and indulge in fine wine and delicious food.

Archipel offers fine dining with a Mauritian twist and provides wonderful views out across the beach and infinity pool. Also situated near the beach is Asian, a restaurant that delivers innovative sushi, sashimi and dim sum. However, it is Le Barachois that truly stands out. Walking to the restaurant I take a boardwalk through the mangroves before arriving at a series of five floating decks that offer perfect views of the lagoon and the mountains in the distance. The perfect spot to watch the sunset, the food is of a very high standard and clearly takes influence from the Indian Ocean.

Another culinary experience that simply cannot be missed is dining in the Wine Cellar. I had my own personal sommelier who was able to recommend numerous grape from the more than 25,000 bottles that make up the hotel’s collection – all of which were perfectly paired with the selection of wonderfully light dishes on offer. This service also takes place via a candlelit table on the beach if requested.

The Wine Cellar is just one of the four bars that can be found in the hotel, with the most striking being the Floating Bar that sits just a short walk from Le Barachois. I found myself at the bar in the early evening and I was able to watch the sunset while enjoying an aperitif before dinner. It provides wonderful views and is extremely popular with the couples staying at the hotel.

Of course, the hotel does also cater for children and has 12 family suites and a kids’ club that is included in the price. These also have their own section of beach and a heated swimming pool. But the hotel excels in catering for those seeking a relaxing break. From the stunning surroundings to the attentive staff, you’ll leave feeling refreshed and thoroughly reenergised. www.constancehotels.com

Images: Constance hotels

WORDS BY: ADRIAN BACK

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