Matthew Moore took his clubs on Honeymoon and found a golf holiday in Mauritius doesn’t have to break the bank…
- Trying to be a Legend on The Links at Belle Mare Plage
- Caddies that cost less than Coca-Cola
- Pars and a sensational spa
- Forza La Spiaggia – unforgettable food
- Snorkels and stretching
- Mauritius Golf Review
- Mauritius’ newest golf course – Mont Choisy
A fresh pineapple costs around £10 on the beach at Constance Hotels’ Belle Mare Plage Resort in Mauritius but 18 holes of golf on either the Legends or Links courses at the resort is free.
A caddie will carry your clubs for 18 holes for £5, the same as the cost of a can of Coca-Cola poolside.
The recent Paradise Papers leak, by a Bermuda law firm, shone a light on Mauritius as one of the world’s favourite tax havens for wealth managers that look after the rich and famous.
It turns out, putting your money in the former French, Dutch and British colony can save you a fortune, and so we found with our honeymoon and golf holiday to Mauritius.
As a thirty-something writer, Mauritius is not the sort of destination you can easily afford.
When it’s your honeymoon and you’ve had some help paying for it, then you make the most of it.
For years, I’d seen the pictures and read the stories about playing golf on this island paradise.
With a willing new wife, we set off on a dream trip taking in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and South Africa’s Wine lands and a final seven day stay at Constance Hotels’ Belle Mare Plage Resort, Mauritius.
The flight from Johannesburg was an easy four hours and 20 minutes and we touched down at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolan International Airport – named for the island’s first Prime Minister – in the blissfully mellow late evening heat.
If you fly direct from the UK, you can fly British Airways from London Heathrow for 12 hours. The time difference is only four hours and so jet-lag is minimal.
We jockeyed past British brides carrying wedding dresses – heading for unconventional ceremonies on sandy beaches – past South African’s stocking up on champagne from duty-free and smiling locals heading home.
A private driver met us at arrivals for our 50-minute transfer to the resort on the North East coast of the island.
Belle Mare Plage sits on a long stretch of unspoilt sandy beach protected by outlying coral reefs.
Our driver took us through the island’s central plateau, rather than along the winding roads of the rockier Northern coastline, and it was a revealing look at Mauritian culture and economy.
Vast swathes of sugar cane fields stretched out for miles beneath the shadow of the Moka Port Louis mountain range, the biggest ring of mountains on this once volcanic island.
As we drew closer to BMP, we passed small settlements and ramshackle dwellings of large extended families, with children playing in the half light and older relatives passing time on porches and balconies sipping rum.
The road into BMP was non-descript and slightly scruffy, large cane fields and vegetation line the road but suddenly, within 200m, we were transported into another world – a place of style, opulence and luxury.
Blockbuster Entrance at Belle Mare Plage
Arriving at Belle Mare Plage after dark is like starring in your own Hollywood Movie.Think Ocean’s Eleven – Twelve maybe – when Brad Pitt or George Clooney arrive, order champagne and casually stare out over white sand and turquoise ocean into a rusty sunset.
The hotel reception is breathtaking.
Like a giant luxury beach hut, its high roof and open plan feel reveals pristine water pools and ocean views out across the pure white sand.
The cocktail bar is to the left and La Citronella, one of the resorts’ seven restaurants, is off to the right.
After check-in we were whisked by golf buggy, past fountains and opulent lighting, to our Prestige Room – one of 92 at the Southern end of the resort – with beach views, large beds, walk-in-wardrobes and a cool bath.
After washing away the grime of a day’s travel, we ate in La Citronella – a buffet-style restaurant that serves the world on a plate – from contemporary Asian to classic French cuisine – finishing the evening with a stroll along the beach promenade. The soothing, lapping of waves at the shore was a perfect way to end a long day.
Mauritius Golf – Legends Course
Up early and refreshed, it was time to check out the golf courses at Belle Mare Plage.
