Colonial style opulence in Mauritius is just the ticket right now, writes Helen Grange
I’m all for colonial living. On the leeward west coast of Mauritius, Sugar Beach resort has made lazy, plantation-style living its distinctive domain. It’s like being on a period piece movie set. I visited at the end of last year and given this year’s recession woes, wish I’d never left.
Sugar Beach’s plantation-style resort covers more than 12 hectares of landscaped tropical gardens bordering a sandy beach, and features a manor house and 16 villas. Cool white lines and gabled roofs in sugared-almond colours evoke tropical lushness among the symmetrical palm avenues.
Eateries and facilities appeal to families. Of course, Mauritius is also honeymoon heaven, though older couples who’ve weathered many storms return to celebrate anniversaries. They deserve this treat more than anyone, I reckon.
Sugar Beach underwent a refurbishment in 2008 and reopened with a more contemporary feel, retaining its plantation style architecture. Mahogany furniture and king-size beds harmonise with soft finishes and louvered shutters play with light and shade. Every room has its own private patio or balcony with easy chair, Ottoman and daybed overlooking palm trees, azure pools and the sea beyond.
Fine white linen beds – twin, king-sized or two queen-sized options – ensure dreamy nights, and of course you have all the trimmings – LCD flat-screen TV, wifi, and fully stocked bar fridge.
There’s a choice of four restaurants – Mon Plaisir, the main, café-style restaurant sprawled below the reception area serves breakfast from 4am and buffet dinners; Tides on the beachfront specializes in seafood; Citronella’s café offers light meals and Italian cuisine; and Paul & Virginie, under thatched pavilions is popular for its must-have signature dish, the palm heart salad.
Tides bar also serves traditional five-o-clock tea with cakes and pancakes, before turning into a sophisticated nightspot with live music, entertainment and dancing to tunes spun by the resident DJ. Between Mon Plaisir and Tides, the main pool comes alive at night with romantic lights. In the day, the main pool and surrounding decks offer fun and relaxation for all. There is a bubble pool while stepping stones separate the kids’ area with walk-in beach edge. Or you can spend the day gently wallowing or immersed in a book at the South Pool in the South Village.
A blessing for parents is the children’s facilities. Sun Kids Club, conceptualized on the house of sweets from Hansel and Gretel, caters for children from 4 to 11 years. For littlies, a babysitter is on hand. The club provides ultra cool activities and dinners under the supervision of trained hostesses. Sun Kids Club is open 12 hours a day, so you can get the break you crave, yet be close enough to to take a peek.
Then @Sungeneration offers daily activities for 12 to 17-year-olds. Regular get-togethers are organized, including beach BBQ’s, pizza nights and campfires. Sugar Beach’s Sports Bar – think video games, music TV, a pool and its own DJ – converts to one of the coolest teen evening venues on the island.
So you’ll be able to focus on all the ‘me’ time you need. This might entail activity in the state-of-the-art gym, Aura Fitness or a spot of tennis on one six floodlit courts. Watersports include kayaking, laser sailing, boating, snorkeling, waterskiing, windsurfing, scuba-diving, big game fishing and parasailing.
Hedonists like me prefer the Aura Spa with its hairdressing salon. Going nowhere is also an option, of course, as there is 24-hours-a-day room service.
You never have to leave its perimeter the entire time you’re there.