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Luxury hotels have staked claims to Mauritius’ famed beaches for decades, but over the past couple of years, elite designers have remade venerable island institutions and built new paradise retreats from the ground up.
There are dozens of top-notch resorts and hotels across the island, but here’s a list of 10 of the best and most interesting places to stay:
1. Oberoi Mauritius, Turtle Bay Marine Park, Balaclava
While this isn’t a couples-only resort, the Oberoi feels like a honeymooners retreat. There is a kids’ club for the little ones, but everything from the waterfall at the entrance to the villas with private pools says romantic luxury getaway.
Repeatedly voted the best hotel in Mauritius at the World Travel Awards, this is the sort of place where guests return to their room to find their tub filled with rose petals.
The Oberoi Mauritius, The Oberoi Turtle Bay Pointe, aux Piments, Mauritius; +230 204 3600
2. Angsana Balaclava Mauritius
The famed Thai resort brings its chic Asian style to a retreat that’s meant as a couples getaway.
Seriously, they offer a “romance concierge” who can organize a couple’s massage or set up a private candlelight dinner inside the rooms overlooking the beach. They can even organize a wedding.
The hotel is secluded, beautiful and enjoys glorious sunsets every evening. The spa is one of the best in Mauritius.
Angsana Balaclava Mauritius, Turtle Bay, Balaclava, Mauritius; +230 204 1888
3. Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa
Recently renovated, the Shangri-La combines modern Asian design with family-friendly amenities.
Long owned by South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, Shangri-La was brought in to spruce up the place and take over the management. The hotel used to reflect a particularly South African sense of Mediterranean design. Now it has modern Asian interiors, with rough or natural woodwork balanced by soft earth tones that work to make the ocean water appear even more vibrant.
The resort has four beaches and a private island, Ilot Mangénie, that’s only for guests. Another private island, Ile aux Cerfs, has an 18-hole golf course designed by Bernhard Langer.
Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Coastal Road, Trou d’Eau Douce, Mauritius; +230 402 7400
4. The Address Boutique Hotel
The Address is run by Indigo Hotels, best known for its business hotels around Mauritius’ commercial centers.
This is a hybrid, with the functionality of a business hotel with some of the amenities of a resort. It’s not a beach getaway. The hotel is built inside a gated community along a lagoon. Rooms overlook trees and waterways, and homes are designed with a vaguely Mediterranean sensibility.
The hotel is designed as a series of terraces overlooking an indoor central atrium, while outside seating and lounge chairs are arranged under the shade of sails. Residents of the community of Port Chambly may wander in for a meal at the restaurants.
Just drive slowly. The streets are paved with rough volcanic rocks.
The Address Boutique Hotel, Port Chambly, Terre Rouge, Mauritius; +230 405 3000
5. Hotel 20 degres sud
One of the best-kept secrets in Mauritius, this 36-room boutique hotel is hidden down a narrow neighborhood street in Grand Baie. The location removes it from the main tourist drag by the marina but keeps guests on the white-sand beaches of the bay.
The hotel itself is sheltered by an old coconut grove with balconies overlooking the water.
Dining in the hotel is exquisite, but there are more creative options on offer as well, like a meal above the 91-year-old Lady Lisbeth, which carries up to eight people for a cruise around the bay while enjoying a gourmet meal.
The hotel also organizes a longer dinner journey by catamaran to the abandoned island of Île Plate, where tables are set among the ruins of the old Dutch governor’s mansion.
Hotel 20 Degres Sud, Coastal Road, Pointe Malartic, Grand Baie, Mauritius; +230 263 5000
6. SO Sofitel Mauritius
A stunning design by Thai architect Lek Bunnag, who calls the style “tropical architecture” with roofs that drop low and create huge volumes of space inside, supported by columns that are equal parts ornamental and structural.
This creates a circulation of air that eliminates the need for air conditioning while keeping temperatures comfortable.
French-Japanese designer Kenzo Takada created the uniforms and the interiors, giving a soft edge to simple shapes and designs that evoke Zen gardens with occasional bursts of flowers.
Despite the high-design concepts, the Sofitel welcomes children and has a kid-friendly pool and play area. But it’s the main public areas that inspire, from the moated restaurant that appears supported by beams of light, to the spa that “floats” amid naturally flowing stream.
SO Sofitel Mauritius, Wolmar, 90517 Flic en Flac, Mauritius; +230 453 8700
7. Constance Le Prince Maurice
Named for the Dutch prince whose name was given to the island, this resort is one of the few in Africa to land in “world’s best hotels” lists. The suites are really little villas, some of which extend over the water, others have romantic private pools. There’s a large kids club and the staff are very welcoming to families.
The decor evokes the spice trade, both in colors and style. The seafaring theme extends into the dining – one of the restaurants floats over the ocean. Joined together by gangplanks, it makes each space feel like a secluded island getaway.
Constance Le Prince Maurice, Choisy Road, Poste de Flacq, Mauritius; +230 402 36 36
8. Hotel Riu Le Morne
This adults-only retreat sits at the foot of Le Morne mountain, a World Heritage Site.
The mountain towers in the background, while the white-sand beaches are among the best in the country. The water sports offerings are particularly enticing, but there’s also an arts program for the less adventurous.
The resort covers a huge area along the coast, but creates open spaces within the property so that it never feels crowded. It’s on a stretch of the coast that’s home to several ultraluxurious properties, hidden by the mountain from the rest of the island.
Hotel Riu Le Morne, Pointe Sud Ouest, Le Morne, Mauritius; +230 650 4203
9. Lux* Belle Mare
London-based interior designer Kelly Hoppen said she wanted to create a sense of barefoot luxury when she revamped the Lux. She did lighten it up, giving it a modern sensibility with lots of taupe and blonder woods, accented with splashes of color.
Mauritius doesn’t need help with its color palette. The ocean and the tropical plants provide all of that.
Lux* Belle Mare, Coastal Road, Belle Mare, Mauritius; +230 402 2000
10. La Palmeraie
Modeled on a Moroccan riad, La Pameraie’s corridors connect a series of geometrically aligned courtyards and gardens that eventually spill onto the white sand beaches of Palmar.
Upon arrival, guests are asked to choose a scent from selection of perfume testers, ranging from fruity to spicy smells that fill the room at bedtime. Balconies overlook the ocean with views that change as the sun moves through the sky, and create a feeling of privacy from the beachgoers below.
Although Belle Mare is home to a string of resorts, this side along Palmar also feels more local.
Next door to the hotel is a park where Mauritians buy juices from vendors and picnic. Farther along is a beachfront housing complex for people lucky enough to live here.
La Palmeraie, Coastal Road, Palmar, Belle Mare, Mauritius; +230 401 8500
Griffin Shea is a writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he also runs Bridge Books – an independent bookstore in an old, columnated bank building.