One of Love Our Wedding’s real brides, Katie Saatchi, shares some of the highlights of her honeymoon in Mauritius…
“Two days after I married Jonny, when a guest text me to say she was suffering from major post-wedding blues, I realised how crucial honeymoons are for keeping that happy, loved-up, matrimonial buzz going. She might have been feeling down, but I was sat at the airport with my best friend, both of us giddy about jetting off somewhere new.
Around 20 hours later, taking in the vibrant flowers, tinkling fountain and smells of orange blossom and coffee beans in the hotel entrance, I couldn’t help thinking we’d absolutely nailed it.
I like to think me and Jonny are a great match in all areas except for one: we’re both painfully, frustratingly indecisive. After weeks of research, involving six different travel agents, we’d eventually chosen Mauritius. We wanted a place where adventure was optional, not compulsory. Two years ago we did an unforgettable road trip in the southern states of America – but this time we wanted to go all-out Honeymoon with a capital H.
Excitedly, we picked LUX Grand Gaube on the north coast – it was rated in the top ten hotels in Mauritius on Trip Advisor, but didn’t require us to re-mortgage our house first. But despite all our research, we didn’t really know what to expect. Maybe it was the jetlag, but as we were given a tour and told about the massages, romantic private dinners, boat trips and cocktails we could look forward to, we were both stunned into blissful silence.
We’d agreed on packing all our excursions into several hectic days, so that we could spend most of our ten-day trip cocooned in the utter tranquillity of the hotel grounds. With four restaurants, a coffee bar, boat house, beaches, al fresco cinema, tennis courts, spa and gym, it was very tempting not to leave at all.
But leave we did – at 7am one morning. We took a taxi to the foot of Black River, the highest mountain on the island, for an electro-bike tour. These motorised bicycles allowed us to ‘sprint’ up hills and never get tired. In three hours we visited a coffee plantation, the site of the natural phenomenon known as ‘seven-coloured earth’, some rural villages and sprawling beaches.
Next we toured the Chamarel rum distillery to watch their national tipple being made and sample some of the amazing flavours like coconut and mandarin. It’s worth a visit here for the restaurant alone, where the food is absolutely stunning. And it’s always good to line your stomach before being offered ten shots of premium rum.
As an animal lover, my favourite trip was to ‘Casela’, a wildlife park where they breed lions which have been rescued from poachers in Africa. We managed to get a last-minute booking on their ‘Walk With Lions’ encounter, an hour in the woods spent doing just that. When a pair of three-year-old brothers emerged through the trees, padding slowly towards us, it was the most overwhelmed I’d felt since our wedding day. I’d urge anyone visiting Mauritius to visit the park. It’s a real once-in-a-lifetime experience that leaves you in total awe for days afterwards.
We also spent a morning in Grand Baie, a large fishing village in the north, to check out one of the island’s best beaches – La Cuvette. In a small cove, with soft sand and actual deep water (unlike most other Mauritian beaches), we swam, read our books and lazily watched the windsurfers and water-skiers out at sea.
But the days we spent at our hotel were equally idyllic, with the most attentive staff and incredible food you could wish for. The manager told us about one guest, an elderly man, who’s visited 26 times so far. We spent our last night wondering when, if ever, we might be back…
A girl can dream!
With thanks to MTPA, Electro-Bike Discovery and Safari Adventures”
Mauritius is a French-speaking tropical paradise, hugged by some breathtaking beaches and beautiful blue lagoons. The island is around 40 miles long from top to bottom, so there’s loads of exploring to be done if you’re not a typical ‘beach bum’. It would take far longer than a two-week holiday to experience all of the watersports, cuisine and culture on offer.
Surprisingly, Mauritius is situated hundreds of miles away from the islands it’s often associated with – Seychelles and Maldives. The closest major landmass is actually Madagascar, off the coast of South Africa, so there’s only a three-hour time difference. (And minimising the jetlag is always a bonus!)
There are several airlines available to get you there. We flew with Emirates into Plaisance International Airport, stopping over at Dubai. We would have loved to see Dubai too as part of our holiday, but chose not to given the 50C heat in August.
As it’s in the southern hemisphere, Mauritius has opposite seasons to the UK. Though we were there in Mauritian mid-winter, most days were balmy and any rain showers quickly dispersed. If you like your holidays super-hot, the best time to visit is between October and January.
It really is like nowhere else, thanks to the changing landscape and exciting mixture of Indian, French and Chinese cultures. The food is unique, the people are kind-hearted and the beaches are sheer perfection.