REVIEW: Heritage Awali Mauritius, 5-star All Inclusive hotel, golf and spa
By Helen Wright
- Location Bel Ombre, Mauritius (Southwestern point on the island)
- Bed comfiness 7/10
- Pool Three pools, one adult-only pool.
- WIFI Complimentary and resort-wide
- Best thing? All-inclusive kids club
- Worst thing? Setting up a schedule
- The all-important plug by the bed? Yes
Taking a sunset walk along the beach, hand in hand with your other half and the warm sand between your toes. It’s the ultimate fantasy when you imagine a dream trip to Mauritius. In our Heritage Awali review, we show how we managed to achieve that with a new baby in tow thanks to a tropical resort that caters for everyone.
Simon and I met in 2013 and holidays on far away shores were our favourite luxury as a couple. When we had our son, Finn, in 2017, we knew a long haul trip to paradise would be trickier but the traveller in me refused to believe it was impossible. And I was right. We were determined to travel with our baby and start showing him the world as soon as possible. When he was six-months-old we jetted off to the island of Mauritius for our first family beach holiday and it was perfect.
I love being a mum but a future resigned to kid-specific holiday resorts and restaurants that serve meals with a pot of crayons on the side just doesn’t appeal. I’ve always had this idea that my kids could fit into the life we already have and with a little research I discovered that not only is it possible to do that, if you go to the right place it’s actually pretty easy!
For more on how we travel in the same way but with Finn in tow, check out our family trip to Lake Tahoe
LONG HAUL LUXURY – OUR HERITAGE AWALI REVIEW
On the hunt for some winter sun, Mauritius in the Indian Ocean kept popping up in my Internet search. Brilliant blue water, golden sand and cocktails on tap – it seemed just perfect. A direct flight from London on British Airways made it even more attractive so we decided to go for it. As much as we wanted an idyllic beach break, Finn was our top priority. The Heritage Awali Golf and Spa resort in Mauritius is a luxury resort that fully caters for kids without sacrificing on elegance. Families holidaying here blend seamlessly with those on a childfree break, so even if you don’t have youngsters to entertain, it’s still the ideal place to chill out and soak up the sun. Essentially, it was exactly what we were looking for.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
Checking into the hotel was the first luxury. There was no waiting in line at the front desk; we were invited to curl up in an armchair in the lobby lounge with a snack and a welcome cocktail as we were given our room details. We were staying in a Deluxe Beachfront Room, which had a door that led straight out onto the beach with our own patio, complete with day bed and cushions.
The bedroom was airy and spacious, with local touches to decorate. There was a huge bed and a window seat, plus a wide window letting in plenty of light. Finn’s cot had already been set up in the corner with a mosquito net added as a precaution. In the bathroom there was a large wardrobe, ironing board and lockable safe.
I loved the welcome message with my name written on the bed – I’ve never had that before! The bathroom had a separate shower and bath, ideal for a trip with a baby in tow. Plus, the hotel provided a separate baby bath, which was a great touch as big baths and wriggly babies don’t mix. There is a window hatch that looks through from the bathroom to the bedroom, which makes the whole room feel bigger (and you can watch TV from the bath). Large TV, iPod dock, stocked fridge and robes are also available for guest use. Cutest touch – a mini robe for Finn!
One of the key factors for wanting to book the Heritage Awali were the facilities available for parents staying with a young baby. The child-friendly aspect of the hotel was such a welcome and refreshing perk. We hardly needed to pack any necessities – the hotel provided baby monitors, sterilising equipment, a crib, bath and even baby-friendly cosmetics. This service didn’t stop at the room, with a full children’s food menu available across the entire resort. For mini guests, a kids menu is provided at all the restaurants and for young babies a freshly made puree request form is offered. Choose from meat and fish, veggies and other ingredients and you can even request whether you have it served smooth, slightly blended or chunky. A pretty amazing offering and Finn loved his dinners!
THE Timomo Kids Club
Flying home from this trip we sat beside a couple that had a baby slightly older than Finn. They’d made some use of the kids club at their resort but said the costs meant they were better off sacrificing a few adult-only activities and staying in their room after dark. We did not have this problem – quite the opposite in fact! A major perk at the Heritage Awali is the fully inclusive childcare. The Timomo Kids Club is open from 8.30am to 11pm, meaning free childcare for children three to 11 years old with no booking required. Babies from three weeks’ up to 35 months old are also cared for free of charge until 4pm every day. In addition to this, there is the option to arrange a babysitter for babies (under 35 months) in the evening at an extra fee.
As soon as we got a glimpse at the Timomo Kids Club we knew we were in safe hands. The beautiful nursery had everything we knew Finn would love – soft play, a paddling pool, swings, slides, toys, painting and messy play, as well as a dimly-lit, air-conditioned room with full-size cots for nap time.
It was a big step for us as it was the first time we’d ever left Finn with anyone but family but he was thrilled with his choice of new toys and didn’t bat an eyelid when we left. The wonderful nursery nurses use Whatsapp to stay in contact with you and so we felt secure leaving him in their care. The great thing is, no reservation is required so we began by just dropping Finn off for an hour so we could enjoy a baby-free breakfast, but as the week went on we left him off for longer periods and it was absolutely fine. He even left his mark on the wall (as well as a bit of a mess).
Knowing Finn was being well cared for by trained nursery nurses really put us at ease and it meant we got to enjoy some of our holiday as just a couple again – an absolute luxury! As a couple with a new baby, quality time together is pretty limited so the opportunity to enjoy some here was a real treat. Because we could drop Finn on off with no need to arrange a specific time in advance, it meant we were free to escape for a few cocktails or a dip in the pool whenever we felt like it. One morning, Simon arranged for a special breakfast in the sea on a secluded part of the beach – which was a real bucket list moment. Even less extravagant perks – like the opportunity to have a baby-free nap in the middle of the day – felt like a real treat. Having a new family with (often) a reduced household income too, the knowledge that food, drink and most activities were already paid for and free to use made the trip extra stress free. Aside from the things we opted to pay extra for there were no hidden expenses. Lounging by the pool is blissful but this was relaxation in a different way and it was just what we needed.
