After the whirlwind of our wedding day, my new husband and I couldn’t wait to head off on our honeymoon. Arriving late at Gatwick we were relieved to be ushered through check-in like VIPS by our Elegant Resorts representative. A few easy hours (and glasses of champagne) later on a luxurious Emirates flight, we arrived in Dubai, a city in which it is easy to lose your grip on reality. Ours starting slipping as soon as we disembarked from the plane and escorted through immigration like superstars, we were met by a white S-class Mercedes and a bunch of velvety red roses.
7 stars and standing tall
With a skyline that now rivals Manhattan, Dubai is a huge city in the making where futuristic towers erupt from the empty desert and where your entertainment options are only restricted by your credit card limit. From camel racing in September to horse racing in March, and tax-free shopping all year round, boredom doesn’t stand a chance. Dubai prides itself on having the best of everything. Top of the list is the world’s tallest hotel, the Burj Al Arab – the only one to have been awarded 7 stars. Standing at 321 metres tall and designed to resemble a billowing sail, the Burj is the epitome of opulence with 24k gold leaf bathroom suites, mirrored ceilings above the beds and Hermes toiletries. To even gain entry into it’s magnificent foyer you either have to be a guest at another Jumeirah International hotel or book a table at one of the restaurants, which was exactly how we managed to gatecrash. We dined at ‘Al Muntaha’, which sits 200 metres above sea level on the 27th floor of the hotel.
Sporting stars favourite spa
The Jumeirah Beach Club Resort & Spa, where we spent the first four nights of our honeymoon, was no exception to the high standards set, acting as a home from home for the England football squad and more recently Rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson. The hotel sits on a picturesque white beach with a resident speedboat to take you along the coast to The Palm – the man made island built in the shape of a palm where David Beckham is rumoured to have bought property. The Dubai air is thick with humidity and the sea as warm as soup, but the hotel benefits from cooling ocean breezes billowing around the Polynesian-style buildings that house suites as big as London apartments, with huge balconies and luxurious whirlpool baths.
Helicopter ride to the hotel
The superstar treatment continued as we were taken to our first hotel by Air Mauritius helicopter. If I can offer one recommendation, it is to see the island by air. Only then can you really take in the breathtaking beauty of the white, sandy beaches, turquoise waters and the almost unbroken coral reef that borders the island. Moreover, the endless lush green sugar beet fields that litter the landscape and take up two thirds of the island are simply incredible.
Luxurious and private
We landed on the golf course of The Paradis, the sister hotel to The Dinarobin Hotel Golf and Spa, where we checked in. Located on Le Morne Peninsula in the south of the island, this colonial style hotel nestles between the foot of the majestic Le Morne mountain and the ocean, and boasts one of the best beaches on the island. The suites, all thatched cottages, are dotted around the huge lush, gardens, and each has a private balcony or terrace. There’s a magnificent infinity pool that seems to disappear into the Indian Ocean, and the main reception area is set around a series of ponds, all densely populated with local fish and koi carp. It is a quiet, exclusive hotel where it is easy to relax and where you easily forget time, especially in the hotel’s luxurious spa, run by Clarins.
Haven of tranquility
The Oberoi, located halfway between the capital Port Louis, and lively Grand Baie, is a haven of tranquillity. Set amid 20 acres of lush sub-tropical gardens and with 600 metres of oceanfront, the resort is surrounded by a turquoise lagoon. The hotel has unusual architecture that pays homage to the African and Asian ancestry of the island, and uses indigenous materials – sugar-cane thatch for the roofs, and volcanic boulders for the garden walls. Meandering pathways lead you past tribal sculptures, through tropical gardens and past breathtaking ocean vistas, to the beautifully appointed villas and pavilions, of which there are 73 with sunken marble baths and a separate shower overlooking an open-air walled garden.
There is one main restaurant, serving both breakfast and dinner, where guests can enjoy a wide choice of cuisine from France and to exotic Creole menus. Executive Chef, Andrew Skinner, fuses the Orient with the international in a menu that would not seem out of place in any fashionable London eatery and to describe it as exquisite seems almost to do it an injustice.
The Oberoi Spa by Banyan Tree, once voted ‘Best Spa of the World’ by the specialists of the European Spa Academy, is a heavenly sanctuary.
On the last night of our honeymoon, we sat at the hotel’s bar, and watched the beautiful Mauritian sun setting over the calm sea. What a place, and what a honeymoon – we can’t wait to return.