Fiery sunsets. Flame-grilled food. Flickering candles. Bonfires on the beach. There are many ways a lick of fire can play a happy part in our summer vacay.
When a blaze gutted the LUX* Belle Mare resort on the east coast of Mauritius in 2022, it was both a short-term crisis and a long-term opportunity; a moment for reflection and reinvention that allowed a wholesale rethink of the look, feel, and experience of this hugely popular luxury resort.
LUX* operates some 25 resorts across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean, but its heart lies in Mauritius. And, so, it’s little wonder that in reviving this storied resort the brand turned to Mauritian architect Jean-François Adam and interior designer Jean-Marc Tang to bring a contemporary minimalism to the reimagined space.
While retaining the structure of the resort, Adam let the character of the site dictate the reinvention.“The wind, the orientation, the perspectives, the lights… [they all] tell us more about what our architecture should be,” says Adam.
In keeping with the essence of this much-loved property, which reopened in early October, Adam and his team of designers imbued the destination with a more contemporary aesthetic, notably changing the original thatched roof — where the fire began — to wooden shingles with skylights that introduce both more natural light and striking contemporary lines to the design.“You walk through the hotel and you are kind of stopped by a perspective to specific points,” he adds. “The different feelings that those roofs offer are quite surprising.”
That modern, minimalist approach, coupled with a deep respect for the history of the space and the idyllic island location, is echoed in Tang’s design in both the public spaces and the resort’s 174 suites and 12 expansive villas.“We wanted to bring a fresh, different approach to creating a tropical décor in a resort,” explains Tang. “What we’ve done here is [use] a palette that is more focused on pastel, so we’re talking about coral, blush paints with sand colours.”
This means there’s a notable, and welcome, lack of turquoise cliché, replaced instead by a soothing array of tones and textures that draw subtly on the island setting, from custom-print wallpaper to bespoke furniture imbued with oh-so-subtle maritime touches. “It has been a really long process of working with local craftsmen and artisans, literally using sand to make furniture, but also playing with different textures. [We’re using] different components of the context to bring the spirit of the place back into the spaces,” adds Tang.
Celebrating the spirit of place is a thread carried through into the reimagined guest experiences. Alongside the usual suspects you’d expect in any Mauritian resort, the standouts here champion a renewed focus on immersive conservation activities. That could see you learning about marine biodiversity with the Eco-Sud non-profit organisation one day and getting your hands dirty with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation in conserving endemic plants on Île aux Aigrettes the next.
All of this means you’ll have earned a little R&R by the time you return to LUX* Belle Mare. Start at the revamped LUX* ME Spa, where bespoke wellness journeys using organic products are built on the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space. Suitably revived, head out in search of indulgence at the resort’s five signature restaurants that speak to both the global reach of the LUX* brand and the colourful tapestry of cultures found on the island.
Amari by Vineet, helmed by chef Vineet Bhatia, is a sure-fire hit with most visitors thanks to its contemporary interpretation of India’s culinary heritage, and then there’s modern Chinese cuisine at the playful Duck Laundry. A round of applause for the “Keen on Green” concept too, which introduces plant-based, vegan, and locally sourced dishes on every menu at the resort.
LUX* Belle Mare — the phoenix on the east coast — is yet another reason to head for Mauritius this summer.