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Louise Atkinson enjoyed a carbon-neutral stay at this luxury resort to try firsthand the innovative sustainability measures being introduced. From marmalade made from discarded orange peel to lush gardens fertilised by home-made food-waste compost, the resort shows that environmentally friendly doesn’t have to mean gritty, earthy or rustic, and that an activity-based holiday in the sunshine really can refresh and replenish the soul without having to cost the earth.
Mauritius is a small island off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. The two sister resorts of Le Telfair and Awali are located side by side at the most southern point of the island in a quiet and beautifully rural area called Bel Ombre, where thickly forested mountains tumble right down to the clear turquoise sea.
Impressive plantation-style mansions are dotted through lush gardens and along the beach, each housing eight separate suites with double doors leading on to a patio or balcony. Rooms are simply and tastefully furnished and decorated with a modern Scandi-style sofa and reclining chair, super king bed and cavernous wardrobe. They are plastic-free zones with water in glass bottles, refillable toiletries and a key card made from a thin slither of wood.
The classic Mauritian dish is a fragrant curry with dahl and rice, and that’s what you’ll find at any roadside café for around £5 a bowl or as part of the feast at the Heritage buffet-style restaurants (Annabella’s or Savana). At Heritage you can eat at any one of 12 restaurants across the two sister resorts, but my favourites were the bare-foot dining with your toes in the sand at Gin’ja (pan-Asian fusion and stunning sushi) and Infinity Blue (outrageously fresh locally caught fish and seafood). The sun sets very swiftly every day at around 6pm, and this ‘golden hour’ when the giant fruit bats come out to play is the perfect time to sample locally produced rum-based cocktails at the swanky open-air Cavendish bar or on a rope swing seat at the delightful Coco Shack right on the beach.
The warm breezy weather, soft white sandy beaches and immaculate swimming pools make lounging, swimming and book reading very tempting, but the best way to offset the carbon burned on the flight getting you all this way is to pack your days with the amazing activities Mauritius has to offer, such as hiking, cycling (electric bikes come highly recommended), golf and tennis. The shallow lagoon makes this one of the best places in the world to learn kite-surfing, or there’s kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling for those who prefer the more sedate sports. Take a trip in a glass-bottomed boat, a guided tour through the rainforest nature reserve, or go in search of dolphins in a catamaran.
Floaty dresses and sandals so you can walk back to your room along the beach after dinner.
Being driven in an open-sided 4x4 through dense jungle and Jurassic Park style rolling hills to a picnic spot deep in the forest where traditional Mauritian curry is served in aluminium tiffin containers and followed by a refreshing dip under an ice-cold waterfall.
Hire a car for a day (or two) and explore the island. The roads are good (they drive on the left, just like us!) and you can get from one end of the island to the other in around one hour. You’ll find the real taste of Mauritius in roadside beach cafes and experience the true cultural diversity of the place – safe in the knowledge that you are supporting local businesses which depend on tourism to survive.
Deluxe seaview suites start from £236 per room/night for two adults. To book and for more information, visit heritageresorts.mu/mauritius-hotels/le-telfair-resort . Flights with Air Mauritius or British Airways take around 11 hours (usually overnight) for around £550.