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Hotlist 2012 - Africa, Indian Ocean & Middle East (Part 1)

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Mauritius Long Beach

Description: Sugar Beach Resort – Mauritius

Sugar Beach Resort – Mauritius

Long Beach is not a typical Mauritian resort. Developed by Sun Resorts (Sugar Beach, La Pirogue, Le Tousserok), the hotel opened in April 2011 on the 60-acre footprint of the former Coco Beach on the east coast. Its aim: to bring ‘a new vision’ of contemporary chic to the island. It takes a moment to adjust to the plain architecture; but once attuned we were converted. The buildings sit showily in the landscaped gardens; the rooms are airy and comfortable, with African teak furniture. All have Wi-Fi access (at no extra charge); private patios add to the sense of space. In total, there are two Deluxe Suites and 255 rooms, 140 of which are inter-connecting; this is a family-friendly resort, if an unusually stylish one. The main attraction is the beach, which is long (as claimed) and white and pretty. Swimming off it is a bit disappointing: there’s a fringe of stones to negotiate and the water is quite shallow. For cardio exercise, head to the lap-pool at the excellent gym. In the evening, guests migrate to piazza, to people-watch, shop, drink cocktails, and debate where to eat. There are three restaurants in the ‘village’: Hasu (smart Japanese), Chopsticks (modern-casual Chinese) and Le Marche (self-service buffet), and two on the beach: Tides (local cuisine) and I Sapori (Italian). The stadd are diligent and the Mauritian general manager, Nicholas Blandin de Chalain, is a bundle of energetic charm. ‘I want this to be the most addictive resort in the world,’ he says. For those in need of a modern-Mauritian fix, Long Beach could become a habit.

Description: The Mauritius five star hotels and resorts

The Mauritius five star hotels and resorts

When to go

May to early December. January and February, the peak cyclone months, are best avoided.

Room to book

Those nearest the sea, numbered 501-535.

Morocco- Four Seasons resort Marrakech

Description: Four Seasons resort Marrakech - Morocco

Four Seasons resort Marrakech - Morocco

Marrakech’s image as a destination for luxury-loving sun-seekers is on the upswing thanks to a wave of projected new five-star openings. First off the starting blocks was the new Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, which opened last June. The hotel bills itself as an ‘urban resort’ and, although it lacks the decadent charm of recent Marrakech Hot Listers La Mamounia and Royal Mansour, it is an elegant understated and well-thought-out place to stay, especially if you prefer suburban peace to medina hubbub. The architecture is Berber-inspired but the bedrooms are pleasingly familiar, with enormous bathrooms, and there is an excellent, laid-back poolside restaurant (from which fresh juice shots and chilled cocktails and sent to sun loungers). The Bleu d’Orange restaurant, atop a tower, is the smarter dining option and the spa is outstanding, with therapists using Natura Bisse’, lla and local products. There is plenty of family pool and two children’s clubs. At the time of our visit the standard of service wasn’t quite up to the usual Four Seasons standard; training is ongoing and the friendly staff are committed to improvement.

Description: at Four Seasons resort Marrakech

at Four Seasons resort Marrakech

When to go

Avoid the stiflingly hot period from June to August.

Room to book.

The Grand Pavilion Suites, for having direct access to the pool and private plunge pools. 00 800 6488 6488; www.fourseasons.com/marrakech. Doubles from $510

Seychelles – Raffles Praslin Seychelles

Seychelles – Raffles Praslin Seychelles

Built into the hillside above Takamaka Bay in the north- east coast of Praslin, Raffles Resort has stunning views across the Indian Ocean towards the nature- reserve INS land of Curieuse. The sloping metal roofs of the 86 villas are a nod to plantation- style architecture but the restaurants, reception area and bars have a bold metropolitan feel. The villas are sumptuously furnished, and each has its own small plunge- pool and in- and outdoor showers, while the suites have barbecue facilities; everyone gets the 24- hour Raffles butler service. Losean Restaurant is a stylish venue for all- day dinning, or there is the Curieuse poolside restaurant which specialises in seafood. The enormous main pool (the largest of any in Seychelles) is a stone’s throw from the delightful beach at Anse Takamaka, the gentle arcs of water perfect for doing serious laps or for a relaxing dip. Families and honeymooner’s are equally well provided for, as are the many clients from the corporate world where the Raffles brand is well known. The spa is key to the Raffles experience, with treatment rooms set in a tranquil garden surrounded by the dramatic granite boulders which make Praslin seem like a natural sculpture park. The Vallee de Mai nature reserve, home to the famed coco de mer palm, is a short drive away.

Description: Bed room

Bed room

When to go

The Seychelles are warm all year round, lying just seven degrees south of the equator. Humidity is highest during the north- west monsoon from November to March, but seas are rougher between May and September.

Room to book

One of the 26 Panoramic Villas set high on the hillside overlooking the nearby islands. 00 248 4296 780; www.raffles.com/praslin. Doubles from $917

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