During a recent trip to Mauritius I came across a quote from Mark Twain in 1896, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and heaven copied after Mauritius.” In my opinion, this could be one of the most successful destination marketing campaigns of all time, positioning Mauritius as a luxury tropical island getaway in the premier league of tropical island getaways.
If you look past the bourgeoning economic centre of Port Louis, the sophisticated financial system and a number of other first world characteristics, the Mauritius of today is not that different from the one Twain experienced: the same 177km of white sand beaches, lush tropical backdrops and idyllic light blue water.
However, as a destination Mauritius appears in a state of flux, grounded in the legacy as a luxury destination that Twain gave birth to, competing against the likes of Seychelles and the Maldives, against the backdrop of its primary source market (Europe) looking for affordable alternatives in the wake of an economic crisis and the muted economic growth that has followed.
The debate around whether to adopt an all-inclusive rate strategy among hoteliers is a central issue in the broader positioning of Mauritius as a destination. A number of upscale hotels have adopted either a full-board or all inclusive packages. From what we have seen these have been well received by the market. Often the guest isn’t completely driven by a sense of price sensitivity, but instead a desire to know what their “all-in cost” of their vacation will be prior to departure.
The jury is still out as to what extent the broader sector will adopt a similar strategy, with little chance of the über-exclusive luxury resorts at the top end of the market changing course, however approximately 10 of the 140 hotels on the island fall into this category, and the remaining resorts have an opportunity to define the destination marketing narrative of where the destination is going in coming years more than perhaps they realise.
The next time you are in Mauritius, give the south of the island a try. It’s quieter, greener and has some exceptional golf courses, which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to sample during this visit. While you are there, check out Shanti Maurice’s Rum Shack – it has 180 different types of rum from around the world, set in an authentic and unique beach bar that is quirky and a really novel F&B concept.