For couples seeking greater intimacy, there are some real gems in places to stay. There are also idiosyncratic, colonial boutique hotels with amazing cuisine – and one can always combine the north and south of the island for contrast. Mauritius offers so much more than just glamorous hotels.
As it is quite a large island, one can take a Mini Moke and go exploring, visit the Tamarind Falls and the markets of St Louis and Curepipe, with their fish and vegetable markets offering a tropical, heady display and Mahebourg for its beautiful colonial architecture. There are French colonial houses, museums, natural parks such as Domaine de l'Etoile with horse-riding and walking routes and Black River Gorge National Park. There is incredible history, architecture, and tea plantations to visit where one can both stay and enjoy rum tastings, nature parks and little, local Mauritian restaurants. That said, some of the hotels offer a wide selection of restaurants that even have Michelin stars.
Combine the north, perhaps Grand Baie – with its busy, eclectic mix of restaurants, shops and original markets selling everything from home-made spice blends, to vanilla, clothing (especially jeans), pashminas, jewellery and just about everything you can think of – with Le Morne in the south, which is surrounded by the mountain and sugar cane plantations. Visit the Botanical Gardens with their giant water-lilies. We really think Mauritius is fabulous and perfect for families and couples alike for a luxury holiday!
The Seychelles remain one of the world’s least spoiled tropical paradises – an archipelago comprising 115 islands!
There are many things about the Seychelles that inspire awe, even in the most seasoned globetrotter: the magnificent bird life, the coco de mer (a double coconut that is the world’s largest), the 180,000 giant tortoises on Aldabra Island, and let’s not forget the hawksbill turtles that nest from October to February!
These granite and coral islands are also perfect for beach holidays in Africa as they happen to have some of the world’s finest beaches, which is really what this country is all about, as well as the world-class scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, and fishing it offers.
The ideal way to see the Seychelles is to island-hop by ferry or plane to make the most of your beach holiday in Africa. Perhaps combine a stay at a lodge for five nights and then explore the islands by catamaran for five nights, or add in some relaxation time here at the end of a luxury bespoke safari.
It’s the pace of life that makes the Seychelles so utterly dreamy – one switches off the moment one arrives! There is such a wonderful choice of places to stay – from ultra-chic, Robinson Crusoe hideaways, to luxury hotels, boutique lodges, magnificent colonial villas, Relais et Châteaux and some charming Creole-style lodges. The islands provide the most wonderful fishing – both fly and deep sea fishing. The people, too, are wonderful, with their Creole laissez-faire style, broad, contagious smiles and joie de vivre!
Praslin is home to the unique coco de mer palm, growing in the mysterious Valleé de Mai. Three of the rarest birds in the world are found here: the Seychelles black parrot, the blue pigeon and the bulbul, perfect for spotting on an African walking safari. Cousine is simply paradise, with its colonial-designed villas on a lush, tropical island and nothing to disturb you. North Island – just 15 minutes from Mahé is the ultimate in Robinson Crusoe-chic, whilst Desroches offers perfect scuba diving and viewing of the hawksbill turtle. Bird Island is best for seeing the sooty, noddy and fairy terns with a low-key, Robinson Crusoe atmosphere.
Mahé, the capital, has fabulous beaches and one can island-hop from the mainland. It is here and in Praslin that the larger, luxury resorts are located, perfect for beach holidays in Africa. But there are also some small, characterful treasures, situated both inland and on the beach. If you are looking for something uncommercial and unspoiled, this is for you!