A fleet of catamarans sail in the Tiffany blue Indian Ocean. Clad in bikinis, tourists lounge on sun decks after a dip in the coral-peppered waters. A flock of Mauritius fody dance around the Belle Mare Plage beach, their olive feathers melting into the greens of swaying beach palms. It’s sunny, yet there is a light nip in theair as a June winter begins to cloak this region south of the equator. In sync with the sandy splendour, the setting at the on-the-beach Club Med La Plantation d’Albion, a 52-acre luxury property on the west coast of Mauritius, is idyllic. A three-day stay here is enough to grab a slice of the all-frills-island life, packed with seaside spright, multicultural cuisine and swinging parties.
It takes a seven-hour flight from Mumbai to cross over the Indian Ocean and arrive at the island nation, roughly the size of Tokyo and located nearly 2,000 kilometres off the south eastern coast of Africa. Sugarcane plantations with volcanic mountains in the backdrop festoon both sides of the road, weaving together some primeval views for the 55-kilometre ride between the airport and the stay. It is only upon arriving at the destination, that one registers that characteristic coastal town vibe. Perfectly manicured gardens with tropical flowers flourish between rows of three-storey buildings, and ritzy chalet-style villas with pastel green roofs face the sea. Its fuchsia rooms are spacious with a quiet nook in the balcony that overlook banana tree plantations. The sound of the waves lapping against the shore keeps one company, audible even from a distance.
Given its sprawling area, it takes 45 minutes and a few attempts to memorise the way around Club Med La Plantation d’Albion. And with no dearth of activities on site, there are plenty of reasons not to wander away from the resort. A lesson in the 5000-year-old Chinese martial art of tai chi is equally muscle-straining and invigorating, but it takes a leap off the launching pad at the Flying Trapeze School to step out of one’s comfort zone and overcome vertigo. Those looking for some classic down time can make their way to the golf club or unwind at the adults-only Zen pool with infinite views of ocean-side sunsets. Missing some maritime action? A PADI-certified scuba diving course at The Cathedral, a part of the seabed sitting at 60-65 feet off Flic-en-Flac island, reveals jaw-dropping underwater arches and caves housing technicolour reef fish and lobsters.
Sauces from China, spices from India, cheese from Europe and vanilla from Africa—Mauritian cuisine draws flavours from the mix of people who inhabit the country. And meals at The Distillerie, the property’s buffet-style restaurant where gambolling cats keep diners company, is reflective of the same. The succulent veal and tuna surprises the mouth with a hint of salt crackle, while lamb haleem—a gravy based preparation of the meat laden with wheat, barley and lentil—comforts the stomach. Napolitaine, two shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with jam is a simple local dessert. With an à la carte setting overlooking waves crashing on the rocks, La Phare gets it right. Savour a plate of scallops served with Madagascar vanilla cream or sample some sea urchins, the pulpy orange insides of which taste like an edible version of the sea. Save the best for the last with mango crème brûlée, the aftertaste of which will linger in your mind long after it has been washed off your palate.
As the sun melts into the horizon and stars speckle the sky, nights at the property come alive with parties that shine in their eclectic, often eccentric, indulgences. From the traditional Sega dance and flamboyant Beyoncé tributes to gravity-defying water acrobatics and flash mobs, there is something to look forward to each night of the week. One could argue that the rest of the island demands to be explored, but that could wait another day. Club Med overflows with holiday abundance, compelling you to stay—snug, spoilt and sea-swaddled.
Pooja Naik is Senior Sub-Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She likes to take long leisurely walks with both hands in her pocket; channeling her inner Gil Pender at Marine Drive since Paris is a continent away.