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).