BMP is ranked among the best golf resorts in Mauritius. It has hosted events on The European Tour and The European Seniors Tour.
Think St Andrews for Scotland, Crans Sur Sierre for Switzerland, Valderamma for Spain. To many people, Mauritius Golf is Belle Mare Plage.
The most famous course, The Legends, was designed by South African professional golfer Hugh Baiocchi in 1994. It’s a lush green landscape carved out of old forest and a former hunting reserve.
Green fees are free for all guests at Belle Mare Plage, but, before you book is the time to seek investment advice.
Stay half board at BMP and the cost of golf buggies are not included.
Stay all-inclusive at the resort and buggies are included in your package, as well as all food and drink – which can become very expensive when you’re paying £5 for a can of coke or £7 for a beer.
Our stay was half board. I was quoted £25 per person per buggy, so if your non-golfing wife rides along, that’s £50.
The all-inclusive package is worthwhile for golfers when you consider how draining it is to walk 18-holes in 30-degree heat.
I opted for a local caddie and was assigned Alain, a 15-year-old local and regional kick-boxing champion, for a cost of just £5.
A quick warm-up on the range and I was ready to go with my German playing partners, Frank and Anita.
The Legends Course at BMP is not long, 6,579 yards, but it’s tight and intimidating. Water features on virtually every hole and if you’re wayward you can spend a lot of time in scrub, bush and thick trees.
The course is built to USGA standards and the grass is Tif Dwarf, a spongy, tough grass similar to Bermuda.
The course opens up with a pair of gentle par-fours and a pretty par three before moving up a gear at the par-five 4th.
The landing area is tight, water on both sides of the fairway and it’s smarter to play it in three shots than take on the green. The par-four 5th is regarded as the most difficult hole on the course and demands a long drive and a well-hit long iron to even get close.
This is when taking a caddie instead of a cart pays off.
Alain pointed out Kingfishers, deer, crabs and nesting wildlife. The Legends is beautifully presented, but, has a dry, parched feel to it so be prepared to adapt to lots of different types of lies on fairways, in the rough and around the greens.
If you’re straight from the tee and can hit a lot of solid hybrids and long irons, you’ll score well. The greens were quick and grainy and Alain again earned his fee by reading putts well.
Best Golf Hole at Belle Mare Plage
I loved the par-three 17th hole, a real beauty where you play across the inlet of the Bras Requin Bay and feel close to the Indian Ocean. Being so close to the coast, wind can whip through the Legends Course making clubbing tough, but it’s so warm you don’t notice the breezes.
The finishing hole at BMP is a real risk and reward birdie chance.
Drive it long and down the right and you have a shot at reaching this par-five, but, you need to carry the stretch of water on the right and thread it between well-placed bunkers by the green. All of which is played out in full view of the Deer Hunter bar and restaurant in the clubhouse.
The Legends Course at BMP is a top-quality venue and matched by the excellent service you receive from the golf reception team and local caddies. One downside is, there are often ball sellers wandering around the course enthusiastically trying to sell you the Titleist you sunk into a lake three holes earlier.
Another is the fact that play can be slow, usually because guests are of mixed golfing ability and the course is challenging. It’s difficult to get upset about waiting with the sun beating down on you and all-you-can eat food and drink waiting for you at the 19th.
Beach Time and Bon Appetit
There’s so much to do at BMP that time off course is as much fun as the rounds you’ll play.
During the week, we idled on the beautiful beach, enjoyed a snorkelling trip around the coral reef around 800m offshore. The coral reef keeps sharks away and makes it safe for watersports and diving.
A pilates and stretching class in the resort’s health studio was another great warm up for golf.
You can also hire bikes and ride down to the nearest village, where half boarders can buy spirits and drinks and where a range of Hawaii shirts, board shorts, Rum and designer hand bags are the shop staples.
USpa by Constance
A memorable highlight was a couples Honeymoon Ritual in the USpa Constance. A coconut oil exfoliation, cocoa butter body wrap, head massage and full body massage left us feeling otherworldly.
