Friday, February 25, 2011

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

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 d├ęcor, 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.

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