The Royal Palm in Mauritius: the pleasures of arriving after dark
A dramatic morning surprise and a rum tasting at the Beachcomber Royal Palm in Mauritius puts Chris Carter in a good mood.
Tired and travel-worn though you may be, there is something to be said for arriving at your hotel after dark. You find your bed already half in a dream, ready for the big reveal in the morning when you throw back the curtains and ta da! The sunlight floods the room.
As your eyes adjust, you start to make out the landmarks that, over the coming week, will become familiar to you. That palm tree. The pool. Oh look, there’s another one. You have no idea where reception is, despite having passed through it mere hours before. You must have. But, ah yes, over there, that must be where breakfast is served. As for the sea, well…
“Can you see the sea?” my partner asked, her voice tinged with hope. It was already late and we were being checked-in in-room. Sorry. “In-suite.” There are no “rooms” at the Beachcomber Royal Palm, Mauritius. We were staying in a junior suite – large bed, lounge area, bathroom big enough for a rugby team (though the free-standing bath in the middle might be on the cosy side)… you get the idea.
Then there’s the view. “The sea? You can hear it,” said our check-in hostess. We fell silent and trained our ears. There it was! The unmistakable lapping of the waves outside. Actually, it was quite loud. Why hadn’t we noticed it before? We went over to the balcony, slid back the door, and stepped outside. Under a silvery light, there was the sea! It was a literal stone’s throw away – even for me.
Natural treasures and rum
If you can tear yourself away from the sunlounger, Mauritius has a handful of sights, none spectacular in themselves – the island’s natural treasures are its palm-fringed white sandy beaches and clear warm waters.
Le Morne, a sort of smaller, yet still imposing, Table Mountain in the southwest of the island, is an exception. The rummery at Chamarel is worth a visit too for the rum-making tour and the considerable rum-tasting afterwards – perhaps one best experienced after you’ve had lunch. There is also the Hindu temple and sacred lake at Grand Bassin, and the Seven Coloured Earths, also at Chamarel, which is, much as it sounds, a series of undulating mounds of multi-coloured sands – a witness to the volcanic make-up of the island.
In the evening, back at La Goélette, diners are afforded exquisite views out over the bay. The menu is European with a Mauritian twist – think coconut tartare, served with cured fish, that sort of thing. La Brezza is the other, smaller restaurant, serving high-end Italian cuisine. Or, once a week, you can enjoy a Mauritian buffet on the beach to live music.
Before that, however, Julien, a proud native of Avignon, France, and head sommelier at the Royal Palm, took us on a wine-pairing crash course in the resort’s newly built wine cellar. Even if the local rum is your preferred tipple, its temperature controlled environment offers a welcome respite from the heat. The little dishes of prawns and fish in a curry sauce, I might add, were delicious – wine or no wine (the wine was pretty good too).
A temple for body and soul
The wine cellar, however, isn’t the only new addition – the spa has recently reopened too. With its lava stone archway and wooden bridge set amid lush foliage, it resembles a temple dedicated to body and soul. I recommend the Discovery massage – an hour’s rigorous rub-down using products from French luxury cosmetics brand Codage.
Here, in the spa, I found yet another pool – that makes four. “But this one’s not heated,” it was pointed out to me, apologetically. Ah perfect, I thought. But even this one was pretty warm, having spent the day under the hot sun. Still, I thought, closing my eyes, in Mauritius, one must make do.
MoneyWeek was offered a reduced rate. Seven nights at Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury in a junior suite on a bed and breakfast basis, economy class flights with Air Mauritius and private hotel transfers from £2,590 per person sharing. Call 01483-445 610 or see visit beachcombertours.uk.