On landing in Mauritius I was greeted from the plane and whisked by SUV to the cool oasis of the refurbished YU Lounge to enjoy a refreshing glass of chilled Champagne. A very warm welcome to the island ensued, during which my luggage was seamlessly collected my passport and documents were checked and I was left to admire the beautiful tropical view.
The car transfer was quickly arranged and I settled in for the journey through the lush, green landscape. Undulating roads, velvet green mountains, interspersed with tall sugar cane fields plus low pineapple plantations. The recent rains had created fertile ground, perfect for the abundant crops.
After about an hour of weaving through small townships, past basic shops and dodging numerous street dogs, I reached the north of the island. The more developed and famous area of Grand Baie came into view and the bright lights and familiar branded restaurants and retail shops made for quite a contrast.
Just after Grand Baie, indeed a bustling bay area of many boats and stores, I pulled up to the Royal Palm. The gated, private entrance consisted of a long driveway and walkway, and I was greeted warmly and taken to the oh-so-stylish new reception area. Beautifully thatched with open sides, this area was subtly lit and adorned with beautiful wall art, sumptuous silk fabrics and rich velvet upholstered furniture. Not at all overdone, the Aubergine, chartreuse and turquoise palate was refined, stylish and inviting.
Subtle objects D'art, a new library, black grand piano and jewellery cases captured my eye - perhaps most striking of all were the Art Deco style, white gramophone lights - this offered a decadent subtle glow around the bar area.
After five months of major renovations, I could clearly see that the Royal Palm had strengthened its position as contender for the flagship luxury hotel for Mauritian hospitality. Always known for its impeccable service and haute cuisine and frequented by many celebrities and dignitaries, the hotel retains a special ambience and sophisticated charm. Clearly adored by its many loyal, French guests this prestigious address is once again on form with a new swimming pool, re-decorated suites, a new trattoria and extended lounge areas.
Approaching thirty years old, the hotel has a proud reputation to keep and prestigious address to maintain. The seasoned General Manager, Jacques Silvant, is the epitome of French charm and style and effortlessly greets and engages with his guests throughout the property. Supported by a strong team, including award winning Chefs, together they provide seamless, attentive service.
Having actually reduced their room inventory from 84 to 69 suites; in order to create a new, larger Ocean Suite category the hotel has retained the previous 296 loyal staff members - so providing an even more personalised service.
The Bar Plage Italian restaurant is a most welcome addition with Executive Sous Chef, Allessandro, providing many of his grandmothers' recipes using very local ingredients. He proudly told me all about the eight types of local fish he uses, whilst showing her how to make fresh pasta - brilliant!
The location of the hotel affords views across Grand Baie and out to sea - there is always a passing catamaran to admire, water skier to impress or hotel Hobie Cat to cut a flash of colour against the constant turquoise waters.
Perhaps the most unexpected feature of the hotel, after the culinary delights and service, was the large, separate spa. Situated behind the suites and along from the children's club and three artificial tennis courts, it's like a mini hotel in itself with pools, loungers and numerous treatment rooms and therapies. From Reiki and meditation to the more typical Ayurvedic and Clarins facials, the spa has a generous offering - not to mention the delicious infused refreshments.
The large gym and wellness area will not fail to disappoint either - there is even a squash court and trainer available. Guests are encouraged to pre-book the tennis coach as he has quite a following so I was told! If that all sounds a little too energetic, there is always the new Patong area.
The new style, larger suites, superb service, vast array of facilities plus sublime cuisine, mean that the Royal Palm will always be a popular choice with the well travelled - a discerning choice. A very well kept secret in fact!