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By Chere Di Boscio
Nestled at the foot of the majestic Le Morne mountain in the South West corner of the famously indulgent holiday island of Mauritius is the tranquil beach hotel, LUX* Le Morne. Sheltered from trade winds by the rugged UNESCO Le Morne Brabant peak, LUX* is the probably the closest you’ll find to an eco-hotel on this lush island, famed for its plethora of 5 star hotels.
The hotel’s policy is to go eco, step by step’, says Celine Samouilhan, a press officer for the group. Formerly the Pavilion Hotel, the current incarnation that is LUX* Le Morne had to work to develop the older, energy-inefficient structures already in place. The hotel teamed up with Carbon ootprint Ltd. to develop the LUX* concept in the greenest way possible, and to ensure they were entirely carbon neutral by 2012. This was achieved through several ways: solar and wind power is used for the group’s energy wherever possible; LED lights replaced traditional bulbs; and leftover cooking oil is used for fuel. When carbon emissions cannot be avoided, trees and vegetation are planted to offset this.
Further eco-measures taken by LUX*LE Morne include capturing rainwater and desalinating (via solar energy) sea water for showers and pools; grey water is recycled for cleaning and irrigation of the grounds’ lush gardens. Food served in the hotel’s restaurants is organic whenever possible, and leftovers are composted into fertiliser for the organic gardens behind the restaurant, where guests can actually pick their own salad–mine was one of the freshest and tastiest I’ve had anywhere.
All the gorgeous bath amenities are also completely natural, and contain essential oils and essences from local herbs and spices: peppermint shampoo, ginger shower gel and bourbon and geranium hair body cream all smell good enough to eat. These same products and more are used in the indulgent spa, where Balinese trained masseurs ease every knot and pain from guests’ bodies, with the help of organic coconut oil.
Of course, the stunning natural environment surrounding the resort is also of paramount importance to LUX*, and guests are encouraged to join small hiking excursions on the mountain to enjoy its diverse flora and fauna, as well as the crystal clear waters of the Fonds Blancs lagoon, where you’ll find a plethora of gorgeously colourful exotic fish. We even got to swim with a sea turtle!
Further inland, the Black River Georges National Park inspires with its rare species, from unusual orchids and anthuria to macaques, wild boar and flying foxes. Preserving the biodiversity of the island is a priority for all those living here–after all, Mauritius was the home of the legendary Dodo, made extinct by humans who hunted it for its meat, so natives now aim to protect their existing species from the same fate.
For coastal exploration, snorkelling equipment, kayaks and canoes are provided to guests at LUX* for free; noisy and polluting jetskis are prohibited. Swimming with dolphins, just beyond the coral reef that protects the resort from strong waves, is another popular activity at this eco-luxury resort, as is diving around the fish-rich reef itself.
Despite its dedication to the natural environment, LUX* still has some way to go before it could be marketed as a true eco hotel. For example, there are still plastic bottles of water given in each room (tap water is not always potable here), but at least it is locally sourced. In fact, the hotel refuses to import water from Europe, when the island’s spring water is just as healthy. Bins around the resort could also be separated for easier recycling, and energy use could automatically go off in rooms when they are not inhabited, for example.
‘We know we have some ways to go to be completely eco-friendly’, admits Celine. ‘But we have big plans over time. We are investigating putting solar panels on our roofs to get the hotel off the grid completely, and our Director is completely dedicated to making the hotel more energy efficient every year. We know this is the way of the future.
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