By Rhonda Carrier
We're in Port Louis' covered Central Market, glugging back alouda – a traditional Mauritian drink of milk, basil seeds and agar agar – from Chez Pillay and scoffing the most delicious roti rolls from another stall as we wander the paved alleys, ogling the bright array of local produce including chayotes, pale local cucumbers and lychees. And that's not it: we carry on to the Mauritian capital's historic Chinatown for a sampling of cakes and sweets from an Asian bakery and from there to a Chinese restaurant for a full meal. The food here in Mauritius food bears delicious witness to the Indian Ocean island's rich cultural mix, which includes Chinese, Malays and Indians.
'What unites the Attitude hotel group as a whole is its commitment to being fully environmentally friendly and leading the way in making Mauritius a sustainable destination. This is no fly-and-flop beach holiday (unless you want it to be). We took a boat-trip to nearby day-trippers’ paradise Bernache Island for a barbecue but also to help out with rubbish-collecting on its white-sand beaches.'
This foodie jaunt was our favourite excursion using the Otentik Discovery app introduced by the Hotels Attitude group to inspire its guests to engage in authentic experiences that really get them under the skin of the island and benefit local people at the same time – something that can often be sorely missing for those opting for all-inclusive beach holidays. We also spent a memorable and sociable evening away from our resort feasting on local home cookery (spicy gâteaux piments and various curries and salads) in the house of a local family, one of whom works at an Attitude hotel.
Not that there wasn't plenty of fun to be had back at the resort, Zilwa Attitude. Among other things, it has the most exciting kids' club I've ever seen, Ayo the Dodo, magically housed in a real decommissioned boat with dodo claw-prints etched into the wooden floors, huge bean bags to slump on as you play games, and even the original bridge with its dials and gadgets to play with. Designed for ages 3–12 years, it's the kind of place that makes you yearn to be a child again yourself.
In addition to on-site activities, children get to go on glass-bottom boat-trips, treasure hunts on the resort's own private island, Grand Zil, which is accessiible by motorised rafts, and even themed days out. You, meanwhile, can take advantage of one of the loveliest spas you're ever likely to see, offering treatment rituals based on genuine natural elements of Mauritius, including essential oils, accompanied by freshly brewed herb teas straight from the herb garden. This was Mauritius' first-ever eco-friendly spa.
Rooms at Zilwa Attitude are pure delight, decorated in a bright, fresh and funky style including Creole riddles painted on the walls alongside paintings of colourful gouache boats by an island artist, and with decor made by local artisans from natural materials, including coconut fibres. The hotel as a whole is dotted with plenty of upcycled elements too, including chairs made from white-painted steam drums. The effect is one of relaxed chic.
Zilwa Attitude is one of the group's four family-friendly properties: the others are Coin de Mire, Friday Attitude and The Ravenala Attitude. What unites the group as a whole is its commitment to being fully environmentally friendly by November 2020 and leading the way in making Mauritius a sustainable destination. This starts with the minutiae of daily life at the resorts – all single-use plastic is banned, meaning you refill glass bottles at water stations, and there are all-natural toiletries, complimentary reef-friendly sunscreen by the pools and on the beach, and a 'bulk shop' from which to stock up on your complimentary coffee, tea, sugar and milk, and in which to buy natural mosquito repellent, shampoos and local homewares.
But the green ethos also extends to local excursions, which include pirogue or kayak trips through the Ile d’Ambre's protected mangrove forests, dawn excursions with a local fisherman, and cycling to nearby fishing villages to watch the arrival of the day’s catch. This is no fly-and-flop beach holiday (unless you want it to be).
The Attitude group is also very active in environmental initiatives including coral-reef monitoring and rubbish collection – part of the community-based Anse la Raie lagoon ecological restoration project – and in educating and involving guests in such activities. We took a boat-trip to nearby day-trippers’ paradise Bernache Island for a barbecue but also to help out with rubbish-collecting on its white-sand beaches. And I have to say, it felt really good to be putting something back into our holiday and our destination.
Find out more about Mauritius family holidays.