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Past, present and future

With the quality and range of its tourist facilities and its extraordinarily beautiful natural setting, the Domaine de Bel Ombre stands out in Mauritius as an ideal place to host a blockbuster event like the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts. With the developments currently in hand, it will be even more attractive in future years.

photos : manoj nawoor | rogers image bank

The former house of Charles Telfair on the Domaine de Bel Ombre.

Honoured as the man behind the development of the Domaine de Bel Ombre in the early 19th century, Charles Telfair would have doubtless been proud to see the array of prestigious guests who came together from the three continents from where Mauritius’ population originated for a great sporting event. Two hundred and fifty years after the estate came into existence, a region initially devoted to sugarcane has been successfully transformed into a top integrated tourism destination in little over a decade.

For a start, the accommodation is luxurious and includes two five-star resorts, the Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort and the Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort, as well as a rental pool of outstanding villas. Indeed, the multiple award-winning Villas Valriche are also an obvious choice for those who want to acquire their own small corner of paradise and savour life in the sunshine – or just make a valuable investment. They border a superb championship golf course, which both CNN and the World Golf Awards have nominated as one of the most beautiful in this part of the world. Owners, moreover, as well as acquiring property rights, are eligible for a residence permit. Higher up on the estate there is also the very comfortable Frederica Lodge, perfect for a stay in the most beautiful of settings and equally suitable for private functions.

When it comes to food, the Domaine offers an almost unparalleled choice, with 12 restaurants serving a variety of food styles in settings as diverse as a chateau, a resort or on the beach at the C Beach Club, the trendiest place in the South of the island. For a spot of pampering, there are two spa villages bearing the uniquely Mauritian Seven Colours emblem or, for a more active stay, there is a fitness centre as well as an extensive range of land and sea-based activities including an exceptional kite-surfing location.

The custodian and promoter of the Domaine is the Compagnie Sucrière de Bel Ombre, Rogers’ real estate and agribusiness arm. As part of its activities, in the magnificent Frederica Nature Reserve it offers visitors a host of fun, leisure and discovery adventures ranging from small game hunting to outings on foot, on quad bike or in an off-road vehicle, for real close-ups with nature.

Only a few minutes’ drive from the Domaine de Bel Ombre, there is also the geological phenomenon known as the Seven-Coloured-Earth, as well as Le Chamarel Restaurant, serving exceptional regional cuisine, and Case Noyale Lodge, located in a delightfully rustic setting. Both also provide an opportunity to sample the local coffee, Café de Chamarel, which was, incidentally, the official coffee at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts.

The Domaine is a journey into the heart of a vast expanse of tropical countryside whose sumptuousness has earned it world-wide recognition. Ancient trees abound in the 3,500 acres of the Frederica Nature Reserve, standing as witnesses to the desire to preserve the plant – and animal – life in one of the island’s last remaining endemic forest areas. Frederica borders the Black River Gorges National Park, which includes the nearly 9,000 acres of Macchabée-Bel Ombre, declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997 and where there is suitable habitat for the Mauritius olive white-eye, Zosterops chloronothos, an endemic bird which is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. Also only a short drive away by car is Morne Brabant, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

2015 and beyond

All recent and future developments at Bel Ombre, which include plans for a second golf course (see later article), are carried out so that they preserve and integrate the surrounding countryside. By way of example, the Bel Ombre sugar factory is now a modern commercial and events area, named the Place du Moulin, which has retained elements of its sugarcane past, which local people still fondly remember.
There will be some property development combined with commitment to the natural environment, strengthened by a long-running partnership with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Conservation plans
include the re-introduction of kestrels as well as an extension to the endemic forest area. The MICE (meetings etc) offer will be expanded and the Domaine de Bel Ombre, a unique site for small game hunting and a quite exceptional one for big game, has the ambition of developing world-class hunting grounds.

Le Chamarel Restaurant is being positioned as a place combining character with modernity, serving local cuisine. To make the Seven-Coloured Earth visit even more attractive, the site is being extended and the natural surroundings enhanced. There will be new attractions and visits, combining learning and leisure activities centred on local flora, fauna and history trips in the company of trained guides. Meanwhile, the Case Noyale Lodge is gradually being transformed into a local safari experience.

A “special destination within a holiday destination” with so much to offer in its more than 6,000 acres
of spectacular countryside, the Domaine de Bel Ombre merits our attachment as much for its history as for its natural heritage. It certainly impressed visitors who stayed there during the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at Heritage Resorts, with its lush, tropical landscapes and wonderful lifestyle and cuisine, as well as the opportunities for well-being, leisure and discovery.

Coming soon: a second golf course

Ryan Dodds

For many golfers from all over the world, Heritage Golf Club has become their golfing destination of choice. The popularity of the course has been growing steadily over the past decade and it has recently been recognised as one of the Top 10 golf courses in Africa according to global news broadcaster CNN, whilst in November of last year it received the title of Best Golf Course in the Indian Ocean at the World Golf Awards. With accolades such as these rolling in, along with its hosting of the 2015 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the demand to visit Heritage Resorts to sample this masterpiece in golf course architecture is set to continue to grow at an exponential rate. As the Club's General Manager, Ryan Dodds, says, “There is no doubt that the time is now ripe to embark on the next exciting leg of our journey in truly establishing the Domaine de Bel Ombre and Heritage Resorts as the reference point for golf in the Southern Hemisphere. “The modern golfer is spoilt for choice with most international golf resorts offering more than one golfing experience. Whilst Heritage Golf Club does offer a 9-hole executive course in addition to the championship layout, another 18-hole layout would complete the perfect offering.” A spectacular piece of land has been identified for the construction of Heritage’s second golf course, which is sure to turn many heads. Ryan Dodds is enthusiastic. “The land has beautiful natural topography and, because of its position on the foothills of the mountains surrounding the Domaine, the views of the Indian Ocean are simply breathtaking. A great golf course is one that manages to provide every golfer, whether professional or weekend hacker, with an enjoyable experience. This is our objective for the new course.”

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