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Latest Golf News
The Indian Ocean has built a strong reputation as a golfing destination with a rich variety of courses, reports Vic Robbie
MAURITIUS has enjoyed a colourful history since this beautiful volcanic island of turquoise lagoons and 200 miles of white sand beaches rose out of the Indian Ocean 70 million years ago, and now it is forging a rich and exciting future.
Once best known for its most famous inhabitant, the dodo bird, the friendly Mauritians are now concentrating on birdies of another kind. While the first Dutch settlers hunted the dodo into extinction, Mauritius’s new industry is very much alive and growing.
More than a thousand miles off the south-eastern coat of Africa, the islanders rely on textiles, sugar cane and tourism for their income and now there are plans to build on its appeal to visitors by establishing itself as a true destination for golf.
Over the last five years the number of tourists visiting the island has risen annually to three-quarters of a million with almost 100,000 arriving from the UK. For many it is a welcome return to an exotic island where the climate is close to perfect all-year round with temperatures rarely dipping below 70OF and rising to the high 90s in summer.
The coastline is almost entirely ringed by barriers of coral reefs – which locals claim are protection from the disasters that have befallen other islands in the Indian Ocean recently. And turquoise, crystal clear lagoons, which are perfect for swimming and water sports, are home to multi-coloured fish, moray eels and magnificent coral beds.
Add to that a friendly welcome from a population of more than a million Hindus, Creole, Chinese, Muslims and Europeans, who live in splendid harmony and speak Creole, French and English equally proficiently.
If you are a football fan, you will be treated like an old friend. Premiership matches are shown live on satellite television and almost everyone supports an English team. There was even one house painted in the red and white stripes of Sunderland complete with club badge.
Mauritius has always been a destination for the cognoscenti and now its reputation as a golf destination is growing. The island already has a collection of outstanding and stunning 18-hole golf courses. The Belle Mare Plage Resort, regarded by some as the premier golf resort on the island, has two challenging courses - The Legend and The Links. Le Touessrok’s spectacular course, built by Bernhard Langer on its own island a couple of years ago, is the ultimate test from the back tees.
The Paradis Hotel & Golf Club’s course in the shadow of the Le Morne mountain hosted the first Mauritius Open in 1993; the Golf du Château course at the Le Telfair Resort is a beauty and the most recent, Ernie Els’ creation at the Four Seasons Anahita resort.
There’s also the private Gymkhana club in Vacoas and five good nine-hole courses at Trou aux-Biches, Shandrani (Blue Bay), St Géran (Poste de Flacq), Maritim (Balaclava) and the Sofitel Impérial (Wolmar).
A significant move in this development as a major golf desination was the relaxation of laws allowing foreigners to own properties on the island for the first time.
As a result, the Tamarina project included 30 lodges and 119 luxury villas around a new course; and Anahitawill included more than 200 villas.
As David Marsh, golf manager of the Le Touessrok course, said: “Mauritius was perhaps not seen as a golf destination in the past but all that is changing now."
Air Mauritius (020 7434 4375; www.airmauritius.com operates more than 30 weekly flights between all major European cities. British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com) also operates flights from Heathrow.
● Mauritius has two seasons: warm and rainy from September to April and pleasantly cool and dry from May to November. Daily high temperatures range from 22OC (72OF) in winter to 31OC (88OF) in summer. Water temperatures vary between 22OC (72OF) and 27OC (81OF).
●The island is approximately 28 miles wide by 40 miles long.
● No vaccinations are required.
● A tourist police service has been set up to ensure security in tourist zones.
● Mauritius is four hours ahead of GMT.
● A visitor must be in possession of a valid passport and a return or onward ticket.
● 12-hour flight from London Heathrow.