Friday, February 25, 2011

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO MAURITIUS, part 5, Shanti Maurice


FREE FEEL OF THE SOUTH...
New branding and a new experience. Previously it was the destination spa Shanti Ananda (presented in Select Collection Spa), now it is Shanti Maurice and offers watersports, a kids club and a Mauritian experience! Yet never letting go of its origins as a destination spa…the resort maintains a rich feeling of peace and harmony. It is a wonderful soothing place to be.

New ideas have come. First and best night of our most recent Mauritius tour (31 Jan-10 Feb) was at the beachside Fish and Rhum Shack, a rustic restaurant that the resort now opens a few times a week. At this spot the coral reef is close in, so the sound of crashing waves harmonizes with the traditional Sega music of a Mauritian band. Meanwhile the stars shine, a bonfire burns, and the air is full of ozone and the smell of grilling fish and seafood. Slender Creole girls do their traditional dance, the Sega, among us and the old sun-scorched tables in the sand. Now and then they invite us to join, and to enjoy the wild, free feeling of dancing in the sand on a tropical night.

The general manager spoke of his other ideas. All hinges on a sense of place. This is not just a luxury hotel where you forget your other life on beach and spa. This is where you discover Mauritius. Hear their music, meet the people.

The Southern coast is less developed – there is more space. The hotel is close to the black river gorge national park for example – where trekking is available.

The spa continues to be a major drawcard. Indeed, this is a delightful place of running water and lush growth. And we can vouch for expert massage. We will even go so far as to say this was the best and longest half hour back massage of an entire life. The masseur was intuitive to a degree never encountered. You merely think "please move higher, to the left", and he does.



We also had a good experience of the Ayuvedic doctor. Earlier while taking a photo climbing stairs, one of us fell and suffered a deep cut. The Ayurvedic doctor attended to it and gave good advice early that day and later in the evening.

Certainly an atmosphere of calm pervades the resort. The accommodation is spread out along the beach, with four junior suites to a building. We had a ground floor suite with access straight onto the beach at the farthest spot.



The suites are spacious (81 sqm) and quality feels good in every way – pleasant décor, marble floors, gigantic marble bathroom with separate shower and toilet, and outdoor shower in a small private garden.





There are also 12 luxury villas and 3 two-bedroom suite villas with private pools.

The lagoon is shallow with basalt boulders at one end. Pale turquoise. The beach a pleasant sandy gold. Behind the resort are green hills.

The evening is magical, facing the sunset. The shallow lagoon is a mirror of rose tints, with silhouettes of palms. In the warm air you can find a sunbed and lie facing the richly stirring tropical beauty.





Apart from the occasional Fish & Rhum Shack, there are 2 restaurants. We ate breakfast in one on day 2 – the all-day dining.

All the staff seemed pleasant and happy. A nice touch was to be offered a late breakfast on the beach when we came straight from the airport and the Air Mauritius tired and early breakfast.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO MAURITIUS, part 4, Le Touessrok



ISLAND HOLIDAY FEELING...
Le Touessrok is built on a sandy peninsula lined with palms and extends onto an offshore islet ringed by beach and lagoon, so suites are all ocean front or beachfront. The island experience is extended to two more islands offshore, one with the spectacular Le Touessrok championship golf course, and the other an exclusive Crusoe island. You escape by the resort’s private boat to Ilot Mangénie for beach and dining.



Le Touessrok is a romantic resort, with its palms, pools and fringing sands. It is also a resort with a bit of fun – nightly entertainment. We saw dragon dancing on a platform by the pool celebrating Chinese new year. For guests who like to retire before 1130 pm, rooms away from the dancing and shows should be requested as one of our party was disturbed by the dance music. In my junior suite on Franjipani island, I heard nothing except some happy English people going “home” afterwards.



Complimentary snorkeling, canoes, pedalboats and ulimited waterskiing and windsurfing are offered. Scuba and catamaran sailing offered for a supplement. And of course there is golf on the island golf course designed by Bernard Langher.

Backing up the sporty life is a free fitness centre, four tennis courts and a jogging track. For relaxation, the Givenchy spa is an elegant retreat with a motto “Beauty is no longer a ploy used in the art of seduction, it is the very essence of charm...” For dressing up and looking good, true to the resort’s sociable nature, you have a busy hair salon too.



And of course there is a kids club. This one has its own pizza oven and kiddie restaurant.



Franjipani island is joined with the public areas by two bridges. This is where we had our suite.


We loved our split level Junior suite in Franjipani wing with its high quality floors and furnishings and bright touches of colour. The desk, instead of facing the wall, lay on the higher level dividing bathroom from bedroom and mini lounge area. Sitting down at the desk (to do makeup in the lit makeup mirror) or working, you looked out through the glass doors onto the balcony, palms and beach. What a romantic view.





The bathroom was roomy with its own symmetry – central bath, a vanity on each side, and separate shower and toilet hidden behind two glass doors at the back. So well hidden one should add, that they took some finding.

Later on during a hotel inspection we saw other suites including the ocean suite. This has a separate living and dining area, and the special feature of two balconies coming off the master bedroom. It has direct beach access.

One of the nice surprises was the deluxe room in the Coral wing (not on one of the islets but on the beach of the mainland). Very fresh and tastefully bright, also on two levels like a mini junior suite, with balcony with view over beach and lagoon. (The Hibiscus wing is suggested for families and I gather is not for the deluxe honeymoon customers.)



Altogether there are 125 junior suites, 6 ocean suites and 68 deluxe rooms.
There are also three private villas. We saw one which was very spacious, with a happy holiday feeling for all its exclusivity. Comes with a butler and a kitchenette (his preserve).

Images of an ocean suite below.







The hotel offers 5 restaurants and 3 bars. We joined other guests at the manager’s cocktail party under the palms by the beach. There is nothing quite like a tropical evening when balmy breezes blow ozone off the water and coconut fronds rustle.

HOW TO GET TO LE TOUESSEROK
50 minutes by car from Mauritius International Airport.






One of the three villas with private pools