Katie from our Oceans and Islands team headed to Mauritius to stay at some luxurious hotels and learnt about the island’s rum production!
Ask anybody about rum, and they’ll tell you it’s from the Caribbean, however head to Mauritius and in most hotels you will find an extensive list of cocktails made from their very own Mauritian rum. We took the opportunity whilst we were visiting the island to head to the Rhumerie de Chamarel, a small agricole rhumerie located in the hills in the south-western corner of the island.
Rum from Rhumerie de Chamarel
The Rhumerie is located close to the famed coloured sands and the Black River Gorge so you can easily make a day trip of it, or for a more relaxed day, simply enjoy lunch at their wonderful restaurant l’Alchemiste, coupled with a VIP tour of the distillery.
A copper still used in the distilling process
On arrival we were welcomed by the aptly named Melodie who was to be our guide for the morning. We visited outside of the main production season but there was still plenty to see with the workers busy taking the machinery apart, cleaning it, and lovingly re-assembling it to ensure it is ready and in full working order for the next brewing season. As an agricole rhumerie, the raw ingredient for Chamarel rum is sugar cane rather than molasses which form the base of the mass-market industrial rums, and the process is more like that of making wine, or a fine whiskey. The process is all very manual, right from the initial harvesting of the cane which is grown in the fields immediately behind the rhumerie and cut by hand. The tour starts from where the cane comes into the factory, and of course, finishes with a tasting of their rum. There are three main varieties of rum; premium white, double distilled and gold, along with four flavoured liqueurs. Plus there is a fourth rum, their V.S.O.P, but you will have to buy a bottle if you want to try that one!
Stunning views from Lakaz Chamarel
A Lakaz Chamarel suite with plunge pool
Rather than lunch at the delicious looking l’Alchemiste, we headed for one of our boutique hotels, Lakaz Chamarel, which is a located just a moment away from the Rhumerie. As we approached the hotel we knew it was going to be somewhere special as the access road took us deeper into the jungle, before opening up to a beautiful clearing with the original Manor House as the focal point, and the rooms and suites hidden amongst the forested hillside. For those who want peace and serenity they have private pools with each of their suites, small shared pools with the rooms, and a “Silent Place” that is an ideal spot to enjoy some Yoga and Pilates, or simply to just reflect quietly. But for the adrenaline junkies amongst us, the nearby black river gorge offers about 60km of trails which can be enjoyed by foot or bike and are suitable for all levels of fitness. We enjoyed an authentic Mauritian lunch courtesy of their new chef, Sebastian. Perfect for the adventurous foodies, we were served Octopus salad, Salt fish, Wild Boar and Venison amongst other obscure dishes. Less “unusual” dishes were also available! My advice – watch out for the chilli paste – it’s REALLY hot!
The St. Regis beach
With full tummies, we took the drive down to the south-west corner of the coast and couldn’t fail to be impressed by the majestic La Morne Mountain towering up above our heads as we headed for our stop for the night, the St. Regis. As we arrived we both felt our shoulders relax as the butlers took over and made sure that we could make the most out of our short visit. With our 2 pieces of complimentary ironing sent off with the butlers, we headed for the beach and picked what we were later told was the best spot; just in front of the quiet pool, under the cooling shade of a tree. Dinner that evening was at the Floating Market, and as our stay was so short, they allowed us to also choose from the Atsuko menu, so we were able to enjoy delights from across Asia. The St. Regis really took our breath away – our one regret was that we didn’t have the chance to enjoy a sun downer in the stunning bar at the Boat House Grill, but that’s something to look forward to next time!
A gorgeous Deluxe Room at the St. Regis
To find out more information on Katie and Sarah’s trip, give our Mauritius specialists a call on 020 8682 5020 or visit our website www.scottdunn.com