The lowdown/vibe While I’m obviously all for an uber-luxe, exotic beach break, the prospect of competing with an army of cut-out swimsuit-clad posers puts me off just a tiny bit. If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, but just as fabulous, Maritim Mauritius cleverly balances the luxury versus laid-back factor very well. Set on a private stretch of golden sand and calm, warm waters, this is one of the most heavenly places I’ve ever visited. It’s the extremely warm welcome (without the hover-and-pounce approach that sometimes comes with great service), amazing food and a magical feeling that keeps pulling the punters back year after year.
The rooms The 12-hour schlep from London to Mauritius is all but forgotten when you’re greeted by a roll top, petal-strewn bath looking out onto that sea view. The huge pillowy bed doesn’t disappoint (it’s the first time in a long while I’ve slept really well in a hotel bed, which says a lot) and all the mod cons you’d expect from five-star luxury, without a gazillion, overly-techy buttons to confuse you. My room was on the ground floor, which opened straight out onto the beautiful gardens, but all 215 sea-view rooms are either ground or first floor level and spread cleverly across the resort, so everyone has an amazing view and it never feels overcrowded. Sweet touches include a bottle of fizz on arrival and little packages delivered every evening, including local rum and homemade banana cookies.
Eating and drinking I’m not sure you can leave The Maritim without gaining a few extra pounds. Start the day perusing the enormous buffet at Belle Vue (you can grab lunch and dinner here too). Then for lunch, stay beach-side at La Maree for really superb seafood dishes, posh burgers, or a light salad. Time it right and you’ll be treated to the live band singing as you eat. Return for a barefoot dinner on the beach, watch the sun go down, then stay and sip coconut rum by the nightly bonfire. Late drinkers can wander over to The Quarter Deck Bar for a nightcap and incredible views of Turtle Bay.
Dinner at newly opened Le Banyan is a must. I’m still dreaming of the Asian-fusion feast of hot and sour soup and sushi rolls. If you fancy dressing up for the evening, head to Chateau Mon Desir for fine dining; set within the remains of the Balaclava Ruins - an old pirate hideaway – this Colonial-style chateau isn’t your average hotel restaurant – the food and attention to detail pulls in diners from across the island. We had a gluttonous seven-course tasting menu of lobster panna cotta, the most amazing seared beef tenderloin and chocolate fondant for pud. If you forget to wear a forgiving waistband, take a romantic wander down by the Citron River after dinner.
The spa The Maritim doesn’t really throw its spa in your face, but it should do. The Tropical Flower Spa is pretty sprawling but feels like a pocket of calm, with a plunge pool and whirpool in the centre and a waterfall fringing the relaxation area where you can collapse after your treatment. Everything smells heavenly too; all the treatment oils, creams and masks are hand-blended from local tropical plants and flowers, which adds to that exotic spa feeling.
Activities If you can peel yourself away from your sun lounger (I found this task quite challenging, I have to admit), the staff can arrange pretty much any activity you care to think of. Everything from yoga on the beach deck, horse riding on the beach, windsurfing, waterskiing, a glass bottom boat trip, diving lessons, tennis, plus use of the gym – and most of these are free if you’re staying on an all-inclusive basis. There’s even a nine-hole golf course if you’re a spa-and-golf kind of couple. If that sounds like too much hard work, stay put on your lounger and make full use of the beach or pool waiter service.
Beauty tip Don’t bother to pack your straighteners (or even a brush actually!), because the humidity in Mauritius can play havoc with your hair. Instead, ditch mirror time for extra bar time and champion that updo!
The details To tailor make your holiday at Maritim Hotel Mauritius, contact your travel agent or tour operator or visit maritim.com. Seven nights on an all-inclusive basis start from £1,259 per person (valid from 20 April 2013 to 23 September 2013). Prices include economy flights. Air Mauritius flies non-stop to Mauritius from London Heathrow up to four times a week. For more information visit airmauritius.com or call 020 7434 4375.