Report from Linda Hill
Despite a few pre – tour hiccups, the GSGB Mauritius group arrived in good time at Terminal 4 for the overnight 12hour flight to this delightful tropical island.
At Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam airport, we were warmly welcomed by the partners of our tour operator and dispatched on two air -conditioned buses to our first hotel, the Belle Mare Plage.
Heeding rumours of vastly inflated prices for wine at the hotels we persuaded our drivers to make some stops en route, so we could raid the local supermarkets (little more than corner shops really) for tonics to go with the copious amounts of gin we brought! I am not sure they knew what hit them!
On arrival at the Belle Mare Plage we were royally treated to welcome fruit cocktails and tasty bites to eat, as we sat under palm trees overlooking the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean – a far cry from the wet and windy conditions we left behind!
During this first week we tackled the Legends and the Links courses with varying degrees of success – the courses were challenging with water catching the wayward shots. All those were forgotten as we enjoyed a drink outside watching the colourful birds and even a large herd of deer drinking at one of the lakes. There were beautiful birds to be seen, the most spectacular, the White Tailed Tropic Bird which soared overhead as we played. Another amazing sight was a tree dripping with weaver nests, which dangled from the branches like Christmas decorations – and this was right next to one of the greens!
Not so welcome, but just as attractive, were the opportunist Red Cheeked Bulbuls, which waited for a chance to steal something from our plates while we had breakfast in the open air!
We made two excursions on days off, one to Port Louis in the north of the island and the other to golf at Le Touessrok – a notoriously tricky island course, reachable only by ferry.
In our free time at Belle Mare Plage, we strolled to the beach, swam in the warm ocean and sunbathed under thatched umbrellas.
Our final dinner here was a wonderful BBQ by the pool under the stars.
At the end of a glorious week we took the 90 minute transfer to the Heritage Le Telfair, which had a completely different feel about it. Colonial style buildings, a central pool next to the beach and generally more centralized. Our welcome dinner here was amazing – we had cocktails and canapés under an impressive Chinese banyan tree, followed by dinner in the Old Chateau.
We played the Bel Ombre course all week in hot sun, but as this was a breezier part of the island, we were most grateful. There were stunning views of the ocean from the elevated tees and the course was difficult enough to challenge the best in the group. We started the week with team games and an individual stableford. As usual we finished with the competitive Men against the Ladies match, which, I am pleased to say, the Ladies just managed to win!
Our main excursion this week was a catamaran trip round the island. We had the catamaran to ourselves and the trip included dolphin watching, swimming and snorkeling from the boat, an onboard BBQ and unlimited drinks – BIG mistake! Having drunk all the wine on board by mid morning, we had to send a boat back to shore to replenish the stock! Needless to say, there was not much activity in the afternoon.
The week passed all too quickly and ended with a slightly chaotic final prize giving dinner, where everyone managed somehow to win a prize and Giles Hinchcliffe and Sally Burnay claimed the aggregate individual stableford prizes. We danced to the live band before heading back to our rooms and spent our final day relaxing by the pool until it was time to leave.
This turned out to be a great venue for our GSGB group – the courses were varied and challenging, the weather was perfect and the gentle Mauritian people, a delight. Everyone got on well and the new tourers were a great addition and were warmly welcomed into the group. The holiday was just what we needed before Christmas. The suntans may have faded, but the memories live on, and I, of course have my beautiful book on Mascarene birds, the group so thoughtfully gave me. I would like to thank everyone in the group for their support throughout and for making this such an enjoyable holiday for me.
I look forward to meeting you all again in 2015.