Mauritius: the hot-topic honeymoon


Mauritius: the hot-topic honeymoon

Hamish Roy’s matrimonial masquerade leads to real-life bliss on the Indian Ocean island

Hamish Roy

BY Hamish Roy9 April 2024

Our dark sedan pulls up, depositing two blinking and frazzled honeymooners in the warmth of a Mauritian morning. We’re led into a vast, shady loggia with stone columns and a ceiling of hand-carved wood. A songbird is warbling from its perch somewhere in the pair of palms sprouting either side of a splashing fountain. Having recently completed a 12-hour flight, all this space, light and greenery is like the beginning of a second life. Yes, the honeymoon is off to a good start. There’s just one problem: I’m here with someone else’s partner.

No, it’s not like that. But while this particular honeymoon is a sham, cooked up between colleagues in the name of research, Mauritius is the real deal for post-nuptial travel. The African island nation has been a honeymoon hero for decades but it’s having a moment all the same. It’s not hard to see why. Easily traversed but spacious enough for seclusion, Mauritius offers up its powdery beaches and coastal mountains; clear seas and kaleidoscopic reefs; cuisine that borrows from across the Indian Ocean; and best of all, that feeling of being on ‘island time’ that helps you jettison all worldly concerns at the aircraft door.


The name Maradiva means ‘divine sea’, and this beatific resort earns its moniker with ease. Its luxurious villas are spread over pristine grounds in Flic-en-flac on the island’s sunset coast, skirting a long stretch of beach on a curved bay. From these sands, you look across a turquoise lagoon to the greenery-swathed mass of Le Morne mountain at the far end of the horseshoe. This sea is indeed divine – warm, clear and home to a pod of dolphins that visits Maradiva’s stretch of water most mornings. Even so, your brush with rapture begins long before you get down to the water’s edge.

Take that arrival: the indulgent sense of space and light, the fountain, the birdsong… Ok, the bird was a stroke of luck, but the rest is a fine-tuned act of choreography that dissolves all memory of airports and emails. If it worked its magic on me, anyone arriving with wedding bells and bliss on their mind will surely be doubly enchanted.

In fact, everywhere I go at this hotel, there’s a sense of room to spare: strolling through the gardens planted with indigenous botanics, posting up at the sunset-facing bar for Mauritian rum cocktails, even taking a pew on the beach, where there’s 15 metres or so between each set of sunloungers so you won’t feel like you’re eavesdropping on other guests (or vice versa). Time feels abundant too, not least with a personal butler who arranges everything, anything, at a moment’s notice. Elsewhere, you might feel guilty for lounging around your villa too much, but with a private plunge pool and a secluded terrace made for dining à deux, here it just makes sense.

Of course, there’s much to tempt you from your lodgings. There are four restaurants, one of which is our dinner date, the sumptuous and salon-esque Cilantro. Here we’re treated to a veritable feast of Indo-Mauritian classics including curried scallops, tender lamb biryani and fiery madras. Our wine is a broody beauty: a deep, dark Saint Julien plucked from Maradiva’s walk-in cellar, where an all-star collection is displayed in a vitrine of light-reflecting glass. Fans of Guy Ritchie’s Netflix show The Gentlemen will recall villain Stanley Johnston’s fondness for rare vintages of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Well, they have that here…

There’s much more than food to bring you together. You can book in for a couple’s treatment at the destination spa, helmed by an Ayurvedic doctor who’s made the art his life’s work; request candlelit dinners in a maharaja tent on the sand; sightsee from a chauffeured Rolls-Royce; or try a cooking class with the chef of showstopping Japanese restaurant Haiku. In fact, the staff here would likely find a way to make all that happen in a single day, should you wish.


Lux Resorts has made a name for itself in Mauritius, and for good reason. Its quartet of hotels, scattered across the island’s prime coastlines, unite what’s best about island life. They’re luxurious yet down for a good time. Stylish, but not precious about it. Mischievous, but never at the expense of relaxation. Alas, this faux honeymooner only had time for two, but they make a fine double act, balancing indulgence with feet-in-the-sand repose.

Lux Grand Baie is an ode to the sea and Mauritius’ seafaring heritage, designed to a flowing and sculptural scheme by British designer Kelly Hoppen and JFA Architects. Everything leads back to the ocean here: the first thing you see is a sail-shaped building housing the cavernous lobby with its quadruple-height ceiling. The line of sight cuts right through, so the second thing you lay eyes on is the aquamarine water on the other side.

