It’s a well-known fact that I love to explore and will travel anywhere, with preference naturally given to places I’ve never been. And I’ll happily slum it, accept a chauffeur driven vehicle at 23 degrees to a waiting yacht, or pretty much have a go at anything in-between.
The reality is that none of us get the chance to travel like a rock star often (although I’ve encountered a couple along the way) but if you’re going to put the wallet away and say ‘hang the expense’, there’s truly no worse place you can do it than the ‘Island of Rainbows and Shooting Stars’, and more specifically, the area of Le Morne.
And so it is that Le Morne Brabant Peninsula on the island’s south west coast is our Mauritian destination and although the 90 minute drive doubles as an island tour as we pass through villages, lush tunnels of greenery and rows of rustic beach shacks, it quickly becomes clear that, the capital aside, much of the investment and development money on this island has bypassed the people and gone straight into the dozens of 4 and 5 (and a 6!) star resorts that line the pristine, reef-protected coastline. It’s charming in a way that rural regions of Asia or Central America are, but the GDP of this nation is well below that of their nearby Réunionnaise counterparts, who benefit greatly from their EU membership as a French département.
Our experience here is the complete opposite of our Réunion Island adventure, in which we practically circumnavigated the place, peered over the edge of volcanoes, hiked around lakes, copped speeding fines in Le Tampon, and thoroughly explored the cheese and charcuterie isles of the fabulous Carrefour Supermarche. Here, we’ve no intention of driving, hiking, or cooking. I’m even considering hiring someone to chew my food, but logistically, turning the pages of my Jo Nesbo thriller while lying on a beach-chair is as active as I’ll probably get.
Our driver Kevin deposits us in front of the lavish fountain setting of ‘Les Pavillons’ as what feels like a dozen resort hosts rush forward to grab our bags, provide us with frangipani water, and mop our sweaty brows.
“You’ve done an awesome job Kevin…”
My best joke of the trip is missed by all, even my musical-loving daughter. The resort team just look at me like I’m nuts, and not some old guy who’s just pulled off a sublime line from The Book of Mormon. Kevin smiles politely, but I suspect it’s more to do with the fact that he has a fare ready to return through the winding, sugar-cane lined roads back to the airport, and less to do with my round, dulcet tones.
Surrounded by Russian oligarchs and B-list euro-royalty, I’m embarrassed to say how much a night at this resort has cost – a secret I’ll take to my grave. We’re here for three days and nights, so I will ‘suffer’ in silence, and instead absorb the unique combination of natural beauty and man-made opulence.
Every activity; each beach stroll, coffee run and pool plunge is played out in the shadow of the breathtakingly beautiful, eponymous hulking monolith which itself holds a fascinating history and dark secrets from its days as a hideout for runaway slaves, mutineers and maroons. For now though our focus is on squeezing every ounce of value from our extraordinarily expensive lodgings, which includes canapés at five, a pancake happy hour, and Moonlight Cinema complete with bean-bags and stale popcorn.
Each evening we watch another stunning sunset as it hits the 1,800 foot high Le Morne Brabant Mountain behind us, imagining how spectacular sunrise will be the following morning from its summit, and I resolve myself to rise at 5am – no matter how many $20 cocktails I’ve had by the pool – and join ‘team keen’ at the foot of the rock for the 3 hour return trip to its peak. Yet each morning the allure of a soft pillow and the siren call of waffles with Nutella, eggs Benedict and freshly cut pineapple wins out. Who am I kidding; I’ll be first in line for the Coco-Pops.
Reading back through my notes I start to wonder what more a legitimate travel reviewer could honestly write about this place, and conclude they probably all do exactly what I am doing – bang on about the heavenly surrounds, luxurious facilities, attention to detail and exceptional service, and then just submit a few words with a heap of photos to fill the gaps. Not a bad approach I conclude.
The days fly and seem to blend into one long breakfast, beach-side lunch, afternoon snooze in the sea hammock, and evening drinks by the pool, but soon enough our time is done and return home we must, where there will be no one to carry our bags, ferry us to our doorstep or cater to our every whim.
At least I won’t need my wallet.