Our Courses & Travel Editor Kevin Brown reckons it’s a serious candidate…
No wonder the Staysure European Tour brings its season to a climax in Mauritius these days. It’s a paradise island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, with great weather and golf courses to match. In other words, you can’t lose. It’s a win-win scenario so for the senior superstars it’s the perfect finale in more ways than one with many players taking along their partners and families…
Actually, the MCB Tour Championship has been held in Mauritius for nearly a decade with its home being the classy Constance Belle Mare Plage resort which started the island’s golfing revolution following the opening of South African architect Hugh Baiocchi’s Legend course around a quarter of a century ago.
With the nearby Links layout opening in 2002, Belle Mare Plage is still the only Mauritian venue with two 18-hole courses although the senior Legend remains the no.1 layout, annually providing a thrilling climax to the Staysure ET season with Colin Montgomerie capturing the 2015 spoils with veteran Swede - and 1999 Ryder Cupper - Jarmo Sandelin the latest victor last December.
He couldn’t have picked a better place to celebrate his first win for nearly two decades with an emotional Sandelin saying: “Mauritius is a very special place with lovely people and I can’t wait to be back in 2020. We are very fortunate to play a great golf course and enjoy amazing hospitality.”
‘Monty’ loves it to bits too, describing Mauritius as “one of the ultimate golf experiences in the southern hemisphere.”
The Legend is a strong test for both the pros and holidaying golfers alike. It’s tighter and longer than the nearby Links, boasting a terrific variety of holes with the stand-out undoubtedly being the magical par-3 17th with its green tantalisingly perched beyond a lagoon. Monty’s ace here won him the Senior Tour’s 2015 Shot-of-the-Year award along with the title itself. A memorable round memorably finishes with a thrilling par-5 with water scarily hugging the right side of the fairway.
If you’re staying at Belle Mare Plage resort, the Legend is comfortably within walking distance though you need to get the courtesy shuttle to tee it up on the nearby Rodney Wright-designed Links which provides plenty of drama too golfing fun with water lurking on several holes, most notably the thrilling par-4 13th and the breathtakingly tricky par-3 14th while the final green nerve-bitingly sits beyond more water.
Both courses are bound to be in immaculate superb condition and have their own clubhouses as well as outstanding practice facilities with the Links’ range blessed with an eye-popping mountain backdrop while the Legend’s Deer Hunter restaurant/bar is a great spot to chill out pre or-post round.
Belle Mare Plage opened in 1975, is wonderfully located along a 2km stretch of beach and boasts a range of luxury accommodation options, from suites to villas, seven restaurants, six bars, four swimming pools and a variety of activities, on and off shore, with most being complimentary - part of your package – and that includes golf! There’s also a fitness centre, tennis courts and the most soothing of spas.
Sister hotel Constance Prince Maurice is a short drive away and opened in 1998: it’s a smaller, more intimate version of Belle Mare and is surrounded by a turquoise lagoon and beaches of pure white sand.
Combined, the two hotels offer ten eateries plus a collection of bars – La Citronnelle is the most popular at Belle Mare Plage while you can taste the finest of fine dining in the atmospheric Blue Penny Cellar. Prince Maurice’s main restaurant is l’Archipel overlooking the beach though you’ve got to experience Le Barachois, a floating seafood restaurant spectacularly sitting in a natural fish reserve. We struck it lucky by catching a fleeting glimpse of resident shark ‘Johnny.’
But whichever Constance hotel you’re staying, there’s something for everyone – there’s even a chipping green with practice nets at Prince Maurice – and another thing you can absolutely guarantee is service with a smile from the most friendly of staff.
Overall, Mauritian golf has come a long way since the Royal Navy laid out the historic Gymkhana GC layout – the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere – in 1902. The paradise island has developed into a world-class golfing destination with the main European Tour staging tournaments at The Heritage and the Ernie Els-designed Anahita, close to Bernhard Langer’s fabled Ile aux Cerfs, majestically and uniquely plotted on an island reached by a boat.
Meanwhile, the Dodo, the extinct flightless bird which was endemic to the island, may be no more but golf is not only alive and kicking but thriving, specially following the opening of relatively new inland courses Avalon and Mont Choisy, the latter being plotted amidst an old sugar cane plantation near Grand Baie in the north west of the island.
When you take everything into account, Mark Twain was bang on when declaring: “You gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” He’s got a good point you know…
Coloured Earths of Chamarel
Undulating and vividly contrasting layers of earth believed to result from the weathering of volcanic rocks and close to the stunning Chamarel waterfalls.
Breathtaking scenic lake overlooked by mountains plotted 1,800ft above sea level and sacred place of pilgrimage every year for thousands of Hindus.
Spectacular but not easy to reach but worth the effort for a deep, cool bath at the base of seven separate falls.
Flight time is approx.12 hours with Air Mauritius flying direct non-stop from London Heathrow to Mauritius. Return economy fares start from £790pp, including all taxes and charges. For more information visit www.airmauritius.com or call 0207 434 4375.
TRY IT YOURSELF
*Constance Belle Mare Plage - 440euros per Prestige room per night for two adults on all- inclusive basis (includes unlimited golf).
*Constance Prince Maurice - 290euros per Junior Suite per night for two adults on half- board basis (rounds of golf to be booked and settled separately)
Please note the above rates are for a specific period of time during the year - actual rates for a visit can be obtained either via the Constance website (below) or the central reservation office.
– Local currency is the Mauritian rupee (approx. 48 rupees to a pound).
– On the road: As in the UK, driving is on the left side with priority to traffic from the right.
– Time difference: GMT +4.
– Best time to go: Anytime of the year is good for golfers though being a tropical island, it’s subject to showers throughout the year with the cyclone season Dec-Apr. Coastal area temperatures varies between 22C in winter (Jun-Sept) and 34C in summer (Nov-Apr).