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Annabelle Hood heads to the newly revamped Seven Colours Millesime Spa at the Heritage Le Telfair Resort on the white sands of the southern coast of Mauritius  Being downgraded at the last minute from Business to Economy for a 12-hour red-eye flight was not the most auspicious start to...

Colourful Mauritius

Annabelle Hood heads to the newly revamped Seven Colours Millesime Spa at the Heritage Le Telfair Resort on the white sands of the southern coast of Mauritius 


Being downgraded at the last minute from Business to Economy for a 12-hour red-eye flight was not the most auspicious start to my inaugural trip to exotic Mauritius, but it made Le Telfair’s luxurious welcome all the sweeter: As if the gods were smiling on our crumpled group, two spa therapists and a waiter welcomed us aboard our air-conditioned airport transfer, proffering a refreshing hand towel, cool tropical juices, breakfast canapés, and a jetlag-melting hand massage to finish. Bliss on a bus. 

Checking in 45 minutes later, it immediately became clear that this five-star grand dame in the Domaine de Bel Ombre region of Mauritius is the south coast’s answer to well-established rivals Le Saint Geran and Le Touessrok to the other side of the island. We were greeted with warm smiles, another cooling towel and a traditional Mauritian sugar-cane cocktail, which we drank up along with the delectable pool and sea view from reception. 

Accommodation is staggered in handsome two-storey white French plantation-style ‘villas’ nestling in acres of lush landscaped gardens. My gargantuan first floor room had a balcony with brochure-picture views of the aqua-blue Indian Ocean shimmering beyond the pool below. A set of white wooden blinds dividing my airy room from the chic ensuite was a nod to former colonial times, enabling me to ogle the sea from the comfort of my bath. 


Having unpacked, I blew away some cobwebs with a walk along the beachfront, which is flanked by half a dozen resorts. Le Telfair was easily the most elegant hotel on this relatively newly developed white sand coastline, a few kilometres from the rugged Morne mountainscape. Next door, the Awali, the resort’s slightly more laidback sister hotel – with its photogenic infinity pools – felt authentically exotic and even tribal, but not as high-end as Le Telfair. 

Ambling past bushes of bright pink bougainvillea and loudly chirping mynah birds, I arrived at the newly revamped Seven Colours Millesime Spa (formerly a Six Senses spa) hoping to ease my travel-weariness. The sound of trickling water led me through an archway to the spa’s open villa reception overlooking landscaped gardens housing six single and double-sized treatment rooms, a Honeymoon Suite and two private outdoor treatment gazebos. Dreamily woozy honeymooners occasionally emerged from these before collapsing contentedly on white muslin-curtained beds surrounding the new Vitality hydro-pool. 


Sleepy with jet lag, I drowsily chose green from a rainbow of colours relating to different chakras, aka the body’s energy points. A serene receptionist explained that my choice of green related to the Heart chakra, the colour of space, sociability and balance, and that rebalancing the chakras is central to the Seven Colours Spa concept. 

And so, with green as the theme, I was led to my treatment room, where my 60-minute Stress Relief Massage was ‘greenified’ with ‘green’ music, ‘green’ light therapy (at first not visible from my massage bed, then unplugged and clunkily brought in to view), and finally, the air spritzed with a headily herbal room spray. In the spirit of Mauritius’ verdant nature, I was delighted when male therapist Sanju obligingly opened the sliding door so I could hear the sound of chirruping birdsong and coconut palms swaying in the breeze. Unfortunately the sound of a male guest’s voice also flooded in, so the door was partially re-closed. With the lure of sleep now stronger than ever, I soon nodded off under Sanju’s accomplished deep tissue technique (the pressure exactly as I had asked for), slipping back in to consciousness just in time to marvel at the most soothing head massage I’ve ever experienced – this alone was worth the 12-hour flight! Sanju explained that it was his Indian grandfather who had trained him in the ancient art of champissage. 

In the relaxation room afterwards, I had two sips of nectar-sweet rosemary, lemon, honey and ginger tea before flaking out again, this time to the soporific sound of the Vitality pool’s rushing jets. A relaxing spa indeed, although whether my heart chakra had been transformed was open to debate, unless you count the fact I’d completely fallen for Le Telfair and its Seven Colours Millesime Spa. 

Keen to compare my massage at Le Telfair with a treatment in the Seven Colours Spa at the Awali next door, and to test out the nature-inspired Seven Colours spa range, I booked in for a facial. 

My jolly therapist summoned me from the African-inspired whirlpool for my treatment in one of the dhobi mud huts surrounding it – a novel touch. Soon after my treatment started, I became aware of women talking in the staffroom next door. But once this disturbance had abated, a gamut of deliciously aromatic Seven Colour facial products was applied to my face – my favourites being the citrusy face scrub and a nourishing mask. One or two of the products made my sensitive skin smart a little, but my experienced therapist calmly reassured me these were the active natural ingredients at work. I trusted her and was glad I did, because far from turning tomato-pink with rosacea, I emerged an hour later with a blotch-free and far more radiant complexion than when I had staggered in. 

