Mauritius, that tranquil, subtropical, colourful and spice-filled island destination in the Indian Ocean features on most people’s travel bucket list. Once travel restrictions lift, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, a five-star deluxe hideaway located at Trou d’Eau Douce on the eastern coast of Mauritius could provide you with a place to live your dreams of paradise on earth.
The author James Hilton, in his 1933 fictional novel, described a mythical Tibetan paradise which he called ‘Shangri-La’. This lost paradise, in a valley cut off from the world, is a place where its inhabitants dwell in peace and harmony, lifting their consciousness and preserving the wisdom of humanity for all time.
While that shangri-la is still an elusive concept, these days, certain destinations and brands attempt to bring it to life in unique ways. One example is the partnership between the world-famous luxury hotel group Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts and Le Touessrok Resort & Spa on the dreamy Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
Mauritius, an island paradise
Long celebrated as a luxury long-haul travel destination, Mauritius enjoys a subtropical climate for most of the year. However, the period from November to April is considered the best time to visit, with average temperatures settling around 26 degrees Celsius.
The island is an exciting mix of cultures; people of African, Indo-Pakistani, Chinese and European descent have called it home for centuries. Mauritian cuisine perfectly reflects this cultural diversity; recipes, cooking styles and ingredients showcase a blend of Indian, Chinese and French Creole influences.
Blessed with 330 kilometres of stunning coastline and almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs, tourism is a huge part of the island’s economy. With around 150 resorts scattered around the coast, the people of Mauritius have perfected the art and traditions of hospitality.
So, what does shangri-la look like in Mauritius? Let us paint a picture for you.
Your Shangri-La dreams fulfilled in Mauritius
Following a twelve-hour flight from London, you are grateful for the subtropical heat which embraces as you emerge from the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
Luggage in tow, you are welcomed by your pre-arranged airport transfer service 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, will be your sanctuary for the next one week.
You sit back in the air-conditioned vehicle with a cold drink in your hand to begin the hour-long coastal drive from the airport to Trou d’Eau Douce. Narrow roads wind their way through small fishing villages. Sugarcane farms stretch as far as the eye can see to the foot of distant mountains covered in rich vegetation.
The scenic drive brings to life the magical beauty of the Indian Ocean. The vibrant turquoise colours of the water and the talcum-white sandy beaches hold you spellbound. You can’t wait to immerse yourself in mother nature’s gifts.
As you step out of the vehicle, you are surprised by the sound of a gong which signals the start of a traditional Sega welcome ritual. A melodious voice pierces the air as a beautifully dressed dancer sways to the pulsating rhythms from the sound of beating drums.
The folks at Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius have been waiting for you. You feel even more relaxed as someone places a cold towel and a refreshing cocktail in your hands. Check-in formalities completed, soon you’re in your hotel suite where someone had the foresight to run a bath. The in-room deep-soak bathtub, facing large bay windows, invites you to step in.
You waste no time. The luxurious bath gels and scents envelope you as you soak, relax and enjoy uninterrupted views of the setting sun over the ocean. You have just experienced your first taste of shangri-la.
Highlights for a five-day visit to Mauritius
Note: Refer to the latest UK government Covid-19 travel guidance for Mauritius here.
Day 1: Enjoy an immersive breakfast experience
A golf-cart picks you up from the hotel reception and takes you through to one of three ultra-private residences on the other side of the resort for an unusual breakfast experience. Upon arrival you are greeted by a dedicated villa team, including a private butler and chef.
You are handed your preferred drink (it is never too early for a mimosa) as you emerge from one of the adjoining rooms in your swimwear. Rays from the morning sun filter between swishing palm trees, gently caressing your skin as you glide into an infinity pool.
As your mind and body become acquainted with your new surroundings, a floating breakfast tray is gently set adrift. Surrounded by sounds of tropical birds and the soothing repetitiveness of the early morning tide, you literally begin your trip with an immersive food experience.
Day 2: Walk in the sea at Ilôt Mangénie
Mauritius is made up of a number of islands. Larger ones include Rodrigues, the Cargados Carajos Shoals, and the Agalega Islands. Guests of Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa enjoy exclusive access to a private island called Ilôt Mangénie.
