THE people of Mauritius could be forgiven for never wanting visitors to their island paradise – after all centuries ago greedy tourists gorged on docile dodos until they were extinct then returned to plunder countless rare and beautiful ebony trees.
However, these days islanders are only too happy to welcome tourists and are helping redefine the standard of luxury holiday experiences.
Angsana Balaclava is a charming five star retreat with 51 suites and one villa emulating a traditional Mauritian village with its thatched roofs and use of bespoke local artistry including wrought iron entrance gates. The resort offers a choice of two restaurants, an Ayurvedic hydrotherapy spa along with two pools including a natural sand pool and a swim up bar. And the resort have launched a host of culturally-themed experiences to celebrate its heritage as one of the first ports of call for Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Local culinary expeditions, Sega dance lessons and tailor-made wellness programmes give guests a taste of Mauritian life during their stay at the boutique resort.
Resident Mauritian chef Curtis Saminadas uncovers some of the closely guarded secrets of local cooking by escorting guests on a tour of local markets to purchase ingredients prior to hosting a demonstration for easy-to-prepare recipes that can be made at home. Special dishes include spiced grilled fish, palm heart salad and watercress soup which showcase the best of local herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. Prices start from Euro 50 per person. After feasting on Mauritian delicacies, guests can work off any excesses with a fun and energising dance class. Sega dancing is a passionate and energetic art form that takes years of practice and skill to perfect. The elaborate costumes, with full skirts and short tops, make for a hypnotic experience as ladies swirl and leap throughout the song. After dancing visitors can visit Angsana Spa and experience three recently introduced wellness journeys - Angsana, Wellness and Ayurvedic - are tailored to individual needs and begin with a consultation before a comprehensive spa programme is recommended focusing on spa treatments, hydrotherapy facilities including a hammam, sauna and vitality pool, and healthy menu options.
The Angsana Journey is a pampering experience while the Wellness Journey rejuvenates the senses. The Ayurvedic Journey calms the mind and detoxifies the body, with expert input from an Ayurvedic consultant who will identify the dosha-specific treatments ideal for different body types. These Journeys can be added onto the daily Spa Suite room rate for an additional Euro 110 per person per day.
Angsana Balaclava is home to one of the most historically important areas on the island; ‘Balaklava’ was named by the Dutch when they settled in 1646. Also once known as Ebony Bay due to its abundant supply of black ebony trees, the bay was an easy landing point for Dutch settlers in 1646 who set up camp on the gentle sandy shores and built a stone wall to moor against. The remnants of the stone wall are still visible at the resort and are a fascinating visual reminder of the history of the island. Unfortunately, there are no more ebony trees due to their lucrative appeal in the 17th century; additionally, the famous Dodo birds which also used to monopolise the area were wiped out as they were consumed as sustenance for hungry travellers. For more information about prices at the resort visit ww.angsana.com/en/balaclava.