WORDS: DEBBIE HATHWAY:: PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
This endearing luxury resort on the east coast of Mauritius is all systems go after an extensive revamp. Indulge in a seven-day stay. Once you commit to this transformative experience, you’ll wonder why you didn’t find reasons to go sooner.
It might be a cliché, but it couldn’t be more pertinent – LUX* Belle Mare rose like the storied phoenix from the ashes of a devastating fire that all but destroyed the luxury resort in late 2022, shining as brightly as it ever did after a substantial year-long renovation.
Invited to stay soon after reopening in October 2023, the question uppermost in my mind – no doubt echoing the thoughts of thousands of loyal repeaters (guests who return often) was: “Will it feel the same?”
Teaser images had already indicated the new look and feel on social media. No surprise then to see the familiar aesthetic conceptualised by well-known Mauritian architect Jean-Francois Adam emerge dressed in new shades and textures imagined by Mauritian interior designer Jean-Marc Tang to convey an elegant, serene environment enhanced by shades of sand white, yellow, coral, and green.
Spaces blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings, featuring reclaimed local sand tables, custom print wallpaper inspired by coral reefs, and whitewashed wood seating with nautical rope details crafted by local artisans. Tang’s novel approach to instilling a tropical décor at a resort focuses on a palette that combines pastels with accent walls and columns to heighten your senses, make you feel good and showcase landscape elements. “It’s a different take into creating a tropical environment… different components of a context that bring the spirit of the place back into the spaces,” says Jean-Marc.
The idea is to bring the outside in at LUX* Belle Mare, which he and his team do brilliantly by reflecting the natural attractions outside and filling the common areas with a profusion of tropical greenery. In the evening, subtle lighting casts a warm glow throughout the property, deepening the colours and highlighting the architectural and decorative details.
You’ll find the most intense colours in Duck Laundry, a dark, moody base for jewel green and red that perfectly offset the platings of Peking duck, Sichuanese, Shanghainese, and Cantonese favourites and artisanal dim sum. Next door, Amari offers a culinary story linking India and Mauritius, written by Vineet Bhatia MBE, the first chef to earn a Michelin star for Indian cuisine. Chef de Cuisine Subi Mungroo, Tandoor Chef Sandeep Lodeechun, Sous Chef Ravi Dookhun, Chef de Partie (Curry section) Swaraj (Kunal) Ramgoolam and Rajiv Gangaram execute Vineet’s vision with due flair.
Rashima, Vineet’s wife, explains Jean-Marc’s “very different take on Indian food ambience-wise. You have a very natural, holistic Indian appeal, down to the terracotta walls. Nothing else is there. Not one artefact, picture or wall hanging. When it came together from a design point of view, I would have said it passed as a very good spa before the tables had gone in. It has this serenity and calmness to it, because of the very tasteful calamine, terracotta colour.”
However, what truly sets it apart is a mural handpainted by local artisans in a style deeply rooted in the Indian culture yet not very common. It’s a tribal art called Gond, named after one of the largest and oldest tribes in India, characterised by a composition of dots and lines, which represents movement. “They were all about connecting with nature, so they drew the fish, birds, trees, and plants around them,” says Rashima. “And that is what we have here because we are surrounded by nature. The tree stands for spirituality, or connection to God, extending from earth to heaven as one of the tallest living things, so it’s all positive energy.”
Positive energy, health and well-being pervade the resort offering, from the on-point service with a broad smile to the healthy menu items at the juice bar and all-day restaurant Mondo, which overlooks the largest pool on the island, and the spa. This sanctuary opposite the resort entrance, marked by a welcoming open-sided wood-structured atrium, escaped severe damage from the fire, so it feels much the same, inviting entry to a wellness journey grounded in the five elements to help you leave feeling centred (earth), mentally clear (air), openhearted (water), and creative (fire). Ethically sourced organic oils and naturally derived in-room amenities form part of the resort’s eco-friendly practices.
Because guests want to know they are spending their money with people who have the welfare of the environment at heart, it’s good to know that LUX* Belle Mare has also adopted the PLEDGE™ on Food Waste Certification, invested in energy and water efficiency through circular design to minimise waste and partnered with Eco-Sud, an NGO dedicated to marine biodiversity. Guests are encouraged to be mindful of and engage in marine life conservation activities during their stay. Additionally, the resort is on track to achieve the Butterfly Mark, a premier sustainability certification in the luxury industry.
The resort’s 174 suites and 12 villas embody relaxed island living infused with Mauritian heritage. You’ll have just as much fun relaxing on your balcony, gazing at the view, as wandering along the glorious white sandy beach and through the tropical gardens. The minimalist bathrooms offer eco-friendly vegan amenities in refillable bottles, complemented by ceramics from Fabienne Jouvin and underwater coral life wallpaper in dressing rooms. This little detail is a wow factor, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it inspired an at-home décor trend.
Each room includes an outdoor balcony furnished with reclaimed local sand tables. The rooms boast spacious walk-in showers, baths, and double basins.
LUX* Belle Mare is a favourite for family holidays, but I highly recommend it for couples and singles. It’s not as quiet as an adults-only hotel, but the outdoor lifestyle means sound dissipates and children disappear in all directions, playing themselves tired. Some travel experts advise booking outside UK/ European school holidays – and even checking South African schedules – as these countries generate the most bookings. I travel solo most of the time and have stayed at the resort regularly since 2014, loving every minute of every day. It has much to do with the vast space and fresh sea air that encourages you to be lost in time but never in reality.
For enquiries and reservations email email@example.com or call +27 10 055 1869.