What Katy Did - in Mauritius
Leaving raining England behind, Katy Evans visited the beautiful island of Mauritius to sample spa treatments and sumptuous food.
And so from salsa in Ipswich to sega in Mauritius - a traditional dance I tried while accompanied by a lively quartet on a sunset cruise from Port Louis, the Mauritian capital.
Thanks to a journalist from another publication pulling out at the last minute, a space had become available on a press trip to the Indian Ocean island, which I was more than happy to fill.
Having gone six months without a holiday (poor girl, I hear you cry) it came as welcome relief to jet off to more exotic climes for what, on the itinerary, promised to be a break for those who loved the finer things in life (i.e. posh nosh and spa treatments - perfect for a foodie like me who is also rather partial to a spot of pampering).
On arriving at the luxurious Oberoi resort on the north west of the island, I must have resembled a Cheshire cat for at least the first hour on discovering my 'home' for four days and nights was to be a spacious villa, complete with walk-in wardrobe, sunken marble bath (which they filled with beautiful bougainvillea blooms) and my own private pool.
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After a 12-hour flight I was keen to immerse myself into holiday mode and so, once alone, slipped out of my travelling clothes and made the most of my swimming pool with a spot of skinny dipping. Gliding naked through the water surrounded by tropical birds, trees and fragrant frangipani flowers felt fantastically liberating.
The rest of the day was to be spent at leisure, making the most of the hotel's facilities including the immaculate Banyan Tree spa.
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For my first treatment I opted for the signature Oberoi massage, which I was delighted to find would be performed in the outdoor suite, where two massage tables plus a private steam room, shower and open-air Jacuzzi awaited (more opportunity to enjoy the elements au naturel).
This was my first experience of a Banyan Tree spa - there are others around the world - and I was impressed by the attention to detail, from the foot cleansing carried out as standard before every treatment, down to the bowls of exotic flowers placed under the holes in the massage tables (so if you do manage to prise your eyelids apart from blissful slumber then you at least have something other than a table leg or the floor to look at).
Dinner that evening, and every evening, was superb, thanks to the French chef who created delicate dishes such as asparagus velouté to start, followed by oven baked red snapper fillet with oyster ravioli, and a decadent chocolate moelleux dessert - a dense cocoa-rich cake filled with warm chocolate sauce - heavenly.
After a welcome night's kip on the huge king-sized bed, I decided not to bother walking the whopping 100m to the restaurant for breakfast so called room service and had a fruit plate and basket of assorted fresh croissants, pain au chocolat and muffins delivered to my garden terrace (the birds appreciated this too, having cheekily stolen a muffin when I popped inside to get something).
More relaxing ensued, followed by lunch overlooking the sea, another massage - this time with Ylang Ylang essential oil which was, in truth, the best massage of my life - followed that evening by another decadent meal.
This time we were treated to a salad with thin shavings of palm heart - a delicacy from the 'millionaire' palm trees, which take about nine years to grow - followed by (and I hate to admit this what with having a strict vegetarian for a boyfriend) foie gras chaud and then veal cutlets.
On day three we were up early for a day of touring: the botanical gardens, a photography museum, a colonial house for lunch, then shopping at the bustling market in Port Louis, where I bought a bag of leaves which, if infused in hot water and sipped each day for a month, will apparently rid me of my cellulite - watch this space.
Waking up to a clear, cloud-free sky on the fourth and final day, I decided to opt out of the last excursion to make the most of my paradise location. So, armed with sunscreen, sunglasses, sarong and the seriously addictive Da Vinci Code, I set up camp on a beachside sun longer.
After lunch and yet another massage (such a hard life) I scurried back to my villa to get ready for the aforementioned sunset cruise, where the lively musicians not only played the traditional sega but also jazz and old-time numbers.
All in all, the press trip was definitely the best I've been on so far in my relatively short journalistic career and will take some beating. Despite the fact I did acquire a massive, what now seems mandatory mosquito bite (happens every time I go away, though at least my whole foot didn't swell up like it did in Finland) Mauritius definitely left me wanting more.