Hotel entrance, Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas, Mauritius

Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas


First impressions count. Whether a warm welcome by a doorman in a bowler hat or a disinterested grunt from a sullen receptionist, it’s always nice to know what to expect early on. The Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas sets its stall out in a unique way by announcing your arrival with a gong. It’s a fun gesture: grand, welcoming, a little over the top, and very on-brand.

What we were welcomed to is a spectacular 171-room-and-villa property just fifteen minutes from the airport. Lush Casuarina forests surround the hotel, which opens onto the white sands of Le Chaland beach, a stretch of sand guests will have largely to themselves. We made a beeline for the beach after a brief orientation, passing the glistening infinity pool, down steps and a winding path through pine trees. At a beach bar, we stopped for a coconut – you can have it with or without rum – before heading down to the beach itself. The thin white, sparsely populated strip of soft white sand stretched as far as the eye could see. This, to us, was a good start.

The architecture of the Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas is modern and stylish. An open-air lobby is divided by thin, man-made waterways while the infinity pool is the place to be seen, with the young and the beautiful lounging and bathing. Friendly local staff ferry cocktails and bar food here. Having a personal weakness for a swim-up bar, however, we spent more time at the Aqua Pool, which offered similar casual food and iced cocktails.

Our room was generous and tastefully minimalist. High ceilings and a sun-dappled balcony in the shade of palm fronds gave a view of the crystal-clear Indian Ocean. On the ground floor, double-sized Ocean View Suites feature a spacious lounge and open onto the sand. For those wanting the very best, secluded Garden Pool Villas come with a butler and a private chef.

We found the service excellent throughout our stay. Anecdotally, Mauritian service culture is not hyper-attentive: while vacationing in the country, we’ve frequently been left waiting for drinks while the barman shot the breeze with a coworker, and this was across numerous properties at differing price points. Mind you, this less polished service strikes us as a genuine cultural difference and, thus, as something we’re happy to accept. It’s ‘Island time’ baby, what’s the rush? That said, we didn’t experience this at Anantara. Staff would often hover into view just as we finished the last sip to ask if we needed another round. On a couple of occasions, a drink showed up without us even ordering (something we weren’t exactly mad about).

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While you’re Out There
Take a leisurely hike through the Casuarina forest and along the cliffs to Pont Naturel. It’s a spectacular natural bridge straddling a raging inlet in the cliffs. We worked up the courage to cross it, all the while being sprayed by the waves as they lashed the rocks below. The hike takes about an hour and though there’s plenty of shade, it’s best to go early in the day. Alternatively, Blue Bay Marine Park is a ten-minute boat ride from the resort and offers stunning snorkelling in emerald waters surrounded by abundant marine life.

The hotel was also extremely helpful and accommodating when our flight was delayed by almost a day due to a heavy cyclone, letting us use a room and keeping a close watch on the air travel situation. Travel stress can put a dampener on any trip, so we were certainly grateful for the assistance of the Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas.

On the dining end, we had a special evening at 1884, a wine-cellar-cum-private-dining experience named after the date the original hotel owners first arrived as traders from India. The cellar seats up to four for a feast of traditional Mauritian and contemporary dishes paired with delicious wines from the lavishly stocked cellar. What made our night one to remember was the privacy offered by the unique, enclosed environment of the cellar and a personal visit from the chef.

Themed buffets at Horizon on the sea-facing terrace draw on the island’s heritage, with an international breakfast to suit anyone’s tastes. A quick lunch at the resort’s Asian fusion restaurant Zen Wei was a casual poolside delight: mouthwatering sushi, tempura prawns and a powerful curry set us up for an afternoon hike.

The Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort & Villas has access to some of the most beautiful natural areas the island has to offer. We took full advantage of the glass-bottom boat tour and snorkelled above a vibrant village of colourful aquatic flora and fauna.

The southern coast is frequently touted as ‘untouched’, and access to such natural beauty comes with certain responsibilities. We found that the hotel shows an impressive commitment to sustainability, having gone plastic-free while making extensive use of solar power. Rooms, meanwhile, are oriented to allow as much natural light as possible. Though there were plenty of families, we were always able to find quiet areas and, as you’d expect from a beachside resort, the overall vibe was relaxed. There are worse places to while away a couple of days – or weeks, if you’ve got the time.

Zack travelled to Mauritius from London with Air Mauritius. For more information on the island nation, visit the website of the Mauritius Tourism Authority.

Photography courtesy of Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas

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