Hotel Insider Mauritian service is generally warm but seldom consistent. The latter is not the case at the tastefully designed Four Seasons.
Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita a home away from home
When I tell the concierge that the car he intends to send to the airport is not needed because we're already on the island and staying with the competition, he generously ignores my fickleness and suggests sending the car there. There are four of us, plus a baby and all our luggage, so we are relieved to see a small minibus turn up.
This Four Seasons resort is built on what used to be the sugar plantation of Deep River Beau Champ and we drive past fields of sugarcane before turning into the long driveway. Here, the sugar has been replaced by an Ernie Els designed golf course, which will host the AfrAsia Golf Masters from December 13 to 17.
A welcome party meets us on the steps with cold towels and fruit juice as we check in at the open-sided thatched pavilion, surrounded by water. Tasteful sculptures and a wall of water add to the wow factor.
Located on the less-developed east coast and surrounded by the Anahita Wilderness Sanctuary, the resort is a short 45-minute drive from the airport. The next closest hotel is the island's most famous, Le Tousserok. The hotel beach, while pleasant enough, looks man-made. Within the context of the island, it's not much to boast about but some of the nicest white-sand beaches are a short boat trip away on the Ile aux Cerf. I remember this island 20 years ago as remote and deserted but now it's full of tourists, local sunbathers and hire-boat operators. However, the beaches are still glorious and the lagoon is an idyllic swimming spot. The hotel's boat goes back and forth every 30 minutes.
Mauritian service is generally warm but seldom consistent. The latter is not the case at the Four Seasons, which has built its reputation on getting it right. Buggies appear within minutes of being ordered and room service arrives on time with the correct, warm food. My 10-month-old granddaughter developed a rash and within 30 minutes of being notified, the in-house nurse arrived, assessed her and declared it to be a harmless heat rash. He returned the following day just to check she was OK.
We were in a two-bedroom garden villa - one with a king size bed and the other with two queen-sized beds - considerably larger than the average Abu Dhabi flat. The focus is the sitting room, which features elegant, squashy sofas and a dining area for eight, with the bedrooms leading off at both ends.
The en-suite bathrooms are almost as large as the bedrooms and designed to perfection: natural stone floors, a walk-in closet, twin basins, deep bath, separate shower units and toilet, and an outside shower built into the stone wall. A functional kitchen, small study and fresh flowers complete the "home-not-hotel" effect. The decor is natural wood, thatched roof and soft, neutral hues. Outside, we had our own garden, a decent-sized plunge pool and comfy daybed. Thoughtful touches included a basketful of toiletries in the cot for the baby.
The buildings may have a sense of locality but the ambience is pure Four Seasons. Its reputation for style and flawless service attract hard-working execs who just want to chill out on an Indian Ocean island. It is particularly suited to young families. There are no rooms, just villas, each with their own plunge pool and garden area. The beach, spa, water sports and swimming pool are located across a bridge on the private island, Ile aux Chats, and the neat American-style avenues are full of cycles and buggies as guests spend their days transferring to the on-site activities. An attraction for the Middle East market is the size and privacy of the three- and-four bedroom villas.
There are four places to eat, as well as room service, which comes with all the accoutrements for a romantic or relaxed dinner at home. We did that our first night, allowing my daughter and son-in-law to enjoy a dinner on their own. They reported good things from Beau Champ, the contemporary steak house restaurant, where breakfast - a large American-style buffet - is also served. At Acquapazza, the Italian restaurant, you can get a pizza for 700 Mauritian rupees (Dh90) and various fresh fish meals such as the signature dish, scallops a la plancha with risotto, fennel salad and red-wine sauce, priced from around 776 rupees to 1,970 rupees (Dh98 to Dh250). Bambou, located by the infinity pool, is the popular lunch venue, serving sushi and teppanyaki and salads. It is also open for dinner. The fourth restaurant is in the Golf Clubhouse.
Our villa, the spa, the über-cool public areas and the spoiling nature of Four Seasons' legendary service.
The long driveway through the golf course gives the resort a slightly suburban feel. I also yearned for a bit more local atmosphere.
Perfect for families and couples with money who are looking for style, exemplary service, a desire for privacy and lots of on-site activities. But not exactly the authentic Mauritian experience.
The bottom line
Prices are based on how many nights you stay. Seven nights in a garden pool villa is €536 (Dh2,735) a night, including breakfast and dinner, while one night with breakfast is €650 (Dh3,317). The cost of a two-bedroom garden villa with breakfast is €1,300 (Dh6,635) but is reduced to €1,071 (Dh5,466) per night for guests staying seven nights. Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita, Beau Champ, Mauritius (www.fourseasons.com/mauritius; 00 230 402 3100).