Winds of change

Mauritian resort LUX* Grand Gaube’s contemporary approach to island-style holidaying is not only a breath of fresh air but multi-award winning. Deputy editor Martin Jacobs checks in – and braves a cyclone discovering why. (Plus: a new route home from Mauritius takes the edge off the back-to-reality blues)


Confinement – not a word that comes to mind when I think of Mauritius, with its paradisiacal beaches and pools, and its alluring climate. But then neither is the phrase ‘Alert Level Three’. Combine the two, and one’s presented with a glimpse of what I experienced in the initial two days of my first-ever trip to the island. To expand: it’s lunchtime in Mauritius, my having arrived early morning at LUX* Grand Gaube resort. Like bellows stoking a fire, gusts of ever-strengthening wind fuel the balmy weather. Some way offshore, a cyclone. Across our lunch table at the outdoor Creole Smokehouse, sheltered by several banyan trees and framed by their intriguing aerial roots, LUX* Grand Gaube’s PR Manager Yashni Jagernauth informs me that should Cyclone Eleanor, its skyward path veering south towards the island, reach Mauritius and the weather warning escalate to Alert Level Three, all restaurants other than Palm Court – the resort’s buffet – will be shut and all outdoor activities suspended. Guests will need to remain in their rooms, and should the alert further escalate, dine in them too. It’s not the start I’d hoped for, but then acts of God seldom are. 

Awarded Mauritius’s Leading Resort 2023 by World Travel Awards, LUX* Grand Gaube was the recipient of yet another, more intriguing, accolade – The Most Instagrammable Hotel in The World 2023, as awarded by Luxury Travel Advisor. It’s to explore this achievement that I’m spending two nights at the establishment, on the island’s northern shores. Needless to say, a cyclone puts a dampener on my doing so. As I wander the expansive property that hugs a horseshoe cove and extends across an unusually shaped peninsula – the latter home to another cove with an adults-only beach, pool and bar, as well as a lagoon onto which the Wellness Junior Suites face – a pre-cyclone battening down of the hatches takes place. Following the torrential rain and floods of Cyclone Belal in January, nothing is to be left to chance. In their white linen uniforms, staff drag catamarans up the beach, securing them with ropes to one another. In the still waters of the lagoon, they drop as many as four anchors from each glass-bottomed speedboat. At Ici, the resort’s ice cream ‘parlour’ – ingeniously housed in an upcycled vintage Mini Cooper steps from the beach – staff shut early. Across the property, against a wall of greenery, the red brake lights of the resident beekeeper’s truck catch my attention as he temporarily relocates the resort’s six beehives (home to more than 240 000 bees) ahead of the storm. 

Equally noticeable, as holidaymakers retreat indoors, are numerous spots, views and moments begging to be Instagrammed. On an island with a hashtag that offers up close on five million posts, LUX* Grand Gaube’s many Instagrammable hotspots are testimony to considered resort planning. And I reckon it’s this that worked to the resort’s advantage when judging (by Luxury Travel Advisor readers and the internet at large) took place. From over 170 initial nominees, whittled down to 64 contenders selected by the brand’s editorial staff, LUX* Grand Gaube emerged victorious, seldom with much of a battle. “Once the contest begins, the winner is out of our hands,” explains Matt Turner, associate editor at Luxury Travel Advisor. The resort amassed more than 60 per cent of the votes in all elimination rounds bar the semi-final. A contender in the Asia, Indian Ocean and South Pacific grouping, and initially facing off against COMO Laucala Island (Fiji), the resort went on to outscore The Ritz-Carlton (Maldives), Uga Ulagalla (Sri Lanka) and Treeful Treehouse (Japan). Europe, Middle East and Africa grouping’s top scorer, Savoy Palace (Madeira) stood little chance, and in the championship round, LUX* Grand Gaube easily outscored Latin America and Caribbean grouping’s leader, Tivoli Moffarej São Paulo Hotel (Brazil) with 66 per cent of the vote. 

