Planning a trip is always difficult. The preparation; the last-minute rush to get things done; leaving work in a reasonable position and preparing colleagues for your absence, allowing you to switch off; the financial implications. It helps, then, when there is security in the destination.
Mark Twain said, “Mauritius was made first and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius”. Twain, to be fair, was known for some outlandish levels of hyperbole, but whichever way you look at things, the Indian Ocean island does all it can to support this citation.
Historically it is a mish-mash of colonial rules, and, as a result, is about as multicultural a hotspot as can be found. Several religions, races and languages seem to harmonise incredibly well where other nations have failed. The sad fact is, though, that despite all its positives, including the weather, the country has remained poor. It has had to rely on its climate for outside investment, mainly in resorts and hotels and tourism, and in this they can claim to be a world leader. One resort is as prestigious as it is unpronounceable: Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok.
Since its opening in 1978, Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok has twice been voted the best hotel in the world. Its positioning on the east side of the island, which is the side with the best beaches — white coral beaches with bright turquoise water — sets off perfectly the luxurious yet tropical island-appropriate architecture. Of course, a hotel like this will gain notoriety for being the discreet hideaway of famous folk: the newlywed Duke and Duchess of York spent their honeymoon there.
In 2015 the highly regarded luxury-hotel owners Shangri-La gave the resort a full-scale renovation. “We mostly needed to rejuvenate the resort. The room sizes have in fact been maintained — they are some of the largest junior suites in Mauritius,” the resort’s Executive Assistant Manager, Sebastien Noat, said. (The hotel is currently tempus sede vacante with regards to their General Manager.) “The award-winning design of the bedrooms and signature bathrooms on our Frangipani wing (the site of the original Le Touessrok) have also been retained, but have also been reinvented by our incredible architects, the world famous P49, a Thai firm who have reimagined an Asian touch throughout the resort. The restaurants are most probably the area that needed most attention — concepts often require adjustment to better follow, or even set, new trends.”
It is the restaurants that give a full flavour to the hotel. Yes, the island has plenty to offer and the hotel is great at sending you out to see it, but, gastronomically, the best places to eat on the island are at the hotel — from the Indian restaurant, Safran, to the fantastic sushi at Kushi and a more casual but probably more accessible and family friendly option, the American grill Republik. “Restaurants are the heart of our hotel,” Noat says. “They are where the magic happens. Our Nobu-trained chef, our South Indian chef and our Italian Executive Chef all contribute something different to the wider culinary team of 80 of the best Mauritian chefs. Each one of them plays a part in putting Le Touessrok as an epicurean destination in its own right and the epitome of luxury lifestyle. Our guests can safely assume they will always find something to their tastes.” The seafood is predictably brilliant, as is the chicken curry dish for two at Safran, but what is best is also the most simple, wood-fired pizza on the shores of Ilôt Mangénie (more on this island later).