There are many world-class resorts that claim to deliver the ultimate in luxury and relaxation, particularly in the Indian Ocean, but how do you sort out the pretenders from the champions? A study of the iconic Maradiva Villa Resorts in Mauritius might give us a clue on what to expect from a truly exceptional hotel.
Location is a key element. Maradiva is only a few minutes taxi ride away from happening Flic-en-Flac or a slightly longer yet spectacularly soothing walk along the white sandy beach into town. With 27 acres of lush landscape, however, you might struggle to find the time or the willpower to leave this paradise. Maradiva is the only five-star all villa resort to be situated on the famous west coast of the island. This includes 65 villas all with their own private pools.
The hotel was originally a Taj hotel and is now family-owned. This explains the characteristic decor of Maradiva: high vaulted ceilings along with Indian-accented beams, panels and artifacts are very much in evidence in the refined surroundings. You will also notice plenty of greenery on the grounds of the resort as there are around 150 endemic plants along with protected species (and the odd stray cat) on the property.
The rooms themselves are a definition of luxury: the 163m2.luxury suite pool villas all contain a 15m2. plunge pool, enough terrace space for alfresco dining, bathroom with a separate bath and rain shower as well as an open-air yet secluded outdoor garden shower. The super king sized beds are arguably one of the best you will ever sleep on and their upscale customers will feel right at home with Hermes wallpaper behind the bedhead as well as Hermes toiletries.
Dining options here are superlative: breakfast has a fine balance between traditional western offerings and catering to Asian tastes. They have specialist restaurants in the evening for an elegant, refined experience such as the teppanyaki counter which offers the thrilling theatre of live cooking. Think Benihana but with fewer gimmicks and better quality steaks. And fine dining Indian restaurant, Cilantro, which is right up there with the most progressive restaurants in culinary capitals like London. I enjoyed surprisingly appetising tandoori scallops which contained cumin powder, kasmiri chilli yoghurt, cashew nuts and orange confite. It had a moreishly appetising heat that made me desire for more. You can also dine at their sister property, Sands Suites Resort & Spa which is next door.
The standout culinary experience was, however, a cookery class outdoors in their own herb and vegetable garden with their head chef. You begin by walking through the splendid gardens to learn about the various vegetation grown on the land then you run through the various cooking requirements for the 3 courses. All the prep work has been done and the starter and dessert have been pretty much prepared, but you do learn how to cook an authentic Mauritian curry for the main course.
I've had plenty of massages in my time reviewing top quality hotels, but never had a consultation with an Indian Ayurvedic doctor, followed by an appropriate Ayurvedic massage. Whilst I didn't mind lying on a wooden oil massage table (the natural wood is meant to be good for your body), I did have to strain my neck muscles as the table was lacking a hole through which you can rest your head. The therapeutic oils used were extremely soothing and ideal for delivering a perfect night's sleep; although make sure you dress appropriately in clothes you don't mind being soaked in oil.
As common with most high-end resorts in the region: snorkeling, water skiing, Hobie cat, sailboat, pedalo, kayak, windsurfing were all offered to guests on a complimentary basis. However, the unparalleled highlight of the stay was most definitely dolphin watching/swimming. This is an exclusive experience only available on the West coast of the Island, as the dolphins enter Tamarin Bay daily to hunt for food. Set off early between 7-9 am if you want to swim with the dolphins when the waters are still relatively calm and quiet. Otherwise, late morning is great for dolphin watching, but not as ideal for swimming as, by this time, there are normally numerous viewing boats around from neighbouring hotels and tour groups. These majestic creatures are quite the sight to behold, as you observe pods of dolphins elegantly traverse the sea.
If you want to know the definition of ultimate luxury, just take a trip to magical Maradiva in Mauritius.
For more information on Maradiva Resort, see here.
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