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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Live to dive

Kiran Mehta, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, September 18, 2012
First Published: 12:10 IST(18/9/2012) | Last Updated: 12:24 IST(18/9/2012)

Dive into Mauritius’, screamed a travel brochure with the photograph of a scuba diver surrounded by multi-coloured corals. With those magic words, I was sold. As I researched the destination, I found that it boasts one of the highest concentrations of glamorous resorts in the world. And I faced a dilemma — being tossed around in a tube boat, or falling into a blissful slumber post a spa treatment. Then again, why can’t you mix adventure with indulgence? I checked in to resorts with suites that open onto the beach and hotels where an army of butlers waits on guests. I got a taste of the high-life at the Constance hotels. And I got my fill of water-sports.

Guilty pleasures
The first sight I caught of Mauritius from the air was that of lush greens meeting turquoise waters, framed within a double rainbow. Yet, I was unprepared for what lay ahead at the Le Prince Maurice Hotel. I saw only wild greens for kilometres. In the midst of these tropical gardens lay an intimate hotel that overlooked salt-white beaches, and a calm lagoon.

I opted for a massage at the spa with some exotic oils, and the treatment beat my jet-lag. I  dined at the hotel’s floating restaurant that literally sits in the water. I even cooked Mauritian fare at the hotel’s culinary class. Despite its offerings, it’s the service that touched me. By the end of my stay, even my buggy-driver knew my name. When I sat by the open-air restaurant, a butler offered me a shawl. My room held a swan shaped out of a towel with a personalised note that read ‘good night’. I felt spoiled and languid, and decided to wake up with water-sports.

Aqua adventures
The next morning, I went down to Grand Baie, a seaside village. I started off with underwater walking. Then I hopped on a motorboat and headed out to sea. After strapping on a belt with weights, a glass helmet attached to an air-compressor was fitted over my head, and I stepped off the boat, and sank down. Walking on the ocean bed felt surreal. I held out bread for the fish to eat out of my hands. Bright corals surrounded me.

Next, I headed to Ile Aux Cerf to try parasailing. A motor boat transported me onto a barge. Here, I was fitted into a harness, given instructions and set free. The chute was attached to a speedboat that revved into action, and with that the parachute took flight. The view from the top was magnificent — the sun made patterns on the water and rolling hills in the distance seem to melt into the sea.

Next I opted for a ride on a tube boat. The tube is a dinghy attached to a speedboat. Initially the ride seemed easy, then suddenly, the captain shifted gears. White-knuckled, I gripped the handles while the salty water lashed against my face and stung my eyes. Miraculously, I managed to stay on the dinghy. Once back on shore, I checked into the Belle Marge Place, a five-star hotel with many adventure-sports options.

Mixing things up
While Le Prince Maurice is a peaceful sanctuary; Belle Mare Plage has a lively buzz. The hotel is spread across two kilometres of a stunning beach and offers every
facility imaginable. I tried my hand at golf, sampled the food at all seven restaurants, took a tour of its six bars and signed up for a treatment at the spa. The hotel also offers water sports like water skiing, wind surfing, snorkelling, boat rides etc, many of which are complimentary.

Overall, Mauritius proves that you don’t have to forgo luxury for adventure. You can always find a perfect blend.

Documentation: Mauritius offers visas on arrival to Indians.

Getting There: Air Mauritius offers reasonably priced direct flights from Mumbai to Plaine Magnien.


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