Until I stepped into Constance Le Prince Maurice, I hadn’t appreciated that there actually is something to the whole Feng Shui design philosophy. The hotel is not only one of the most elegant and classy establishments in Mauritius, but there’s a positive energy here and it’s very easy on the eye.
The sound and sight of water seems to follow you wherever you go. This zen-like feeling carries on into the accommodation that comprises junior suites—some on stilts over water and others with a garden view—beach villas with pools, and the sumptuous Princely Villa that has a secluded stretch of beach all to itself.
The location feels remote, the idea of a true escape, and there are 60 hectares of lush grounds and an impressive natural fish reserve. There’s also an iconic floating bar, the superb Le Barachois restaurant and two further restaurants and bars, as well as the beautiful wine cellar where many of the 25,000 bottles are heirlooms. The hotel excels at gourmet experiences, from romantic degustation dinners and family beach breakfasts, to private New World wine tastings with canapes, there’s never a dull moment. And this complements other facilities including the beachfront infinity pool, lap pool, Asian-themed spa, complimentary green fees at two top golf courses, and a host of watersports. And when it comes to evening entertainment, it’s a cut above: an excellent jazz singer; a pianist; and hauntingly beautiful sounds from an Indian folk band.
There’s a grown up feel, but the resort is welcoming to families, with a kids’ club and suites to suit. If you like an exclusive and intimate feel, a meticulously maintained resort with a small army of super friendly staff—320 in this case—and somewhere that guests dress for dinner, you are bound to fall in love.
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My car drove up the sweeping driveway through impressively lush gardens. I was met at the hotel entrance and escorted along an airy walkway with pools and water features either side into the lobby area of open air thatched pavilions with high, vaulted ceilings. The fragrance of frangipani was all around as I was seated in the lounge area with a glass of sparkling South African white and a cold towel. I admired the view of the main swimming pool which blended seamlessly with the water of the lagoon beyond—all very peaceful and soothing.
Check-in was taken care of by a member of staff in traditional dress who took note of any special requests and asked if I had any allergies, before escorting me to my room and showing me around at length. I felt welcome.
Rooms and suites
There were two things that struck me when I walked into my garden view Junior Suite. Firstly, the confident use of orange in the soft furnishings and accessories, for a contemporary feel that worked well. Secondly, the uncluttered layout: the bed, for example, was raised off the floor which made the room feel more spacious. Feng Shui is purported to help energy flow, and I noticed it straight away. My bed was comfortable and an extensive pillow menu was available. And I liked the little inflatable dodo bird—a symbol of environmental awareness—for my use, to indicate whether I wanted my sheets changing. Novel.
This suite oozed attention to detail, high design and quality, from the polished parquet flooring and stylish furniture, including a desk and a sofa by the window, to the elegant lamps either side of the bed that had dimmer switches and a subtle orange light to guide you to the switch in the dark.
My balcony had a table, two chairs and a chaise longue, with lovely padded cushioning making it feel more of a lounge area. My view over the garden caught a glimpse of the lagoon through the trees.
The mini-bar was well stocked with soft and alcoholic drinks including spirits and sweets and savoury treats. A kettle and coffee machine were also provided.
Almost every time I returned to my room there was a surprise, such as an invitation to the weekly cocktail reception in the Princely Villa or a towel that had been skilfully fashioned into an elephant.
The smart TV, Apple Mac mini and a keyboard for internet browsing were quite impressive, while there were plenty of sockets around the room and two USB ports. There was also digital air conditioning which was easy to use and efficient.
There are junior family suites available with two rooms and a shower room for the kids or, if you need more space, there are beachfront villas with a living room, private garden with a small heated pool and beach access.
Double doors led to the large and luxurious bathroom, decorated in cream with earth-toned, polished marble accents. It was very smart and above the double vanity were three large mirrors taking up most of the wall space. The shower cabin had a rainfall head as well as a handheld one, there was a separate toilet cubicle and the bath was set beside a large window with wooden blinds. A seating area was a good place to get changed and the lighting, that includes a combination of elegant brass wall lights and ceiling spotlights, was very good while there were three kinds of magnifying mirrors, including one handheld. The hair dryer worked well and there was a large sliding wardrobe with slippers, robes and a safe.
All the usual bathroom amenities as well as a selection of natural soaps were available, and 100ml bottles of Constance-branded shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion were provided. If you wish to indulge, there’s a bath menu (extra cost) including a lavender infusion to help send you to sleep afterwards.
I highly recommend Le Barachois for dinner. The approach along the wooden pathway over the fish reserve and lagoon, softly lit with lanterns and the stars twinkling above, built the anticipation of what was to be a lovely evening. Consisting of five floating dining decks which swayed ever so slightly on the water and views into the floodlit water where the fish were swimming, it’s a unique and very romantic venue. Although there was faint background music, it could be a little too quiet for some. The menu is mainly seafood with ‘low tide’ options including lagoon fish crepes and octopus with mustard seeds, as well as ‘high tide’ options such as lobster and ruby snapper with curry leaf pesto. I intended to skip a starter, as tempting as they sounded, but my waiter suggested a small portion of the palm heart salad as an appetiser. How could I say no? It was delicious. For mains, I opted for the Mauritian green chicken curry that came on a platter with pots of rice, lentils, salad, chutney and garlic as well as flatbreads: a real feast.
