DECEMBER 2014 – Ribboning along a white beach on the east coast of Mauritius, Long Beach is both expansive and enchanting. Much more than a hotel, it is an evocative tropical village on the water’s edge that offers chic, contemporary rooms, varied world-class dining experiences, luxurious spa treatments and hi-tech sports facilities to give guests a beguiling mix of relaxation and a buzzing party spirit.
A turquoise ocean that’s warm and welcoming. Palms rustling along a perfectly white beach that wraps the shoreline in a wide, sandy swathe for a full kilometre. Soaking sunshine that beckons long days outdoors; balmy nights that are alive with festivity. This is Long Beach on the exotic island paradise of Mauritius, a sliver of pure tropical heaven.
At Long Beach, modern Mediterranean-style architecture flirts with tropical flora and all is liberally dusted with the heady offerings of colourfully diverse Mauritius. The resort is contemporary in style with open-plan, glass-fronted rooms tucked amid lush green gardens. It all blends seamlessly into the tranquil natural surroundings. But vibrant energy lies at the heart of Long Beach – more specifically in the central village-style piazza – with festive clubs, inviting bars and enticing restaurants built right around it.
“This unique concept is the result of a worldwide architectural competition,” explains World Leisure Holidays Managing Director, Johann Strydom, “and it was won by the innovative South African collaboration of Keith Interior Design and Stauch Vorster Architects who came up with the unique ‘urban village’ design. Their concept works so well because Long Beach nestles into a natural basin that was optimised by this design, so it blends effortlessly into the surrounding natural flora.”
Long Beach was also one of the first properties on the island to break with the traditional Mauritian architecture of hotels there. “It’s a complete village at the sea, running along an expansive beach,” says Johann. “There is plenty of space, so it may take a few minutes to reach the village centre, depending where you are, but you can either walk along the beautiful beach or hitch a ride on the complimentary golf carts to get where you are going.”
The resort has many guest rooms, arranged in semi-circles facing the beach, to create a true village atmosphere, but never is there any congestion since Long Beach is spread out across such an expansive area.
Every room has a view of the ocean and a stretch of ‘personal’ beach space. Inside, the rooms are spacious, airy, air-conditioned and have everything from satellite TV to Wi‑Fi, iPod docking stations, mini bars and beverage stations – all the comforts and mod-cons guests could possibly desire to make an idyllic holiday even better.
While there are various room categories and configurations, all are created with a sense of flow that epitomises indoor-outdoor living. So whether inside or outside, the ocean is right there, viewed from a day bed on your private deck or from the sofa in your lounge. Interiors are in the cool colours of the surrounds – apple greens, sea blues and soft coral tones to subtly reflect the natural environment. In short: it’s exquisite.
At Long Beach, days are languid, relaxed, fluid – lived in step with the sun and tides. A beach service, with your own personal waiter, will serve you drinks wherever you choose to chill on the sand, between dips to swim or snorkel in the warm Indian Ocean.
There’s a host of other watersports to try too, from glass-bottomed boat tours and kayaking to deep-sea fishing, waterskiing or kitesurfing.
Or guests can choose to stay within the comfort of the resort and plunge into the vast heated pool or the cool dedicated adult pool – sans children – with loungers alongside to laze on. If you prefer to swim for exercise, the Sports Centre has a lap pool and lots more to raise your heart rate, or you could try wall climbing, archery or play a gentle game of tennis. Activity options are virtually endless.
The emphasis by day, though, is certainly on rejuvenation and bliss. More so, if energetic children and teens are having the time of their lives at the Angels Kids Club or Waves Teens Club. Programmes are designed around their ages and interests, and children meet peers from around the world, too. Importantly, they can opt in and out of the system at any time and rejoin their parents. Always, kids are delivered to parents and collected from them, and they are constantly supervised while at the clubs – so safety and security is assured and parents can relax completely.
While the kids are safely ‘clubbing’, you may want to indulge at the Sea Spa, created just for Long Beach guests. There are 12 treatment rooms, as well as double rooms for couples to enjoy therapies together. Treatments are created around traditional Thai therapies as well as thalassotherapy, with the intention of engaging and soothing all the senses. There is even a Turkish hammam, modelled on the Middle Eastern tradition of private but communal bath houses for men and others for women. Or the outdoor Spa Pavilion is another choice setting for massages while overlooking the pond – and the Spa Health Bar serves food to keep you fit and lean. True to the full village experience, everything desired for a beautiful life is available, not forgetting a Beauty Parlour too. At Long Beach, pleasures are never guilty.
By night, Long Beach transforms and the village is alive with activity and vibrant energy. It all happens around the central piazza, surrounded by restaurants, pubs, clubs and other entertainment options. Music spills out into the street as couples and families gather for dinner at five restaurants offering super cuisine from around the world. It’s a microcosm of life in a trendy international village with an atmosphere that’s festive and enchanting. Carts on the piazza also sell authentic homemade crafts from coloured raffia or bright fabric, so the full village experience – including shopping – is right there to experience.
Feel like eating Italian? There’s Sapori restaurant serving authentic deli-style cuisine using the freshest ingredients. Le Marche specialises in Mediterranean dishes as well as flavoursome local Mauritian cuisine, and has an open kitchen so you can see dinner in progress, while Hasu is thoroughly Japanese and Chopsticks is all Chinese and very casual. If you love fresh seafood, Tides would be a good choice and offers fresh fish caught locally as well as from waters afar.
Shores is the cocktail and lounge bar with a thoroughly urban atmosphere and abuzz with activity. It overlooks the beach and is open from 10am until late. So maybe a tropical cocktail will entice you inside – one that includes fine Mauritian rum and tropical fruit – or maybe afternoon tea and cake is your favourite, or decadent late-afternoon pancakes. During the day, island cocktails and a full list of international drinks, along with snacks and light meals, are also served from Tides Restaurant and Beach Bar at the poolside.
“I love the concept and design of this ‘urban lifestyle at the sea’,” adds Johann. “Another differentiating aspect is that the restaurants are part of the half-board package. Most hotels in Mauritius have one restaurant and do buffets. We have the five uniquely styled restaurants, so guests can dine around and it’s easy since it’s included in the half-board rate, with the exception of Hasu the Japanese restaurant. So we really encourage guests to dine diversely and experience all we have to offer. The food, without exception, is top class too and watched over carefully by our Michelin-starred chef.”
Johann confirms that the average stay at Long Beach is seven days, although 10 days is also a popular time allocation. “There really is so much to experience,” he adds, “that you really don’t want to come for a short stay.”
In fact, the list of what guests can see and do, and experience and enjoy at Long Beach is about as long as the magnificent sandy swathe in the sun where Long Beach lives.