If you’re looking for a bit more than the chance to soak in the sun on a relaxing holiday on an Indian Ocean island, then check out these five immersive food experiences offered by Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius. This five-star deluxe property, located at Trou d’Eau Douce on the island’s eastern coast delivers on hospitality, relaxation and soft adventure.
For many people, visiting Mauritius means prioritising relaxation over adventure. This is one reason why Mauritius remains popular for resort holidays – the island has around 150 resorts dotted around its stunning 330 kilometres of coastline.
However, with a little curiosity, visitors will find many opportunities to step away from the beach and sun loungers to experience some adventure. Activities are a great way to get acquainted with this gem of an island.
With travel activities a focus in recent travel trends, TripAdvisor has projected a 47% increase in the demand for food and wine experiences in 2019. Those trends also suggest that these experiences should preferably be local, authentic and provide opportunities to learn something new.
So what if, through a combination of curated activities, visitors could get insights into the local food culture in Mauritius, pick up some culinary inspiration and enjoy unique dining experiences while still prioritising relaxation?
Resorts like Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius offer this very combination.
In this roundup, we share five immersive food experiences to try at Shangri-La’s signature property in Mauritius.
#1. Start Your Day With a Floating Breakfast
The three secluded beach villas – the most exclusive accommodations – at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa have been known to host royals and celebrities. However, in between guest appearances by the stars, the beach villas are selectively opened to guests seeking a different type of breakfast experience.
A golf-cart picks you up from the hotel reception and takes you through to the ultra-private residences on the other side of the resort. Upon arrival, you are greeted by a dedicated villa team made up of a butler and chef there to cater to your every need.
Your preferred drink (turns out, it’s never too early for a mimosa so we ordered a few) is handed to you as you emerge from one of the adjoining rooms in your swimwear.
Rays from the morning sun filter between swaying palm trees, gently caressing your skin as you glide into your own private infinity pool surrounded by sounds from tropical birds and the soothing repetitiveness of the early tide.
As your mind and body become acquainted with your new surroundings, a floating tray with your breakfast – soft cheeses, smoked salmon, croissants, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit – is gently set adrift. You literally begin your trip with an immersive food experience.
#2. Pick Your Own Ingredients in the Chef’s Garden
Mauritian cuisine perfectly reflects the cultural diversity of the island. Cooking styles and ingredients from Indian, Chinese, French and Creole cultures have blended over centuries resulting in an equally diverse local cuisine.
Ramesh Bundi is an acclaimed chef who heads up Safran, Shangri-La Le Touessrok’s Indian-Mauritian fusion restaurant. When he’s not preparing for his evening-only feast at the resort, he can often be found scouting the resort’s on-site vegetable garden for ingredients.
We tagged along after breakfast to explore this green patch of goodness that supplements the resort’s five restaurants with freshly picked ingredients. We watched Chef Ramesh pick a few items including chillies, a popular feature in many Mauritian curries.
Looking for an immersive food experience while in Mauritius? Find a local chef and go foraging for local ingredients. Learn how ingredients such as garlic, turmeric, coriander, lemongrass and of course, chillies are used in various local dishes and hear the stories surrounding them.
#3. Participate in a Cooking Class with a Local Chef
Following our visit to the vegetable garden, we headed back to Safran for a cooking class with Chef Ramesh and his colleague Chef Ravi. The recipe? A simple Mauritian chicken curry.
Putting their skills to work, the chefs built the dish’s flavours layer by layer using some of the ingredients earlier picked from the garden and other signature spices from the Safran kitchen (Chef Ramesh insists on making his own).
While chatting about their favourite local dishes, the chefs surprised us with a treat, a dish called Salade Palmiste. Also known as ‘millionaire’s salad’, this Mauritian delicacy is a feast of delicate flavours with the chopped-up, raw heart of a palm tree as the main highlight.
Cooking with locals is a great way to learn about life in Mauritius and perhaps pick up a secret family recipe or two. Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa simulates that experience with on-site cooking classes led by local chefs.
#4. Visit a Local Market and Sample Street Food
Fancy a bit more activity? Jump on electric bikes and head to a local market to feast your senses on local flavours and delicacies and to feel the vibe.
Our guide on this excursion was the resort’s lead fitness instructor, Jean Philippe Nazira, who expertly managed a small group of enthusiastic cyclists on our journey to the Central Flacq Market.
The flat tyres of our electric bikes were useful for both on and off-road situations and the electric motor made pedalling (especially uphill) such a breeze. Our six-mile route through sugarcane plantations and small fishing villages eventually brought us into Centre de Flacq, a busy town with just over 16,000 inhabitants.
The Central Flacq Market is the biggest outdoor market in Mauritius and as expected, was bustling with activity. Enjoy browsing through local textiles, tropical fruit, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood and spices without pressure.
This is the place to sample dholl puri (or dholl purée), thin pancakes made from wheat flour dough and ground split peas. This popular street food is cooked on a girdle called a tawa and served plain or with a spoonful of rougaille, a spicy-sweet tomato sauce and wrapped in paper.
Other treats to sample include gâteau patate, a wafer-like pastry made from sweet potato and coconut and fried gato piments (a combination of split peas, spring onion, turmeric, and chilli) served on a warm baguette with a drizzle of hot sauce.
Before you leave, remember to replace those electrolytes for the return trip with fresh coconut water.
#5. Relax, Recharge and Revive on a Private Island
After your cycling exertions, you’ll want to jump back into chill mode. No problem. There’s another food experience to give you one more taste of Mauritius…a relaxing lunch on a private island. Ilôt Mangénie is a privately owned island to which guests at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa have exclusive access.
A ten-minute shuttle boat service transports guests from the main resort, across a crystal clear lagoon and into an intimate dining and relaxation experience. This experience comes with a beach cabana equipped with a bed big enough to sleep four people and private butler service.
Upon arrival, you’re welcomed with a glass of chilled sparkling South African rosé wine and a fresh fruit basket. Your butler takes your lunch order before disappearing to let you enjoy your privacy and the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
As you relax, recharge and revive, he may then reappear bearing the most delicate truffle pizza you’ve ever tasted or an aromatic and well seasoned grilled red snapper accompanied with fresh vegetables.
On Ilôt Mangénie, the concept of time seems foreign. When you’re done with your meal, take a walk along the quiet beach or simply immerse yourself in the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
We flew directly to Mauritius from London Heathrow with Air Mauritius (12 hours). Excursions to Ilôt Mangénie and Central Flacq Market were pre-arranged but are available to all guests. Rates for a 5-night stay in a Junior Suite Frangipani Beach Access room start from £920 per night for half-board (includes breakfast and dinner, golf club access and water sports). Costs are based on 2 adults visiting in November 2019.
For enquiries and bookings, visit www.shangri-la.com/mauritius