From the white sands beach, looking across the tranquil lagoon, there are infinite shades of azure. With a moored catamaran in the foreground, gently rocked by waves that are barely ripples, this is beauty beyond brochures.
With 172 comfortably furnished rooms – discretely decorated in tropical style – the Sensimar is an optimum size for an all-inclusive Hotel. Not too large that it becomes impersonal but able to support three restaurants.
On my package, I had one a la carte meal per week at the waiter-service elegant Culinarium Restaurant. The airy design of tall beams and palm-thatched roofs is what Robinson Crusoe would have aspired to if blessed with more labour, a larger budget and more architectural experience on his CV.
There was a hushed reverence as our Turban Fish in a Crustacean Sauce and Chicken Stuffed with mushrooms were served: save for the incessant popping of champagne corks. Mauritius is a honeymoon, second honeymoon, anniversary and big birthday destination. From the number of “baby bumps” a last exotic holiday before parenthood’s shackles too.
By the beach, Kot Nou Restaurant offers sand-between-your-toes casual dining in the shade of a Banyan tree approaching its 100th birthday.
Mauritian cuisine is a gentle take, lightly spiced, on the cuisine of the Chinese and Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century as Indentured Labour for the sugar cane plantations. With just over half of the population Hindu and abstaining from beef – it is inevitable that fish, chicken, shellfish and lamb dominate menus. No surprise then that KFCs outnumber Macdonalds on the island.
Guests take most of their meals in the spacious Benitier buffet restaurant. Cleverly theme nights break the potential monotony of a buffet. Asian Night featured top-notch sushi, Gala Night served-up giant prawns and crab. Just one of the many treats on Seafood Night was swordfish skewers.
“I’m just having a light starter and then feasting on deserts,” said one newly arrived guest wide-eyed at the selection of deserts, tropical fruit and ice-cream.
Rubens Maureenmootoo, the charming Manager, is rightly proud of the Sensimar’s Mauritian authenticity. There’s a Sega session by the pool, the dance that evolved from the slaves brought to the island by the French in the 18th Century. Drums were improvised from cut-down hollow palm trees. Visitors can also opt, at a supplement, to dine with a local Mauritian family. A cookery course at the Kot Nou Restaurant and Rum Tasting in the Lounge Bar bring Mauritius to guests.
Every day the Sensimar’s glass bottom boat sets sail for the reef. That’s included in your passage along with kayaking, pedal boats and sailboats. A day on the Sensimar Catamaran with free-flowing drinks, snorkelling and a BBQ lunch on isolated Bernache Island is extra – but it is an experience you’ll never forget. There’s a PADI dive-Centre too.
It is an hour and forty-minute transfer to the Sensimar from the airport on the South-east coast but many visitors opt for the warmth of the north-coast in winter and the breezes in summer.
“Safe journey home,” said our cleaner. Then knowingly, “Safe journey back to Mauritius next time.”
Tell me more about Tui Sensimar Lagoon
Tui Sensimar Lagoon,
Anse La Raie,
Riviere du Rampart,
Tel: +230 204 8800
A week at this adults-only hotel begins at £1,185 if you fly on December 10th. That is for an all-inclusive package and economy flights with Tui from Gatwick.