Mauritius is the exotic island of the moment where you can bask in beach-front bliss, Créole culture and spa heaven in a far-flung location. For those in search of adventure on a paradise escape, the neighbouring island of Reunion has all the incredible activities, allowing you to experience the best of the beach and adventure on a twin-centre holiday.
New to Hayes & Jarvis' Indian Ocean portfolio, under-the-radar French island Reunion is perfect for exploring somewhere new and exotic that's off the beaten path, while adding a truly special destination to a classic Mauritian getaway. We travelled to Mauritius and Reunion with the luxury long-haul specialist to discover two of the finest five-star hotels on the islands and were left feeling captivated, inspired and thoroughly relaxed.
LUX* Belle Mare, Mauritius
With its sink-your-toes-straight-in white, powdery sand, top-notch restaurants fit for the most discerning of gourmands and a wealth of unique activities for every type of traveller, LUX* Belle Mare is a hotel you'll fall in love with instantly. Maintaining a high level of five-star luxury, it exudes tropical glamour and creative touches that were made to impress. Designed exclusively by interiors queen Kelly Hoppen, the resort is chic and colourful, while retaining traditional Mauritian style with its thatched-roofed suites and villas. Aside from its glorious location on the east of the island, there's an abundance of activity at the sprawling hotel without it ever feeling crowded.
The all-suite and villa resort offers the utmost in luxury when it comes to accommodation. The suites are super-spacious, with massive bathrooms, a beach house vibe and breathtaking views of the ocean or gardens. The enormous Sleep Tight beds are ideal for sinking into after a day of exploring the island, while the walk-in showers, soaking tubs and twin wash basins create a spa-like space. Book a Beach-View Junior Suite to wake up to the turquoise lagoon and enjoy luxuries such as a generous walk-in wardrobe, a dressing table and elegant lounge area.
Some of the best restaurants in Mauritius are found at LUX* Belle Mare, including the cool, Ibiza-style Beach Rouge and Michelin-starred Indian eatery Amari by Vineet. Don't leave without dining at sleek and stylish Chinese restaurant Duck Laundry. The dark, contemporary setting was made for a chic feast of Peking duck with steamed pancakes and Sichuan-spiced dandan noodles with shrimp, topped off with fabulously creative cocktails. For a laid-back but extremely tasty lunch by the sea, the Rolls-Royce 1933 Food Truck serves up some of the best burgers we've eaten anywhere in the world, along with grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos and chicken wings. In the evening, be sure to stop at quirky bar Mari Kontan to sample the huge collection of Mauritian and Reunion Island rums.
A stay at LUX* Belle Mare isn't complete without basking in the sunshine on the flawless beach. Whether you're sitting on a sun lounger with the resort's homemade ICI ice cream in hand, riding a horse or snorkelling the shallow waters, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the idyllic setting. When it comes to relaxation, the wellness offerings are heavenly. The show-stopping LUX* Me space takes in the best of spa, yoga, fitness and nutrition. Don't miss unwinding in the post-massage pool area - it's one of the most serene spots in the resort. Getting out and about is an exciting experience and the resort's red bikes can be hired for an early morning visit to the fishing village of Trou d'eau Douce and stops at paradise beaches along the way. Meanwhile, just a short stroll from the resort lies Aubergine Farm, where you can step back in time and experience a traditional Mauritian evening in the lap of luxury, dining under the stars, indulging with a massage and even spending the night in your own colonial farmhouse for a romantic night with your loved one.
LUX* Saint Gilles, Reunion
For lush gardens, incredible sunsets and Creole-style villas, look no further than LUX* Saint Gilles for an escape to Reunion. Located on the west coast of the verdant island, this is as far flung as you'll get in France. The beachfront hotel in Saint Gilles offers a fantastic location to explore the adventure-rich isle. The vibe is luxurious while remarkably relaxed, making it a marvellous base you'll want to return to after exploring the dramatic peaks and breathtaking waterfalls of Reunion. As the only five-star beach resort in Reunion, LUX* Saint Gilles affords direct access to the finest beach on the island L'Hermitage, where you can swim in the calm lagoon, watch the unmissable sunset and even spot humpback whales between June and November.
