Discovering Lux* Resorts & Hotels with Islandian
My educational tour started on the 27th of May with a quick 40- minute flight to Reunion island on my way to Le Récif and the LUX* Saint Gilles. I was excited (obviously!) about the new experience but also to meet the other participants and my soon-to-be partners in crime on this dream trip. I met them as soon as I land, and they were all as excited for the experience as I was. We said hello, we laughed, and then were whisked off by a shuttle bus to Le Récif hotel. The adventure was on!
Hotel le Récif - Where service = perfect
Once we reached Le Récif, it was love at first sight. Not only was the hotel’s setting as charming as could be, but the service was nothing short of exceptional too. The staff here are happy to go beyond the call of duty to make sure that you feel comfortable and are having the time of your life.
Our charming guide, Sebastien, explained to us that Le Récif goes to great lengths to make sure that the Reunionese culture and heritage is felt throughout the hotel. One look at the charming creole villas peppered across the hotel grounds, and it’s obvious that its mission is accomplished on that front. Behind the stone and wooden facades of the villas, are cosy interiors clad in warm and vibrant colours, that extend an open invitation for you to unwind whenever you walk through the door. The hotel’s fragrant garden, is perfect for lazy afternoon strolls, and as the beach is just opposite, you’ve got easy access to it 24/7. And, as it’s all fenced off, it’s as safe and intimate as it gets.
Hotel LUX* Saint Gilles - The only beach-side 5*
After a night spent at Le Récif, we set off to the LUX* Saint Gilles for a 2-night stay. For those on a quest for the ultimate relaxation hotel, the soothing atmosphere of LUX* Saint Gilles guarantees just that. When comes evening time, local musicians handle entertainment duties and trust me, they know how to set the night on fire! The rhythm of Maloya – the Reunionese sega – is infectious and pointless to resist. I’m not alone in thinking this. Not before long, all the participants on the trip (myself included) were dancing along to the frenetic rhythm of Maloya... As I said, impossible to resist. As for the cuisine it’s incredible as well. Do yourself a favour and try the palm heart ; A must!.
The activities around the hotel don’t disappoint either. During our stay, we had the opportunity to witness the beautiful spectacle offered up by Le Souffleur de Saint Leu and visited Le Gouffre, a site which looks like a natural corridor created by volcanic rock formations. Lovers of the outdoors and fitness aficionados will love the bike ride across l’Etang-Salé. All the exploring and running about, meant we’d worked up quite an appetite, so thankfully, a pit stop at the Vieux Barbeau a quaint restaurant serving local food was on the agenda. On the menu; the traditional “Rougailles Saucisses” served up with warm lentils ; Delicious! Our digestif was served a little later when we visited the Saga du Rhum, a museum located in Saint- Pierre where we got to taste the best rhums on the island (mango, vanilla, litchi…) and discover the history of this famous local spirit.
The next day I switched into sports mode as I slipped in my sneakers and headed out for some trekking and adventure time! Our objective was to reach the peak of Piton Maïdo. Not an easy task but my satisfaction – and the jaw dropping views of the cirque de Mafate – once I reached the top made it all worth it. Afterwards, just when we thought we had seen and done it all, the hotel staff surprised us with the activity of them all, a helicopter trip over the island. The cirques, the waterfalls, and the emerald green landscape unfolding below us… it was without a doubt the highlight of the trip.
Last but not least, was a trip to the Grotte des Hirondelles in Saint Benoît where we discovered the island’s indigenous swallows before it was time to leave Reunion island and return to Mauritius… no time to be sad though! Next stop was the Tamassa Resort, 4* hotel for an all-inclusive stay.
Tamassa Resort - Party Time!
The Tamassa Resort - located in the South West of Mauritius in the region of Bel Ombre - is the destination of choice for anyone after a fun-filled vacation. There’s a night club right at the heart of the hotel and the atmosphere here gives you complete license to chill.
On any given day, you can tickle your tastebuds with rhum tasting sessions, head down to the beach for a round of beach volleyball, jump on a bike and ride through breathtaking coastal scenery, and taste gourmet street food in one of the hotel’s food trucks. When comes sundown, the place to be, is undeniably the nightclub and bar.
The stay at the Tamassa was nothing short of perfect. For the epicres out there, make sure you try the homemade ice cream. Whether it’s the classic… or more original flavours, they’re absolutely delicious.
LUX* Le Morne - One of the best snorkelling spots around.
LUX* Le Morne was next on the list. This 5 star resort gives right onto the majestic mountain of “Le Morne”. The setting is picturesque, with on one side of the hotel, the breathtaking flora of this yet untamed area of the island, and on the other, kilometres of beach, stretching as far as the eye can see. Then there’s the lagoon, and the incredible snorkelling you’ll experience there. Take a trip in its waters to see all manner of beautiful marine creatures, one more colourful than the next.
