Many of the greatest brands in the world share synonymous character traits - they are brave, irreverent, unapologetic, and the majority have a sense of humour.
Most importantly, they innovate, the master currency of differentiation.
Think Apple, Starbucks, Nespresso, Nike, or Virgin. You'll have a list of your own that spring to mind, but ultimately re-writing the script is what they do best. And in a market that is divided into leaders and followers, for every one of those brands, we can cite dozens of their competitors who try in vain to replicate them.
The world is rich in extraordinary travel brands, each seeking to earn their own corner of the market - opulence, decor, modernity, adventure, or eco-tourism, to name a few. But the last decade has seen a new breed of disruptors across all industries, those who understand a new set of savvy and discerning consumers who hold higher expectations, and a voracious appetite for novelty and surprise.
South Africans that "do the Mauritius thing" are familiar with the white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, water sports, and endless buffet evenings. And resorts wrestle over the quality of these primary features. But in such a competitive space how often does one encounter something really new, pioneering, disruptive perhaps?
LUX* Resorts & Hotels is making a big play across the Indian Ocean, one of the fastest growing brands in the region. And it's a rapidly evolving space with literally dozens of well-known hotels undergoing overhauls in the past five years.
And although the white, bright and light rooms from globally renowned designer, Kelly Hoppen, have often been the talking point, it is now the creative liberty of the brand which is stealing more of the limelight.
Its CEO, Paul Jones, formerly of One&Only is fixated on the element of surprise and innovation at memorable touch-points in the resort - the reason why I found my sunglasses resting on a square cleaning cloth in my room, my name sewn into my gown, a happy birthday pillow on the bed for my wife with a small bag of gifts, or even a towel wrapped in the shape of a cake with rose petals as decoration.
Yes, absolutely, LUX* Belle Mare's heated pool (at 2,000 square metres) is the largest on the island, and the beach is arguably the best (according to the locals). The guys at the boathouse were patient and humorous and instructed my daughter with real care to get her on waterskis, but that's a standard that LUX* seems to expect as a foundation, a canvas to work from.
The colours that make a splash are things like the Mari Kontan thatched rum bar, their own craft microbrewery, the K-Bar next to the pool, or its own coffee shop, Cafe LUX*, which roasts its own beans and allows guests to participate in a roastery tour at the resort. A stone's throw away, there is the tiny Tea House where you can sample any one of 88 oriental teas in glass infusers, and then settle into a new library and wingback armchairs in silence.
Adjacent is a world-class spa, merchandised like a parfumerie you would find in London's Knightsbridge, or stairs which will take you to a gym with the latest equipment, and a new set of Pilates machines to fight the buffet belly under the tutorials of trained instructors.
The kids, of course, have the Kids Club, table-tennis, pool table, jungle gym and tennis courts but so do the majority of premium resorts. It was Junk Art which caught our attention next door, an art studio devoted to arts and crafts - but only using recycled materials - so the kids made cardboard cameras, musical instruments, and even a fidget spinner. The only issue with Junk Art was trying to get the kids out of there - they stayed two and a half hours one afternoon.