When you imagine luxury travel, you are usually painting a picture with your mind’s eye of endless white sandy beaches dotted with coconut trees, gently lapped by turquoise waters rich with marine life. Spending long sunny days lazing by the pool with a good book and sipping tropical cocktails long into the balmy night…so when we agreed as a family to spend my dad’s 70th birthday on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean I was more than a little excited.
Long Beach Golf Resort & Spa
My brother lives with his young family in Perth Australia and was figuratively meeting us in the middle, so we decided to book the family friendly 5* Long Beach Golf & Spa Resort in Belle Mare on the Eastern Coast of Mauritius.
We opted for the Superior Beach Front Room and were not disappointed. The room was very spacious with a large bathroom and good sized balcony overlooking the beautiful beach and the Indian Ocean beyond.
There is one huge pool where children are allowed and a smaller infinity pool which is adults only. We spent most of our time in the former with our two young nieces, Maddie and Emily.
Couples without children need fear not, this resort is not crazy ‘kids ville’ and maintains a relaxed, peaceful vibe which I think is partly down to the space afforded by the size of the resort and partly down to the class of the clientele 🙂
The staff in the hotel were very friendly and helpful, and the service was good with the odd hiccup that you come to expect as a seasoned traveller in tropical island resorts.
The hotel arranged fireworks on the beach for both my fathers 70th birthday and my 39th.
When there was an issue with a member of staff the hotel sorted it swiftly and to our satisfaction which to me is the mark of a top luxury hotel. It’s how you react to an issue that marks the good from the best.
Where to eat
The hotel has five restaurants, and the food was excellent throughout which came as a relief as we had booked the All Inclusive package which set us back around £4,000 for 14 nights.
Wine lovers should be aware that the wine offered as part of the standard all inclusive package is very poor. There are decent wines available if you want to pay extra (which we did), but we gave feedback to the management that this is an area in need of improvement.
Tip: the cocktails are also pretty weak unless you specifically ask for a double shot…
The star of the show was Hasu, the hotel’s in-house Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately, this restaurant wasn’t part of the All Inclusive package, but the food was well worth the extra money. I’m not exaggerating to say the experience and execution are up there with Nobu (a compliment I paid to the Japanese head chef who was indeed taken aback by such high praise).
We favoured the Italian restaurant Sapori for lunch where the pasta and pizza dishes were satisfyingly washed down with a Provencal Rose or three. Jenny, our regular waitress, was a credit to her profession, and we genuinely looked forward to seeing her at lunchtime.
Tides speciality is seafood, and the restaurant is ideally located by the main pool and in front of the beach which makes for lazy lunches and romantic dinners.
The biggest surprise for me was the buffet restaurant Le Marche. Usually, I consider this option as the no frills low-end option, but this was not the case here. The breakfasts were fantastic with a huge array of tasty choices (the fresh omelettes were excellent) and great dinner options such as Oysters and Sea Urchins.
The last restaurant on the list is Chopsticks which serves up Chinese / Asian specialities such as crispy duck spring rolls, fried rice, noodles and chicken satay to name but a few. This restaurant was probably our least favourite among the five, not because of the food which was decent enough but more for the lack of atmosphere. I also deducted points for having no Peking crispy duck on the menu!
What to do
Where do I start? The facilities at Long Beach are exceptional. I won’t list them all, but the highlights are access to a championship golf course, well-equipped gym and exercise pool, rock climbing, water sports, kids club, spa, diving…my fingers are aching.
There was always something to keep the children occupied and Maddie and Emily both loved the resort. Most of the time was spent in the vast main pool and on the beach where you could snorkel and sail hobbie cats for free.
Keen golfers should take full advantage of complimentary access to the Bernhard Langer designed, Ile aux Cerfs championship golf course. I don’t play golf. I will now…the hotel arranged for me to take a trip out to the course (it’s on an island) and I walked around and managed to get some great shots. My brother played and said it was a pretty challenging, unforgiving course but the views were to die for.
I finally fulfilled a 20-year ambition and took my PADI open water course. I didn’t use the company affiliated with the hotel (which you can book through their water sports centre). Instead, I used a great little company just down the beach (walk right as you look at the ocean for about 200 metres) called Prestige Explorer Diving. They were far cheaper and better than the Blues Diving Centre used by the hotel.
The highlight of my diving experience was taking my 10-year-old niece and sidekick Maddie for her first dive. She was fantastic and loved it. Being from Australia, she swims like a mermaid and has no fear of the deep blue sea and what lurks beneath.
The visibility is superb, and there are some good drift and gully dives. Unfortunately, the coral is in relatively bad shape, and the sea life is limited to smaller fish so don’t expect to see sharks, rays or turtles. That said, we did see some Octopi, Stone, Puffer and Lion fish which was pretty cool.
I did manage to tear myself away from the resort one morning and took a trip to the local Sunday food and textiles market at Flacq. It is pretty big, and there is a huge variety of food and textiles on sale. The market has a real buzz about it, and you could easily be in India or Sri Lanka.
For those of us wanting a less active experience, the hotel Spa is excellent. You can have any number of treatments and the therapists are superb. I had a relaxing all over body massage twice and drifted off into a half sleep bliss both times! They also cater for children and the girls both had facials, manicures and hair braiding.
How to get there
To complete the luxury lifestyle vibe we flew Business Class with British Airways direct (~£5,400 per couple).
We used a great limo company called iChauffeur (www.ichauffeur.co.uk) to take a Range Rover Vogue to the airport (£263). I have used them before, and they provide an excellent all round service to complete any luxury travel experience.