A Retrospective: Live On Location – Mauritius Day 7

On yer bike!
Having braved the high seas (well, calm turquoise waters) the day before on a catamaran excursion, I had got the day-tripping bug. This time I decided to trade in sails for saddles as I signed up for a bike tour of Belle Mare and Trou-D’eau-Douce. Highlights included an old Dutch fort and a proud church with resplendent stained glass windows.

Bike Tour, Mauritius

Bike Tour, Mauritius

Bike Tour, Mauritius

Bike Tour, Mauritius

Bike Tour, Mauritius

Bike Tour, Mauritius

For the full lowdown on my cycling tour, click here.

A Retrospective: Live On Location – Mauritius Day 6

All At Sea
Last year, travel titan Thomson asked me to write a series of live blog posts about my trip to Mauritius under the umbrella title ‘Live On Location’. Here’s an excerpt from my sixth diary entry…

It’s fair to say that I’ve spent a fair bit of my time in Mauritius gazing out to sea – from the comfort of a sun bed/beach beanbag/hammock. Today, I got to drink in more of the deep blue but this time I was on deck. Reason being, I went on Thomson’s ‘Sailing At Its Best’ excursion.

Here’s a sneak peek at what I got up to during my daytrip…

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Catamaran Trip, Mauritius

Read my full report about my day out at sea here.

A Retrospective: Live On Location – Mauritius Day 5

Fiery Fruit
Having star-fished on the beach and lounged by the pool, I decided it was time to get off my backside and start to experience life like a local. And for me, that meant one thing – food. But rather than launching straight in with a fiery curry, I went off piste and got my chops around something not many people know about – the Mauritian delicacy that is chilli-infused mango and pineapple.

Chilli Mango

Chilli Mango

You can read the full lowdown about my Mauritian taste sensation here.

A Retrospective: Live On Location – Mauritius Day 4

A Room With A View
My bedroom at the Ambre Resort & Spa in Mauritius boasted a view and a half – every morning I got to draw back my curtains and take in this breath-taking scene…

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

But that wasn’t the only view my balcony served up. There was another feast for the eyes on offer – albeit a bit strange…

Find out what my weird view was via my ‘Live On Location’ Post on the Thomson blog.

A Retrospective: Live On Location – Mauritius Day 3

Mother Nature’s Handiwork
As well as a stunning oceanfront setting and an impressive pool scene, the Ambre Resort & Spa has another card up its sleeve – namely its grounds. From glossy, supermodel-esque palms through to dazzling hibiscus blooms exploding in crimson petals, the hotel’s tropical gardens are like something from a wildlife documentary.

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Flower Power
The floral hits aren’t just limited to the hotel’s grounds. The staff make good use of the blooms to brighten up the rooms. Here are just a couple of the floral tributes I found in my bathroom…

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Take a look at my flora photo diary which I took while on location in Mauritius.

A Retrospective: Live On Location – Mauritius Day 2

Touchdown in Mauritius
Having slept pretty much all the way over from London (thanks to a smooth and comfy flight aboard Thomson’s 787 Dreamliner), I arrived relatively jetlag-free in Mauritius. Not wanting to miss a moment of my trip, I set about exploring my hotel as soon as I crossed the threshold. I had decided to hang my hat at the Ambre Resort & Spa. Set in Belle Mare on the east coast of the island, it’s part of Thomson’s Couples range.

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

This is what Thomson had to say about it…

Snorkelling, spa treatments and beachside dining are all in a day’s work for this adults-only hotel, set on Mauritius’ east coast.

The Ambre Resort & Spa shadows a 700-metre ribbon of sand on the east coast of Mauritius and is right next to a tropical lagoon.

A huge pool takes centre stage, and edging it you’ll find a trio of restaurants. Bedrooms are light and spacious, and come with contemporary furnishings, 32-inch flatscreen TVs and a balcony or terrace.

Ambre Resort & Spa
So, did the hotel live up to the holiday brochure hype? In a word, yes. In fact, 10/10 for accuracy, Thomson. The hotel does indeed skirt a conveyor belt of powder-white sand (which is combed daily to make sure it’s stone and coral-free so it’s lovely and soft when you pad barefoot along the shoreline). What’s more, the hotel does indeed look out across a lagoon. But the write-up doesn’t tell you just how stunning the lagoon is. It’s shot with almost luminous streaks of aquamarine that, in turn, gives way to the deep blue of the Indian Ocean.

Belle Mare, Mauritius

Belle Mare, Mauritius

Belle Mare, Mauritius

Belle Mare, Mauritius

Super-league Pool
Back at the hotel proper, I checked out the pool scene. It was pretty impressive – a palm-edged mass of turquoise complete with in-water sun-beds surrounded by elegant cream parasols and sun-loungers.

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

 

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

 

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Get Me Some of That!
All in all, it was a tempting vision – and one that was too good to miss, so I dived right in… literally.

