Although Mauritius is traditionally a hot spot for honeymooners, in fact it’s also a brilliant destination for families. Heritage Awali, which is located on the Domaine de Bel Ombre in the south of the island, prides itself on its outstanding facilities for both adults and children. The 2,500-hectare resort features 160 spacious rooms, 3 swimming pools, 1km of white sandy beach, the largest nature sanctuary on the island, a golf course and a spa, not to mention there’s 12 restaurants and bars – so there’s plenty of choices to keep everyone happy.
Following a 12-hour flight from Heathrow and a 40-minute air-conditioned drive, we arrived at Heritage Awali to the beating of tribal drums. The resort is deeply inspired by its African heritage, with elegant dark wood accents and warm earthy tones giving the place comfortable, ethnic feel. Every room has it’s own private terrace or balcony, an en-suite with a separate bathtub and shower, as well as interconnecting rooms for families. If you’re visiting with young children there are a number of items you can request free of charge, including pushchairs, cots, sterilisers, baby monitors, potties and toys for the bath.
Our ocean-view room
The Timomo & Friends Kids Club
As soon as we unpacked we headed out to check out the Timomo & Friends Kids Club. Open daily from 8.30-11.30pm, there are six dedicated baby nurses caring for the under-3s, while children between the ages of 4 and 17 enjoyed the large outdoor play area, mini-swimming pool and indoor craft/TV area. The enthusiastic staff put on regular excursions so that little ones can enjoy the beach, learn to fish and visit the nearby nature sanctuary. I thought it was a pretty novel idea to take the mobile phone numbers of parents in order to send through regular photo updates, giving peace of mind to those who may be leaving their child for the first time.
At the end of Heritage Awali’s 1km of gorgeous white sand lies The C Beach Club. There you can water-ski, go snorkelling, kayak and wind surf for free, and for a fee you can scuba dive, kite surf and go big game fishing. As well as direct access to the beach, The C Beach Club has a brilliantly large shallow pool, which is perfect for parents with young children, especially as there are toys and balls on hand for spontaneous games of water polo. We decided to splash out on stand-up paddle boarding lessons, which was pretty easy to pick up and it was a wonderful way to enjoy the stunning surroundings.
Heritage Awali is home to the Frédérica Nature Reserve, which is the largest nature sanctuary on the island, and it’s run in association with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to preserve the unspoilt habitat. Although you can do your own private buggy or quad-bike tours following the trails around the reserve, we decided to go a family buggy tour with a knowledgeable local guide to learn about this incredible part of the island. As well as the sugar cane fields, we saw waterfalls, took in incredible views from the highest peaks in the reserve and were we lucky enough to see wild deer, boars and a number of brightly-coloured birds flying amongst the trees.
It was exciting to learn that every guest over the age of 16 gets a complimentary 1-hour treatment at the Seven Colours Spa at Heritage Awali. Their huge 3,000 square metre spa village includes 20 treatment rooms (13 indoor and 7 outdoor), 2 pools, 2 steam rooms, a beauty parlour and a hairdressers. A fan of massages, I opted for the heavenly Mauritian Massage which blends local massage techniques and botanical oils. But it’s not just adults who get to enjoy a bit of pampering, there’s a Timomo Kids Spa for children aged 4-12, which offers massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and henna.
Enjoying a Mauritian massage at The Seven Colours Spa
In terms of the all-inclusive food and drink choices we really felt spoilt for choice at Heritage Awali. The main restaurant Balafon served a superb – and gigantic – breakfast and themed dinner buffet, while Infinity Blue had delicious fresh seafood, stunning ocean views and you can eat with your toes in the sand. But the Indian cuisine at Zafarani was the real highlight, with my curry-loving partner insisting that the tandoori chicken was the best he’d ever tasted. Although you have to pay a supplement, the refined dining at Le Château de Bel Ombre was well worth the extra. On our last day we enjoyed an incredibly romantic meal on the veranda overlooking the French Garden of this 19th century colonial mansion, which was the perfect way to conclude our wonderful trip.
Heritage Awali offers accommodation on an all-inclusive basis. A deluxe room starts from £276 per night, based on two sharing on an all-inclusive basis. Visit heritageresorts.mu or call +230 266 9768 for more information.