Indian Ocean idyll

Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita

The ideal combination of traditional island feel and luxurious modern design, Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita certainly makes an impression, even though we are arriving at night. Dinner is booked for us at Acquapazza: contemporary Italian. The menu is extensive, ranging from wood-fired pizza and pasta to lasagne and local seafood. The octopus salad is fresh and bursting with flavour, the mushroom lasagne the best I’ve ever tasted. The chef treats us to a beautiful pizza of cheese and black truffles, which we devour in seconds. 

Waking early to the sounds of the sea and tropical birds, we are finally able to see the beauty surrounding us. The villa is spacious and elegant, with a kitchen, lounge and dining area, and private pool. Gardens stretch to the water’s edge, and trees surround us on both sides. It feels as though we are the only ones here.

Despite no member of our family being familiar with golf, we are all keen to have a golf lesson on this championship course, designed by Ernie Els, beside the Indian Ocean. (Guests have unlimited complimentary golf.) We enjoy a perfect fun morning, our teacher patient and informative. Cookies and iced tea keep the heat and hunger at bay as we snack midway through the lesson. Although we don’t make it out onto the course proper, we drive the buggy around and check out this huge property before being dropped at the 18th hole for a well-earned lunch at Il Forno.

An open, breezy restaurant situated right on the course, the Il Forno menu offers sandwiches such as the “Old School” meatball sub, wood-fired pizza, or sushi and sashimi platters. After an icy-cold homemade lemongrass tea we are refreshed in no time.

A few hours of golfing can tighten the muscles, so a trip to the spa for a yoga session and massage seems sensible. The spa is a tranquil waterside spot on the outskirts of the resort away from the hustle and bustle. In a shaded outdoor space with an unobstructed view over the clear blue ocean, I relax to the calm voice of the instructor. I learn a few new poses, stretched to a new level as my muscles relax in the warm island air. Other classes on the schedule included tai chi, reiki, Qi Qong, laughter yoga, and kids’ yoga.

Calm and refreshed, we are shown to the outdoor spa lounge area where we have a cup of tea before beginning our treatment. The buffet-style tea table is a treat for tea aficionados, with flavours such as chocolate rooibos and iced melon, cucumber and peppermint tea. The spa is equipped with a hair salon and includes treatments such as indulgent bath rituals, Ayurveda practices, and massage and spa services. We opt for a traditional Mauritian-style massage. An hour of blissful pampering is followed by another delicious tea to end the treatment.

Four Seasons Resort Seychelles

Four Seasons Seychelles is a bit like a mansion-sized tree house on a hill above the ocean in a forest. The resort is designed so you feel as though you never really step into an indoor area at all. From the large villas, equipped with a private pool, luxurious day bed and balcony, to the spa and yoga room, you’re outdoors in nature the entire time. 

There is no shortage of activities suitable for families or couples. A yoga class is on our schedule, and we get an unobstructed view of the ocean below as we take a 60-minute basic-but-fun outdoor yoga class. We then take a private family cooking class with the resort chef, where we learn to make traditional Creole dishes such as fresh octopus salad, curry and deep-fried bananas. We enjoy each of the meals after the class and are gifted with a cooking pack of traditional herbs and spices such as local cinnamon bark. 

The resort beach is simply stunning. Located in a bay, the water is calm and iridescent and the sand incredibly white and soft. We spend an afternoon snorkelling with the resort aquatic guide. Swimming slowly along the rock fringe we realise there is an incredible amount of sea life beneath us. The water is deep and clear, affording a perfect view of huge, colourful parrotfish, groupers and massive schools of tiny fish.

The next afternoon we embark on the mountain meditation walk. Just a few minutes from the resort is a short track up to a lookout with unbelievable views of the resort, beaches – and the sunset. The sun is just beginning to exude a fading golden glow, and the heat of the day is easing. We get comfortable on the rocks, looking out into the ocean and begin our meditation lesson. Our instructor starts with laughter yoga, a funny and unique experience. In a few minutes, we are all laughing hysterically. We then sit in quiet meditation, enjoying our surroundings. In just a few days it feels as though we’ve packed in a week’s worth of activity, yet still feel relaxed and refreshed. It has been a short stopover, but definitely a worthwhile one. The Four Seasons Seychelles is a truly beautiful place.

