It’s ironic that the word ‘light’ has so many meanings, and of those, several relate to the senses. Light to the touch and light as a feather immediately spring to mind.
For the most part, we can greatly benefit from some light in our lives. Our ‘always on’ culture connects us to depressing daily news and social feeds that find some of us comparing ourselves to others. And yet, on this magnificent, glorious planet, there are moments and experiences – some natural and some contrived – which move us, illuminating our true nature, and sparking the child, the philanthropist, or adventurer, inside us.
The brands that understand that – those that make our lives a little ‘lighter and brighter’ – are faring better in this frenetic consumer and business environment. We have come to the understanding that things should be easy, intelligent, curious, fun, tactile, adaptive, or courageous. List your favourite brands and you will see a host of these attributes.
By contrast, the lethargic brand dinosaurs that idly doze and ignore customers’ changing expectations are fast categorised as clumsy and unappealing. That stagnation can be the death knell of a company.
LUX* Resorts grasped the concept of adaptation and innovation early, focusing on the concept of ‘lighter, brighter’ from its inception in 2010 under the leadership of Paul Jones, formerly CEO at One&Only Resorts, in collaboration with branding mastermind, Piers Schmidt, (Please note that Piers is no more working for LUX*) and global interior doyenne, Kelly Hoppen.
LUX* sets itself apart in the very delivery of being light. The hotel’s lobby, rooms and suites are built on a white canvas, and there’s only a hint of turquoise in the sea of welcoming team members. But, aside from these touchpoints, it’s also light in its personality and irreverence – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Affluent travellers want a resort team that is comfortable with themselves.
The brand has been on a roaring acquisition campaign in the Indian Ocean, snapping up six hotels in the region. In Mauritius, there is LUX* Belle Mare Resort and Villas, as well as LUX* Le Morne and LUX Grande Gaube, and an all-new LUX* Grand Baie Resort and Residences under construction. For South Africans direct access from Cape Town or Johannesburg onto the island via Air Mauritius is a game-changer. For parents, a quality airline that flies direct is almost imperative.
In the Maldives, there’s LUX* South Ari Atoll Resort & Villas, as well as LUX*North Male Atoll, with LUX* Saint Gilles in Reunion. The LUX* Collective has branched into China and Italy, among others, with expansion into France on the cards too. Understated but playful sophistication will work anywhere in the world. It garners respect.
Where courage intersects with the ability to predict an industry’s next steps, you have disruption. For the larger chain hotels, the challenge is to be flexible enough to deliver that agility on a grand scale. LUX* finds itself at the right size to be taken seriously with an impressive collection of premium properties, and a brains trust of contributors, but it’s small enough to still steal the limelight. It’s a privileged position to be in.
Kelly Hoppen’s palette fits beautifully with the experience. Crisp, clean, and airy but with bulges of colour like yellow and lime green, the suites are a dream – palm plantation meets azure meets loft living. The rooms are close to the ocean and you can feel both the energy of the resort and the swish of towering palms throughout – a case of Mauritian immersion.
LUX* Grande Gaube has the great fortune of benefitting from a sheltered cove, adjacent to the pool, with long decks that chase the shoreline and play host to the beach restaurants and bars. Instagram moments are in abundance as you wind your way from one end of the resort to the other. You can perch yourself on the word Love, or order from a Burger Shack, or collect a double scoop of ice cream or sorbet from a convertible mini. Kids and newlyweds hunt for free hotel gifts and vouchers by unearthing “messages in a bottle” from 11 am every day. There’s an evening movie in a traditional movie theatre with (comfortable) red armchairs and boxes of popcorn on tap. There’s an arts and crafts area in which you can make ‘objets’ from recycled materials, a wonderful message for kids. LUX* just loves the camera. So much so, I took a free photo editing class to touch of my holiday snaps.
Every morning the stylish Café LUX* which now runs a chain of coffee outlets on its own accord – serves world-class coffee to hotel residents, free until 10.30 am. Honeymooners glide with ease, happy with a cup in hand. Restaurants include ‘Beach Rouge’, an Ibiza inspired Mediterranean Beach Club, the island’s first Turkish restaurant, ‘Bodrum Blue’, and premier Peruvian restaurant, ‘Inti’. For local Creole flavour, there is Banyan, accompanied by the most wonderful rum tasting in a Banyan treehouse. Each holds their own in offering remarkable experiences and unforgettable food, making them experiences that challenge some of South Africa’s best restaurants. Even the expected Mauritian buffet at The Palm Court is transformed into a theatre kitchen with expansive choice across Italian, Chinese, Indian, Roasts and Sushi.
The resort’s water sports and leisure offerings are synonymous with the best in Mauritian resort lifestyles. A business partner of mine always used to say “make sure you are equal first, and then different.” LUX* delivers on every expected level with such facilities – a sports club, golf driving range, and Kids Club – but likes to fan its feathers a little with its six restaurants, beach and gin bars, and a wine tasting (and dining) room with 800 wines in the cellar.
But it’s the ‘how’ that matters. The group has gone beyond offering the best Mauritian hotel experience on the island and has transformed into being one of the best hotel experiences on offer. Led by Ashish Modak, Regional General Manager and Frits Hannenberg, resort’s GM, the extensive team are briefed daily, re-connecting with the resort’s golden thread of culture and values, and I commend them on knowing just how to play it – stepping in and stepping out. Light, bright, polite. And refreshingly human.
By Dean McCoubrey
Editor: Mediaweb Journalism Hub
Editor: Luxury Travel Editor