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Mauritius appetite for less traditional weddings and

more demand for weddings in exotic locations.” Sheena Paton, commercial and product

manager, Kuoni, concurs: “Mauritius offers good-value luxury with high levels of service and the honeymoon market is very strong, with the destination remaining in the top five for us.”

Up in the air Overall, the UK has been performing much better than other markets in Europe and is the third overall for Mauritius, following France and Reunion. “The launch of the Emirates Airbus A380 and

Thomson Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights to the island are a good contributor to that probably,” MTPA’s Powell says. Emirates launched its second A380 service

last October, but luxury operators say they could still do with more premium seats. Zoe Saunders, ITC Luxury Travel product and

marketing manager, says: “Air travel to the island has been a mixed bag: on the one hand the launch of the Emirates A380 has given greater business-class options to Mauritius, but airline availability during peak periods hasn’t been great, restricting clients to specific times and classes of air travel, which is a real issue. The hotels have some incredible offers, but the flight costs compared with, say, the Caribbean, make Mauritius a more expensive choice.” Meanwhile, British Airways has just changed

its flights so that they are overnight, giving people more time in destination with a morning arrival. Air Mauritius is also trying to ensure it stays front-of-mind with plans for six new Airbus A350-900s in 2017 to match the scale of the impressive new airport. The UK is 30% up January-March year-on-

year and 2014 was up by 17.5% overall on 2013. But there are big targets to achieve – it is hoped the roll-out of the 2015 strategy will achieve a further 10% increase on that. But Powell seems confident: “It feels like we [in the trade] are all pushing with the same objectives now. There are a lot of people on the road, from hoteliers and operators talking about Mauritius to agents, which I think helps.” Elegant Resorts’ Sturzy says Mauritius is

“certainly seeing a renaissance” aided by the completion of the new airport, the refurbished YU Lounge and the increased air access. “The Russian market has slowed this year, so

hotel groups are looking more to the UK to fill any occupancy gaps,” she adds. “Tactical offers are strong and attractive to the UK clients – complimentary nights, plus complimentary half-board or an upgrade to full board are common place. Our clients are swayed by the board inclusions, since this reduces the chances of ‘bill shock’ at the end of their stay.” But ITC’s Saunders adds that Mauritius is

actually down 7% for the operator. However, she counters that this should be a temporary blip. “This year, we had a sales trip to increase

knowledge and refresh our portfolio, which has since helped with sales. And there is so much confidence in the destination, due to a number of factors,” she adds. “For starters, it’s completely safe, so a great option for families, and there is a superb choice of accommodation across the resorts. There’s an assortment of prices to suit all budgets, with all-inclusive being a particular favourite at the moment.” Claire Metharam, product manager Indian Ocean & Far East, Azure Collection, states a

Debbie Ward offers tips for couples looking to get married or honeymoon in Mauritus

Hundreds of matrimonial fixers descended on Mauritius this April for the second annual Wedding Planners Congress and discovered the island has plenty to entice romantics. Unlike the Maldives, Brits can legally marry in Mauritius rather than just receive a blessing. Couples need

only arrive three days in advance, while

those with time for 15 days’ “residency” can have a religious wedding if they wish. To keep the event special, many resorts

have a one-wedding-a-day policy. Nuptials can take place anywhere and lovebirds can even take the plunge with vows underwater. A two-year moratorium on new

accommodation is helping restore the balance between supply and demand, with many hotels being encouraged to refurbish. The Four Seasons Resort Mauritius will reopen this August. The wedding and honeymoon package at the resort includes complimentary daily golf, while a decorated buggy is used for big day transport and the ceremony can take place on the resort’s “sea cloud” floating platform. Room upgrades are included with wedding

bookings at Starwood’s new Westin Turtle Bay in the Pamplemousses district. Honeymooners get up to 10% discount at Beachcomber resorts, along with gifts, including souvenir bathrobes. A helicopter transfer makes for a showy

start to a honeymoon at Shangri-La’s Le Tousserok, which relaunches under the new name this November after refurbishment. Other resorts with notable romance

product include St Regis, where the “Timeless” wedding package includes a sega dancing show for the reception and a sunset cruise on the Sea Lounge vessel for the happy couple. For a twist on the private honeymoon meal on a beach, recommend the Tipi Glampfire (pictured top) at One&Only Le Saint Geran, where a butler serves cocktails, canapes and BBQ dinner in a tent furnished with a Parisian glass chandelier, wooden floor and lounging cushions. The tipi and surrounding beach can even be the setting for an intimate wedding party for up to 16 guests, with the option of musicians and fireworks.


The big day

& hons


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