Island style: old and new

2011-04-16 09:39

For an island with almost the same population density as Johannesburg – 2 040 people per square kilometre, according to Wikipedia – you sure spend an irritating amount of time on the road in Mauritius.

That’s because, as the joke goes, everything is an hour away from where you are.

And it’s true. The tiny dual lanes hugged by tall sugarcane fields are relatively busy, with only traffic circles acting as guides and regulators.

But what a feast for the eyes. Driving through small towns on the way to the tourist resorts is something of a bewildering experience.

What look like half-finished cement structures stand shoulder to shoulder with majestic mosques, decrepit shacks and ramshackled shops. People with determined expressions march down the side of the streets among parked motorised bicycles and rusting buses.

Of course, once you reach the gates of the beach resorts, that world is safely left behind the boom gates as you enter paradise.

I recently visited two resorts on different parts of the island – Sugar Beach Resort on the west and the brand-new Long Beach on the east of the island – and realised that life on archipelago holiday spots has more similarities than differences.

Sugar Beach Resort

Waking up barely 50 steps from lush green lawns and a tranquil lagoon is not a bad way to start the day at all – and that’s what you get here. It’s almost a sin to sleep past 6am because the pastoral ambience makes you want to spread your yoga mat or take a gentle jog on the shore. This is a first-rate spot for couples who prefer their holiday luxurious and gentle – if a little placid. Think horse riding, boat trips, snorkelling and a game or two of tennis.

Out of the 200 rooms sporting the wood and white combination, two are villa suites, 92 superior ground-floor villa rooms and 164 standard rooms. The bathroom features a big sunken tub, a large shower and a big-enough closet with robes but no slippers (which I really like having, especially in warm climes).

Restaurant and bars
The Mon Plaisir buffet restaurant is all about themes, so if you stay for a week, you never have to sample the same meal twice. Tides eatery was my favourite because of its fresh and enticing seafood platters and wine selection. Be careful of the cocktails though – they are liable to induce a sugar rush like no other.

After ingesting all those calories, it’s advisable to stay a while longer to enjoy the live band that plays the usual kitsch resort medleys of Abba songs and other old-time favourites.

Why go?
This resort is more for a romantic getaway than a family one.

However, you can bring the young ones, who will be taken care of by minders at the liquorice-themed clubhouse while you get to enjoy some water polo or a spa treatment.

I’d advise against the foot massage at the spa though. Mine was extremely underwhelming.

From 29 April to October 9, you can get a standard room for seven nights from R13 368 per person or a superior room from R16 179 per person for the same period. Costs include airfares from Joburg to Mauritius.

Interesting fact
Because the shoreline is made up of the lagoon, you won’t see or hear any crashing waves. And the most curious thing is the absence of a sea smell.

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