All-Inclusive Bliss on the Island of Mauritius
All-inclusive holidays are not generally top of my list, but for the fabulous Tamassa resort in Bel Ombre on the island of Mauritius I am prepared to make an exception. Separate blocks of rooms are scattered around beautiful parkland that is meticulously maintained by an army of gardeners. All of whom would shout cheery greetings as I walked past on my way to an early breakfast every morning. I was there in November when the mornings were fresh with a cool breeze off the sea that fringed the perimeter of the hotel. Sometimes I would spot colourful birds flitting through the trees or pecking around in the grass beneath them.
At my first breakfast I was greeted by a friendly waitress who suggested I try the vanilla tea. I was reluctant to abandon my English Breakfast tea (which was available), but she assured me I would love this Mauritian alternative and she was right. Every morning thereafter my vanilla tea arrived at my table shortly after I did. There were several possibilities for lunch, but my favourite was the Playa restaurant on the beach where I could choose some delicious platters from the menu – accompanied by some chilled white wine. This restaurant is small and soon fills up, but if there was no space I would find a shady spot under the trees and wait for a table to come free. It was very relaxing sitting by the sea watching other guests enjoying the water sports and other activities on offer.
Although tables could be booked in the beach restaurant for an evening meal I preferred to eat in the buffet. Every evening there was a different theme and several stations with freshly cooked food. For a buffet the quality of the food was very high. I loved the Indian food that was served here – a reflection of the islands multi-cultural society. The islanders are naturally very hospitable and anxious to please. The buffet restaurant is large, but the seating area was divided into sections and I used to sit in one of the quieter areas away from the poolside. The central area where the food was displayed was sufficiently spacious to avoid large queues forming at the different stations. Every station had its own chef and the Food and Beverages Manager kept an eye on the proceedings, greeting guests and making sure their needs were catered for. It was a more pleasant dining experience that I generally associate with large buffet meals.
When I got back to my room the bed would have been turned down and the insect repellent plugged in. There was always a towel sculpture perched on the end of my bed – a dog or an elephant. It was a pleasure to slide beneath the cool sheets to be lulled asleep by the whirring of the ceiling fan. It had been a busy day – doing nothing. But after a few days of doing very little, apart from an occasional visit to the well-equipped gym, I was ready to do some exploring. The island’s capital and largest port, Port Louis and the Pamplemousses Gardens is a good combination for a full day out. In the capital city I was very impressed with Le Caudan Waterfront – a sophisticated stretch of shops, a plush indoor shopping centre, offices, bars, a casino and a luxury hotel line the waterfront of the island’s biggest port. And for more traditional shopping there is the Port Louis central market.
The Pamplemousses Gardens, are formally known as the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden after the first prime minister of Mauritius, but are more commonly known as the Pamplemousses Gardens. These large gardens are the name of the district in which they are situated. Planted throughout these large gardens are more than 650 varieties of plants including the Victoria Amazonica. This giant water lily only flowers for forty-eight hours and during that time it changes colour and sex!
Volcanic lakes, waterfalls, a model boat factory in Curepipe and Hindu gods featured on my tour of the South Island. I gazed in awe at a giant statue of the Hindu god Lord Shiva and was enchanted by various colourful Hindu gods around the sacred Grand Bassin which is also known as Ganga Talao (a pool of the Ganges).
The main components of the tea and tortoises excursion were a tea plantation and a wildlife park that was home to a variety of animals, including a large group of giant tortoises. At the Bois Chéri tea plantation we learnt about the history of tea growing on the island and sipped some samples on a veranda overlooking the plantation. At the Vanille Réserve des Mascareignes nature park I really enjoyed the variety of animals there and was enthralled by the insectarium, which houses one of the world’s largest private collections of butterflies and other insects all beautifully displayed.
Read more from Valery at http://experiencedtraveller.co.uk