The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius has been described as ‘brochure perfect’ and for good reason too. A luxury holiday experience at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius brings to life in vivid detail, images of idyllic beaches, blue skies, crystal clear waters and traditional Mauritian hospitality. Our Team Coco writer, Omo Osagiede, recently visited the island’s eastern coast to experience this personal paradise with a touch of Shangri-la.
Welcome to Mauritius
Mauritius is well established as a long-haul, luxury island destination in the Indian Ocean.
The heat embraces you upon arrival at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. Mauritius enjoys a subtropical climate for most of the year. However, the period from November to April (summer) is considered the best time to visit, with average temperatures settling around 26 degrees Celsius.
As you emerge from the airport, you are immediately bombarded by different welcome signs bearing the names of multiple holiday resorts located around Mauritius. After manufacturing and agriculture, tourism contributes significantly to the island’s economic growth and remains a key factor in its overall development.
The name we were looking for was 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, would be our sanctuary for the next week.
We found our transport and began the hour-long coastal journey from the airport to Trou d’Eau Douce. Narrow roads wound their way through small fishing villages while sugarcane farms stretched as far as the eye could see to the foot of distant mountains.
The scenic drive brings to life the magical beauty of the Indian Ocean, a view which holds you spellbound (if you are lucky to get a window seat) upon final approach to the island from the sky. Nothing prepares you for your first up-close glimpse of the vibrant turquoise colours of the water or the talcum-white sandy beaches.
We were also unprepared for the warm welcome we received upon arrival at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius.
A long tradition of Mauritian hospitality lives on
A resounding gong signalled the start of a traditional Sega welcome ritual delivered by local performers. The singer’s voice pierced through the tranquillity of our surroundings as a beautifully dressed dancer swayed and swirled to the pulsating rhythms from the sound of his drum.
If the ancient banyan tree standing proudly at the front of the hotel hinted at the resort’s past, an imposing woven sculpture, titled ‘The Weaver’s Belvédere’, told another story about its journey to the present day.
Le Touessrok began life in 1915 when a sugarcane farmer, Henri Wiehé, and his wife built a beach house and began hosting social gatherings with family and friends. This foundation of hospitality was established when it was later converted into a five-room guesthouse.
The 2015 partnership between world-famous luxury hotel group Shangri-La and Le Touessrok Resort & Spa has ensured the preservation of this long tradition of showcasing Mauritian hospitality.
The combination of the island’s culture mix and rich biodiversity with elements such as food and beverage and Mediterranean-style design create a brand that makes this resort a worthy choice for a long-haul island holiday destination.
A private hideaway, a personal paradise
The resort architecture includes 200 rooms and suites and three exclusive villas spread out along the pristine Trou d’Eau Douce Bay.
Our stylish beach-chic Junior Frangipani suite came with a king-size bed and provided direct access to one of six idyllic beaches located around the property. A design highlight was the in-room deep-soak bathtub. Its position, facing large bay windows, provided uninterrupted views of the lagoon and a chance to watch the sunrise while soaking in luxurious bath gels.
Rooms in the Frangipani Wing also come with special benefits including a bottle of sparkling wine upon arrival, à la carte breakfast in the Republik Beach Club & Grill, a complimentary mini bar and sunset cocktails. Fresh drinking water was placed in the rooms daily in glass bottles (we learned that the hotel is consciously reducing single-use plastics).
To make an already luxurious experience even more spectacular, there is also a private island, Ilôt Mangénie, to which the resort’s guests have exclusive access. Regular shuttle boat services transport guests across a crystal clear lagoon into an intimate experience that comes with a private beach cabana, champagne and butler service. A delicate truffle pizza was a highlight during our visit.
Keen golfers can spend the day at the neighbouring Île aux Cerfs. Although a popular destination for tourists, much of this island has been transformed into an 18-hole championship grade golf course. Designed by the famous German pro-golfer Bernhard Langer, guests of Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa enjoy complimentary green fees.
A host of aquatic activities are available. However, thanks to the reef which surrounds the island, our favourite activity, by far, was the ability to ‘walk in the sea’ during low tide.
Sampling local culture through gastronomy and adventure
Holiday resorts often come under criticism for not doing much to highlight the local culture. Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa makes a deliberate effort to introduce guests to Mauritian culture through gastronomy and curated excursions.
The days when Jacqueline Dalais, granddaughter of the hotel’s first landowner put this slice of Trou d’Eau Douce on the culinary map of Mauritius with her seafood-inspired restaurant in the 1960s are long gone. However, the resort now offers guests a choice of five dining options including the dinner-only Safran restaurant which offers a fusion of Mauritian and Indian cuisine.
After breakfast one morning, we spent time with Safran’s internationally acclaimed Chef Ramesh Bundi who explained that Mauritian cuisine is as diverse as the island’s ethnic makeup – Indian, African, Chinese and European. This fascinating blend of cultures is given expression through the restaurant’s menu. Our Lamb Rogan Josh and Poulet Kadai were cooked to tender perfection in a rich blend of spices.
Many people visiting Mauritius are often seeking relaxation rather than adventure. However, for the curious visitor, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa can arrange soft adventure excursions including cycling tours and visits to local markets. Adrenalin-inducing outdoor adventure activities (including ziplining and quad-biking) are available at Domaine de L’etoile, a natural reserve located in Central Mauritius.
Slow and steady at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa
In a place designed for ultimate relaxation, the concept of time quickly becomes irrelevant. After a visit to Ilôt Mangénie one afternoon, we booked a signature massage at CHI, The Spa at the resort. One sure sign that you are having an incredible spa experience is when the most important thought that occurs to you is deciphering bird sounds from the soft ambient music surrounding you.
For a time, the Maldives and Seychelles may have stolen the headlines as leading Indian Ocean island destinations for weddings and honeymoons. However, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa makes a strong case for Mauritius as the paradise of choice if taking things slow and steady is your utmost priority.
We flew directly to Mauritius from London Heathrow with Air Mauritius (12 hours). Transfers to the resort were pre-arranged. 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