A Luxury stay in the Indian Ocean at Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius
In November I was invited to visit the luxury hotel ‘Constance Le Prince Maurice‘ in Mauritius, to make a video for them. As the days were getting shorter in the UK and Christmas loomed, it wasn’t a hard decision for me. I was only there for 4 days and change, but when you see the pictures below and my video, you’ll know why it was worth the journey. I learnt lots about this interesting island too, from talking to the staff and locals during my stay.
Allow me to enlighten you.
The sun sets on the far side of the hotel over gentle ripples, and a few comfortable guests snooze in their recliners on the beach.
I went to the island with the aim of making a film about the staff at the resort, that represented their Mauritian heritage and spirit. A read of the hotel’s reviews on Trip Advisor told me everything I needed to know – their staff are renowned for top-level service, and the hotel is raved about, often as a honeymoon destination. Hopefully the result shows you why;
I got so much video footage on the trip that another video will be in order at some point. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this one in the comments here or on youtube. My next video will be of a journey on the Deccan Odyssey luxury train in India, so subscribe to see it. It can take me a while to post about videos on my site after they are published on YT.
Mauritius is a fertile island sitting 200 kilometres east of Madagascar (off the east coast of Africa) in the Indian Ocean. Expect a lot of Ocean views and the island’s small mountain range to look painted on to the horizon.
The climate is warm to hot all year round, so there are lots of exotic fresh fruit and vegetables in the Mauritian diet, not to mention fresh seafood. Like many countries with hot climates, the people here just seem… very happy!
Constance take relaxation and comfort very seriously though, so you don’t have to. Their brand is built on the values of the places they are based, mainly in the Indian Ocean (like the Seychelles), where people are genuinely happy in their day-to-day lives.
Plenty of dreamy scenes, like this one from my balcony, really help you shrug off any worries and relax in the moment.
Most of the hotel is open-sided, with lots of spaces to sit and enjoy a warm breeze. This was my favourite chair. I really appreciate a good chair, and this was an amazing chair. With not a bad view and table service to boot.
Mauritius has a lot of volcanic rock, which is how most of the Indian Ocean islands were pushed up into being, and the gorgeous sandy beaches stretch out in all directions. There is lots of exotic plant life and a host of pretty birds. Most of the birds were too quick for me to get a good photo, although my video starts with a long shot of my favourite chirper, the cocky little bul-bul as the locals and staff call it.
The mood at Constance is really set in the evenings by soft lighting and various restaurants to explore – like the fabulous ‘Barachois’ floating restaurant on the lagoon here. You reach Barachois by permanent wooden walkways which weave through the lagoon until you arrive. It’s home to a single shark, called Jimmy Be Good by the staff. It’s rare to get a glimpse of him but he nearly jumped out of the water next to the table we were eating at! Made my night.
A shot showing the bar of the Asian restaurant (did someone say Sushi?!) where they’ll make any cocktail you care to order.
And then there’s the food. For me, this is where the hotel really shouts ‘Mauritius’, along with almost all the staff being islanders. Mauritian food is heavily influenced by the Indian portion of its heritage, as well as the French who colonised it later. Locals here seem very close to their cousins in South India, who similarly have a mixed heritage from Madagascar and Africa too. A Mauritian curry is full of strong spices, and this amazing fish curry (of white Grouper flesh and aubergine) was recommended to me by a past guest on twitter.
The hotel served myself and my fellow bloggers many cuisines, including more Western options, as you’d expect. The influence of their French and Mauritian chefs is evident on all the menus. I ate this barbecued lamb chop with a gravy, barbecued scallops, roasted vegetables, and a spicy tomato-based Creole sauce.
The hors d’oeuvre were also delicious and finely assembled, with the local specialty of Palm heart seen here in the middle of my plate. Literally sliced from the centre of a Palm tree, prepared in advance and resembling an all-white bowling pin.
Traditional wines are not made in Mauritius, with the majority of the land dedicated to producing sugar cane for export. They do have some interesting Lychee wine and Pineapple wine you can try, but they are sweet and less easy to enjoy sipping than the excellent South African wines they import. The impressive wine cellars at Le Prince Maurice are the largest collection of wines in the Indian Ocean, so you can find almost any type of wine you’d like, including plenty of examples of Chateaux Neuf-de-Pape which didn’t go unnoticed!
A shot from the wine cellars on Instagram during the trip.
The lovely lines and curves throughout the hotel continue to give the sense of luxury comfort wherever you find yourself in the hotel, be it eating your lunch under a private pagoda on the beach or elsewhere.
The rooms were a real pleasure too, nearly encouraging me not to venture past the door a couple of times. An early breakfast on my private balcony the day I left was absolutely fantastic and made it into the video!
I could have been given just the bathroom to stay in for my trip and I wouldn’t have complained.
I was nicely surprised to see the commitment to relaxing spaces and comfort continues in all nooks and crannies of the grounds, with this scenic example being yet another find as I wandered around with my camera and tripod.
A visit to the local market in Port de Flacq was a great chance to get my hands and nose on some of the local mixed spices to take home too. The friendliness of the locals was a replica of the friendliness of the Constance staff, and solidified my impression of Mauritian people as genuinely happy, relaxed, and welcoming.
Most people on the island speak a combination of French, English, Creole and various languages from India. Their French at the market is a heavy accent that I wasn’t expecting and I was surprised to learn these green veggies, about the size of a ping-pong ball or smaller, are a type of Aubergine. The lady I chatted to recommended them sliced and fried in oil with garlic and chillies. Yes please.
The bread of the hotel is superb thanks to the French stripes of both the chefs and Mauritius.
And the cheap abundant spices are no doubt a bonus for locals and hoteliers on the island. These Saffron ‘pistils’ were selling at one gram for 100 Mauritian rupees, roughly £2.50.
This shot I took standing ankle-deep in beautifully clear warm-water, and wondering where I could stash my camera out of the sun to go for a swim with the little schools of silver fish.
Pretty much a perfect destination which I have mentally book-marked for a honeymoon some day, and a hotel with a charming personality that shines through.
My trip was sponsored by the #UltimateMauritius campaign, created and managed by Constance Hotels & Resorts and Qube Media, with support from the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and Air Mauritius (who are currently giving away pairs of free flights to and from Mauritius until the end of January!). Many thanks from me to everyone involved. As always, I only say what I want to say, which you can read more about on my ‘No Bias‘ page. All photos here are copyright Peter Parkorr 2014 and should not be used elsewhere without my permission.