The Deluxe and Superior Rooms are elegant, spacious and found inside white plantation-style villas nestled among filao trees and coconut palms in a tropical garden. Book a first-floor room to enjoy bird-watching from your balcony or spend lazy afternoons soaking up the atmosphere from the terrace of a ground floor room. Dining at the beachside resort is a treat thanks to the variety of eateries on offer, from fine dining at Orangine to casual dinners at La Plage. We'd recommend the unfussy fare at La Plage, where you can feast on the likes of papaya and prawn salad, mixed seafood and pineapple carpaccio. With an emphasis on fresh ingredients and locally-sourced seafood, LUX* Saint-Gilles' dining spots allow you taste the true delights of the island.
While Reunion is a destination where you must leave your hotel for the amazing adventures, which range from hiking through national parks to helicopter rides over waterfalls, there is plenty to keep you entertained at the resort when you do fancy lingering longer after breakfast. LUX* Saint Gilles has the largest swimming pool on the island, as well as petanque, volleyball and tennis. You can grab a snorkel and flippers from the hotel for spotting colourful fish in sea, while some of the quirky and unique features of the stylish hotel include a red telephone box for guests to call anywhere in the world for free, an al-fresco cinema and a Tree of Wishes. Guests can also search for the Message in a Bottle hidden in the resort, which contains a gift such as a massage in the spa or dinner for two
Book it:Hayes & Jarvis (01293 762 456) offers a ten-night twin-centre holiday to Reunion Island and Mauritius from £1,749 per person - a saving of up to £279 per person. The offer includes five nights at LUX* Saint Gilles, followed by five nights at LUX* Belle Mare, both on a B&B basis, along with return international flights from London Heathrow (based on 3 June 2018 departures).
Where to go on holiday in 2018
Where to go on holiday in 2018
2018 is set to be a bumper year for travel, with new fantastic flight routes, major celebrations and a whole host of hotels opening in beautiful corners of the world. To help you decide where to go on holiday in 2018, we've picked ten of the hottest destinations in the UK, Europe and beyond.
From the sun-kissed host of the Commonwealth Games to the European Capital of Culture, these are the places to visit in 2018...
Known as Australia’s playground for entertainment and adventure, the Gold Coast steps into the international spotlight for 2018 as its hosts the Commonwealth Games. One of the host city's most exciting projects for the occasion is the Gold Coast Cultural precinct, catering for festivals, cinemas, concerts and events. Providing revellers a backdrop of surf, sand and sun, the Gold Coast is an up-and-coming hotspot for travellers with quirky bars and stylish restaurants popping up along the coastline. Book it: Austravel offers ten-night holidays to Queensland from £1,589 per person, including four-star accommodation, car hire and flights.
If the big screen inspires your travels, you'll want to hit the Lake District in 2018 as this beautiful part of England features in the first CGI-animated film of the Beatrix Potter-created beloved character, Peter Rabbit. Location scenes of the film, which premieres in March, were shot in the towns of Ambleside and Windermere. The Lake District was also recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, making it the number one place to visit in the UK in 2018. Book it: Sherpa Expeditions offers an eight-day Cumbrian Way: Crossing the Lake District holiday from £570 per person.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malta’s capital city of Valletta is awash with history, culture and spectacular architecture. It is the European Capital of Culture 2018 and will officially launch on 20 January 2018, with the city's four main squares providing backdrops to acrobats, dancers and digital artistic projections, along with a series of cultural festivals and events throughout the year. Visitors to Valletta should check out sites including St John’s Co-Cathedral and Renzo Piano’s City Gate. Book it: Mercury Holidays offers three-night breaks to Valletta from £295 per person, including flights and a stay at the five-star Grand Hotel Excelsior.
