The tropical island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean gets its name from Prince Maurice Van Nassau, Stadhouder (Governor) of Holland, the pioneer of the spice trade in the Indian Ocean. It is also in his honour that the Constance Le Prince Maurice, which opened in 1998, is named. This hotel offers a range of activities including floodlit tennis courts and a wide selection of water-based activities such as snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing and waterskiing. There is also a putting green – handy for those planning to play the two courses at its sister hotel, Constance Belle Mare Plage, five minutesdown the coast.
Guests at both Constance hotels get free golf at the Belle Plage courses, the older of which, The Legend, opened in 1994. Impenetrable jungle alongside most holes penalises the wayward hitter and may encourage you to keep the driver in the bag more often than usual. As the European Tour’s golfers have found when playing in the Mauritius Open here, it is a course that offers a tough examination from start to finish. The par-3 17th is only 166 yards but, with water in front of the green, jungle either side and no bail-out option, this can be a cruel card-wrecker late on in the round.
The Links offers a contrast to its elder sister. It is more open, has fewer water hazards – even though six of the closing eight holes have water in play – and the greens are more undulating than those on the Legend. An unusual aspect for a modern design is that there are some deliberately manufactured blind shots on the gently undulating layout.
Also on the west coast of the island are the Els Course at Anahita and Le Touessrok. The Big Easy has crafted a visually stunning layout at Anahita framed by mountains and the turquoise sea. From mostly elevated tees the target is invitingly open, however careful deployment of bunkers along with the lagoons, mean you cannot just blast away thoughtlessly. The overwhelming sensation is one of space with each hole well-separated and clearly defined. Some clever planting means that you feel you are all alone on the course and springs some pleasant surprises such as when you turn a corner to be confronted by a shimmering lagoon, towering coconut palms or the ocean.
Le Touessrok is a tough and spectacular Bernhard Langer design with a volcanic rock island to itself – Ile aux Cerfs, a ten-minute boat ride from the mainland. Indeed, so tough was it that the design had to be tweaked a few years after it opened to make it more playable. Water, whether a mangrove swamp or inlet from the sea, frequently has to be cleared and the greens are mainly small and undulating. When you walk off having played the final hole – a par 4 across two mangrove swamps to a severely sloping green – you will have a host of memories of playing some beautiful holes… and quite possibly a scorecard to forget. It is a stunning course in a stunning setting.
In the south west of the island is Le Morne peninsula, home to Beachcomber’s Paradis Hotel & Golf Club and Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa, sister resorts which share facilities including the largest sports centre on the island, and a tennis academy. For those who prefer a more relaxed break, there are two Clarins Spas. Golfers, however, will be most interested in the hotel’s fabulous course. This is holiday golf at it finest – a design which tests, but does not intimidate, visiting golfers and set amongst superb scenery. The hotels run regular informal competitions, allowing you meet up with fellow guests for a game, and there are also free group golf lessons twice a week. The course is flanked by the azure waters of a tropical lagoon bordering the Indian Ocean, the whole scene towered by the Le Morne mountain. Slicers will be glad to walk off the 8th and 9th, which run either side of a lake, with the same ball they started with and the 13th is another hole which borders water, in this case the sea. The 16th, a majestic, sweeping par 5 which hugs the shoreline of the lagoon, offers a wonderful birdie chance at only 470 yards off the back tee.
This course is also the subject of one of the more unusual local rules that Golf Monthly has encountered: “We have a few crabs who live on the course!! If your ball is visible inside a hole and cannot be retrieved, you may have a free drop at the nearest point of relief.”
Guests at the resort also get reduced green fees at two other courses in the south west corner of the island – Tamarina Golf Estate and Golf Du Chateau. Tamarina looks out on the island’s most popular surfing spot, Tamarin Bay. Surrounded by tropical forests, savannah land and rolling sand dunes, this is a tough test off the back tees. Big hitters are accommodated here – the driving range is 350 yards long, and the course stretches to more than 7,500 yards from the backs. However the teeing options mean that the layout can be played at under 6,000 yards. Rempart Mountain is visible from virtually every hole, and provides the backdrop to the wonderful 13th, a par 3 of more than 200 yards played off a raised tee with the River Rempart curving in to the target area from the left side and two bunkers protecting the green.
Golf Du Chateau clings to the lower slopes of a mountain. The front nine has the steeper climbs while the back nine has more water. Both halves are extremely pretty, invitingly open and fairly forgiving. The 18th hole descends dramatically towards the clubhouse and, because it is downhill, it is possible to get on in two despite its 523 yards. But to do this you have to clear a lake with your approach shot. The safety-first option is to lay up – but the fairway narrows alarmingly at this point.
Where to play
Els Course at Anahita
Tamarina Golf Estate
Golf Du Chateau
Where to stay
Constance Le Prince Maurice
Constance Belle Mare Plage
Paradis Hotel & Golf Club
Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa