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Island hideaways

Etta Smylie discovers Mauritius

Etta Smylie January 15, 2015

Etta Smylie and boyfriend Ed decide to break with tradition and abandon back-packing for a resort holiday instead. So, how did that work out for them?

I have to admit I have never really been a sun-catcher, ‘a lie on the beach type’, when it comes to holidays. You are more likely to find me inland, touring temples and markets, rather than sprawled out on white sands. However, last summer I felt I really needed to switch off from it all and seek out a complete chill-out getaway.
After researching destination options I soon decided upon Mauritius for the best combination for a beach paradise with opportunities to discover new cultures that I craved, which forms the basis of my love for travelling. As for the resort, it had to be Zilwa Attitude.
Since Zilwa Attitude opened in November last year, I felt that if I was ever to go on an all-inclusive holiday it would be to this resort. What first attracted me was the emphasis that Zilwa places on experiencing ‘real’ Mauritius. The cooking lessons, sunset boat trips and sega dancing on the sand convinced me to go on holiday there and become a Zilwa (which is Creole for islander).
So, all decisions made - there was just one more thing to do before actually booking the holiday: convincing my boyfriend (his name is Ed by the way) that Mauritius could be a great choice and not merely a resort for honeymooners. Ed prefers to backpack rather than lie back and relax on a beach, so I met some resistance initially, but once I highlighted the opportunities for exploring the island and the various watersport activities on offer, I knew I was onto a winner; not long after the holiday was booked! 
To be honest, I didn't know what to expect, having never experienced a tropical beach holiday before. Would it live up to the images I had seen? Wouldn’t I be bored? Would an all-inclusive package be suitable for me? But as soon as I stepped into Zilwa to be greeted by the spectacular view of Coin De Mire, I was in true Mauritian paradise. 
Upon entering the resort the staff greeted us with, what I mistakenly thought at the time was a slightly syrupy ‘welcome home’, yet by the end of the first day I really began to wish this really was my home. The great thing about this hotel is the relaxed attitude. The answer to everything is ‘no problem’. Can I take my cocktail into the pool? No problem! I could get used to this way of life.
When we weren’t enjoying the great food (in one of five different restaurants) or sipping cocktails by the pool or reading books on the balcony and beach, we found time to be active and take part in the resort’s water-sports.
First up was snorkelling and clear visibility of stunning coral reefs and tropical fish. I will be investing in an underwater camera for my next trip! Stand up paddle-boarding was a little trickier to master and with the ocean current moving quickly I actually had to be rescued by the resort’s speedboat on a few occasions and brought back to the calmer section of the lagoon. Couples’ kayaking was more relaxing and we spent a few afternoons gently cruising the lagoon.
For time out from the resort we hopped on the public bus to Goodlands, a local town. Friendly locals were very helpful, making sure we knew where we were going. The slightly bumpy journey took us through spectacular Mauritian countryside, with miles of sugar cane fields leading to jungle covered mountains on the horizon. 
In the town we wandered through busy markets, sampled local delicacies and explored a Hindu temple. Our second trip then took us to the famous Mauritian church, Cap Malheureux. Here, I enjoyed sitting on the rocks with feet in the daggling in the water whilst I took in the truly picture-perfect setting surrounding me.
We had planned to explore the island further and take a taxi to some of the island’s view points and natural wonders, but the relaxing feel and immaculate swimming pools of Zilwa lured us to stay within the resort. 
To be honest, I simply did not want to leave. I am still very keen to explore more of this beautiful island and I plan to do so when I next visit. The thing that surprised me most about my holiday; the fact we are longing to return. Both my boyfriend and I were apprehensive about this sort of holiday but now we are total converts. I’ll definitely be returning to become a Zilwa one day!