Mauritius in all its splendour
It’s known for vast white sandy beaches, clear turquoise water and lush green forests but there’s more to the spectacular island than that. A business meeting in tropical paradise? Yes please.
Towards the end of last year I was invited by Sun Resorts – represented by World Leisure Holidays in South Africa – to review three of its fabulous Mauritius resorts and conference facilities and, of course, some of the island too. Arriving from a chilly Johannesburg, the heat, although a tad humid, was welcomed with a smile.
First stop was Sugar Beach on the island’s west coast. This five star hotel is in an ideal location, within easy reach of the shopping centres of Port Louis and Curepipe, Rivière Noire is also close by for easy access to deep sea fishing excursions. Sugar Beach residents have privileged access to the amenities at neighbouring La Pirogue Hotel and vice versa.
The kilometre of white silky soft beach and still turquoise sea took my breath away. Mauritian hospitality is unlike any other country in the world and waiting for me at the entrance to the hotel was a cold face towel and delicious fruit cocktail – mini umbrella and all. I was introduced to Andrew Slome, the general manager, who, over dinner at the contemporary seafood restaurant Tides – divine by the way – explained Sugar Beach’s excitement at the increase in business tourism to the hotel.
In recent months, the resort has seen an influx of big corporates, including South African companies, hold conferences, business meetings, as well as reward staff with an incentive travel trip. It’s easy to see why. The conference facilities are as exceptional as the hotel itself. The 294 m2 elegant conference room can be quickly and conveniently divided into three separate venues, with an adjoining veranda and open terrace. The venue can host up to 350 people and only the best audiovisual equipment is provided complimentary. If you wish to work on your tablet, smartphone or laptop in your room Wi-Fi is available at an additional cost.
The Sugar Beach team prides itself on experience and professionalism in the events sector. The team will propose different event packages depending on the size and budget of your business. Golf and business go hand in hand and guests at Sugar Beach have preferential access to the stunning Le Touessrok Golf Course, a few minutes away. Designed by Bernhard Langer, this par-72 championship is the perfect deal making setting. Also at preferential green fees, the new 18-hole par-72 championship Tamarina Golf Club is only a 15-minute drive from the resort. David Beckham is rumoured to have a holiday home on the golf course; hmmm…it’s worth a shot.
The facilities at this Mauritian resort offer many possibilities for your group to unite through sports and recreational activities organised by the Sugar Beach team. These include tennis tournaments, croquet, pétanque, beach-volley, kayak, fun boats, glass-bottomed-boats, diving, deep-sea fishing, golf initiation, catamaran cruises, and many more. Specifically for MICE events, the Sugar Beach team offers fun team building exercises and games such as sack races, mask and tuba relay race or even the very entertaining potato hunt. Renowned for their themed evenings, Colonial Gala, Mauritian and Blanche Jazz will have your team dancing all night long.
Business trip it may be, but we all need a bit of pampering every now and then. The Aura Spa, located on the Sugar Beach property, can be used by guests of La Pirogue too. Entering the spa is like discovering an exotic sanctuary, so far removed from the world we know. Sweet smells, chirping birds and lush tropical plants will instantly calm those tight ‘I’ve been in one too many business meetings’ shoulders. For the ultimate relaxation try the deluxe Hammam treatments including an exotic black soap massage.
Two nights later and a hop, skip and a jump away, okay more like a golf cart ride away, and I arrived at the beautifully authentic Mauritian resort La Pirogue. I know was being lazy by not walking, but my body was so weary from my hour long massage.
Nestled in gorgeous greenery along a phenomenal stretch of white sand, La Pirogue celebrated 35 years of quality service with authenticity and charm in 2011. The hotel is one of the few originals on the island; in fact it was the first on the west coast, and offers a genuine Mauritian experience to visitors.
From the architecture, indigenous palm thatch and volcanic rock, to the food, tandoori specialities and spicy curries, the hotel has stuck to its roots. Kitted with all the amenities of a five star resort but without the pretence, La Pirogue is the perfect place to get away from the flashy suits and high rise buildings of the city.
The resort features two conference rooms; the Sesame room on the third floor of the main reception building is 250 m2 and can accommodate 225 people. The Muscade room of the first floor is 315 m2 and can accommodate 130 people banquet style.
Enjoy a casual business snack or lunch at the beach bar or something more formal at Paul and Virginie. An added bonus: all amenities and restaurants are shared with Sugar Beach next door, so dining options are endless.
I wish I could’ve have spent more than one night at La Pirogue, time just flew by without me taking enough advantage of the rolling lawns. But not to fret, I had something completely different but just as beautiful waiting for me in the form of Long Beach resort on the island’s east coast.
Long Beach is chic and stylish and provides a modern twist on authentic Mauritian architecture. An apt name for the resort, Long Beach is situated on the longest stretch of soft sandy beach in Mauritius – 7 km of endless beauty. The large open spaces, two swimming pools and six restaurants make it the perfect venue for a large group. There’s even a nightclub for those who want to party after dinner and cocktails. The 110 m2 function room has the latest communication and entertainment technology and Wi-Fi and 1024 K Broadband are available.
I was wined and dined on my second, and last night, by the charming general manager Nicolas de Chalain, at the resort’s Japanese restaurant Hasu. After a delicious dinner of an uncountable number of courses, each more delicious than the next, I headed off to Tides Pool & Beach Bar for some cocktails and karaoke. A couple of hours later, and the yawning began and off to my luxurious bed I went.
Long Beach, Sugar Beach and La Pirogue are a long way from ordinary; in fact the entire island is spectacular with sights I can swoon over again and again. There’s no reason why a business or incentive staff trip shouldn’t be on the cards. Need I say more? I think not.
Book through World Leisure Holidays at www.wlh.co.za
How to get there:
Air Mauritius should be your first port of call when travelling to the island. With a recent increase in flights to and from Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town to Mauritius, the airline and destination continue to grow in popularity.
Find out more at www.airmauritius.com