Surrounded by 36 sprawling green acres on the tropical island of Mauritius resides the sublimely serene resort of Shanti Maurice.
Mr Husband and I travelled through the lush humid landscape, past sugar cane fields and down to the south coast to reach this understated yet highly exclusive boutique bolthole.
A whistle-stop tour round the expansive yet secluded resort led us along well-groomed walkways, lined with softly swaying palm trees, vibrant pink and purple bougainvillea and flowering frangipani.
To uphold its reputation in offering guests who stay here the utmost privacy, there are just 61 contemporary-classic style suites and villas to choose from, each one cradling around a breathtaking horseshoe shaped coral sand cove.
Mr Husband and I were shown to our junior suite; remarkably airy and generously spacious (all suites and villas are bigger on square footage here than most others) with a blinding and mesmerising view of the frothy waves crashing on to the barrier reef from our sea-facing balcony.
Untypical to most of the other resorts on the island, Shanti Maurice only ever serves a la carte dining within its restaurants, so there’s no buffet in sight. Each morning, we sat out on the beach-facing mezzanine deck to enjoy a healthy plate of freshly cut fruit, squeezed juices and a basket filled with pastries. Mr Husband preferred to accompany his breakfast with a continental style fry up, whilst the best morning meal I tasted during our stay was the mouth-watering masala dosa (an Indian savoury crepe served with spiced diced potato and dahl on the side).
There are two restaurant options for dinner, both luxuriously smart yet casually informal: Stars – hosting South African inspired contemporary Cape cuisine and Pebbles – offering an eclectic international menu to explore the rich diversity of Mauritius’ cultural roots. We especially enjoyed the Indian dishes – hot naan breads, well-balanced fragrant curries and masala fish baked to perfection in banana leaves.
Head Chef Willibald Reinbacher and his team’s culinary skills don’t stop there. Foodies and fun-seekers alike will not want to miss out on the twice-weekly ‘Fish and Rhum Shack’ experience, a rustic beach-side open-air barbecue, where you can tuck into sizzling, seared slices of steak, tuna, red snapper, lobster and other grilled seafood and meats, along with cool, crunchy salads, fruit skewers and sweet sorbets. Whilst watching a lively Sega dance, we washed down our gourmet extravaganza with champagne and cocktails made using rum from the local distillery under the island’s entrancing starry night sky.
Another authentic experiential highlight is ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ – the chance to learn how to cook by a Mauritian elder, using ingredients hand-picked from the local village farmer’s markets. At the end, you enjoy the meal you helped prepare and get to take away hand-written traditional recipes so you can re-create these Mauritian flavours at home.
Foodies will also be impressed by the ‘Herb Garden Barbecue’ – a five-course meal hosted at the resort’s very own vegetable and herb garden, complete with butler service, paired wines and a short tour of the patches before these ingredients such as broccoli, beetroot and basil are skilfully used to prepare your feast.
Next to the resort’s lobby sits the Red Ginger Lounge; the ideal spot to enjoy an aperitif or two before dinner but moreover, the newly built Rum Shed is the place to stop by for a tipple or two. Based on authentic rum shops you can find on the island, this colourful, lively and ramshackle themed backdrop plays a buzzy mix of music and makes for a brilliant late night social bar. Offering over 180 types of rum from 36 countries, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice, as it stocks the largest collection of rums in all of Mauritius.
Shanti Maurice is highly revered amongst spa-goers thanks to its amazing award-winning Nira Spa, which offers a well-versed menu of treatments ranging from western techniques to deep- rooted Ayurvedic practices. Mr Husband and I were treated to the Shanti Fusion treatment, an utterly relaxing and tension-melting personalised massage that we got to experience together in a couple’s treatment room. Whatever you wish for is truly your command at this spa gem.
Be sure to also take a moment in the spa’s enchanting tea pavilion on top of a pretty lily pond filled with exotic fish; we sat back in our spa robes and sipped on soothing cups of honey, ginger and citronella tea. The yoga sessions hosted within the Nira Spa’s pavilion are also well worth trying out.
The major resort highlight is, of course, the beauty of the beach. We took to our luxury loungers each day to soak up the sunshine, served now and then with treats from the resort kitchen. Our favourite was a thirst-quenching scoop of iced coconut milk sorbet, served with panache in a martini glass.
Being so close to other attractions and landmarks, Shanti Maurice makes a great base to get out and explore the rest of Mauritius. We were taken to the Bois Cheri Tea Factory – which has been making tea for over 100 years and got to have a leisurely lunch at Le Saint Aubin, a plantation house built in 1819 which has been converted into a restaurant serving classic Mauritian cuisine. We also marvelled at the Seven Coloured Earths – a natural phenomenon of weaving sand dunes with seven distinct colours.
Rooms at Shanti Maurice start from around £575 per night in a Junior Suite Ocean View on a double occupancy half board basis.
By Reena Patel