So, there is said to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Yes, I thought it was a load of old nonsense too – but that was before I discovered it on the stunning and super-friendly island of Mauritius.
This was not a case of too much sun… or local rum. My partner also witnessed something so special it seemed the sort of thing normally reserved for a biblical chapter.
We had been strolling along, enjoying the heat on our backs, when out of nowhere there was a shower. But our groans were instantly replaced by gasps as we set eyes on the prettiest rainbow imaginable hovering above the nearby mountains.
Even Judy Garland would have been impressed!
Unusually, you could see both ends of it as clear as anything and just to the right was the ‘gold’ – in the form of our home for eights nights, the glorious Paradis Beachcomber hotel.
No apologies for the cliché but this property really does boast a location to die for. We had been almost open-mouthed on first arrival as our taxi entered the hotel grounds and the scenery surpassed any picture I’d seen on a postcard! My other half, Ilisa, focused on the dazzling colours of the Indian Ocean to our right while I was transfixed by the stunning golf course opposite. As this was meant to be a holiday devoted to quality time together, I had chosen not to pack my clubs. I have made better decisions!
This was my second visit to Mauritius, Ilisa’s first, and one of the reasons for my return was the local folk. There are so many lovely people here and they radiate a warmth that surpasses even the tropical temperatures. I suppose if I lived in Paradise I would be cheerful all the time too. As for the weather, it entices travellers pretty much all-year round, although the best time is probably between May and December.
There are eight Beachcomber properties on the island, boasting a mixture of four and five stars. The Paradis quite rightly claims the highest rating and that does not take into account the gorgeous setting. On my last visit I stayed on the east coast, which was none too shabby, but the south-west carries the wow factor. That has a lot to do with the impressive Le Morne mountain, which is the backdrop to this hotel and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The pretty beaches, palm trees and well-thought-out thatched accommodation also ensure you’ve chosen the right place and the Paradis standards are nothing short of world class. The delicious welcome cocktail and beautifully-scented cold towel at check-in gave us a hint of the pampering ahead.
Over a long holiday the dining can become a bit tedious at some hotels, but not here as we were presented with a choice of eight restaurants – five at the Paradis and three more at its sister hotel, Dinarobin, which is adjacent and reached by a complimentary shuttle bus.
The buffets at each property offer a different theme every evening and elsewhere there was also locally-caught fish, plus Italian and Asian dining options, all of which are top notch. If you fancied a mid-afternoon treat, chef would be on hand to rustle up tasty pancakes. I indulged more than once… well, I told Ilisa I needed to get out of the sun!
For those a bit concerned about putting on too many additional pounds, fear not. Paradis boasts a well-equipped gym (so I am told) and championship-quality tennis courts plus table tennis. I did get a bit of exercise when taking a stroll one afternoon. And, happily, it took me past the gym and into the hands of a fabulous spa therapist who removed all my knots during a heavenly signature treatment.
My best ‘workouts’ came on the dance floor when attempting a boogie to the fabulous tunes of the different live bands who performed most evenings. Ilisa and I felt that Simon Cowell would have given serious consideration to some of the singers… but not to my sorry dance moves!
Another thing I love about Mauritius is that it is literally in the middle of nowhere and conveys a genuine feeling of escapism (will be much needed once brighter times return). For example, South Africa looks pretty close on the map but is still a four-hour flight. It explains why cruise ships do not venture here.
While the African island is very much on the dream list for many folk, back in 1940 it became a nightmare destination for Jews fleeing the Nazis.
Approximately 1,600 Jews were denied entry into Palestine by the British because they were considered illegal immigrants. Our government quickly announced they would be deported to their colony of Mauritius as a deterrent to others, with their fate determined at the end of the war. Many of the refugees suffered from tropical diseases and inadequate food and clothing and nearly 130 died in camps. In 1945 the survivors were allowed to return to their former homes or make Aliyah. On August 26, 1,320 landed in Haifa.
Some 80 years later, the contrast could not be more stark as entering Mauritius now is like being in dreamland. Exploring the island is worth doing, with a visit to the stunning coloured sand dunes of Chamarel among the most popular excursions. Although, truth be told, we hardly ventured away from Paradis. Early one morning we did take a boat trip to see the dolphins and it proved memorable.
After an unforgettable time at this Beachcomber property, we ended our holiday with a couple of nights at La Pirogue, about a 30-minute drive away in Flic en Flac. This four-star beach-front property is like a step back in time – in a good way – and the charming thatched-roof bungalows provide comfortable accommodation. The stretch of beach only yards from your room is delightful.
Normally after a fair stint away from home, we are ready to return to Blighty… but such is the appeal of Mauritius we found it a wrench packing our cases.
We kept looking out of the taxi window en route to the airport hoping for another glimpse of that magical rainbow…
Mark’s fact box!
Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa: Seven nights half board in a Tropical Room at Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa, for two adults starts from £2,090 per person. Price includes return economy flights with British Airways, various complimentary land and water sports, and private transfers in Mauritius. Departures in May 2021, price subject to availability. Call Beachcomber Tours on 01483 445 610 or visit: www.beachcombertours.uk