Other restaurant options
The Asian Restaurant is located at the Laguna Bar next to the main swimming pool, the setting is chic and within earshot of the nightly, live music that also serves the surrounding lounge and Archipel restaurant on the other side of the pool. I went on Chinese Hot Pot night, a dish said to have originated in Chongqing around 2,000 years ago, but it was a first for me. A pot of simmering chicken stock was brought to the table along with the raw ingredients I’d selected—prawns, squid, sea bass and balls of fish—to go with the vegetables and noodles. It was then up to me to cook it all, which ended up being quite fun. A selection of chilli, garlic and soy dipping sauces completed the delicious dish.
Surrounded by pools with lagoon views and pretty carved wooden screens dividing the space, Archipel was a delightful place to eat breakfast. A vast selection of everything imaginable in the cold food department was on offer, as well as hot dishes including noodles, sausages, potatoes, omelettes and waffles cooked to order. I particularly enjoyed the homemade protein bars and the energising juice of the day.
Service was very good, and my plate was carried back from the buffet for me more often than not, whilst juices were brought to me if I even raised a pinky.
Spa and wellness
Tucked away in a secluded part of the gardens is USpa. I relaxed with a drink as I went through the goals of my upcoming massage with my therapist, before I headed for the small but perfectly equipped changing area. My treatment room was light and a door leading to an outdoor shower was left open allowing a gentle breeze to flow through. I’d asked for particular attention to be paid to my neck and shoulders and my therapist intuitively knew exactly which knots to iron out. It was an excellent massage and afterwards I recouped with a refreshing iced tea on an extra wide day bed by the spa’s pool, overseen by the obligatory Buddha. Guests booking treatments have access to the sauna, steam room, chill pool and thermal pool. Sisley facials and body treatments, makeup, hair, pedicure and manicure services complete the picture.
For exercise, there’s a fitness centre with Technogym equipment and lessons including stretching, power plate, cross fitness training, and yoga. Do take advantage of complimentary aqua gym lessons, Tai Chi by the boat house and bikes. If you prefer tennis, there are two courts with racquets available to rent, whilst golfers have free access and transfers to two 18-hole courses (the Legends and the Links) at sister hotel, Constance Belle Mare Plage.
Pool and beach
There are two pools. The main infinity-edge pool is at the heart of the resort between two of the restaurants and has a swim-up bar. Adults and families were enjoying a dip and the view over the lagoon. Around it were quality wooden sun loungers and covered double daybeds with thick mattresses and pillows. The second pool is a lap pool that’s secluded in the gardens and geared towards adults and relaxation. Everything was meticulously clean each day.
The beach is a long golden stretch of groomed sands with plenty of loungers well spread out right on the sands or near to the gardens beneath the shade of the trees. Beach butlers delivered chilled water as soon as I sat down and asked if I was comfortable, while two flags were provided, one for ‘service please’ and another for ‘do not disturb’.
Lunch service is available at both the pool and the beach, while marquees on the beach can be booked for private beach barbecues.
Complimentary water sports include snorkelling trips, glass bottom boats, Hobie Cats, pedal boats, kayaks, windsurfing and waterskiing. Those payable include towed tubes, parasailing, deep sea fishing, catamaran cruises and fly fishing in the resort’s natural fish reserve. All must be pre-booked.
The kids’ club features play areas and a children’s pool catering to two separate age ranges; 4-6 and 7-11 years old. All on-site land and water based activities are free of charge and encourage as much time spent outdoors as possible. During high holiday times, Easter for example, there are special activities like making chocolate eggs with the chef. If your children are sporty, they can join complimentary taster lessons in golf and tennis.
Children’s menus are available in all the restaurants, as well as on the beach and around the swimming pools, and babysitting can be arranged.
Staff and service
Service was exceptional throughout. Staff were genuinely happy and proud to work here, were always friendly and professional and I was always called by name. Things like turndown times were arranged with me, food preferences established from the get go, and a pashmina was offered when I visited the chilly wine cellar; going the extra mile is the norm here. Another example was when I decided very last-minute that I’d like to try Barachois restaurant—which I’d been told should be booked in advance—but I put one of the reception staff on the spot. Eager to do his utmost, he called the restaurant twice while I waited and managed to get me a table. When I asked for a reminder of where the restaurant was, he walked me there himself.
Guests were mainly couples, but there were some young families. A wonderful sophisticated, international mix: mainly British and French, followed by other Europeans, Americans and Asians. All pretty chic, too.
My departure time and onward transfer details were taken when I checked in and then reconfirmed with me the day before I checked out. That evening, when I returned to my room, I was delighted to find a note saying I was able to have a late check-out. On the morning I left, it was raining and I was escorted beneath an umbrella, along with my suitcase, into a covered golf buggy to reception. Check-out was smooth and friendly and I was helped into the car with my bags. Had I needed to stay later (or if I’d originally arrived before my room was ready), there are two lovely lounges with shower, sofa and TV where I could have made myself comfy.
How to get there
1 hour by road from Mauritius International Airport
88 Suites & Villas