Shangri-La Mauritius means business not just the beach

Shangri-La chain has fashioned a 200-room haven with every convenience for small business conferences, private meetings

Beach villa living room
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Mauritius is the nearest parallel in Africa to the UAE in the Arabian Gulf, with its thriving tourism, telecoms, agriculture and offshore financial sectors providing the highest GDP per capita of any country in this continent.

Perhaps, then, it is not so surprising to find some of Africa’s finest business hotels here.

An island state of 1.2 million people in the southern Indian Ocean, Mauritius has long benefited from a taxation treaty with India that allows foreign direct investment to be free of capital gains tax. Indeed, for years the largest source of FDI into India has been Mauritius, with billions routed through this country for tax efficiency. It’s also tagged as the least corrupt and one of the safest African countries, with the best regulated financial sector.

However, at first glance this island paradise appears the very last place you would want to have to think about work.

The famous Singapore-based chain Shangri-La took over the Le Touessrok resort and spa on the eastern coast just over three years ago, and has since fashioned a 200-room haven with every convenience for small business conferences, private meetings and yet a short limo ride away from the bustling capital Port Louis.

There are two bright daylight conference rooms that can be arranged boardroom style or seat up to 80 people individually, while a floating platform can be reserved for receptions for up to 175 guests; the Hibiscus garden is a beautiful natural setting for lunches to seat up to 60. Or takeover the resorts’ adjacent tiny island paradise, Ilot Mangenie, with facilities to handle private conferences and corporate events for 20 to 200 people - and truffle pizzas.

The property also boasts its own private 18-hole championship golf course designed by pro-golfer Bernhard Langer, ideal for entertaining business partners and reckoned to be among Africa’s best. It is separated from the main resort by a shimmering turquoise lagoon.

The clubhouse’s Langer Grill would also be a superb place to host a lunch or meetings. All hotel rooms come with free access to the course.

The resort itself offers luxury accommodation and facilities that match those of the Shangri-La in Singapore or the UAE. It was completely refurbished before re-opening in October 2015.

My Dh2,395 oceanfront room offered a refined and cool modernist interior with balcony overlooking the ocean, a large bathroom with tub, power shower and two sinks. The 2 metre long desk installation behind the large bed included two multi plugs and the internet clocked 5 Mbps.

Room service offered a nicoise salad for Dh44, or a cheese and tomato baguette Dh74. Soft drinks were complementary with the mini bar that also contained milk, nuts and crisps.

When I could not open my new suitcase due to a combination lock failure, a technician arrived within five minutes to fix it. Service standards in the Shangri-La are always top notch, even on tropical islands in the southern Indian Ocean.

For the ultimate private beach experience rent one of the hotel’s three Dh20,000 per night villas with panoramic ocean views, three bedrooms and stylish minimalist interiors, or to be really private take all three as one multi-millionaire did recently. US pop stars Penelope Cruz and Whitney Huston are past celebrity occupants.

Four restaurants give a large spectrum of dining opportunities. For Mediterranean cuisine and barbecue grills try the al fresco Republic Beach Club & Grill, or Le Bazar for all-day international buffets with live cooking stations.

Kushi is a sophisticated Japanese restaurant with sushi master and yakinuku grills at each table, a Geisha-inspired open air haven. Or experience Indian and Mauritian cuisine at Safran with its copper-clad tandoori oven and live entertainment in the evening.

Team building events could make use of the vast array of free-to-use water sports available here, from stand-up paddle boarding to banana-tube riding. There are also four tennis courts.

In addition, guests have the choice of two swimming pools, a large well-equipped LifeFitness gym with four steppers, running machines and cycles, and an ultra-chilled Chi spa.

The writer was a guest of the hotel (but paid own airfare and all other expenses).