Admittedly, before this I had only tried a few all-inclusive resorts and never had an experience to write home about. For a truly stress-free all-inclusive, it’s imperative that the quality of the food matches that of the hotel and the Heritage Awali exceeded expectations and more.
There are six restaurants in total. The main diner, Savana, doesn’t require a booking and has a daily themed buffet. From fresh fish, tasty curries, sushi and Italian dishes, even if we’d eaten here every night I doubt we’d have got bored of the ever changing menu. Other specialist restaurants include beachfront Infinity Blue and the adult-only Zafarani, serving upscale Indian cuisine.
Some restaurants require a supplement from the all-inclusive package but there were two that we felt were worth the treat. Taking advantage of the kids club, we choose to dine at the adult-only, African-themed Boma. This included a dancing show and dinner is served around a roaring bonfire. We had to gather on the beach prior to dinner, only to discover that guests travel to the location through the gardens of the hotel along with the musicians and fire throwers. Dancing through the hotel while other guests clap and sing-along was quite the experience. Holding my sandals and spinning around under the stars, I realised I had fully managed to unwind and for the first time in ages we’d arrived on a holiday that felt like a real break.
For an opulent evening, Heritage le Chateau is a 19th century plantation house on the edge of the property. The grand building is decorated at night with fairy lights and has live piano music for dinner.
On the final night, for a special treat, we decided to splash out and book a candlelit beachfront cabin for dinner. These romantic nooks allow you a private dining experience with a chef-prepared taster menu being served as you relax with a bottle of complimentary French champagne. Since we were going home in the morning it didn’t feel right to leave Finn behind so we went out as a three and the chef even made him his own special mini meal. So cute! Throughout our stay I loved how much the hotel spoiled him. As we moved around the resort, staff were always waving at him and so many of them knew him by name. Family really does come first here and it shows.
The dinner cabins need to be booked in advance and do come at an extra cost (£78pp). They are so romantic (probably more so without a nipper in tow), so ideal for honeymooners. The food, six elegant courses, was decorative, original and packed with flavour.
A big part of the reason we enjoyed this trip and the Heritage Awali resort so much was getting the opportunity to feel like young carefree adults again. As well as the adult-only dining options there was plenty of other fun things to choose from when taking advantage of being baby-free. The large, private beach never felt overcrowded and there were always loungers and umbrellas available without a catfight. But, if sitting around sipping fruity all-inclusive cocktails on the beach isn’t your thing, there is also a menu of fun activities, many included in your package, to keep you busy. The resort has its own Kite Surfing School and there is a host of other watersports on offer, including kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling. If fitness is more your bag, then there is a full gym and a range of classes including paddleboard yoga. Plus, you can play golf, tennis,go windsurfing, fishing and beach volleyball if you book in advace. With well-being a prime focus for the Heritage Awali, morning yoga sessions take place on the beach and you can book a private session with yoga master on the beach or in a private cabin.
Wanting to explore more than the resort, we took advantage of an off-resort excursion that was part of our package and opted for the 4X4 buggy tour of the nearby Heritage Nature Reserve. The self-driven guided tour follows an off-road route through the rural area surrounding the hotel. As well as the local wildlife (birds, deer, wild boar), we climbed to a summit for a view of the Belle Mare bay and stopped for a refreshing dip in a natural waterfall and swimming hole. Be careful though, hidden in the forest, the water is cold! Simon was braver than me!
The buggy trip was surprisingly thrilling but you could go as fast or as slow as you choose. There are also cooking classes, walking tours and shopping trips to choose from if you don’t fancy getting down and dusty.
TIME TO RELAX
Again, with the opportunity to drop Finn off for a few ours we also enjoyed a complimentary treatment (included in the basic resort package) at the Seven Colours Spa. This outbuilding reached over a humpback bridge and a series of stepping stones is a serene, adults only retreat. The spa has both indoor and outdoor treatment rooms bordering a small infinity pool and surrounded by tropical gardens. We had an indulgent couples massage but I managed to take a snap of Simon before he fell completely to sleep!
The opportunity to fly in and chill out was too good to resist. Finding a resort you can trust is the hardest part and I was not surprised to meet lots of guests at the Heritage Awali that were back for their second or third visit. We too would love to return, especially knowing we can wander on the beach and pretend to be young and carefree again, safe in the knowledge the kids are having the time of their lives too.
A PLACE FOR FAMILY
As I mentioned before, going on an all-inclusive resort style holiday is new to me as I usually love planning my own itinerary and doing as much as possible during my time in a place. But after recently having a baby and only just feeling 100% myself again, I definitely didn’t want a jam-packed schedule and so this trip was perfect. On first glance a review of the price point for a resort like the Heritage Awali might seem high but for what’s on offer for guests, the quality of the resort, friendliness of staff and how warm and welcome the reception was for my family and I, it was truly worth every penny. We had the perfect week on our first proper holiday together.
Heritage Awali offers accommodation on an all-inclusive basis. Ideal for family, friends or couple holidays. A deluxe room at Heritage Awali starts from £276 per night (two sharing) on an all-inclusive basis. www.heritageresorts.mu
Need more beach inspiration? How about Bali?
If foodie destinations are your thing, check out our pick of the places to eat in San Sebastian
Or if wine is the answer, Bordeaux might be more up your street