Gawping is encouraged in Mauritius, and best done airborne in the final quarter of hour of the eleven something from London Gatwick. The first quarter is uneventful, as usual. Like clockwork, I nod off to gentle groans of the aircraft as it laboriously tears through soggy rainclouds, the occasional turbulence is but a nudging into a more permanent sleeping position. Throw in a few grainy movies in between and it’s the typical long-haul – I’ve never found it difficult to idle time away in planes anyway. Then it happens, local time 6AM, the sun splits between the blinds as the captain announces our descent into Mauritian domain, circling the South-Eastern coast, and gone are the blanket-sheathed human-cocoons (aka Londoners). Every passenger cranes their necks towards the nearest window, gawping. A breath-taking view of an infinite blue pans out across the cabin, and for some lucky few behind the left wing, a dazzling view of the milky atoll, swirling with under-water dunes, that give way to a rippling green island mottled with sugar cane farms and fishing villages.
Royal Palm Mauritius, a Beachcomber that boasts six stars, both on paper and from the moment of arrival – is a 40 minute air-conditioned, cold-towelled, ABBA (from the Creole-speaking radio)-infused ride from the airport. We weave North, through hills and crossroads, skimming the feet of some great mountains (more craning and gawping) with tropical vegetation sprawling at the hem, and wonder if a visit to Jurassic World is in the itinerary. At just a stone throw from the coastal village of Grand Baie, the hotel comes into view – heavily veiled by coconut palms and guarded by uniformed staff. Phew, no velociraptors are going to find us here.
Hat – Melissa Odabash. Dress – Topshop Unique (similar).
Check-in is breezy, just long enough to notice that the lobby smells of sun-warmed nutmeg and coconut lotion. We decide to do breakfast first, showers can wait. Overlooking the glassy cerulean water with hazy eyes, I order eggs at La Brezza: ‘Over easy, with a sprinkle of garlic pepper – with a serving of some smoked salmon. And a glass of apple, carrot and ginger smoothie, please, EXTRA fiery’ . A smiley waiter named Ritesh takes down my order and in the following five days, remembers my preference. The same way the housekeeping staff turn down my sheets during the day as my tendency to napping indoors become apparent, and a random-yet-justified appearance of a serrated knife in the room one afternoon after having bludgeoned the five yellow passion fruits with the sharper end of my eyelash curler on the first day. So this is what six-star service means (!)
Lingerie – Gooseberry Intimates
The hotel isn’t much to figure out, a haven for those who like it simple: all 69 (newly renovated) suites are treated to a sea view, one central corridor, and sports & spa facilities in the back where it’s cooler, water sports at the beach front where it’s wetter… Rather, it’s one’s job to be creative (or incredibly lazy) with the same 24 hours that is usually dissected with zeal back at home. Is it an early morning yoga session at the spa, followed by a flop down on the powder-soft beach and lull into a delicious, woozy half-sleep until the smell of pasta reaches your nose? Or giving water-ski a go? You’re on Mauritian hours, nothing but your own whim can command.
Park & Cube was a guest of Royal Palm Mauritius, all views and opinions are my own.
Skincare – Dolce & Gabbana. Cleanser – Creme de la Mer. Sun screen – Clinique.
Top & Bottom – Next.
PJ’s – Gooseberry Intimates