There is a hotel group in Mauritius that enables its guests to experience the Mauritian ‘art de vivre’, the authentic Mauritian way of life. The team at Attitude Hotels, led from the front by CEO Jean Michel Pitot and COO Vincent Desvaux de Marigny, promote their ‘Otentik Attitude’ by doing things differently, authentically…
From the celebration of Creole, the national language (there are Creole riddles on the bedroom walls at Zilwa, which means ‘Islander’ in Creole), to Mauritian street food and cuisine, to the vibey Sega dancing and love of music, its art, crafts and ethos of hospitality. In short, they invite guests to experience their beloved Mauritius as they would… like a local.
So, how do they do this you ask? Through food, music, crafts and exploration.
There is nothing better than getting to eat your way through a destination. And with Attitude Hotels there are many ways to do this. Get your street food vibe on for lunch at the Taba-J beach food carts where dholl puris, roti (also known as faratas) and curry de grois pois (butter beans) sit side by side with spicy tomato rougaille, pickles and Mauritian Gâteaux Piments (Chilli Bites) – and lick your fingers after eating it the traditional way. The rustic and colourful food carts are named after the ‘Tabagies’, small grocery shops selling fast food and other necessities.
Or dine at Kot Nou, meaning ‘at home’ in Creole, which offers the traditional home-cooked flavours of Mauritian Cuisine, exactly what their ‘granmamas’ would have made. Enjoy a rum cocktail to start and rum arrange to finish off the meal. At Zilwa Attitude Lor Disab, the Creole word for ‘right on the sand’, offers typical Mauritian dishes in a relaxed traditional holiday cottage vibe where one sits with feet in the sand under an open verandah.
The ultimate in authentic dining is as a guest in a Mauritian home, and with Attitude Hotels you can. Enjoy and an Otentik Dinner (authentic) in the home of one of their Family Members (the staff, almost all of whom are Mauritian, are very much part of the Attitude family). These authentic experiences are offered on a weekly basis and are a highlight for all who attend. After a warm welcome you’ll be invited to join the family in the kitchen to check the curry in the pot, help fry the chili bites and master the technique of making roti.
Enjoy the friendly vibe, chat, laugh and sip rum whilst you enjoy the starter of chilli bites and other delicious battered vegetables – the aubergine was my favourite. Then dinner is served… chicken curry, faratas, pickles, rice and vegetables with sweet wine. Eat with fork or fingers, the choice is yours. Learn more about your hosts traditions and have your hand henna painted, try on a saree and sway your hips and dance to the rhythm of the Sega. A fun and unexpectedly memorable evening!!
Inspired by all this fabulous cuisine? Then put on your apron and join an Otentik Cuisine Mauritian cooking class with one of the hotel’s chefs. Learn all about local produce and exotic spices, discover how to create the perfect chicken curry or fish vindaloo among many others and take home your favourite local recipe.
Once a week in all Attitude hotels guests are invited to join in and enjoy an evening under the stars, with feet in the sand and vibrating to the pulsating rhythm of the Sega, the traditional Mauritian songs and dance. Traditionally Sega was a nostalgic and artistic heritage sung in Creole, that used to tell of the joys and sorrows of the local people, now however, its beat and intensity provides entertainment to all. Additionally, guests can join special classes and learn how to play some of the local instruments, such as the Ravanne, Triangle and Maravanne.
Holidays often mean shopping, and what better way to do this than by supporting local artisans and craftsmen. Attitude Hotels offer a weekly Otentik Bazar where handmade woven baskets, bags and cases made of recycled sails and beautiful unique postcards by Evan Sohun, a Mauritian artist, and much more are on offer.
All items are ‘made in Mauritius’, many from recycled materials, and true to their Green Attitude promise, all profit from sales go directly to the craftsmen. What was once a once-a-week experience will soon be rolled out in ‘new-look’ boutiques stocking sustainable and ‘made in Mauritius’ only products.
At Attitude Hotels guests are encouraged to get out of the hotel and explore, and so committed to this are they that they developed the Otentik Discovery App, a unique and original Mauritian guide. This free and trustworthy fellow-traveller enables guests to discover off beaten track sights and unexpected treasures. Walk, ride or drive… you can choose, just download the app and off you go!
Take a street food trip in Port Louis with a stop at the Bazar (central market) where tables are laden with an incredible variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and an assortment of spices. There is a meat, fish and seafood section and even a section selling herbal medicines.
Or there’s the Chinese biscuit shop who from this very unassuming little shop is the biggest supplier of Chinese cakes in Port Louis. Take a timeout at Café Shanghai for some dim sums – apparently the best in Port Louis, as the queues will attest.
