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Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort: Massage and martinis

TIME : 2016/2/26 15:56:54

I've injured my back, possibly on the plane to Mauritius. I've been sitting for hours: two stints – the Melbourne to Perth leg takes three hours, then Perth to Mauritius another six.

In the foyer of the Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort, I am still bent in the shape of an airline seat. "How was your flight?" worried staff ask as I drop onto the couch clutching a welcome drink and refreshing towel.

The drink and towel are a godsend. We are in the tropics – 2000 kilometres off the south-east coast of Africa and smack-bang in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The air has a close, warm feeling to it – like a hairdryer with the setting on low.

But, despite my injury, I am immediately dazzled by the resort's lobby. The hotel in Bel-Ombre has reopened with new owners after an extensive refurbishment – and the entrance is a pavilion with an impressively airy high archway studded in lights. It faces rows of palm trees leading to the ocean.

After being settling into our rooms, we're escorted outside for twilight tapas and champagne by one of the pools. The resort is quiet tonight; there is no one – a la Sex in The City – lounging by the pool smoking one of the shisha pipes or drinking  martinis. But I like that this is a possibility. Maybe tomorrow.

The Indian Ocean is a sort of creamy green that's crystal clear up close – but from my deck it looks like peppermint schnapps with the occasional frothy wave.

While I'm dreaming of days to come, I must be doing it with a grimace. Even an extra glass of cava is not easing the back pain, so I'm scheduled for a massage the next morning.

Outrigger Mauritius is set in 1800 square metres of gardens, with 181 guest rooms that range from the more modest Seaview rooms to luxuriously roomy Beachfront Villas. It's the latest acquisition by the family-owned hospitality company that started in Hawaii 67 years ago. The Outrigger group – still under family control – has resorts in eight countries.

All rooms here have water views. My large ground-floor room opens onto a lawn, which runs down to the beach.

And what a beach! The Indian Ocean is a sort of creamy green that's crystal clear up close – but from my deck it looks like peppermint schnapps with the occasional frothy wave. And it smells wonderfully fresh and grassy – like spinifex.

But the currents are quick and strong, and I don't fancy drifting off to Madagascar. You can swim safely from several areas around the resort – but if you don't feel like chancing the currents, there are four swimming pools, including the beautiful main pool, which looks out onto the sea.

The resort is also child-friendly, with a Kids' Corner and children's pool with a slide. Childcare staff are also on hand in the restaurants.

Food here is of a very high standard. There are four restaurants plus a bar. All-inclusive packages are available, or food can be bought at a la carte prices.

The main restaurant, the Mercado, serves a buffet breakfast. It's very good and by day five, I've worked out the no-go zones lest I be confused for a beached whale by the pool.

Pastries and desserts are a specialty at Outrigger: light, buttery croissants for breakfast and the pear tart for dessert are hard to resist.

On the beach is the excellent Edgewater restaurant, with its Gilligan's Island vibe. You can sit here at a table in the sand with the ocean lapping at your feet while you feast on prawns, crab cakes and fresh fish. Further out on the jetty there is a little boathouse, which staff transform for romantic dinners – the site, I'm told, of many marriage proposals. It would be hard to say no out there, with those tropical sunsets and the rum-based cocktails.

Tucked away in the far corner of the resort is the Plantation Club – the most formal of Outrigger's restaurants. The vibe is French colonial – think slow-moving ceiling fans, an open verandah with backgammon sets and swing seats. In the afternoon, tea and cakes are served here, and, at night, the food is French with a Mauritian twist.

But my favourite dining experience at the resort is the wine and cheese tasting session. For around $50, you can delight in some perfect matches; most of the wine is imported from South Africa and cheeses from France.

Luckily there are ways of working off all the cheese!

If those currents are co-operating, you can take a snorkeling trip out to the reef several times a day. You can be dropped off and then picked up a couple of kilometres along the coast after riding the ocean's natural pull. The snorkelling is good here. We see a huge variety of tropical fish, bright spindly coral as well as the intriguing brain coral and, on one outing, a sea snake lying fat and coiled on the ocean floor.

I take several snorkelling trips at Outrigger: once I'm in the water and floating, my back pain disappears. Other watersports on offer at the resort include water-skiing, stand-up paddle boarding, sight-seeing in a glass-bottomed boat and kayaking. They are mostly free and well worth a try in the delectable, creature-rich, warm Indian Ocean.

Most days I stop by the day spa for the expert touch of "my" masseur Jateen, built like a sumo wrestler. The back pain, he tells me, is from compressed discs in my lower spine. My back never did get 100 per cent better but, after a while, I stop noticing it. I swim every day here, sleep like the dead and eat way too much. And on the way back from dinner I succumb to the rhythms of the reggae band and end up dancing wildly.

AirMauritius flies twice a week from Perth to Mauritius, flights from $1144; see,