We were fortunate to dine at a selection of memorable restaurants during our stay. As mentioned, Le Telfair has the advantage of being right next to its sister hotel the Awali, and this doubles the choice of meal options for guests – a bonus for anyone lucky enough to stay for a fortnight or longer. The Seven Colours spa theme cleverly continues at the Awali thanks to its unique ‘Seven Colours Energy Cuisine’ menu. This aims to ‘reawaken’ diners’ dulled culinary senses and to stimulate flagging chakras with a crunchy crisp here or flash of sour-sweet sauce there. 

One of the most romantic restaurants was Gin’ja, Le Telfair’s Pan-Asian beachside fine dining offering, which serves supremely fresh garnished sushi on long lacquered platters. Meals at both resorts shared an aesthetically refined yet plentiful feast of fish, tropical fruit, vegetables and light sauces. We also enjoyed a topnotch breakfast and lunch at Annabella’s, named after the wife of Charles Telfair, the estate’s botanist founder. Each morning, ‘red whiskered bulbul’ birds would swoop cheekily from table to table stealing crumbs. Their tolerated greed mirrored two key aspects at the heart of the Heritage resorts we stayed at – unpretentious luxury and charm and the celebration of nature. 

As if to prove its nature-inspired roots, Heritage Resorts recently launched a guided wellbeing trek through the stunningly scenic Frederica Nature Reserve, to the north of the resort. Here, we enjoyed an exciting four-by-four ‘mini safari’, taking in exhilarating sightings of wild deer, bats, parakeets, termite nests, sugar plantation fields, bamboo groves, a small lagoon and a couple of waterfalls, not to mention glorious savannah valleys and coastal views. Under our gamekeeper’s expert guidance, we learned that almost all of Mauritius’s abundant wildlife, flora and fauna, had to be introduced to the island over the centuries to save its native species from the same sad plight as its most notable bird, the now extinct dodo. 

 

The Seven Colours Millesime Spa at Le Telfair offers wedding packages, signature treatments, massages, scrubs, wraps, facials, hair, beauty and 15-minute express treatments.
A 120-minute Couple Spa Suite Experience costs 9000 MRs (£200) and a 50-minute Musical Signature Massage, 2800 MRs (£60). Treatments feature Seven Colours’ locally inspired essential oils, body gels, wraps, scrubs and herbal room fragrances developed by spa manager Hélène Cassan.A Seven Colours spa is also offered next door at the Heritage Awali’s African-inspired resort, but what sets Le Telfair’s Millesime deluxe spa apart is the range of bespoke treatments and more exclusive spa setting. Guests at Le Telfair, Awali Golf & Spa resort and Villas Valriche have complimentary access to both spas.The new beach fronted C Beach Club (modelled on Miami’s hip Nikki Beach) offers the Cabana Boathouse, a cool teens club with activities for kids of all ages. This leaves parents free to have spa treatments, new guided wellness walks in the Frederica Nature Reserve or free daily yoga and tai chi classes on the beach.Mauritius is a 12-hour flight from the UK, with a 45-minute airport transfer time to Le Telfair.
High season runs between November and April (our winter), although Mauritius is blessed with clement temperatures of between 24-28°C all year round.Luxury Holidays Direct offers 7 nights at Le Telfair for £1459 per person sharing a superior river view room on a half board basis, including Air Mauritius economy flights, airport taxes and private transfers available from 1 May – 30 Sept excluding stays between 23 Jul –19 Aug 2011.Special offer stay 14 nights at Le Telfair between 10 June – 27 June 2011 for just £1899 per person, based on two sharing a superior room on a half board basis, including Air Mauritius economy flights, airport taxes and private transfers.Luxury Holidays Direct www.luxuryholidaysdirect.com Tel: 020 8774 7297
www.heritageletelfair.mu Tel: 00 230 601 5500
www.heritageawali.mu Tel: 00 230 601 1500
www.villasvalrichexperience.com Tel: 00 230 266 9700

We also tried one of the brand new and luxurious Villas Valriche, a cluster of private villas perched above the estate’s 18-hole championship golf course. Our very own butler scooped us up in a golf buggy, welcoming us to our villa with a fresh mango smoothie – a privileged insight in to the highlife. But although perfect for golf-mad guests oblivious to the recession or wanting to get away from it all (each villa has its own private infinity plunge pool and mod-cons), those pining for the white sands of the beach may feel a little distant from it, even if the ocean is visible on the horizon. 

Having had the privilege of staying at both Heritage Le Telfair and the Heritage Awali, I’d say the former is ideally suited for honeymooners seeking peaceful refined luxury in exquisite old-colonial surroundings with top service levels; whereas the Awali is romantic in a slightly more ethnic, buzzy laidback way and great for young couples or families. If you ignore the jagged coral on its white-sanded beach, Le Telfair is a perfect pocket of paradise for honeymooners and seasoned spa goers alike. 


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