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Travel Inspo: Glamour’s Features Editor, Thobeka Phanyeko shares her ‘Generously Mauritius’ experience

Situated in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa, the tropical island lends itself to both exploration and leisure. From breath- taking views to scenic destinations,Mauritius is a gift that keeps on giving.

Image: Thobeka Phanyeko

When I texted the words “I’m just finna be on an island sipping on cocktails” to a friend on a chilly winter’s morning in the Mother City, little did I know that the universe was listening. Just a week into spring, I’m boarding an Air Mauritius flight, looking forward to exchanging the cold weather for warmer climate in Paradise. It’s hard to contain my excitement as I wonder whether it looks as enticing in real life as it does in the images I’ve seen on the internet. I also imagine myself in a bikini, living without care in the world. The screen in front of me shows our exact location and three hours into our flight, we’re 4 000 feet above sea level; I’m in awe...

Image: Air Mauritius

My dream of chasing sunsets with sundowners in hand is fast becoming a reality when a cabin crew member announces that we’ll be landing in Mauritius at 19h35. We touch down on cue at Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolan International Airport, just 48km of the south-east of the capital city, Port Louis. We disembark, make our way to baggage reclaim, and navigate through the massive airport. The atmosphere is electric, as Mauritian fans have come out in numbers in support of their football team after participating in the 2023 Men’s Indian Ocean Island Games Football Tournament. The cheers become more audible as we approach the crowd to get to our shuttle.

We exchange glances as if to say, “what an epic welcome!” An industry colleague on the media trip asks if I’m taking a video, I nod. Our driver welcomes us warmly, and in just a few minutes we embark on a two-hour scenic drive to Le Meridien Ile Maurice Resort, Mauritius. We finally arrive at the perfectly located five–star luxury resort, set against the shore of the Indian Ocean. It’s night-time, so we only get a glimpse of paradise as we drive in.

Image: Le Meridien Le Maurice

Our hosts receive us warmly, and the friendly staff offer to carry our bags to our rooms while we check in. The live performance sets the tone for a magical stay. Shortly after, we’re treated to a three-course meal at Le Meridien; our first experience of the “Generously Mauritius” promise that runs through the DNA of the Marriott International offerings. The passion for hospitality can also be seen in the generous meal portions, which become a regular talking point during our stay. We’re blown away, not only by the gourmet experience but by the colorful nature of the people. Our waiter remains in sight to keep our glasses full as a we get acquainted over the scrumptious meal. The ambience is enchanting, the conversation’s flowing, and the desert seals the dinner with a chef’s kiss! We share a toast and reluctantly call it a night. Just when I thought Mauritius couldn’t get any sweeter, I step into a sanctuary fit for a queen.

The room is an extension of the thoughtfully designed exterior, and the colour palette makes the space feel even more comfortable. I particularly love the neutral creams and whites with pops of blue. And the fluffy carpets are a love letter to my feet after a day of travelling. Within minutes, I doze off peacefully to the soothing sound of waves.

My alarm plunges me into the day prematurely, considering we’re two hours ahead of SA time. I’m tempted to hit the snooze button but I grudgingly get out of bed, and take in my surroundings. The breathtaking view of the glistening Indian Ocean wins me over and any ideas of going back to bed are replaced with an eagerness to lean into the day. Suddenly I’m filled with gratitude when I realise that I’ll be present for my first Mauritian sunrise. The picture I had envisioned starts to take shape, so I move closer to the ocean with my phone in hand to capture the moment. A memory I plan to revisit whenever I need to locate joy in the moment. I lose track of time as I try to find the perfect shot to share with our 95 000 Instagram followers. I start to wonder if it’s at all possible to capture the essence of this magical island. It’s a call from our host for the trip, SA’s representative on behalf of Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, Hermina Sennelo that gives me have to experience it! So I dive right in.

Image: Le Meridien lle Maurice

A snapshot of our Mauritian adventure...

Day 1:

We drove to Bain de Rosnay and enjoyed a Sea Kayaking experience at Ile d’Ambres. We tackled the adventure in pairs, and my partner Andrew Thompson contributed to making it fun and memorable. A 45-minute drive to Le Château de Labourdonnais allowed us to revel in the experience and dig into to a three-course meal at the Château de Labourdonnais. We transferred back to Le Meridian, kicked back with sundowners in hand and watched the sun set resort before dressing up for a wholesome dinner.

