After an overnight flight of five hours from Cape Town(four if you’re coming from Joburg), I arrived bright and early on the island of Mauritius.
BEFORE WE DIVE IN
Once home to pirates, Mauritius is listed as one of the world’s top destinations for couples and newlyweds. Holidaymakers from around the world trade in concrete jungles and cold weather for the island’s warm waters, turquoise lagoons surrounded by coral, white powdered beaches and volcanic mountains. It’s a favourite destination for Saffers, says my taxi driver during the 80-minute drive to the north of the island, my home for the duration of my stay.
It makes sense: Mauritius is only two hours ahead, so jet lag isn’t a factor, you don’t need a visa and it’s probably one of the few places where the rand is (slightly) stronger. The driver goes on to tell me how there were no inhabitants on the island before colonisation, slavery and indentured labour, so Mauritius is a melting pot of cultures, with locals of Indian, French, Chinese and African descent. (They also call themselves the ‘rainbow nation’!)
It’s easy to see the effects of climate change the world over, but Mauritius in particular isn’t safe. The island is listed as the 14th most exposed country to natural disasters. The beaches are shrinking due to erosion, and the warming of the oceans has led to the deterioration of their corals – the very reasons people come to the island.
I was excited to be one of the first people to stay at the new ecocommitted Lagoon Attitude Hotel. Part of Attitude Hotels, a leading hotel brand in the Mauritian hospitality industry, the four-star adults-only hotel received Travelife Gold certification for its efforts towards social and environmental sustainability. This includes banning single-use plastics (690 000 products in total), offering mineral sunscreen throughout the resort (to prevent the 25000 tons of harmful chemicals in sunscreens being released into the ocean and killing the coral), and supporting the local community. All stakeholders and employees (they call them family members) are Mauritian, and most of the furniture and décor is made by local artisans.
The hotel’s Green Attitude Foundation also provides education and awareness programmes on marine biodiversity, and promotes local talent through annual music festival Konpoz to Lamizik where the winners perform at the hotel and the top five get to record a single.
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