Snorkelling in the clear waters of the Seychelles | Gary Allen

Angsana Balaclava Mauritius

Less than one hour’s drive (60km) from the airport, in secluded Turtle Bay on the northwest coast of Mauritius, Angsana Balaclava Mauritius is a glimpse of paradise. With 52 luxury suites ranging in size from 72 to 180 square metres, most with private pools and ocean views, you’re spoiled for choice. If bigger is better, then the Imperial Pool Villa is the one for you. At nearly 800 square metres, elaborately spread out over two storeys with four bedrooms, two pools and a dedicated butler, the Imperial Pool Villa is the epitome of lavish living. The villas are well-appointed with lava stone walls, timber and marble floors, thatched roofs and a large free-standing bathtub. 

There are many activities on offer, from snorkelling, sailing, tai chi and yoga to bike tours and cooking classes. If you decide to venture out and see some of the island, it’s a 15-minute drive to the capital, Port Louis, for markets, shopping and cultural activities. Fifteen minutes in the other direction takes you to the coastal village of Grand Baie, a popular spot for dining and beaching.

Dining at Angsana centres around the lush garden courtyard with indoor and outdoor seating at Oryza restaurant. Serving Asian fusion, Creole, Indian and European cuisine, the setting is romantic and the service friendly. The five-course dinner has options for all tastes. We enjoy pre-dinner drinks at Sylea, the thatched-roof bar in the courtyard.

The award-winning spa and wellness centre at Angsana has a vitality pool, sauna, steam room and nine treatment rooms. They offer traditional Ayurveda remedies along with Thai massage and local treatments using freshly ground coconut, lime, ginger, lemongrass and ylang-ylang.

There are two pools, a freshwater and a sandy bottom saltwater pool. For lunch, Passion Grill has a swim-up bar and an open kitchen. Snack on mussels and oysters on your submerged bar stool or enjoy your meal at a table and chairs submerged a few inches into the water – my kids love this!

We hire a car for the week and spend our afternoons exploring. It’s the best way to get a feel for the island. We discover little roti stalls in small villages and eat with the locals, who are friendly, helpful and proud of their small island. We see people sweeping the beaches and footpaths – the place is spotless! 

However, if you just want to relax in the sun there are plenty of lounge chairs and palm-fringed shade huts along the beachfront, with large jugs of lemon water to keep you hydrated in the hot Mauritian sun. While the beach has its share of coral, the sand is soft and white, and the water warm and calm. Being on the west coast, the sunsets are amazing.

Kempinski Seychelles Resort

The Kempinski Seychelles Resort nestles in the tropical paradise of secluded Baie Lazare on the island of Mahé. After a 20-minute ride from the airport, you will soon be bathing in the warm tranquil water of the Indian Ocean. 

With plenty to do (or not to do) you won’t be bored. The clear blue water begs you to dive in, to start the day with an early morning swim. Bring the mask and snorkel and check out the underwater aquarium. It’s amazing and can all be enjoyed before your first cup of coffee.

After breakfast, the guided snorkel tour is a fantastic thing to do with the family. We board the kayaks and paddle a short way to an area down the beach from the resort, moor to a buoy and jump in. Schools of fish quickly surround us. Afterwards, our guide takes us out the front of the resort to hunt for edible sea urchins, which we are shown how to clean and eat.

The beachside buffet lunch option is fantastic, with choices of grilled lamb chops, chicken and fresh fish grilled to perfection, along with tasty salads and a dessert buffet.

Dinner at L’Indochine is also quite amazing. Specialising in seafood, but with plenty of alternative options, their sashimi and sushi platter is beautiful to look at and tastes great. The sommelier and staff make sure we enjoy the experience, which includes a surprise birthday party for one of the family. Later, the huge open gym helps minimise any calories gained. 

Also great fun are the guided nature walks. With a local colourful character named Achilles, we walk through the jungle and learn about different native plants on the island. Everything is there for us to see and taste – native berries, cinnamon trees, even where to find fresh water. The turnaround point is at the top of a cliff looking over the resort and bay out to the ocean. It is a beautiful end to the day as we watch the sun begin to set over the ocean.