Halwa, yoga & shirodhara in Mauritius

MauritiusIt is stylish, ritzy and drop-dead beautiful. It takes its name from Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, the man after whom Mauritius was named by the Dutch squadron that landed on the uninhabited island in 1598. It sits so close to the Indian Ocean, you can step onto the silvery sand, sit under the shade of orange beach umbrellas and stick your toe in the ocean.

But at Constance Le Prince Maurice, it was neither etymology nor the shades of blue that I was caught in. In Archipel restaurant, I thought I had noticed a typo. ‘Samussas’. A ‘vegetable samussa’ on top of the list of starters. “It is the Indian samosa, but, in Mauritius, that is how we spell it,” clarified Manjoola Dowlutrao, Guest Relations Manager. Dowlutrao knows all about Indian cuisine, her great-grandfather left his hometown in Bihar and came to Mauritius more than 100 years ago. “Flip through the menu, you’ll find halwa, dholl puri and rasgullas as well,” Dowlutrao rattled off names of Indian dishes in Hindi; her Hindi near-perfect but heavily laden with a French accent. In the hotel’s La Barchois, a one-of-its-kind floating restaurant, one can order home-made braised chilli balls with eggplant, basmati rice and small peas or parantha, dholl puri, basmati rice, lentils fricassee, tomato chutney, suran pickles, crispy vegetable salad – everything oh!so Indian but with a Mauritian twist.

And if you are craving for something absolutely Indian, there’s Chef de Cuisine Pravind Jugun who can rustle up a eggplant chutney, fried onion Madras rice and a phirni with equal ease. He tries his hands at jalebi, too!

That, however, is not the end of Le Prince Maurice’s India connect. In the Le Spa de Constance, you can slough off urban malice with Prince Ayurvedic treatments like the 45-minute Shirodhara in which warm, herbalized sesame oil is dripped in a stream onto the forehead to profoundly relax the nervous system, balance the Prana Vata and the Dosha that exert control over the brain, or opt for Shirobhyanga with warm oil that frees your head and scalp from the tensions.

If all this does not seem Indian enough, tuck your sticky mat and head to the beach with yoga teacher Isabelle Lamant. Famous for teaching at some of France’s most exclusive spas, including Espace Payot on Paris’ Champs Elysées and Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in Cap d’Antibes, Lamant has also trained contestants for Miss France and Miss Tourism International in Malaysia. State certificated in Fitness (CREPS -France), Lamant acquired her Vinyasa Yoga (Yoga dynamic) skills in Paris with Gérard Arnaud, diploma recognized by the French Federation of Yoga and Yoga Alliance US.

After seven years of personal training in Paris and Versailles, Lamant moved to Mauritius to work with the Constance Group. She says, “My sessions will allow guests to tone up while they are dancing, practice the Dynamic (Vinyasa) Yoga as well as learning how to relax tense muscles and weak joints”.

In the 89-room, 5-star Constance Le Prince Maurice, the staff happily speak Hindi, narrate stories of their ancestors who came from India to work in the sugarcane plantations, and treat you like brethren. In this hotel, in-between miles vanish. And boundaries get blurred. Constance Le Prince Maurice feels like home.

Preeti Verma Lal

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