A shuttle boat picks you up from the hotel’s private pier and whisks you across a clear blue lagoon to this paradise within a paradise. Your intimate island experience comes with a private beach cabana, champagne, food and butler service.
With no hurry to be anywhere else, you pop open your chilled sparkling South African rosé and tuck into a delicate truffle pizza served with an aromatic and well-seasoned grilled red snapper and fresh vegetables. Thanks to the coral reef which surrounds the island, when you are done with your mini-feast, you can literally ‘walk in the sea’ during low tide.
Day 3: Head into town for a taste of local culture
Get on an electric bike with an experienced local tour guide and head into nearby Centre de Flacq, a town of around 16,000 inhabitants. Your six-mile route through sugarcane plantations and coastal villages eventually brings you to the Centre Flacq Market (the biggest outdoor market in Mauritius).
This beehive of activity presents a great opportunity to feast your senses on rich colours, aromas and flavours and to experience the buzz of local life in Mauritius. Spend your afternoon browsing through local textiles and fashion accessories and shopping for some of the island’s famous spices
While you’re there, sample dholl puri (or dholl purée), thin pancakes made from wheat flour dough and ground split peas served with a spoonful of rougaille, a spicy-sweet tomato sauce. Also try 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, pick up some local fruit and enjoy a drink of fresh coconut water. You will need those electrolytes for the return trip.
Day 4: Cook with a local chef
The resort offers guests a choice of five dining options including the dinner-only Safran restaurant which offers a fusion of Mauritian and Indian cuisine.
You join Safran’s head chef in the hotel’s garden to pick fresh ingredients for your cooking class. As he forages, he explains that Mauritian cuisine is as diverse as the island’s ethnic makeup. He tells mount-watering stories about traditional Mauritian dishes infused with a host of spices including garlic, turmeric, coriander, lemongrass and chillies.
At the beautifully presented Safran kitchen overlooking the lagoon, he proceeds to create a simple Mauritian chicken curry and a palm heart salad dish. You watch as he builds the dish’s flavours, layer upon layer, using some of the fresh ingredients from earlier on and hand-crafted spices.
At the end, he invites you to feast and savour a taste of shangri-la.
Day 5: Enjoy a signature massage and spa
In a destination where ultimate relaxation is the goal, the concept of time quickly becomes irrelevant. There are many other things you could do while you’re visiting Mauritius such as golf at Île aux Cerfs, visiting the capital city Port Louis or zip-lining, quad biking and hiking at Domaine de L’etoile. However, the one which truly centres you in that realm of shangri-la has to be a wellness experience.
So you head to Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La and let their experienced staff help you find your place of personal peace, enchantment and well-being with a selection of signature massages and spa treatments.
While the Tibetan valley of Shangri-La might be the stuff of fiction, as you lay there being pampered, here and now, you are certain that you’ve found your own personal paradise.
At the time of publishing, Mauritius has announced a phased reopening of its borders. A number of checks are also required of all travellers to Mauritius during October.
When normal flights resume, you should be able to fly directly to Mauritius from London Heathrow (Air Mauritius). Due to the disruptions to the hospitality industry caused by the pandemic, we recommend contacting this property directly to discuss pricing, availability and their safety procedures.
Writer’s note: The key word for us here at Melan Magazine is safety. While we want to help you visualise your travels, we also want to highlight the importance of following health and safety guidelines issued by your local authorities. It is important to keep yourself safe and to help others stay safe by following those guidelines.
Disclaimer: The writer’s press trip was organised by Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts who offered complimentary hotel accommodation, meals, and activities during the trip. However, all photos and opinions expressed are the writer’s.
Omoruyi (Omo) Osagiede is a London-based writer, travel blogger and digital content creator. Omo’s work has been published in Lonely Planet, Culturs Magazine and House of Coco Magazine. As a blogger and digital content creator, his work can be found on heydipyourtoesin.com (travel, food and lifestyle) and protectme.blog (digital security).