(CNN)Luxury hotels have staked claims to Mauritius’s famed beaches for decades, but over the last couple of years, elite designers have remade venerable island institutions and built new paradise retreats from the ground up.
Oberoi Mauritius, Turtle Bay Marine Park, Balaclava
While this isn’t a couples-only resort, the Oberoi feels like a honeymooners retreat. There is a kids’ club for the little ones, but everything from the waterfall at the entrance to the villas with private pools says romantic luxury getaway.
Repeatedly voted the best hotel in Mauritius at the World Travel Awards, this is the sort of place where guests return to their room to find their tub filled with rose petals.
Recently renovated, the Shangri-La combines modern Asian design with family-friendly amenities.
Long owned by South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, Shangri-La was brought in to spruce up the place and take over the management.
The hotel used to reflect a particularly South African sense of Mediterranean design. Now it has modern Asian interiors, with rough or natural woodwork balanced by soft earth tones that work to make the ocean water appear even more vibrant.
The resort has four beaches and a private island, Ilot Mangnie, that’s only for guests. Another private island, Ile aux Cerfs, has an 18-hole golf course designed by Bernhard Langer.
The Address is run by Indigo Hotels, best known for its business hotels around Mauritius’s commercial centers.
This is a hybrid, with the functionality of a business hotel with some of the amenities of a resort. It’s not a beach getaway. The hotel is built inside a gated community along a lagoon.
Rooms overlook trees and waterways, and homes are designed with a vaguely Mediterranean sensibility.
The hotel is designed as a series of terraces overlooking an indoor central atrium, while outside seating and lounge chairs are arranged under the shade of sails. Residents of the community of Port Chambly may wander in for a meal at the restaurants.
Just drive slowly. The streets are paved with rough volcanic rocks.
One of the best-kept secrets in Mauritius, this 36-room boutique hotel is hidden down a narrow neighborhood street in Grand Baie. The location removes it from the main tourist drag by the marina, but keeps guests on the white-sand beaches of the bay.
The hotel itself is sheltered by an old coconut grove, with balconies overlooking the water.
Dining in the hotel is exquisite, but there are more creative options on offer as well, like a meal above the 90-year-old Lady Lisbeth, which carries up to eight people for a cruise around the bay while enjoying a gourmet meal.
The hotel also organizes a longer dinner journey by catamaran to the abandoned island of le Plate, where tables are set among the ruins of the old Dutch governor’s mansion.
A stunning design by Thai architect Lek Bunnag, who calls the style “tropical architecture” with roofs that drop low and create huge volumes of space inside, supported by columns that are equal parts ornamental and structural.
This creates a circulation of air that eliminates the need for air conditioning while keeping temperatures comfortable.
French-Japanese designer Kenzo Takada created the uniforms and the interiors, giving a soft edge to simple shapes and designs that evoke Zen gardens with occasional bursts of flowers.
Despite the high-design concepts, the Sofitel welcomes children and has a kid-friendly pool and play area. But it’s the main public areas that inspire, from the moated restaurant that appears supported by beams of light, to the spa that “floats” amid naturally flowing stream.
This adults-only retreat sits at the foot of Le Morne mountain, a World Heritage Site.
The mountain towers in the background, while the white-sand beaches are among the best in the country.
The water sports offerings are particularly enticing, but there’s also an arts program for the less adventurous.
The resort covers a huge area along the coast, but creates open spaces within the property so that it never feels crowded. It’s on a stretch of the coast that’s home to several ultra-luxurious properties, hidden by the mountain from the rest of the island.