Residential resort Heritage Villas Valriche is in a historic nature reserve – it’s an attractive investment proposition in Bel Ombre, southwest of Mauritius.
WORDS: DEBBIE HATHWAY:: PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
High in the hills of Bel Ombre Nature Reserve, a dancer pirouettes soundlessly, the tips of her toes dipping into the infinity pool of a Mauritius luxury villa in Heritage Villas Valriche. She presides over the outdoor living space of one of the established homes on the villa-only luxury estate, visible from the street below as we tour this magnificent property by golf buggy.
The home belongs to a couple of German entrepreneurs who chose the site for its elevation, commensurate mountain and ocean views, promise of peace and tranquility, and the best sunsets on the island. Even the bronze ballerina, painstakingly crafted by a South African sculptor, must spin in studied quiet so as not to detract from the sounds of nature – the motor driving her movement is specially adapted to spec. The artistic installation is as awe-inspiring as its environment, balancing real estate grandeur with sustainable, authentic living amidst 2,500 hectares of a UNESCO reserve.
Despite being perched on the highest road of the luxury residential development, Peter and Suzanne are not isolated. When they are feeling social, friends are a WhatsApp message away from meeting on the beach, relaxing over a sundowner or planning a leisurely dinner catered by one of the estate chefs. “It’s a really nice community from all over the world. That’s a good thing here,” says Suzanne. “The area is beautiful, more natural, local still, quieter. We like the sunset. And it’s not too touristy – the west coast is getting very busy.”
Within this protected tropical garden, 288 bespoke villas are planned. Almost two-thirds are already built, and only a few freehold plots remain for sale. So why buy here and invest time and effort in making a home in the wild southwest of Mauritius? Like Peter and Suzanne, who lived 10 years in Somerset West outside Cape Town, before relocating to this paradise island, many high-net-worth individuals want a plan B offering diversification of property portfolio, access to permanent residency, and a business- and people-friendly environment that is well governed.
UNSPOILT SOUTHWEST OF MAURITIUS
Living in Mauritius offers a multitude of perks – tax incentives, safety and security, good schooling and healthcare, and English and French are the main spoken languages. A healthy outdoor lifestyle promotes wellbeing, the community is welcoming, sustainability is an increasing priority, and residents enjoy an alchemy of cultures and cuisine. According to the World Happiness Report, Mauritius is the happiest country in Africa.
“My friend calls Mauritius the Monaco of Africa. It has the comfort of Europe with this tropical sense. It is a good place to live, work, and play and has different advantages in terms of stability, free circulation of currency, safety, people speaking both languages, a stable economy and currency, and free trade. That’s why I think Mauritius will become more of an economic centre – a shift from Europe,” says Christophe Piquet, head of sales and marketing at Heritage Villas Valriche.
Villas Valriche is part of Rogers, one of the largest conglomerates in Mauritius. Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre (CSBO), now Agrïa – the real estate and agribusiness arm of the Group, owns and curates Heritage Bel Ombre in its entirety. Rogers’ portfolio includes the real estate development of Heritage Villas Valriche as well as Heritage Golf Club, Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort (a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World), the all-inclusive Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort, Heritage C Beach Club, the celebrated gastronomic and historic attraction Le Château de Bel Ombre. These facilities take up around 210 hectares of the 2,500-hectare property, and homeowners can access all of them.
Bel Ombre has played a central role in Mauritius’ rich history for over 250 years, leaving a lasting imprint on its landscape. The custodians of this former sugar estate are committed to preserving its cultural identity, African roots, and ecological heritage within the reserve. Heritage’s ‘Now for Tomorrow’ sustainability programme aims to create an inclusive community and sustainable workplaces as well as promote eco-friendly practices, including farm-to-fork dining, wastewater treatment, and a goal of carbon neutrality through green waste recycling and eliminating single-use plastics.
No stranger to the awards scene, Villas Valriche scooped another two in the 2023 Property Cloud Mauritius Real Estate Awards, winning Best Residential Project Eligible to Foreigners and Best Overall Residential Project in Mauritius. Le Château Golf Course, designed by renowned golf course architect Peter Matkovich, is frequently voted best golf course in the Indian Ocean, and now that La Réserve Golf Links is open, golfing guests and homeowners are even more spoilt for choice. Matkovich designed this with golfing champion Louis Oosthuizen, who won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in December 2023.
HOMEOWNERS FOLLOW THE SUN
The estate was established in 2008 as an Integrated Resort Scheme, which enables foreigners to invest here in exchange for residency. Villa designs accommodate up to five bedrooms, but four is the norm. According to Heritage Villas Valriche CEO Anton de Waal, around 25 families live on the estate year-round, whilst for the others, “the trend is to stay here for roughly half the year. They follow the sun.”
While away, they can put their home into the rental pool managed by Rogers Hospitality. Six months’ rental covers the annual levies and the holding cost. Villa owners have been earning an average of MUR55,000 to MUR70,000 net per available month, and the rental pool has grown from nine to around 40 villas.
“Apart from selling off-plan villas, we also sell plots of serviced land. Buyers then have five years to complete construction with the help of a dedicated group of architects and project managers or their own team if they respect the architectural guidelines. For example, 15% of the structure must have a pitched roof and a swimming pool is compulsory if they choose an off-plan villa. We try to have a harmonious aesthetic among the houses, featuring volcanic stone from Mauritius. Some plots are G+1, some ground only. Basement G+1 is the maximum you can have,” says de Waal.
MAURITIUS VILLAS FOR SALE
“We are here to provide quality of life, quality of air, quality of space, and quality of wellbeing and we achieve that through the sale of a plot or villa,” adds Piquet. “Fewer than 30 properties are still for sale. Existing homeowners have seen a 26% capital gain, on average, with around 10 villas resold annually.”
Prices for off-plan villas range from US$1.3m (Villa Bright) to US$4.3m (Villa Bliss), depending also on the plot chosen. Plots for a bespoke villa range from US$529,531 to US$2,0m. Some bespoke villa designs range up to US$8m.
Even though this is a golfer’s paradise, homeowners who don’t play the sport don’t pay club membership fees. However, a golfing couple and children up to 30 who want access to the golfing facilities can do so at half the public rate.