Our friendly therapist even offered some marriage advice, telling us massage was the secret to a long and happy life. He sent us away with a free copy of his DVD.
On half board packages at BMP you are allowed to eat a la carte at other restaurants on site.
We opted for La Spiaggia, a beachside Italian trattoria, and it was superb.
I would struggle to dream up a more intimate and romantic setting for a meal. Service was flawless.
Another great spot at BMP is the Deer Hunter at the Legends clubhouse, relaxed but delicious and a welcome break from the bustle of the buffet at La Citronella.
Mauritius Golf – The Links Course
Another great night’s sleep and it’s time to hit the Links. Opened in 2002, The Links is BMP’s second course and is meant to be a gentler, resort course to compliment the tougher Legends layout.
Peter Aliss, the UK’s “Voice of Golf,” was one part of the design team alongside Rodney Wright, who also remodelled a number of holes on the Legends in 2016.
The fairways are wider, the greens more undulating and large swathes of black volcanic rock and used to shape mounds and provide definition on the course.
Water hazards don’t come into play as often as on The Legends but when they do, they really can scare you into making mistakes.
There’s a number of fun dogleg holes on The Links and it’s an interesting and enjoyable challenge which provides variety for any golfer wanting to play several rounds during their stay at BMP.
The legends has the bigger reputation and deservedly so, but, it’s not a course you can play several days running – just because it’s tough. It’s nice to play the wider, easier Links and open your shoulders a little and hit at the pins a bit more.
The hardest part of this honeymoon trip was leaving.
We enjoyed so many great meals and experiences in South Africa and Mauritius and made long-lasting memories. Our villa housekeeper was kind enough to leave us a message wishing us a safe trip home, which sums up the special service you receive at the five-star Constance Belle Mare Plage.
Mauritius is a holiday paradise but even better than that, BMP is a world-class golf resort that is ideally set-up for couples, groups or individuals who love the game and want to enjoy Mauritius Golf.
If you’re staying half board, be prepared to eat well at breakfast and at evening meal, because even a simple pool side lunch and drinks can cost around £50. The main bar at the resort offers a happy hour in the evening where drinks are reasonably priced but at peak times, it’s a five-star resort and you’ll pay five-star prices.
It’s worth considering an all-inclusive package at BMP to get the best value from the golf facilities, including free buggies and concessions on range balls and golf at other affiliated courses.
The free golf on offer at BMP is exceptional value and a major reason why so many golfers loyally return to the resort year after year.
The best way to get value for money on a golf trip to Mauritius is to use a specialist golf tour operator with excellent contacts on the island. Global Golfer recommends Chaka Travel, an established travel agent with over 30 years’ experience in golf holidays to Mauritius, South Africa and destinations worldwide.
If you are looking to play more Mauritius Golf courses, there are plenty to choose from.
Mauritius Golf Courses
There are 13 golf courses on Mauritius, ranging from the newest Mont Choisy Golf – which opened in November 2017, in the North of the island – to the oldest, The Mauritius Gymkhana Golf Club, which was built by officers from the British Royal Navy in 1844 and remains near today’s Mauritian military academy.
Ile aux Cerfs (formerly known as Le Touessrok) is perhaps Mauritius’ best golf course and has been ranked amongst the 100 best golf courses in the world by leading European golf media. Designed by Bernhard Langer, the course sits on its own private tropical island in the Indian Ocean.
The Heritage Golf Club is on the South West Coast of the island and was designed by South African Peter Maktovich.
It has been used as a European Tour venue and is set in the exclusive Domaine de Bel Ombre resort. Other courses worth mentioning include Anahita, Avalon, Tamarina and Paradis.
MAURITIUS GOLF GALLERY
*Matthew and Lizzy Moore paid for their honeymoon in South Africa and Mauritius and travelled with Virgin Holidays. Global Golfer Magazine received no remuneration in return for writing this independent travel review.