Mauritius is a relative newcomer to the world of golf tourism – the first major development at Le Paradis only opened in the mid 1990s. However, it punches well above its weight, with six Championship-quality 18-hole courses. Allied to the island’s unrivalled reputation for luxury facilities and friendly customer service, it is the destination of choice for many of today’s discerning golf tourists.
Since gaining independence in 1968 Mauritius has moved from its low-income, agricultural economy to a more diversified one, embracing textiles, tourism, industrial and financial sectors. The Mauritian economy was heavily reliant on sugar production, which accounted for 25% of export earnings, and its ubiquitous cane fields meant that premium arable land was turned over, almost exclusively, to the crop.
Consequently there was no indigenous golf on the island. However, when sugar prices tumbled land then became available for redevelopment, and many resort owners decided to create their own courses as the tourism sector grew. Though borrowing more from the ideology of the sport’s roots than any physical attributes it may share with the Home of Golf in Scotland, visitors, particularly from Europe, will be reassured that they will enjoy traditional, strategic challenges, free from the contrivances of ‘signature’ golf courses prevalent in the rest of the world.
While the golf resorts are individually autonomous, as their numbers increase strategic alliances are being formed, to offer reciprocal deals which will enhance the Mauritius golfing experience for visitors. Resorts that are members of the same hotel group often offer complimentary access. The current alliances are between Le Paradis, Golf du Château (Le Telfair) and Tamarina in the south west and Le Touessrok and Belle Mare Plage – with its two courses – on the east coast.
There are also 9-hole courses at Golf du Château and Le Saint Géran, and in the north west at the Maritim. There are no courses in the north of the island at present.
A significant feature of the island’s fertility and its tropical climate is the speed at which new golf developments can mature and be ready for play and their rapid rate of recovery following extremes of weather.