An undiscovered gem in Mauritius

Chris Carter is impressed with a new five-star resort on the southern, less developed part of the island

In February, I wrote about Beachcomber’s wonderfully decadent Royal Palm resort, up on the northern tip of Mauritius. It’s here, at Grand Baie, that many of the island’s high-end offerings are clustered. But there is another, quieter, less developed side to Mauritius – one located at the island’s southern end. It’s just waiting to be discovered. 

Last October, Thailand’s Anantara opened its five-star Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas on the white sand beach of Le Chaland. It’s just a ten-minute drive from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport and is close to the charming, old French colonial capital of Mahébourg and the snorkellers’ paradise that is the Blue Bay Marine Park. 

The Iko is still a work in progress – it has designs on expansion. But it’s looking pretty good as it is. When I visited in December, it was a cosy haven of tastefully modern rooms, a poolside bar, several restaurants and a spa, set in tropical gardens, centred around a swimming pool, and with ocean views. 

The 164 rooms face either onto the sea or the gardens. Decorated in clean, straight lines, using natural materials in shades of cream and browns, they have spacious bathrooms, with large showers and rounded bathtubs. Back out in the lobby, the blending of stone basalt, dark silent pools and light exudes an exotic temple feel that runs into the spa. There, the signature treatment, the Mauritian Salt Drift, is a three-hour indulgence of foot and body scrubs using local Tamarin salt and spices, a coconut body wrap, an Ayurvedic massage, topped off with a facial.

Next to the pool, you will find the jazzy Karokan bar for a cold Blue Marlin beer and a thatched-roof restaurant that looks towards the beach. We sat down to an early supper of hot and cold creole favourites as the sun sank over the sea. The cuisine in this part of the world really is exquisite and still much overlooked. 

Our short stay was just to fill time before making an onward flight to neighbouring Reunion Island. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport is a fine facility, but a few leisurely hours at the Iko sure beats a long, stuffy wait for connecting flights at the airport. 

The Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas is currently closed due to the pandemic, but is looking to reopen in September. Rates start from £241 per room per night (a 40% saving on the usual rate), including breakfast. Visit anantara.com/en/iko-mauritius

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