Find your way to Mimosa’s where you’ll find the best 100% Mauritian Indian Dholl Puri – a round pancake made from flour and split peas and filled with local curries and chutneys. Keep a look out as you go for splashes of colour from the street art that adorns the walls adding to the masterpieces from a bygone era – the historic walls, old doors and roughly paved sidewalks.
Other discoveries have one exploring small villages along the coast where you can visit a small workshop crafting souvenir pirogues and meet the craftsmen. Spread some love at Joie de Vivre an association of parents of handicapped children who have a stall where one can stop for a heart-warming chat with one of the ladies or children and purchase local handicraft.
Visit the ruins of an old sugar mill dating back to 1820 or just stroll along one of the local beaches. You’re guaranteed to find picturesque corners, unexpected treasures and beautiful encounters with the local people.
The Otentik Discovery App is available to download on Google Play and the App Store.
Part of my stay was at Zilwa Attitude in Calodyne on the Mauritian north coast, the only Attitude hotel to be built from scratch. Designed by award winning Mauritian architect Jean-Marc Eynaud, Zilwa (Creole for ‘islander’) is inspired by traditional Mauritian homes and seaside bungalows. It offers a relaxed, rustic chic style that fits perfectly with its beach location.
The veranda was the perfect spot to make the most of the views across the beach to the azure blue ocean beyond, the sea breeze offering a wonderful respite from the heat of the day.
A couple of signature local experiences on offer are the beach barbeque and a morning with a fisherman.
As any local will attest, a beach barbeque is a must when on the island, and I was fortunate enough to experience this… after a morning of snorkeling I made my way up the end of the jetty for the pontoon raft ride across to Gran Zil for some relaxing time in the sun and lunch.
The smoky aroma of seafood, fish and chicken cooking over the coals greeted me on arrival, a quick inspection said there would be time for some sun and a quick dip in the ocean. I was soon helping myself to all the deliciousness of an island barbeque accompanied by salads, bread and an icy local beer. All eaten off enamelware, which is what one would do on the beach with the locals.
Another experience on offer, that will have to wait for my next visit, is a morning with a fisherman. Wake up early, pop on your shorts and Dodo flip flops, meet your fisherman at the Zilwa jetty and set off just as the sun peeks over the horizon. Spend some time on the water chatting and learn about the treasures of the ocean from this experienced fisherman. Enjoy a traditional fisherman’s breakfast of vanilla flavoured tea from a thermos, a traditional Mauritian roll (sandwich) and some chili bites before heading back to land.
The rest of my stay was at the recently refurbished and now 100% single use plastic free Lagoon Attitude (previously Sensimar Lagoon Mauritius).
Located on the shores of the beautiful Anse la Raie lagoon in the north of Mauritius, this hotel with its Travelife Gold certification is the flagship property for Attitude Hotels commitment to social and environmental sustainability practices. So much so that at the opening of the hotel they committed that all seven of the other properties will be single use plastic free within the year.
On arrival at Lagoon Attitude guests are presented with a beautiful reusable water bottle easily filled at the water dispenser near reception or at the bar. There are no pesky little plastic tea, coffee or sugar sachets in the rooms – all guests need to do is pop into the ‘shop’ for freshly ground coffee, sugar cubes, milk powder, tea bags and hot chocolate, decide how much you need, pop it into the small glass jars available and you’re sorted. With nothing going to waste.
Walking around the property I discovered the solar system hidden on the rooftops resulting in an almost 100% renewable energy source – generators are a back up for dull weather days when the system can’t cope with the demand; the ‘plastic’ bin liners are actually made from corn – at a vastly higher expense that regular plastic would be and the predominantly endemic water use-friendly garden.
Other eco-initiatives that create awareness for guests includes up-cycled decorative items and furniture are used in the hotel’s rooms and common areas; eco-workshops for guests teaching how to make reef friendly mineral sun cream, making bags from old t-shirts etc.
Blue net bags are provided for the collection of litter when beach walking, snorkelling or even scuba diving and mineral sunscreen that is 100% natural and non-polluting is provided at the swimming pool and beach. Guests are encouraged to visit the Marine Discovery Centre whose purpose it is to show and protect the treasures of the Island’s lagoons.
Read about my previous stay at The Ravenala Attitude and Otentik Dinner HERE
Huge thanks to the team at Attitude Hotels for the wonderful hospitality, commitment to the environment and their local communities. Responsible Traveller was hosted at both Lagoon Attitude and Zilwa Attitude for the launch of Attitude Hotel’s new eco-commitment.