To relax our muscles after our session, we were invited for an afternoon massage at the spa… one of the best I’ve ever had. Do yourself a favour and book a session there. The therapists will make you feel comfortable within minutes and their expert touch left me with a massage experience I won’t be forgetting any time soon. Anything else worth mentioning? The “Zero Waste” approach the hotel adopts. All leftover food produced by the hotel is either offered to NGOs or used in the hotel’s compost heap.
LUX* Grand Gaube - A smorgasbord of experiences
We headed north next, en route to the LUX* Grand Gaube. This recently renovated gem blends elegance and refinement to perfection thanks to a retro-chic colonial vibe which errs more towards casual than pretentious.
It’s a foodies heaven here, with five restaurants offering an eclectic choice of Asian, Turkish, Mauritian specialties and more. Not to be missed, is the Peruvian-Argentinian restaurant (the only one on the island) where we were treated to a dress up dinner complete with hats, moustaches and of course, traditional South American dishes…
Delicious food made another appearance during our stay, but this time, we prepared it! One of the activities organised by the hotel challenged us to recreate a burger prepared by the Chef. Easier said than done but it was a great team building activity. Other activities included a visit of the Grand-Baie village, a treasure-hunt, and a stand-up paddle race… yes, no time to get bored at the LUX* Grand Gaube!
LUX* Belle Mare - The biggest heated swimming pool on the island. As we approached the tail-end of our special LUX* week, we headed East, to the LUX* Belle Mare. I fell in love with the hotel’s setting and its beautiful stretch of silky smooth beach lined with palm trees. One of the main wow factors here, is the heated pool, the largest on the island and its bar, the “Mari Kontan” and its wide selection of 120 rhums made from 12 different varieties of sugarcane. Trying them was a must (of course, not the 120 at once!)
Afterwards we found our inner zen with a yoga session and a full body massage at the spa… it was the wellness pit-stop we absolutely needed! To close off the day, we enjoyed a “tropical-themed” evening with dishes from the islands of the Indian Ocean – cooked using the finest local produce – for dinner, while traditional music pumped away in the background!
SALT OF PALMAR - A total immersion into Mauritian culture
I just had to save the best for last, right ?. The crowning experience of the week was our stay at the LUX* family's latest gem, the SALT of Palmar. Located on the island’s East Coast, it features one of the most original designs I’ve seen all week: Cosy, vibrant… and with some of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slipped into, you’ll feel right at home here in no time.
The cuisine is excellent, with plenty of organic options, and all the ingredients you’ll find in your dish or in your glass are guaranteed fresh. What’s more, the staff here seem to know what you want and need before you know it yourself, and will do their best to answer any of your requests… Staying here, really is a deep dive into the local culture.
To fully immerse yourself in it, take a stroll across the streets of Flacq and its renowned market which looks almost souk-like.
During our stay, the other participants and I were signed-up to a cooking competition organised by the hotel. We had to create three dishes: one exotic, one cold, and a curry. The challenge tested our cooperation skills and demanded a well thought out plan as to how to approach this three- course meal, but most of all, it was absolutely fun!
On the last day of the week, we headed to the spa SALT Equilibrium for a few minutes of R&R. The SALT is where you’ll find the only “Salinotherapy” room on the island, where we indulged in a salt scrub session. Very relaxing! We followed up the spa session with a raffia basket making class taught by one of the local women who was kind enough to show us the ropes. We were far from being pros at it by the end of the session, but this intimate (and now rare) glimpse into one of the traditional crafts of Mauritius was well worth it. Next we headed over to Domaine de Rosalie. When you’ll stay at the SALT of Palmar, you’ll notice plenty of beautiful terracotta pots peppered throughout the hotel. It’s during the trip to this property where you will witness these potteries (which are closer to works of art than mere ornaments) being hand made by the incredibly talented Janine.
The cherry on the cake though, came on the last evening of our stay… a home cooked meal at the house of one of the SALT of Palmar’s very own members of staff, one of the activities proposed by the hotel. This is a one-of-a kind chance to get a proper glimpse into the everyday lives of Mauritians… and to enjoy the local delicacies of course. Our host Mirella, helped by her husband and two daughters, served us a delicious homemade dinner while sharing some laughs and good conversation. During dinner, local musicians joined us and it is to the sound of ravanne and triangle, the traditional instruments of the island, that we ended this typical Mauritian evening.This eductour was an amazing blend of emotions and unforgettable memories! The hotels of the LUX* group, stand out for their warm welcome and outstanding service. Most important of all, is that they always make it a point of honor to meet the expectations of even the most exacting customers. My acolytes and I had an outstanding time at the heart of these elegant establishments. Once you step in any one of them, it’s nearly impossible to tear yourself away from these wonderful hotels that are each definitely worth a visit.