Mauritius Hotels: Three boutique alternatives
What is a boutique hotel? We define it as a small, individual property, normally with less than 100 rooms, with a one-of-a-kind feel in terms of both décor and service. Mostly found in either urban or countryside settings, they are less prevalent in tropical beach destinations like Mauritius where bigger resorts are often the norm. However, they do exist, and are increasingly popular, especially among couples and groups of adult friends looking for a peaceful getaway in stylish surroundings. We take a look at three of the island’s best examples…
Lakaz Chamarel Exclusive Lodge
Even in Mauritius, few settings are as truly deserving of the word ‘paradise’ as Lakaz Chamarel. This exquisite inland retreat sits 400 metres above sea level near the south west village of Chamarel, and its 20 rooms and suites are surrounded by luscious gardens full of tropical fruit trees and flowers.
The site is vast, meaning you’ll find absolute solitude here, especially in the sea view suites, which are generously spaced up a steep hillside and come with private plunge pools and extraordinary ocean views. And don’t worry if you’re feeling lazy; a golf cart is available to transport you back and forth.
If you want to be closer to the open kitchen and bar, opt for one of the garden pool suites, which have al fresco bathrooms and private swimming pools. All are decorated in a rustic chic style – reclaimed wood, natural stone, rattan, leather, billowing muslin drapes and so on – though TVs and air conditioning are out. This is a resort where ‘getting back to nature’ is taken seriously, so be prepared to ditch those two particular home comforts for a few days, in return for an unforgettable Mauritian experience in a location few visitors get to see.
Yoga and meditation classes are available daily in a wooden temple-like structure, which looks down over a peaceful water feature and circular maze. Get to grips with Mauritian cuisine in a personal cooking lesson with the chef in the lodge’s own kitchen, or rent a bicycle for trips into the mountains. Black River Gorges National Park is practically on the doorstep, and you’re in exactly the right part of the island for sightings of the endangered pink pigeon or echo parakeet. Finish your day with a massage, a swim, or a drink at the bar where you’re welcome to mix your own cocktail if no-one is around – this is a hotel where you’re encouraged to just make yourself at home.
Up in the north of Mauritius, 20 Degres Sud is everything you could want in a boutique hotel: intimate, exclusive, effortlessly stylish, full of secret nooks and crannies, and discreetly but warmly staffed. It all begins the moment you walk through the enormous carved oak doors, which cocoon the property from the outside world and lead you in to this plant-filled sanctuary. Just ahead is the pool (one of two) around which sit some of the 30 guestrooms, with a cocktail bar to the left and a walkway leading to the restaurant via a stunning lounging area with built-in aquarium wall.
Rooms continue the theme. Softly lit and elegantly dressed in white with blue accents, the vibe is cool, clean and colonial, aided by well-chosen antiques and black and white prints of Mauritius adorning the walls. Options are plenty. The smaller ‘Cosy’ and ‘Charm’ rooms all have a terrace and overlook the coconut grove which extends down to the sea; Beachfront rooms, Suites and Austral Suites are directly on the waterfront with views of the ocean towards Coin de Mire island and Grand Baie. These have Nespresso coffee machines, a luxurious feeling of space and light, and in the suites, either a Jacuzzi or private plunge pool.
Best of all, the hotel has access to two exclusive dining activities: lunch within the grounds of the old ruined Governor’s House on Flat Island by way of the hotel’s own private catamaran, and dinner on board the M/S Lady Lisbeth, a vintage 1929 teak motorboat that has been meticulously restored. Free watersports are also on offer from the hotel’s own small beach, and a complimentary shuttle boat plies the water back and forth to Grand Baie.
Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel
Although decidedly more contemporary, the trendy Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel in Anse La Raie is no less stunning in the horticulture department, with its award-winning gardens forming a major part of the property’s aesthetic appeal.
Recently refurbished throughout, the 67 elegant rooms and suites feature four poster beds, teak furniture, and the bold but spot-on trend for navy blue walls which hint at a nautical vibe without feeling overly ‘themed’. Outside, the flower-filled grounds extend around a man-made cove and peninsula, offering sheltered ‘Love Nests’ of total privacy on the way to a gently curving infinity pool at the far extremity of the site, overlooking the northern islands of Coin de Mire and Flat Island.
Three of the hotel’s four restaurants face the sea or main pool area; the Dining Room is the largest, with lots of wood, white tiles, potted palms and well-spaced tables; The Cove overlooks its namesake and serves fresh seafood dishes under a thatched gazebo. Indigo restaurant sits on the peninsula above the lagoon and makes a great spot for lunch, while newly opened XO is an intimate space seating just 20 diners, serving delectable Asian cuisine.
For dedicated spa hounds and lounge lovers, the Cinq Mondes Spa features its own swimming pool, two hammams, and seven treatment rooms, with a choice of indoor or outdoor massages at the water’s edge. Club Junior and Club Senior suite guests can take advantage of the private Club Lounge, which offers concierge services, computers, newspapers and magazines and daily afternoon tea.