As a mum of two young sons I can't remember the last time my husband Scott and I spent a relaxing day at the beach. Building sandcastles, digging holes, collecting shells, applying suncream, distributing drinks, offering snacks, diffusing squabbles and blowing up endless inflatables – holidays abroad with our two are exhausting. So, when we were offered the chance to experience a five-star break, without the boys, in the paradisiacal island of Mauritius, we were straight on the phone to our parents organising childcare. Sure, I worried how we'd cope with a whole week away from them, but the second we stepped on our Air Mauritius flight I knew we'd made the right decision.
If there's one thing you need to know about a stay at Angsana Balaclava Mauritius, it's that you won't go hungry. Breakfast is a delicious buffet at the hotel's main restaurant, with pastries, American-style pancakes, freshfruits, a manned egg and omelette station and, every British favourite, good old bacon and baked beans! There's also the option to have breakfast (or any meals) delivered to your suite, ideal for honeymooners who fancy a little extra privacy.
When it comes to lunch, a visit to The Passion Chill poolside restaurant wins hands-down. The menu's extensive and we enjoyed a huge variety of food, from classic burgers, pizza and Caesar salad to freshly-made pakoras and flavour some curry. One day the chef cooked a typical Mauritian lunch; fresh prawns and chicken with rice and vegetables, served with a fried egg on the top. It was heaven in a bowl! We were so impressed with the Mauritian flavours that we booked up for a Wellness Cooking Class with sous-chef Curtis the following day. We got to makeour own lunch; a delicious palm heart salad with smoked marlin, chicken in a spicy tomato sauce with basmati rice and green chilli paste, and banana and coconut samosas.
As for dinner you're spoilt for choice. While holidaying we dined on sumptuous lobster in the pan-Asian restaurant, Jadis, feasted on melt-in-the-mouth steaks during a candle lit dinner on the pool deck, and enjoyed a myriad of Indian dishes while hosted by the hotel's manager, Paul. Our favourite meal of the holiday was the Destination Dining Experience, a seafood gastronomic delight under the hotel's bespoke Beach Cabana. Dining under the stars with your soulmate, with the sand between your toes, is a memory you'll cherish forever.
THE SPA'S THE STAR
Need another reason to honeymoon here? Besides the picture-perfect setting, attentive staff shout out to Ajay, who looked after us throughout our stay and huge host of watersports, it's got to be Angsana Spa & Wellness. This goes above and beyond any other spa I've visited and offers an extensive list of holistic activities, such as yoga, pranayama and meditation.The Asian and ayurvedic spa treatments use local botanical coconut and sugar cane, as well as seaweed and mud. We enjoyed a couple's massage, tried the Hydro Vitality Jets Experience, and had a consultation with the spa's in-house Dr Sree, who used our pulse to give a fascinating insight in to our individual health concerns.
We also booked up for Watsu therapy after reading about it prior to visiting. Held in the Vitality Jet Pool, an experienced therapist gently cradles, moves and stretches your body in warm water. I can honestly say it's unbelievably relaxing and you really do feel the stresses and strains of everyday life just melt away
GETTING OUT AND ABOUT
As much as we could have happily stayed within the hotel's grounds for the entirety of our trip, my journalistic duties kicked in, so we booked a full day's tour with Mauritours (www.mauritours.mu) and set off to explore the South of the island. First up we headed to Trou aux Cerfs, a dormant volcano with a well defined cone and crater, before visiting the sacred lake of Grand Bassin. Also known as Ganga Talao by the locals and Indians who make a pilgrimage there every year, it's considered the most sacred Hindu location on the island.
Next on our hit-list was taking in the incredible view at Alexandra Falls, located on the road through the Black River Gorges National Park. After a quick improvised pit-stop to see some macaque monkeys stealing fruit from the tourists, it was on to the Chamarel 7 Coloured Earth Geo park, anatural phenomenon where the colours of the earth have evolved through conversion of basaltic lava to clay minerals. We couldn't, of course, experience a day's excursion without sampling the Mauritians local tipple; rum. For that we embarked on a guided tour of a working rum factory, the Rhumerie de Chamarel.
After a fascinating insight in to how the spirit is made, we were then given a delicious rum-based cocktail before sampling eight different varieties produced there. This may explain why I snored, with my mouth wide open, on the 90-minute trip back to Angsana Balaclava Mauritius, much to my husband's amusement. After a blissful five nights it was time to leave, and, as much as we'd both missed our boys, we were sad. Not only had we experienced a five-star resort in paradise, but Angsana Balaclava Mauritius takes romance to a new level.
AIR MAURITIUS: FLYING BUSINESS CLASSEDITOR CLAIRE SAYS:
My husband and I were lucky enough to enjoy Air Mauritius business class on our outbound journey. After being escorted to ourcentral two-seat space, we were offered an ice-cold glass of orange juice or champagne. Taking a sip of bubbly while trying to appear like I fly business class all the time, I had a little nose around my personal space for the next 12 hours. The seat offered an extremely comfortable 60 pitch, and I was able to fully-extend the seat to 'lie-flat' mode. We even had a Christian Lacroix washbag full of in-flight essentials to keep us comfortable on our journey.
I can't fault the service and attention to detail throughout the flight. Before we'd even taken off we were asked for our next drinks choice, which was served with a selection of canapes once airborne. For dinner I opted for prawns followed by lamb, all of which was served on proper crockery, which made all the difference. The wine was also free-flowing, and after a couple of glasses I decided against one of the many movies on my own TV. I couldn't wait to lie down and sleep comfortably on the overnight flight!
Visit www.airmauritius.com or call 020 7434 4375
MAURITIUS: THE FACTS AND CURRENCY
The Mauritian currency is the rupee, which at the time of writing works out to around 45MUR per £1. Even though you can charge service and sundries to your room at Angsana Balaclava Mauritius, have some cash for tipping staff, such as the maids who clean your room. Get your currency on arrival at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport we found this to be the best deal.
DISTANCE: Mauritius is 6,324 miles from the UK, in the heart of the Indian Ocean and 600 miles off the coast of Madagascar. Angsana Balaclava Mauritius is situated on the scenic North-West coast, on the shores of Turtle Bay. It's a 15-minute drive from the capital of Port Louis, and a 20-minute drive from the seaside village of Grand Baie.
ROADS: Mauritians drive on the left and the roundabouts and signsare identical to those in the UK! The roads are in great condition,and for that reason we imagine hiring a car to tour the islandyourself is a great idea.