Day 2:

Our day started with breakfast at hotel Le Meridien before checking out. The excursion, which was steeped in history, included a visit to the Interpretation Centre and a walking tour of Port Louis and the market before heading to lunch at Eureka Restaurant. We later transferred to the JW Marriott Mauritius Resort; a five-star luxury haven surrounded by protected coral reefs and lush vegetation. Situated on the southwestern side of the island, it’s set against the backdrop of the majestic, unspoilt Le Morne Brabant - a UNESCO World Heritage Site known locally as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. We were treated to a sea food-inspired five-course dinner, which was definitely one of the trip’s highlights.

Floating breakfast set in tray with fried egg omelette sausage ham bread fruit milk juice coffee and other around swimming pool

Day 3:

Ou day started with breakfast at JW Mariott before embarking on a site visit to Le Morne Heritage. A scenic drive led us to Chamarel La Terre Couleurs, and we immersed ourselves in nature at the Waterfall + Geo Park. Here, we spotted turtles and marvelled at the waterfall before making our way to La Rhumerie de Chamarel. The Rhum tasting during the guided tour was another highlight. And lunch was served at the lush location before transferring back to the resort for some leisure time before dinner.

Image: Thobeka Phanyeko

Day 4:

We started our day with a buffet breakfast and mimosas before transferring to La Balaise Marina where we spent the day aboard the JPH Catamaran on the west coast of the Island. And enjoyed sundowners before heading back to the resort for a scrumptious three-course dinner.

Day 5:

Breakfast was served in our rooms before checking out at 06h30 Mauritian time. Did I mention that the five-star luxury hotel offers a butler service and we were ferried to and from our rooms to the restaurant for the duration of our stay? The Maurituian adventure is definitely one for the books, the only grievance I have is that it came to an end. Beyond sipping cocktails in bikinis (which I absolutely loved) you’ll be pleased to discover that there’s more to this majestic’s to uncovering the layers and chasing sunsets in Mauritius!

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About Air Mauritius

Air Mauritius was incorporated on 14 June 1967, a few months before Mauritius gained independence. Over more than 50 years, Air Mauritius has fully played its role as the national airline of Mauritius, providing air connectivity that has been crucial for the Republic’s development. However, in April 2020, travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic culminated in the closure of borders in all its markets and the cessation of all international and domestic flights. This led to complete erosion of the company’s revenue base with the uncertainty as to when international air traffic would pick up. In these circumstances, the company was not esteemed to be in a position to meet its financial obligations in the foreseeable future. The board, therefore, took the decision to place the company under voluntary administration in order to safeguard its interests and those of its stakeholders.

Air Mauritius exited voluntary administration on 01 October 2021 with the support of the Government of Mauritius which injected MUR 12 billion (USD 280 million) into the airline through its parent company Airport Holdings Ltd. Air Mauritius has come a long way over the last 50 years as the national airline from its humble beginning with the Piper Navajo to the latest generation aircraft, the Airbus A350-900 XWB and the A330-900neo. Today, the Air Mauritius serves points in Europe, India, Africa, and the Indian Ocean islands and other points in Asia and Australia. Over the last half-century, the airline has forged its reputation as a true national ‘icon’ connecting with the people of Mauritius as a symbol of pride and flying the Mauritian flag in leading airports of the world. Air Mauritius operates from its base at SSR International Airport in Mauritius. SSR International Airport was designated Indian Ocean’s Leading Airport 2021 for the third year in a row by the World Travel Awards.

Air Mauritius Communications and Corporate Affairs – March 2023 The Red-tailed tropic bird Phaeton Rubricauda, commonly known as the Paille-en-Queue, inspired the Air Mauritius logo. It is a large seabird with long red tail streamers and a red bill. The Phaeton Rubricauda is commonly seen on the northern islets of Mauritius and in other parts of the Mascarenes, where it nests in undisturbed cliffs.

(Air Mauritius copy: supplied)

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