Monsieur Torres in Mauritius

Monsieur Torres in Mauritius

Right-on Rooms
As for the bedrooms, they were nice enough – sleek, modern spaces daubed in cool whitewash and decked out with soft furnishings in citrus shades of orange and lime. Suffice to say, this would be prime siesta territory.

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Ambre Resort & Spa, Mauritius

Click here for more about the Ambre Resort & Spa from the ‘live’ blog I penned for Thomson while I was in Mauritius.

Tango, Samba & Vogue-ing

Strike A Pose

Strike A Pose

Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once… I’m going to tell you a secret. I know how to do the dance routine to Vogue, Madonna style. And while I can ‘give good face’, given half the chance, I’d love to be able to take to the floor like the contestants on Strictly Come Dancing…

I love, love, love Strictly Come Dancing. So much so, in fact, I wrote a piece for the First Choice travel blog about putting your best foot forward around the world. From the Argentine tango to the Viennese waltz, I ticked off the dance A-Z.

(Note to self: Should’ve included Vogue-ing. Merde alors!)

Read my dancing blog post here.

Strictly, Blackpool & Towers

The Blackpool Tower

The Blackpool Tower

It’s funny how things inspire you. In this case, how a recent stag do up in Blackpool sparked an office debate about towers around the world…

The Tower Ballroom, Blackpool

The Tower Ballroom, Blackpool

In the Saturday night clash of the telly titans – X Factor vs Strictly Come Dancing – my TIVO sights are set firmly on BBC1. Yep, tango and samba win out over wannabe crooners any day. Just as well really since one of my mates works on the sequin-fest that is Strictly. In fact, when it came to his recent stag do, a gang of us trained it up to Blackpool to the famous Tower Ballroom for a private dancing lesson. And yes, before you ask, Lycra was involved. We also got to scale the iconic tower and sip Champers from the glass-floored observation deck.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Back at work, I told my colleagues about my weekend away and how I got to go up the Blackpool Tower. It got us thinking – or rather arguing – about other towering super-structures around the world. So I pulled together a chart rundown of my favourites. Top of my list was the Eiffel Tower (bien sur!), followed by Space Needle in Seattle, with the Leaning Tower of Pisa taking the bronze medal. The Empire State Building and the Petronas Towers made the grade, too. For the full she-bang, click on the link below.

Read the full rundown here.

Toucans, Treetops & Tiny Frogs

Toucan, Costa Rica

Toucan Play That Game!

I got to visit Costa Rica recently – and it totally bowled me over. Reason being, the colours are out of this world. From lime green to hot pink, this Latin American slice could give the Dulex colour chart a run for its money.

IMG_8990

I’m pretty lucky. As a travel blogger, I get to tick off a lot of the world under the pretext of ‘work’. This time last year, for instance, I was in Cape Town in South Africa. Since then I’ve managed to squeeze in jaunts to Thailand, Majorca and Paris. I’m currently planning out a trip-ette to Mauritius next month. But arguably the highlight of my year – so far – was my visit to Costa Rica.

IMG_9004

This piece of the Latin American puzzle totally blew me away. Tropical beaches aside, it’s jam-packed with action and adventure – think zip-lining, horse riding, rainforest trekking and river tubing. And then there’s the wildlife to consider. From bright-beaked toucans to plucky little hummingbirds by way of uber-cute tree frogs, Costa Rica isn’t backwards at coming forwards on the nature front.

IMG_8881

Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

The thing that really sticks in my mind is the country’s colour palette. The shades of green alone rendered me punch drunk. And that’s before you throw in the hues courtesy of the exotic blooms and butterflies. Seriously, I could wax lyrical about Costa Rica’s colour chart but, as the saying goes, a picture can tell a thousand words. So here’s an ‘Instaguide’ I compiled for the Thomson travel blog not so long ago. Enjoy.

Check out my Instaguide to Costa Rica here.

Coffins, Drive-thrus & Strippers

Camp Skeletor?

Camp Skeletor?

Okay, so Halloween might have been and gone, but who doesn’t like a creepy tale or two – especially when it’s based on real life? Here’s my guide to spine-tingling death rites from around the globe…

Freaky Funerals

The saying goes better late than never. And that’s certainly the case regarding this post I penned for the Thomson travel blog – it was written to coincide with Halloween a few weeks ago. And while our obsession with things that go bump in the night has been put to bed for another year, I thought it still made for interesting reading, despite the distinct lack of pumpkins by our doors. After all, anything that deals with death is always worth a macabre glance.

Bonkers Burials

Here, I take a look at bizarre funeral rites from around the world, including having your bones pecked clean by buzzards, being propped up in the corner of the family home for months on end, and even being laid out to rest in a drive-thru funeral parlour. Oh and let’s not forget strippers pole dancing at your wake…

Read my full post here.