Glittering ocean, shimmering lagoon, white sand beaches and palm trees – it’s the quintessential Mauritius island resort offering – and the stay can become permanent
WORDS: DEBBIE HATHWAY
When I return to LUX* Belle Mare Resort & Villas on the east coast of Mauritius island resort in December, I’ll be the happiest woman on the planet. The island government has opened the borders, vaccinated travellers no longer have to quarantine or restrict their movements on the island, and I’ve been waiting to board that Air Mauritius flight for two years.
It was around 2014 when the LUX* Belle Mare resort began winning awards for excellence, service, romance, design, sustainability, style, luxury and creativity with some of the latest recognising its spa as well as the all-inclusive offering. This year, the resort achieved a 9.6 rating from hotels.com and was voted fourth among the Top 25 All-Inclusive Hotels in the World for the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice 2021 accolades.
“LUX* Belle Mare has been known to all of our guests for years now as the place to be when they think of the Mauritius island resort,” regional general manager Ashish Modak says. “We’re looking forward to welcoming guests with a completely fresh offering, in line with very high hygiene standards, including newer experiences of the kind that people associate with our resort: the beautiful white soft sands of our sunrise beach, the unique culinary journey, relaxing wellness and wellbeing experiences and many other delights.”
Among the resort’s new Collectable Experiences – designed to encourage meaningful engagement with the people, culture and surroundings – are the Luxury Outback and Farming with the Family. The Luxury Outback begins with a toes in the sea breakfast and a gentle horse ride along the shore. You can tour the Aubergine Farm across the road from the Mauritius island resort, destress with a spa experience at the Farm Shed, and savour a tasty lunch. The day ends with an aromatherapy bath in-room. Adults and young ones alike will love learning about cultivating pesticide-free tomatoes, herbs, greens and berries on a guided tour of the Aubergine Farm greenhouses.
LUX* BELLE MARE SET THE TONE
The red-carpet treatment afforded to every guest from the minute they drive in through the LUX* Belle Mare gates sets the tone for the entire visit. At breakfast at MIXE restaurant, I look out for Chef de Rang Dolores LíAiguille who will appear with a pot of steaming coffee roasted on site. I enjoy being close to the massive signature pool where I can watch the littles ones enjoying swimming lessons and adults learning to scuba dive. I can also gaze at the sparkling ocean just beyond that, listen to the birds, watch the palms sway in the breeze, and observe the general activity around the Mauritius island resort.
As I wander around during the day, I might spot resident pastry chef extraordinaire Pascal Galette completing a chocolate masterpiece (from limited local supply, naturally). I’ll go looking for Subi Mungroo, the head chef at Amari by Vineet, to make sure I get a taste of the stellar Indian cuisine that he and his team prepare. Among the things I look forward to the most are early morning swims (Mauritius is two hours ahead of South Africa), sipping champagne and watching the sun go down before dancing the night away to a live band.
CONSIDER STAYING PERMANENTLY?
If you’re tempted to buy property in Mauritius, with a view to living and working there under the multitude of visa options now available, plan a two-week trip to holiday first and then go house-hunting. Spend a day visiting each region so that time on the road is a fun, exploratory adventure. The Mauritius island resort government encourages entrepreneurship and invites foreign investment across a range of industries. Foreigners are invited to apply for a 10-year Occupation Permit, which will contribute to the long-term stability of the island economy. Or there’s the Premium Travel Visa, which suits digital nomads. Valid for one year, renewable, this option is ideal for people who want to stay on the island for more than 180 days in a calendar year. Anything less qualifies for a tourist visa, which is granted on arrival on Mauritius island resort.
KEY PROPERTY INVESTMENTS
Spend $375,000+ (±R5,55m) on a property in a government-approved development scheme and you will get permanent residency for yourself, your spouse, dependent unmarried children younger than 24 and dependent parents. The east coast is a magical, largely unspoilt part of the island. Key property investment hotspots in the area are Anahita Mauritius and One&Only Resorts Private Homes. The north and the west attract a lot of foreign investment because it is more developed and has great infrastructure.
People aged 50 or more qualify for the retirement permit, which enables them to buy lower-priced property. For example, 2Beach Residences offers one- to three-bedroom homes from $200,000 (±R3m) while Ki Resort has two or three-bedroom homes from $269,000 (±R4m). “There’s no requirement to live permanently on the island once you have a relevant permit. Retirees love to spend winters here because the weather is great,” says Rinie Boshoff, sales consultant for 2Futures. Applicants for the retirement permit must prove income of $1,500 (±R22,000) per month, and have an unabridged birth certificate and valid passport.