Back in 2018, I was the winner of the Beachcomber Tours Big Banana award and was rewarded with seven nights at one of their hotels, which I duly diarised for September 2020, my 50th birthday.
Like so many others, I was forced to move plans, initially to 2021 and then to 2022. Each time I moved the holiday, I added to it. It’s a travel agent thing. The one-week fly-and-flop became a three-week odyssey, with stays at five hotels and apartments across the island, car rental, private catamaran hire, and cameo appearances from family members.
Let’s start with week 1 at Dinarobin. Are you sitting comfortably?
Week 1 of 3
Arrival: 12 September 2022
Duration: 7 nights
Hotel of choice: Beachcomber Dinarobin Golf Resort & Spa
The epic journey
It being a big birthday and all, we treated ourselves to Business Class flights with Emirates and duly took advantage of the benefits. Exercising no self-restraint whatsoever, we tucked into the generous offerings of the Lounge, filling our boots to such an extent that we were unable to eat anything during the flight from London to Dubai! Other than nuts and olives... and a feisty Bloody Mary to aid sleep.
No amount of Lounge-related over-indulgence would have stopped my husband from planting himself at the Sky Bar, where we accidentally spent several hours consuming the contents thereof with The Script and their tour manager. It’s a great way to fill over half of a seven-hour flight and I highly recommend it!
Arrival and transfer to Dinarobin
On arrival, we had to show our passports and Mauritian travel forms but cleared immigration quickly. I even caught a glimpse of a welcoming smile at one point. Emirates has its own dedicated baggage carousels at the airport and our bags arrived promptly.
Beachcomber had kindly arranged a 45-minute private transfer to the hotel which was complemented by an informative but non-intrusive commentary from our driver as we passed temples, eye-popping beaches and local villages en route to the southwest coast.
Arrival and welcome party
Le Morne Brabant is a stunning peninsula at the southwestern tip of the island. Its landmark is a 556-metre monolith of the same name and I’d forgotten quite how magnificent it is as a backdrop to the hotel. A water/ mountain combination is a favourite of mine, probably inspired by living in Geneva and the Welsh borders as a young adult.
I’m not easily impressed but am always left feeling a little in awe when greeted at reception by name without the need for an introduction. Every single member of the Beachcomber staff, known as artisans within the group, has been recruited based on their passion for customer service and desire to make the hotel a better place for both artisans and guests. Many have been with the company for a long time.
Without further ado, we were escorted to our room by golf buggy, where a welcome bottle of chilled Champagne and a letter from the hotel manager, awaited.
Our room: Junior Sea View Suite
As no hotel building is allowed to exceed the height of the tallest palm tree, the resorts tend to be low-rise and cover a wide area. The infrastructure is therefore serviced by a shuttle running between Dinarobin and sister property Paradis.
The suites are in a crescent comprising seven, two-storey buildings, each sharing extensive gardens, and a full-size heated pool. Other categories are Senior Suites, Zen Suites and Villas. Zen Suites are in an adults-only enclave and come with access to an exclusive beach bar and service and are worth paying extra for if you want a guaranteed child-free garden pool.
The suites are wonderfully spacious and include a generous private terrace, where I was treated to a smorgasbord of breakfast treats for my upcoming birthday. At 6 foot 7, Steve appreciated the 20-foot vaulted ceiling, and a twin-sink ensuite with a walk-in dressing room is a godsend when travelling with 40kg per person luggage allowance. We’re suckers for a bath with a view and to our delight, ours looked out onto swaying palm trees and Le Morne as our tropical living wallpaper.
We liked being able to opt-out of daily linen changes and were reassured to see that the drinking water was sourced from their own desalination plant and contained within a bottle made from plants.
Life’s a beach
Le Morne Beach is a thing of beauty, and you have full access to every inch of it. Walk right for an alternative outlook at Paradis’ playground of restaurants, water and land sports; walk left to venture outside of the resort and discover the national park.
Along Dinarobin’s beach, you’ll find direct access to the ocean without the need for sea shoes. Oh, the idyllic time that I spent cooling down whilst bobbing in crystal clear waters. If you want to snorkel in more interesting waters, then sea shoes are a good idea to comfortably navigate the ocean-floor coral
All beaches in Mauritius are public but some are only accessible via the hotel grounds, which are private property. There's plenty of space for everyone, including those plying their trade in sarongs and jewellery, but these enterprising folk remain respectful of holidaymakers' wishes to be left alone. Personally, I enjoy a bit of retail therapy whilst lounging by the Indian Ocean to which my extensive collection of sarongs is testament.
