MAURITIUSTrend report Mauritius

‘Every weekend in Mauritius is like ‘les grandes vacances’, says 33 year old Parisian-born Franco-Mauritian Isabelle Dupond ‘It feels like being a kid again.

MAURITIUS

Trend report Mauritius

‘Every weekend in Mauritius is like ‘les grandes vacances’, says 33 year old Parisian-born Franco-Mauritian Isabelle Dupond ‘It feels like being a kid again.

Mauritius, sea & mountains - Athena Journal

‘Every weekend in Mauritius is like ‘les grandes vacances’, says 33 year old Parisian-born Franco-Mauritian Isabelle Dupond ‘It feels like being a kid again. I’m a passionate sailor and most weekends we take the boat out to explore these remote, Robinson Crusoe islands, have picnics on deserted sandy beaches and go snorkelling.  Its just nature and you… there are all these amazing places at your back door to explore’. 

A jewel in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is regarded as one of the world’s leading luxury travel destinations – Its pristine beaches and sparkling seas inspire the world’s leading hotels, from Oberoi to the One and Only, to set up sumptuous 5 star beach resorts where the world’s elite head for pampered down-time. Yet while we all dream of a vacation that never ends, hazy hammock days of lilting rum and golden sun, reality always beckons. But what if you could live the island paradise lifestyle year-round? Wouldn’t you get bored?

While it was the high quality lifestyle and vibrant local culture that first drew Isabelle to move to Mauritius 9 years ago after a child-hood in France and stints studying and working in the US, Peru and Switzerland, a lot has changed since then. A decade ago, moving to a tropical island 2400 km off the east-coast of Africa was something of ‘an adventure’, now it’s about joining a rising global star, where you can shop at Waitrose and open a business in a few day thanks to the Anglo-Saxon administration system inherited from the British, Mauritius’s co-colonizers. Labelled the Hong Kong of the Indian Ocean thanks to its efficient, progressive business culture, its GDP growth for 2016 is estimated at 5.6%. So what’s driving the change? 

Much credit for Mauritius’s ‘miraculous’ ability to defy regional stereo-types comes down to a democratic government guided by intelligent administration and a monetary and fiscal flexibility that has allowed it to successfully weather global financial storms. A turning point for the island’s fortunes came when the government flipped a faltering sugar-cane industry into a profitable luxury real-estate sector by allowing producers to sell their land for development, opening up the local property market to foreign investors for the first time through luxury development schemes.  – This is the sector, largely underpinned by tourism, that now drives the economy, although the government is working hard to position the capital Port Louis as a leading business hub for financial services and BPO in East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Consider the 15% flat-rate tax for both corporation and income tax and a bi-lingual French-British culture that dissolves traditional language barriers and you have some strong incentives. 

While Mauritius is renowned for its excellent state-run education system, the lack of universities on the island means locals seeking further education have always gone to study in American or European Universities before starting careers in a global business environment. Now, they are returning to capitalise on the growing opportunities at home. ‘There’s so much to be done here,’ explains Isabelle’, It used to be a vacation place for families and retirees, but now there’s a really dynamic mix of interesting people, Mauritians and young entrepreneurs, moving here who are tired of the frustrations of Europe. There’s this really positive energy inherent to Mauritius – we are very open and accepting of newcomers. Its an energy that’s lacking in Europe, so you now have all of these talents coming to play here.’ Testament to the potential, Isabelle is in the process of expanding her mystery-shopping consultancy across East Africa, using Mauritius as the hub. 

Now, a series of new property developments are providing an added draw for the growing number of investors and expats looking to Mauritius.  With foreigners only allowed to buy within luxury development schemes, property options have been some-what limited since the market opened up in 2004. The first wave of luxury developments were designed as holiday resorts to cater predominantly to foreigners, and while defined by beauty and space, they had a tendency to turn into luxury ghost-towns during low-season.  In 2015, the Mauritian government revised the development schemes, requiring that 25% of all future projects cater to local Mauritians in a move to ensure the island is built of communities rather than resorts.  Taking inspiration from the powder mountain concept in the US by bringing like-minded individuals together from across the globe, Royal Park is one of the island’s stand-out new projects. With an ethos based around ‘Mauritius as you’ve never seen it before’, it offers a dazzling array of leisure options connected to the development; from a 550 hectare mountain eco-reserve to a fitness centre, boat-house and Ibizan style beach-bar. A privilege card also gives property owners access to facilities and beaches of the best luxury resorts on the island.  With 200 villas and apartments, Royal Park is one of the largest new developments, set on the North-West of the island and offering convenient access to both bustling Grand Baie, Port Louis and the beaches of the West. Also close to Grand Baie is Mont Choisy, where villas are designed by leading architect Stefani Antoine, the entrance leads down a dramatic drive of 150 year old Banyan trees to a restored colonial mansions and guests have the run of an 18 hole golf course, the only one in the North. For a more intimate experience, the exclusive Mantacove set to the south offers direct access to a beautiful semi-private beach, while Azuri, on the East coast, connects owners to Mauritius’s wilder, more remote side.

These developments are not before their time – demand is such that villas built as part of the island’s first developments are now being re-sold for double their initial purchase price. ‘Mauritius is an amazing place’, concludes Alex Montier, a destination expert at Athena Advisers, ‘French style, food and culture combine with an English speaking population, good social life, dynamic business culture and daily flights to the East and West. Now there are some stand-out properties that do it justice.  With limited land on a luxury island, the capital appreciation potential is significant and there’s an increasingly strong rental demand from the rental market, as travellers look for luxury alternatives to Airbnb’.