One of the hottest new flight routes in 2018 is British Airways' service from Heathrow to Nashville, bringing the Music City to UK travellers from May 2018. BA will fly to the capital of Tennessee five times a week, offering visitors 160 live music venues, a thriving food and drink scene and a rich history. Conveniently positioned between three interstate highways, Nashville is also an excellent starting point for Southern road trips, with Memphis and New Orleans all within easy reach for a fly-drive holiday to America. Book it: Flights start from £749 return with British Airways.
2018 marks 50 years since Mauritius proclaimed independence from the UK. The island's celebrations are set to include ceremonies, live music and performances on the national day, 12th March. As part of wider celebrations throughout the year, you can explore all four corners of the island - from the bustling and vibrant city of Port Louis in the north to the Chamarel Seven Coloured Earths and beautiful site of Le Morne Brabant in the south. The cultural and historical sites will really come to life during these celebrations and visitors will be able to see what a melting pot of cultures Mauritius really is. Book it: Hayes & Jarvis offers seven-night holidays to Mauritius from £1,318 per person, staying at the LUX* Belle Mare with airport transfers and return flights.
For a truly off-the-beaten-path holiday in 2018, look no further than Hoh Xil in China. Out in the western province of Qinghai, Hoh Xil remains one of the last untouched natural landscapes on Earth and was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 2017 as the largest and highest plateau in the world. The area is home to over 230 rare species of animals, wide open plains and crystal-clear lakes. Book it: Black Tomato offers trips to China, including exclusive permits for Hoh Xil, from £5,250 per person for ten nights.
Jordan's capital city is experiencing exciting developments, with three hotel openings due to open in 2018, making it an excellent long-weekend destination as it is just 5.5 hours away by plane. Amman has plenty to offer, from great food stalls and restaurants on Rainbow Street to exciting places in the upcoming Weibdeh area. The W Amman Hotel opens in early 2018 and will be a vibrant sanctuary styled in contemporary luxury and nestled in Amman’s Financial District, which is among traditional markets and ancient ruins. The five-star Ritz Carlton and St. Regis will also open later in the year, bringing even more luxury to the vibrant city. Book it: BA Holidays offers four-night breaks to Amman including return flights and a stay at Grand Hyatt Amman from £733 per person.
Summer 2018 will see holidaymakers lust over Vis, when the remote and sleepy Croatian island takes a starring role as Greece in new Mamma Mia sequel, Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again. The original cast, which includes Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Colin Firth, will reunite to continue their story. Vis is reached by catamaran from Split in under 90 minutes and offers a small island community feel, pretty fishing villages, coastal caves and smooth pebble beaches - it's the perfect place to experience authentic Croatia. Book it: Prestige Holidays offers seven-night escapes to the island, staying at the ten-room Hotel San Giorgio, with flights, ferry and transfers included, from £769 per person.
February 2018 sees the launch of the longest ever non-stop route between Gatwick and Buenos Aires from low-cost airline Norwegian, making Argentina easier to reach than ever, with return flights for under £600. Travellers can leave the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires behind and use the new route to explore Argentina's lesser-known regions, including the beautiful north-west Salta province with its salt flats, turquoise lagoons and volcanic landscapes. Book it: Pura Aventura takes travellers to remote and undiscovered Northern Argentina from £5,625 per person, including 16 nights’ accommodation, internal flights, transport, guides and activities.
In 2018, Estonia celebrates 100 years since its Declaration of Independence, where it welcomed in a new era of free expression. The calendar of EV100 events includes village parties, a pop-up sailing school and theatre series. From the red-brick fortresses of the Baltic Germans, to a Tsarist Russian Orthodox Cathedral, there is an array of eclectic influences for discerning travellers to explore. Book it: Martin Randall Travel offers a 6 to 14 August 2018 tour from £2,870 per person, including flights, private coach transfers, accommodation and most meals with drinks.