All suites are delightfully located within a skip and a jump to the beach. Hotel occupancy was around 75% but there was no need for early-bird sunbed reservations at either beach or pool... although of course, some folk can’t help themselves (no nationalities mentioned!).
What would I do all day without inclusive land and water sports?
Sister hotel, Paradis Beachcomber, is located just 15 minutes' walk along the beach and is host to the extensive water sports offerings for both hotels, including sailing, waterskiing, windsurfing, snorkelling trips, kayaks, pedaloes and glass bottom boat trips. Weekly free group windsurfing and sailing lessons are also offered.
Both hotels offer fully equipped gyms, floodlit tennis courts, table tennis, volleyball and bocce ball - all complimentary.
Tragically all images of us running ourselves ragged in the gym and taking part in the above activities seem to have been permanently deleted. Go figure!
Food glorious food
To dine at a Beachcomber hotel is to embark upon a journey of gastronomical excellence. That’s what it says on their website, and I totally concur. My top tip is to secure restaurant reservations ahead of arrival or in the first few days of your stay.
Board is bookable on a breakfast-only basis, half board or the Escape Package, which includes selected dishes from all restaurants along with soft and alcoholic drinks. Naturally, we’d opted for the latter to avoid an extensive room bill on checking out.
At Dinarobin, you’ll find four restaurants.
L’Harmonie caters for a wonderfully varied breakfast and fantastic themed buffet evenings.
Dina’s offers an à la carte fusion of French and Mauritian cuisine referred to as ‘Bistronomy’.
Umami takes care of Japanese fine dining requirements and is the only restaurant requiring a supplement to the Escape Package. It’s incredibly hard to choose what to eat here and in the end, we placed our trust in the kindly maître d who took our dietary requirements and turned them into a feast fit for hungry royalty.
La Plage is the hotel’s only lunch offering (with others at Paradis) but I could have eaten there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu comprises anything from a dirty burger (essential for flight recovery) to poke bowls, gajacks, curry, lobster, spag bol, fresh tuna, salads and French fries.
At Paradis, there are four further restaurants to choose from including Blue Marlin (seafood), La Palma (Mediterranean) and La Ravanne, a delightful outdoor restaurant focusing on Mauritian cuisine.
Each night Steve and I headed to the resort’s beachfront bar, Le Mahogany, to top up on tea grogs and witness some enduring sunsets.
Here we also enjoyed great post-dinner entertainment in the form of music, dance and song whilst also becoming obsessed with spotting Mauritian Flying Foxes, the population of which has increased enormously since becoming a protected species. It’s not easy to capture the beauty of these fascinating beasts but we sure gave it our best shot. (Ok, we may have had some help!)
Buzzing for sustainability
Sustainability is the current buzzword of the travel industry and having just racked up a carbon footprint making my husband’s size 12s appear dainty, I felt somewhat humbled by Dinarobin’s commitment.
Whilst spending a week filling my face and availing myself of all mod cons, I made it a priority to meet with Nelsa Matelot Anseline, the hotel’s passionate advocate of all things green and renewable.
One of the group’s eight pillars of the 52 environmental and societal commitments is to 'Manage Waste Responsibly’ and as I recalled my mammoth breakfast plate, my guilt was somewhat assuaged by learning that all organic waste is provided to the pig farmers with any surplus food distributed to local communities and consumed by the hotel personnel in their cafeteria.
I was also delighted to learn that a total of 45 beehives had been installed across all eight Beachcomber hotels and two have their own water desalination plants, which avoids plundering the local community's precious supply. These are only a few of the group’s admirably eco-conscious policies.
My birthday surprise
I wasn’t due to celebrate my birthday until the following week at our villa rental, but Dinarobin’s management pulled out all the stops to ensure that it would be a birthday to remember.
Celebrations started with a huge in-room breakfast and concluded that evening after meeting the hotel manager, Patricia Auffray, who had kindly arranged a surprise private dinner for two by the pool.
What a way to end a spectacular stay at one of the best hotels on the island. Enormous thanks to Patricia, Audrey Cunat and Ravi Pantchoo for providing as much enjoyment as humanly possible in the wake of a pretty miserable two years for this beautiful island.
A la prochaine.