Hidden amongst the untamed beaches of Bel Ombre in Southern Mauritius, Sofitel So has to be one of the most lushurious places on the planet. And that’s what it’s all about – lushury – a term coined by Sofitel themselves. Sophisticated luxury in a wild and natural setting – the very best of both worlds. That’s why, as the hotel claims, life here really is magnifique.
The backdrop is all kinds of beautiful. Bel Ombre is an untouched swathe of sparkling coastline dotted with palm trees that create calm, private coves. The hotel lets the landscape speak for itself, leaving the beach to bask in its raw, natural glory. Loungers, romantic daybeds and coconut-thatched parasols are sprinkled throughout the secluded spots, giving you the chance to laze in undisturbed tranquility.
The water is a series of clear, turquoise stripes and it’s possible to swim and snorkel straight off the beach. There’s a jetty for boat trips and fishing adventures, and the best part is that you’ll feel almost alone. It’s pretty much your own private paradise. The hotel has even created a zone of complete ocean hush offshore, with no motorboats, hawkers, dogs or noise pollution to be heard. Even mosquitoes are banished from the hotel grounds by daily fumigation. The peace is total.
Designed by Kenzo Takada of highly-scented fame, this 5* oasis seamlessly slides its fresh, contemporary lines into the tropical landscape of the island. The blend is beyond perfection. Every tiny detail, angle, texture and shape holds a story of thoughtful design. It’s these careful considerations that set the hotel apart – a loving fusion of first-class luxury and local flavour. As such, Sofitel So is so much more than somewhere to rest your head. It’s a work of art.
The 84 lushury rooms and 6 beach suites are essentially eco-chic pods decked out in clean whites, with accents of lime green and orange, creating a calm but energising atmosphere. There’s a feeling of light and space flowing through the open-plan design of each room, with indoor and outdoor showers and private baths scattered with fragrant petals in the garden. The espresso coffee machines make a top class cuppa, and the safe comes complete with a built-in iPod charger. The genius lies in all these little things, combining to make a breathtaking whole.
The bed is the centrepiece of each room and, oh my, what a bed it is. Sofitel’s bespoke ‘My Bed’ concept is brought to life in every single room. Comfortable doesn’t even begin to cover it. The mattresses, duvets and pillows are made using a magical mixture of layers from duck feathers to down in order to create the perfect cocoon. The effect is amazing. It’s sort of like sleeping on a cloud, so you can catch up on lost sleep in true style. It may well be the best night’s sleep you will ever have.
The public spaces of the hotel are equally ingenious, all with brilliant backstories of their own. The rim-flow swimming pool that runs all the way down to the beach is shaped like a ‘panga’ knife, a traditional Mauritian tool for cutting sugarcane. Around the pool, you’ll find an assortment of loungers, citrus-coloured full-size beanbags and cosy couches, all made for sumptuous sun-soaking.
Tranquil water flows all around the impossibly high-ceilinged Flamboyant restaurant and Takamaka bar area to create a natural cooling system and preserve the sense of absolute peace. Inside and outside merge effortlessly as the tropical Mauritian air flows between the 2. The ultra-modern bar stocks all kinds of homemade rum used to make signature cocktails, often with the addition of Mauritian hibiscus flowers. Our recommendation – try the vanilla and citronella rum.
The food itself is understated elegance, with evening buffets – but not as you know them. Here you’ll find delicately-spiced fish fillets, immaculately cooked steaks, steaming heaps of inviting vegetables and everything in between. The desserts range from dainty pots of bright raspberry soup to indulgent opera cake and traditional tapioca. Every night, the buffet theme changes, keeping things constantly new and exciting.
For more laid-back beach eats, La Playa is the place to head for lunch. An open-air restaurant spilling out onto a peaceful slice of breezy beach, it’s a great spot to unwind with a book and grab a sunny afternoon light bite. The menu, like the island itself, is eclectic, with mussels ‘en cocotte’, ruby snapper and beef teriyaki. It’s castaway cuisine at its best.
Just like the space, the experience of staying at Sofitel So is seamless. Every effort is put into making your trip to the island totally stressless. You’ll have your own personal butler to cater for your every whim, book your island tours and grant your every request. When you arrive, you’ll be whisked off to an intimate private space for a welcome drink while your admin is taken care of behind the scenes. The staff are discreet, attentive and full of easy smiles. The service level really is second to none.
For honeymooners, it couldn’t be more perfect. If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate honeymoon away beyond city bright lights, Sofitel So will tick every box. It’s deliciously sleepy and ridiculously high on romance. There are extra touches and surprises in store for honeymooners (we won’t say anymore for fear of spoiling the mystery), but mostly, you can be wonderfully, lushuriously alone. Lively it isn’t, so if you’re after an upbeat adventure, look elsewhere, but it’s certainly peaceful par excellence.
For an evening to really remember, try a magic table, possibly our favourite feature. It’s a new development, but it sounds like a real keeper. Here, to celebrate a honeymoon, or indeed, any kind of special occasion, you can book your own private themed meal on the beach – whether it’s Indian, French or traditional Mauritian. A daybed and table hidden between the palm trees will be decorated according to your theme, with twinkling lights strung between palm trees, candles and all kinds of colourful textiles. You can dine in perfect privacy under starry skies while the waves whisper in the background. What, we ask you, could be better?
While the hotel clientele is heavy on the honeymooners, it’s also popular with families, and deservedly so. Kids are welcomed here with open arms, and there is plenty to keep them occupied. The Kids Villa is every child’s dream, a house where toys reach up to the rafters with their very own inflatable-filled pool out back. The caring staff are simply brilliant, elbowing themselves into the hearts of every family with complete ease. Mauritian traditions are woven into each day, with activities like henna painting to give the kids some background on the island culture.
With the kids expertly taken care of, parents can take some serious time out. The spa is a serene setting for some supreme pampering, with a range of traditional Mauritian treatments using local, natural products. If you’re in the mood, you can even try Chinese acupuncture with golden needles. It’s all pretty darn heavenly and certainly not to be missed. Afterwards, you can lie in the sunshine with a glass of lemongrass tea and melt into the pleasures of the good life.
All in all, Sofitel So Mauritius is so much more than a hotel. It’s a state of mind and a rare chance to slow down to a sunny halt. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s pocket of total lushury that you’ll be very hard-pushed to find elsewhere on the planet. Go there. Let go. And love every minute.