Fringe benefits and tropical wonders for Mauritius buyers

THE first shot speared to the right, arcing through the air to land with an audible "plop!" in the water. Moments later the second followed it, the ripples from the first ball joined by those of its fellow. My playing partner, who worked for a golf magazine and whom I'd met a few days earlier, looked at me and raised his eyebrows. I went on to lose three more balls and abandoned the game on the ninth hole, leaving my partner to continue alone, his eyebrows now permanently arched.

My sole consolation was that I had played the worst golf of my life on one of the most scenic courses in the world, each green offering sweeping views of the coastline of Mauritius, the indigo blue of the Indian Ocean etched with the white of surf breaking on coral reefs. 

Mauritius is most definitely an ethnic melting pot, for invaders and colonisers have swept through this mountain-studded emerald dot in the ocean for centuries. Now another invasion is taking place, one led by golfers wielding nine irons rather than swords. And with them architects clutching plans for multi-bedroomed villas; behind them the honeymooners and the Parisians escaping the harshness of a French winter.

To experience the appeal of the villa invasion, I spent a night at one of the newly built Villas Valriche, looking out across the greens of Le Telfair's golf course and the ocean beyond. They have been approved by the Mauritian Government under what it calls an Integrated Resorts and Real Estate (IRS) scheme.

Under the rules, villas must be built to international standards with facilities such as golf courses, marinas, private pools, restaurants, sporting complexes and fitness centres and cost a minimum of $US500,000. Under IRS rules, buyers of the villas automatically obtain a Mauritian residency permit for as long as they own the property. It was all very nice, with my own butler on hand to prepare dinner, and a private plunge pool and more bedrooms than I could count.

Source: Adelaide Advertiser