I arrive running late for my rendezvous with the spa, so I’m whisked upstairs to my sea-facing suite. I should be prepping for an afternoon of health but my eye lands on an entire cake left as a welcome gift. It is clearly meant for two, but with that just-married spirit of ‘I could eat you up’, I carry it across the threshold to my terrace. From my perch, I look out over the tropical gardens, the beach club (replete with photogenic candy-cane-striped loungers), a duo of pools and the beach itself, where staff are standing by with cubes of watermelon and iced mint-and-lemon water.

Ten minutes later, I am in another world. All soft curves and free-form furniture, the spa deposits you in the year 2050. With no fellow terrestrials in sight, I pad around the lounge in my robe, sipping an energy-boosting concoction of herbs. The pre-treatment questionnaire tactfully omits querying whether you’ve consumed 400 grams of baked goods prior to embarking on your voyage of wellbeing. Post-massage, I move on to the thalassotherapy circuit, for which an entire floor is set aside. Floating in one pool, with a monastic arched ceiling set with pinprick lights like stars, I lose all sense of time and place.

It is 9pm. My would-be wife and I are in a booth at Ai Kisu, the hotel’s darkly decadent Japanese restaurant. We are at the crowning moment of an eight-course dinner featuring delicate sushi, Wagyu beef and seared tuna steaks. A gleaming bowl of caviar has just been placed in front of us, balanced on a bed of seaweed billowing with smoke (actually liquid nitrogen). Only this hasn’t been anywhere near a fish, it is pastry chef Simon Pacary’s ‘caviar illusion’, a sense-teasing citrus dessert that plays tricks on your mind even as you bite into it.

With a pre-sunrise start on the cards, this would be a sensible time to retire. But after a few sakes and a yuzu-laced gin cocktail, we can’t resist a look-in at the nightclub across the hall. It is a weekend, after all…


We’ve had our kicks. Now what’s needed is languor in the form of leisurely beach club lunches, afternoons basking on the sand, bowls of homemade gelato… Enter Lux Belle Mare, quintessentially coastal in looks and attached to what is, for me, the standout beach of the trip, a wide stretch of talcum sand on a promontory the shape of an arrowhead.

There’s no mistaking the colours here: my suite is all bright whites and soft coral and sand tones. Furniture in bleached ash or bound with rope provides the finishing maritime flourish. It’s a timeless palette but is in fact all new: Lux Belle Mare suffered a fire in 2022 (no-one was hurt thanks to a heroic performance from the staff), which was turned into an opportunity to give the entire hotel a new look.

This transformation has had a particularly striking effect on the restaurants. Having spent an afternoon browsing a local market with stalls piled high with succulent Mauritian fruit and veg, we arrive at restaurant Amari with an oversized appetite. This Indian fine-diner has panels of intricate latticework and walls of pink-clay covered in murals that run from the blonde-wood floors to the ceiling, depicting Gustav Klimt-like trees of life.

The menu was created by Vineet Bhatia, India’s first chef to net a Michelin star (now two) and one of the stars of streaming series The Final Table. With its punchy flavours and endless spice medleys, I find Indian dishes hard to finesse in my own (limited) cooking. But boy, can you rely on Bhatia. Classics here are transformed by the subtlest hints of cardamom, pistachio, aniseed and other flavours I can’t categorise. The desserts too are a triumph; his take on kulfi, India’s classic iced sweet dating back to the 16th century, is so refreshing I could almost return to the starters for a second round.

The next day brings much-needed repose to the final 24 hours of our compressed minimoon. We position ourselves beneath a string of palms on the hotel’s knockout beach, rising only to raid the parlour dishing out freshly-churned gelato. The hours evaporate with the morning clouds.

A note on that: if, like me, you are of Pictish paleness, do not underestimate the power of the Mauritian sun on a cloudless day. I end the trip looking like the langoustines topping my salad at the beach club. By late afternoon, my hue is alarming enough that the spa therapist takes one look before graciously switching my treatment to a full-body aloe wrap.

En route to our final dinner, I’m waylaid by an extraordinary sight. Bathed in rouge lighting and dangling from a steel pole, four Peking ducks flaunt their flesh from a picture window. This is the entrance to Duck Laundry, the hotel’s purveyor of Sichuanese, Shanghainese and Cantonese cuisine. Now, if that vision doesn’t stimulate your appetite, I don’t know what will. Looking down at my own scarlet skin, I decide in solidarity to go with a ‘you are what you eat’ approach. It proves the right choice, setting up a last supper so good that, on our way out, I almost turn to the ducks and say ‘I do’.

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