Heritage le Telfair, MauritiusThe most commonly spoken words in Mauritius must be “a table for two please.”
It’s an island for honeymoons and romance, so people travelling alone sometimes feel a little incongruous. But they understand that at Heritage Le Telfair, and make sure a solo traveller never feels uncomfortably alone. The maître d’ shows me to sunny tables for breakfast, warm tables for supper, and shows me the best place to sit to access the free wi-fi while I dine.
Heritage Le Telfair is a gorgeous hotel on the south west of Mauritius, built in an airy old colonial style. It’s named after Charles Telfair, an Irishman who first landed as a ship’s surgeon in 1810. He was also a keen botanist who worked to improve the sugar cane industry and founded the island’s Natural History Society.
Telfair and his wife Annabella owned the private estate Bel Ombre, and the whole place is still beautifully maintained. Their original home, Le Chateau, is now a restaurant, while another hotel and some villas have also been built in the reserve.
Le Telfair is a modern building with a gracious, spacious style befitting of a five star resort. My room was fabulous, tastefully decorated with wicker and dark wood furniture on pale wooden floors. It had a large bathroom, plenty of wardrobe space, a king-sized bed, huge TV, a desk and a small lounge area. There are coffee making facilities and a mini-bar, and a balcony looking out over the ocean.
I stayed there in winter, which is hardly a formidable affair, but it does bring a nippy wind and lots of rain. The enormous swimming pool had me turning blue with cold, so I was delighted to find a heated pool that was gloriously deserted every morningna little further down the pristine beach.
A sandy ramble brought me to a third enormous pool by a childrens’ play area and boat house. It was pelting down when I popped into the boat house, more for shelter than with plans to actually get any wetter. The staff at Le Telfair are uniformly friendly and helpful, and honest enough to admit that the coral around here isn’t spectacular. A river running through the estate often floods, pouring into the ocean and damaging the coral. I decided it was the perfect weather to adjourn to the spa for a Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna instead.
Breakfast is served at Annabella’s, where I arrived wearing shorts and left 40 minutes later under an umbrella. Changeable stuff, this off-peak weather.
Breakfast involves all the usual options, with some wildlife thrown in when cheeky birds hop down to forage for crumbs. When I came back bearing a plate of pastries, a little sparrow was perched on my glass with its beak in my fruit juice!
Supper is a more formal affair, with a set menu offering a three-course meal with a choice of three dishes for each. Memorable dishes included a starter of spicy crab cakes with exotic guacamole, a main course of grilled dorado with black olives in tamarind butter sauce, and a wonderfully tangy lemon and raspberry tart. It's a good job it was winter, because my bikini wouldn't have coped with all these delicacies.
There’s an a la carte menu too, although that’s not including in the cost of the half board package. Neither are your drinks, and as ever, these five star prices in Mauritius quickly burn a hole in your pocket. Still, it's helpful for preserving your liver when house wine costs R100 a glass.
When you tire of the beach and pool, or in inclement weather, there’s quite a lot to do in the vicinity. I had my first taste of zip-lining at Chazal, a nature reserve with hiking and river walking. Chazal has 10 zip lines, but some were closed for repairs. I nervously wondered what had happened to require fixing, but apparently it was just routine maintenance.
An instructor strapped me into a nappy-like of concoction of straps and drive me up to the gorge. Then he hooked me onto a cable and told me to jump. Self-preservation kicked in, but my sense of fun over-rode it and I leapt, whizzing across a canyon 20m above a river. On the return trip I somehow managed to travel facing backwards. It was exhilarating, but I’m still not sure if I actually enjoyed it!
Still, I certainly felt I’d earned the right to a heated swim, a starlit Jacuzzi and another fine supper back at Le Telfair.
For details see www.heritageresorts.mu