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Heritage Le Château Legacy and renaissance

At the very heart of Heritage Bel Ombre is a castle. After meticulous restoration, this former family residence, built during the 19th century, was brought back to life with all its elegance of Anglo-Indian influences of yesteryear.

Photo. VLH

A mysterious story

The imposing presence of this former residence at the epicentre of what was once a sugarcane field contributed to the naming of this residence: ‘château’ (castle in English). The life of the estate orbited around it: houses, workshops, garages and offices were built in the surrounding area. However, the owner, an Indian dignitary, Hajee Jackaria Hajee Ahmed, never set foot in Mauritius. It is said that this construction was intended to affirm his power on foreign soil.

Heritage Le Château was designed by the same architect who built the Treasury Building in the capital. One can consequently find columns made of bevelled stones and a four-sided roof resistant to cyclones at the Treasury Building similar, designed at a forty-five degree angle – two typical features specific to the Anglo-Indian architecture of the colonial era. The stone foundation offers protection against moisture whereas the symmetry and the alignment of the openings offer a cross-ventilation to the building. Simple architecture but nonetheless well thought out, at a time when one could not rely on air-conditioning to overcome the tropical climate. A large veranda surrounds the building. The roof shelters the building from the sun and bad weather. One can picture oneself there, on a lovely afternoon, enjoying tea at sunset, just as the owners must have enjoyed back then.

A heartfelt soul

This castle has a strong spirit nurtured by the tangible signs of its past such as the furniture of the time or the cutlery of origin, engraved with the initials B.O. All these small details contribute to its authentic atmosphere, giving to the premises a ‘feel at home’ feeling. In addition to the work carried out to restore the natural architectural balance of the castle, the team from Perrot & Richard, a French architecture firm, also made it an absolute priority to restore traditional colours to the castle. Light-coloured roofs and shutters, red, blue, yellow, green and white stained glass – as the first owner would have wanted – and the white raffia blinds that blend perfectly with the building’s natural environment.

“To restore a building is not to foster it, to repair it or to redesign; it is to restore it, and bring it to a new level which has never been seen before.”

Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, French architect of the 19th century

On the ground floor, the visitors are invited to share a meal in a warm setting that can now accommodate up to sixty guests. A round table, sheltered by a wooden windscreen, offers a more intimate atmosphere if required. The walls are lined with elegant tapestries illustrating landscapes of 19th century Hindustan as well as captured moments from Paul and Virginie, adding a touch of romance to the premises. Two living rooms, a wine cellar and a piano bar also contribute to making this a unique place. Upstairs a room was arranged with a canopy bed, an office and a boudoir, to make it possible to sojourn in this beautiful dwelling. 

The entrance hallway, filled with replicas, books and portraits, tells the story of the castle and those who left a mark on it. The living room, used as a conference room, accommodates private and board meetings. After dinner, guests can head towards the patio to chit-chat and relax. The night is peaceful and poetic with lights flickering in the distance.

A picturesque oasis

Standing on the overhanging deck, visitors can enjoy a stunning view of the estate. The castle was placed in its historical context through a new scenography that also placed strong emphasis on comfort during restoration.

In front of the house, around the original fountains, the landscape designer from Bordeaux Laurence Auréjac envisioned a contemporary garden with French-style buxus hedges, blending in with the random luxuriance of the tropical foliage. Altogether, this offers a sophisticated setting to Heritage Le Château, and is perfect for a daytime and night-time stroll. The landscape designer embellishes his composition with a large wooden deck that is ideal to accommodate big events. Overlooking the golf course, it is the perfect place to contemplate the renovated castle and the vastness of the field, which extends between the sea and the mountains. One is only happy to linger a few more minutes under the majestic centennial Intendance tree, believed to be the oldest tree on the island. The tree extends its splendour over this beautiful garden and offers a living testimony of its remote origin. Then, when walking through Lataniers Bleus Alley, we descend along the path leading to the golf course and the hotels. We are constantly reminded of the rich history of the premises, which brings it back to life. nWe are surrounded by delicate elegance and authencity.

“Heritage Le Château exceeds all fashion requirements to meet simple perfection.”

Florent Richard, of Perrot & Richard architecture firm.

LENOIR, Jean Pierre. Bel Ombre, entre mer et montagne. Corsair Editions

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