Princess Stephanie of Monaco has a home there. Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway stayed there during filming for their neo noir thriller, Serenity. But Maradiva, the Mauritian resort situated in the tranquil Rivière Noire district, is about more than just people spotting.
Just off the east coast of Africa, one of Mauritius’ closest neighbours is Madagascar, and visitors will find the island similarly rich in rare plant and animal species.
This year is a particularly special time to visit, as Mauritius celebrates 50 years of independence. Having previously been a British, French and Dutch colony, the nation is proudly multicultural, something particularly apparent in fusion cuisine which ranges from Pan-Asian to French-Creole.
Owned and run by a prominent Mauritian family, this is an obvious choice for anyone seeking privacy. All guests enjoy their own secluded villa, complete with a private infinity pool and verandah for outdoor lounging and dining. The resort boasts 65 such villas, arranged in sleepy avenues across 27 acres of lush landscaped gardens.
Guests awaken to the perfume of hibiscus and frangipani and the mellifluous calls of the red-whiskered bulbuls that inhabit the island.
For beachgoers, Flic-en-Flac Beach is one of the island’s longest and loveliest, while the mystical Tamarin and Le Morne mountains lend a breath-catching backdrop to holiday snaps.
Back on land, there are plenty of sights, from a day-trip to the bustling capital Port Louis to the wildlife and waterfalls of the nearby Black River Gorges National Park. Since 1994, the island’s biggest nature reserve has protected many endemic species from the fate befalling the island’s famous former resident, the dodo.
With year-round sunshine, a superb sports and sailing pedigree and an emphasis on excellent service, the bijoux Maradiva resort is perfect for castaways seeking that something extra.
Board the hotel’s private boat to snorkel with a pod of leaping spinner dolphins as the sun rises over Tamarin Bay, or take a private cookery lesson in the resorts’ two-acre kitchen garden. Among the okra, chillies and beehives, chef Warren teaches guests dishes such as his mother’s Mauritian chicken curry. After preparing each course you get to feast on your creation at a finely dressed table, shaded by fig, palm, guava and lycée trees. Meanwhile, a souvenir cookbook allows you to recreate the recipes at home.
From the concierge
Nearby Tamarin village and the Sai Baba Temple on a free guided walk through the Wolmar Forest, pausing to learn about its exotic plants and trees and posing for photos from a vantage point high above Tamarin Bay.
Benefit from the 5,000 year-old traditions of Indian herbal medicine at the on-site spa. Guests may consult with an Ayurvedic doctor before choosing treatments such as the Abhyanga, a full-body massage using a bespoke prescription of warm herbal oils to ease ailments such as insomnia, stress and fatigue.
Choose from three restaurants including the local and international flavours of Coast2Coast, the Indian-fusion fine-dining of Cilantro and theatrically-cooked Pan-Asian dishes at Teppanyaki’s Japanese-style Teppan counter. Guests can also dine in elegant seclusion at their villa, in one of the private Raj tents on the beach or from a chef-prepared picnic hamper, following a day sightseeing in a chauffeured Rolls-Royce Phantom.
WORDS: David G. Taylor