I have seen these maps of the world for sale online where all the countries are covered with silver like a lottery card. All you have to do is scratch off the places you have been as if you are collecting Pokémon or living out some sort of life-long bucket list of stopovers.
The adverts for these have probably been algorithmically aimed at my computer because Instagram has noticed that I travel a lot, which is true, and I’m very lucky to do so, but my main priority at the moment isn’t any more travelling, but actually going on holiday.
I realise that ‘getting away from it all’ requires a certain amount of travelling, but these maps I’ve seen advertised have a disturbing element of colonisation to them. I’ve been to Russia – does that mean I can take the edge of my 50p to the entire continent? And if I’ve been to Italy, does that mean I can take out Sardinia and Sicily in one go? I don’t know the rules, and I haven’t ordered one on Amazon. I did notice though, if you look closely enough, just to the right of Madagascar, there is no little silver blob to represent Mauritius, and that is good enough reason as any to go there on my precious, once-every-two-years holiday.
I try to synchronise holidays with Anthony Horowitz book releases, so with paperback in hand and my phone on silent, I arrived at Long Beach Mauritius wearing not much more than a floppy hat and a tied-on smile.
I took such a small amount of luggage for ten days that the only bags I was charged for on the flight were the ones under my eyes.
So here is the important bit – what was it like? It was, simply, paradise.
Just as a good martini should taste of nothing, a great holiday should mean never having to think
Not the manufactured, sand-raked and personality-cleansed paradises of daytime TV holiday competitions, but a real island paradise that made me feel, even from within the footprint of a luxury hotel, that mine were the first footprints to walk along the beaches.
The sea was the ideal temperature, colour and falling-in distance from my room, with just enough attitude to make it fun, and the sky only let me know it was there with its magnificent sunrise and the odd shower that would snap my mind back into the appreciation of the wonky perfection that Mauritius is all about.
Situated on the much-loved Belle Mare beach on the east coast, Long Beach provides panoramic vistas of white sand beaches and azure sea that make it incredibly easy to relax. Make your way to the ‘Sun Beach’ – an exclusive beach – and get treated like a queen bee in your own wicker cocoon where waiters bring you sugary nectar laced with rum every 15 minutes.
There was always room on every beach; I don’t know how they’ve done it, but it never felt crowded. Indeed, I always felt like I was the most special guest. Every room seems to be the best in the house.
The hotel itself was faultless. You know once in a while you go somewhere and within a couple of hours it feels like you live there? Well, if you don’t, and you’d like to experience that, head to Long Beach Mauritius. It’s kind of like the opposite of staying on a (not-so-close) relative’s sofa-bed over Christmas, when they tell you to ‘make yourself at home’, but you never actually can. The super-friendly hotel staff are attentive (but not over-the-top like in a posh shop) and I never noticed actually wanting for anything. Just as a good martini should taste of nothing, a great holiday should mean never having to think.
Speaking of martinis, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to explore at Long Beach Mauritius. In the first five days I went to all of the five main on-site restaurants and could honestly not pick a favourite. So for the following five days I did it all again without hesitation. From the main restaurant Le Marché with its fun and easygoing atmosphere, to the more formal Hasu serving authentic Japanese dishes, there really was something for every mood.
If you feel like having a go at cooking the local cuisine yourself, there are excursions to the local market where the head chef helps you pick out and buy the freshest local ingredients, which he then shows you how to prepare back at the resort. I really do recommend this – it’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t normally do but found incredibly rewarding and really helped me understand the country a little better.
There’s not much that tells you more about a place than how and what they eat.
There are two ways of dealing with the overindulgence of daytime beach drinking and night-time overeating – you can either move more, or move a lot less. Long Beach Mauritius caters for both extremely well. Firstly, we’ll think about moving more.
There’s diving, yoga, sunrise kayaking, water skiing, windsurfing, tennis, badminton, climbing, cycling… I’m exhausted just typing the list, but you get the picture. If it gets the blood pumping then it’s available. Golfers can take a free return shuttle and boat transfer to Île aux Cerfs Golf Club, a stunning island located just off the east coast with an 18-hole championship course designed by Bernhard Langer. It’s a delightful spot for hitting a few holes surrounded by cerulean waters and white-gold beaches.
I experienced a new kind of relaxed that I can still recall by closing my eyes
Back at the resort, I spent a few sessions in one of the four pools indulging in a new form of exercise with which I was so impressed I’m still doing it a month later. Led by former Olympian swimmer Cecile Jeanson, the muscle-strengthening water classes are unique to Long Beach Mauritius and help your brain connect to the water, creating awareness of the way this element can benefit your muscles. I can’t really describe it, but it was relatively painless and provided an even tan…
The second, and probably preferable way to unwind is to do less than nothing. The Cinq Mondes Spa and Wellness Retreat, with its huge array of wellness treatments inspired by Mauritian traditions and time-honoured rituals from around the world, will help you in your endeavours to be as lazy as possible. Your only bodily exertion will be tying up your robe.
The outdoor spa pavilion, immersed in a tropical garden, can make you feel great on the inside and look great on the outside. My only regret is not being allowed to stay long enough to require a haircut in the beauty parlour.
I’ve always been dubious of holiday evening entertainment, but I can honestly say that once my body had relaxed and I’d let my worries flow away, it was difficult not to be swept up by the fun of it all.
It’s hard not to have a smile on your face while you’re singing along to ‘Daydream Believer’ as a dancer in more sequins than Elton’s storage facility does a backflip.
Since returning to London, once in a while I see someone with a slight smile on their face as they hang onto the handrail rumbling into Mornington Crescent, and I can’t help but think that they must have, like me, just got back from Long Beach Mauritius.
Like myself, I doubt that a pin in a map, or scratching off the silver foil will be of any importance in the lasting list of reasons to have visited the island. I experienced a new kind of relaxed that I can still recall by closing my eyes, and it’s a feeling that will stick with me for a long while. Or at the very least until I go back.
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Prices at Long Beach Mauritius start from £224 per night based on two sharing a room on a half-board basis. For more information and to book, visit longbeachmauritius.com/en