I had seen pictures of idyllic Mauritius in magazines, on Instagram, and hell, even pictures of my parents back in 1995 standing alongside a palm tree.
The island had always been on my bucket list.
But nothing would have prepared me for the beauty that awaited me when I set foot on the island in March, courtesy of Mauritius Tourism.
As Mark Twain said: “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven; and heaven was copied after Mauritius.”
So let’s start from the beginning. When the Lifestyle editor called me to offer me a trip of sun, sea and relaxation, I had to pinch myself, thinking it was all a dream.
A whole five days of the beach, cuisine, sight-seeing and well, sleep (I’m a mom to two toddlers). It was truly a dream come true.
Mauritius is a mere four-hour flight, and the time goes by pretty quickly if you opt to take a nap or even read a good book on the plane.
Having travelled abroad, I was taken aback by the friendliness that greeted me at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
Passport control even told me to enjoy my holiday and, boy oh boy, did I enjoy it.
A media team were invited to stay at the recently opened LUX Grand Baie on the northern coast of the island, an hour's drive from the airport.
The five-star resort will capture you the moment you enter.
It’s a combination of chic, ultra-modern design while still encompassing the beauty of the Indian ocean.
The Mauritian architect Jean-Francois Adam was inspired by a childhood spent on the very beach the resort is set on.
The hotel, which caters for families, has a combination of rooms and suite.
I stayed in junior suite and let’s just say I began living like a Kardashian.
A welcome cake, not a slice, a cake, awaited me on arrival.
Everything was at a touch of a button. The decor is clean with minimal colour adding to the sophistication.
The bathroom facilities were also in a class of its own. The toilet had a phone charger, even a telephone if god forbid you ran out of their three-ply toilet paper.
But the real treat was the bed, which according to the hotel, was imported from Sweden.
The hotel offers four swimming pools, four bars and three restaurants.
The Beach Rouge is a culinary delight, offering a traditional à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You can hear a pin drop on the beach while soaking up the sun or enjoying cocktails on the beach.
For those fitness fanatics, there are yoga classes, spinning classes, a gym and other activities on hand.
A kid’s club is also available, and with two young kids, the amenities on offer can keep them busy for hours.
A state of the art spa, with various offerings from a Turkish hammam to your traditional full body massage, is also on offer.
For me, my ultimate favourite was the rooftop terrace with its infinity pool and swing as you watch the sunset on the Indian ocean.
Not surprising, the hotel won Best Luxury Hotel & Resort by Mauritius Business Awards four months after opening its doors.
While remaining at the Lux Grand Baie for the rest of the trip was not an option, I had the opportunity of visiting the capital Port Louis, a mere 20 kilometres from Grand Baie.
We drove through the towns, visited a fresh produce market, looked at how locals lived and ate the most delectable cuisine at Escale Creole, a local restaurant run by a mother and daughter duo.
Being Indian, the food was similar to what we prepare but definitely boasted its unique flavour.
I haven’t quite adjusted to not having a tot of Mauritian Rum to finish off my meals.
Day two was probably the most adventurous I had even been, sea kayaking in the mangroves courtesy of Hello Islands.
It was lovely to have a friendly face. Former South African Peter Haberland from Yemaya Adventures guided us through the mangroves while educating us about the rich history of the island.
The tour was followed with some cake and virgin mojito juice.
I finished off my stay in Mauritius at the Salt of Palmar adult-only boutique hotel.
The cosy hotel boasts the most delectable food, the friendliest faces, and their most notable thing is their quest to save the planet.
The hotel boasts all vegan-friendly body scrubs, hair masks and offers yoga on the beach.
It’s a very relaxing atmosphere and is one of the only resorts situated a mere 9 metres from the water.
Let’s just say we spent most of our time in the water.
The rooftop bar will allow you to watch the full moon as you sip cocktails before dinner.
The trip ended with a visit to see the Huge Shiva statue in Grand Bassin temple, where we got to celebrate a bit of the Hindu festival Holi where Hindus throw coloured powder into the air and splash them on others.
With a mere 1,3 million population in Mauritius, it was comforting to know that over 90 percent of their population had been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Arvind Bundhun, Director of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, said as it stands, 90% of Mauritius’ adult population is fully vaccinated, and their booster dose campaign is at full swing.
As a first time traveller, Mauritius has captured my heart.
The friendly faces, the safety, the food and definitely the warm Indian ocean is why Mauritius is a must-see
I can’t wait to go back.
Jolene Marriah-Maharaj was a guest of Mauritius Tourism.