“French multi-disciplinary designer Camille Walala’s gloriously graphic beachside mural resembles a colourful strip of Washi tape, its brightness alluring, more so in the greying haze”

That all 186 suites and villas have sea views – most taking in Coin de Mire, Flat and Snake Islands on the horizon – must certainly have counted in LUX* Grand Gaube’s favour. At the resort’s entrance, an effortlessly chic homage to tropical white layering by South African-born interior designer Kelly Hoppen (responsible for decorating all of LUX* Grand Gaube), it’s near impossible to resist photographing her clever framing of Coin de Mire. Elsewhere on the property, French multi-disciplinary designer Camille Walala’s gloriously graphic beachside mural resembles a colourful strip of Washi tape, its brightness alluring, more so in the greying haze. And at the other end of the beach, the rotunda-like architecture of Bodrum Blue restaurant, whether inside looking out or outside looking in, makes for escapist Instagram fodder. It’s the stuff living-your-best-life hashtags are made of. And there’s enough visual diversity – from the traditional barbershop to the restored Citroen H (repurposed as the French Kiss Bar), and from the Junk Art Gallery (an upcycling play station for young-at-heart creatives) to the bayou-style Rum Treehouse – to fill any camera phone’s album.


By dinnertime it’s raining and will continue to do so for much of the following day. Inside INTI, the resort’s dinner-only Peruvian restaurant, the mood is undampened, bolstered by warmth from open-flame grilling in the on-display kitchen. Monochrome photographs of South American texture-rich landscapes and locals serve as cues to the exotic ingredients shipped from Peru on a weekly basis. Voted first in Mauritius and fourth in Africa by TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice 2023, INTI is helmed by chef Pedro Burgos. He’s Peruvian, and orders for me, dazzling me with colourful plates (think purple potatoes in turquoise bowls), textured ceviche (think crunchy corn with the freshest of tuna) and giant passionfruit halves filled with their seeds, meringue and dulce de leche.

As expected, overnight the alert level ups, making for a second day that’s more disappointment than disaster. As Cyclone Eleanor whisks her way across Mauritius’s east coast, I’m asked to remain indoors. The island has come to a standstill. Driving is forbidden, so it’s a work-from-home day for those who can. I spend time in bed reading, enjoying the comfort of my suite, and watching ripples decorate the lagoon’s surface. Eleanor doesn’t have the violence of a Cape winter storm. Thankful for this, I walk to the Palm Court Bar, where I sink into an armchair, read and people watch. By early evening, the cyclone has moved sufficiently offshore to allow for eateries to reopen, activities to resume, and the occasional fallen palm branch to be cleared. While the air feels heavy, abundant birdsong has resumed. It’s invitation enough for me to pop on my swimsuit, pose for an Instagram photo, and get in that swim.

Martin Jacobs was a guest of LUX* Grand Gaube. Other LUX* resorts in Mauritius include LUX* Grand Baie, LUX* Le Morne, and the newly reopened LUX* Belle Mare.


Waving goodbye to any idyllic island holiday is a downer, more so when a quick four- or five-hour flight later, one’s home the same day. For South Africans returning from Mauritius, it’s the jarring extremes of the ultimate in carefree holidaying and back-to-reality blues. For locals, in the summer months outside of school holidays, there’s now a gentler means of returning home. Touchdown and tarmac are replaced with leisure and lemurs on Norwegian Cruise Line’s 12-night voyage from Mauritius to Cape Town. Aboard Norwegian Dawn, with – by today’s standards – it’s relatively small capacity of two thousand passengers, guests can savour a day spent on Reunion, and two discovering Madagascar, before reaching our coastline and enjoying safaris, snorkelling and other excursions at stops including Richard’s Bay, Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay. An escapist experience for those with time to appreciate, a cruise such as this is an opportunity to explore Africa’s Indian Ocean islands and our shores while maxing out on the romance of ocean travel.

Click to read about Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Viva.

Words and production: Martin Jacobs
Photographs: Courtesy LUX* Resorts and Norwegian Cruise Line, Martin Jacobs

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