Benefitting from a glorious natural surf break 500m offshore producing waves like something from an eau de cologne campaign, Shanti Maurice has one of the best views on Mauritius. The surf break has the added advantage of warding off cruise ships and megayachts - which for you and me, spells a blissfully quiet stay.
Beyond the beach, the vibe is old-fashioned Asian luxe. Lily ponds team with carp, stepping stones pave the way across bounteous lawns and unfussy cinnamon-coloured villas speak to the old guard. Traditionalists will also appreciate the à la carte breakfasts (nothing as heathen as a heaving buffet table here), while younger travellers will lap up the boho-chic vibe at Rum Shack, a Rasta-style bar near the gates of the hotel, and Fish Shack, a feet-in-the-sand restaurant with upturned boats piled high with catch of the day. The collision of old meets new makes Shanti Maurice the ideal choice for anyone travelling with a parent, like I did. Just make sure you take it in turns to choose what you do each day.
Rooms function well and are smart and airy but lack Mauritian flair. Plain cream tiles, Japanese screens and hardwood details scream 'not-another-hotel-room', and the terrace outside our junior suite only had room for one sun-lounger - bizarre considering the resort is geared towards couples. On the upside, we had a tremendous view of the ocean, a well-stocked mini-bar and plenty of space in the bathroom.
This is where Shanti Maurice excels. The hotel was formerly Shanti Ananda, sister resort of Ananda in the Himalayas, one of the world's best-loved spiritual encampments - and the spa remains to this day a magnet for die-hard Ayurvedies. With 24 airy treatment rooms scattered around a central lily pond caressed by tropical foliage, it's the biggest spa in the Indian Ocean. Following a recent revamp, the spa has been split into four different zones: Oriental, Indian (Ayurveda), Fitness and 'Natural-Bio'. Each has its own extensive treatment list, so there's sure to be something to suit.
Shanti Dhara (90 minutes)
This is one of the most popular choices from the Indian treatment list. Designed to relax the nervous system, it starts with a full-body synchronised four-hands massage carried out by two skilful therapists. After the massage, a steady stream of lukewarm herbal oil is released from an urn held aloft and moved slowly up and down the body in line with your chakras or energy channels. This results in a pleasant tingling sensation that heightens one's awareness of each part of the body the oil makes contact with, and has the added benefit of being deeply relaxing. The only downside is that you are lying on a solid wooden slab for the duration, which is totally authentic but not very comfortable. Ask for some towels to cushion contact points - and to protect your modesty.
Paddle-boarding, kayaking, sailing, gym, yoga, pilates, mini-golf, tennis.
The cuisine at Shanti Maurice is hard to fault. Pebbles, a large restaurant with a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the beach has two menus to choose from: Mauritian and South African. Both are good, and the South African lamb shank is a must-try for meat-lovers, but the Mauritian menu has the edge with kaffir lime, sesame, lemongrass and coconut featuring heavily in sauces and broths. Best of all, it's easy to eat healthy at Shanti Maurice. There are plenty of steamed, lean options available and rotis work brilliantly as side orders. Ask for spinach instead of chips one day and you can sure the kitchen will remember for next time.
Dinner in 'Grandma's Kitchen'. Okay it's a bit of a gimmick and grandma doesn't really cook supper, but she does appear in an apron and roll out beautiful rotis (flatbread) on a hot grill, plus the atmosphere is lovely and relaxed in the hotel's lantern-strewn vegetable garden. After rum cocktails are served and you've tried your hand at making some roti yourself, a feast of Mauritian fare is wheeled out in silver tureens. Heart-melting curries of every colour, flavour and heat level you can manage, plus and array of exciting relishes will have you smiling from ear to ear - just like Grandma does.
Seven-night spa packages start from £3,275 per person based on two people sharing a Junior Suite Ocean View on half-board basis. The price includes a Nira Spa Body Beautiful package consisting of a wellness consultation, fitness consultation, a 60-minute training session, Hatha Yoga or Pilates and a selection of eight bespoke spa treatments.
Words: Leo Bear