The day I walked into my childhood painting

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The day I walked into my childhood painting

The Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita has the same striped fish, colourful birds, exotic plants and smiling people as an eight-year-old's artwork drawing of paradise

Aged around eight, I drew a paradise island with coloured crayons on lined paper. I remember it vividly and suspect my mum may still have it in a box in her attic.

It had white sandy beaches, upright palms, large looming trees with tendrils of the kind Tarzan could swing through, fun striped fish, bright-tailed birds, effervescent flowers, turquoise lagoons, smiling people wearing hats, and me in sunglasses, lying stretched across a beach that comprised an entire peninsula (scale didn’t seem an issue back then). I’m pretty sure I titled it, ‘My Island’.

Somewhere in the depths of my subconscious, I’ve inhabited that island paradise ever since. The birds are always bright, the fish are always fun, the people are consistently happy, and although Tarzan has kept a low-profile since #MeToo kicked off, with no accusations forthcoming I suspect he’s now in the clear.

Occasionally, I remember this drawing, and it sprung to mind while Mrs O and I were being given a tour of the vibrant gardens at the Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita, where we spent a blissful recent pre-omicron week. Aged eight, it seems I’d drawn this Indian Ocean pearl, or something very like it.

In Judaism, palms represent peace and plenty, as does this superlative hotel, home to an all pool-villa concept, with options ranging from one- to five-bedrooms to suit both couples and families. Mrs O and I are currently a couple but – touch wood – will be a family by the end of April, hence it was the peace of the week that we appreciated most.

Mrs O and bump contemplate dinner at the Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita

For those who get sick of luxuriant lazing, because I’ve heard it’s possible, they can hire a car and head inland to the tiny Jewish community’s epicentre at Curepipe, to learn about how 1,600 Jewish refugees were sent to Mauritius in 1940 (having been denied entry into Palestine) and detained at Beau Bassin Prison.

In August 2020, a small ceremony at the site of the prison and at St Martin Jewish Cemetery was organised by Owen Griffiths and his team at the Beau Bassin Jewish Detainees Memorial and Information Centre to mark the 75th anniversary of the detainees’ liberation. They’d worked with the South African office of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung foundation and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre “to promote the memories of this forgotten wartime episode”. Alas, Covid meant that few foreigners could attend, but their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Back at the hotel, we were staying in Villa 180, and having seen much of the resort’s accommodation range, I’d say Villas 170-181 offer the best combination of luxury, privacy, and value-for-money. If your idea of value-for-money is a bit different to mine, however, go for the stupendous Presidential Suite. Just before we arrived, it played home to some extremely famous people indeed, the names of whom I cannot alas reveal. A snip at £10,000 per night.

There are worse ways to spend your time than over lunch at the Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita

Less expensive is to enlist the daytime help of the hotel’s wellness programme, offered at the ridiculously serene over-water spa. Isabelle and her expert team arranged for a complimentary 1:1 pregnancy yoga session for Mrs O, letting her play with all the Kerastase products, while I booked in for a tension-relieving one-hour massage with Fatiha the therapist.

As I sat sipping lemongrass tea and filling in a form (‘are you allergic to massage?’), Fatiha asked what I wanted – deep or normal? “Deep,” I said, with sincerity. “Pummel me.” Over the next 60 minutes, to the gentle sound of wind and waves, she did just that, attacking my back without words. Half an hour in, she knew me so well it’s as if she’d been speaking to my mother all day.

The enigmatic banyan tree, from which Tarzan swung! Several magnificent specimens line the driveway to Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita

The next morning, having relearned movement, I put my back to work with a spot of (free) snorkelling. Mrs O did not partake – a frontal bump caused buoyancy issues. Did you know that there are Jewish fish here? I kid you not. Keep your eyes peeled for the Papillon de Meyer and the Papillon de Klein (both butterfly fish), the former having a striped tail spookily like the one on the ‘My Island’ drawing.

Speaking of Jewish interest, the food here is exemplary, enjoyed at a variety of lagoon-side dining outlets. There’s the sexy and dimly lit French restaurant (Local Snapper followed by Rum Baba), the sultry and flavoursome Asian outlet (Seared Cod then Wagyu Beef), and the lively and stylish Italian option (Carpaccio preceding Ombrine). Breakfast is taken on the beach at Bambou (find Ackiah and ask her to make you the traditional Mauritian morning dish of spicy pickles, which unfathomably isn’t on the menu). As the lights go down, the same beach-front space transforms to offer both local dishes and dancing. It’s a hoot.

A moment of peace at Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita before the arrival of Baby O

The brand-new lobby bar, located near reception, is a must for both pre- and post-dinner drinks, and the best vantage point for ogling fellow guests while pretending not to. Sat at the head of a cascading series of lakes, it is also where you plan tomorrow. Should we eat at La Plaz Beach Grill on the idyllic Ile aux Cerfs, an irreplicable castaway dining experience just a short (free) boat ride across the lagoon? Should we hop in a buggy and make use of the hotel’s two (free) championship golf courses, one designed by Ernie Els, set amid 64 acres of exotic gardens? Or should we just hit the beach?

It’s one to ponder over a cocktail. Meanwhile, I’ll dig out that island map of mine to show ‘The Big Easy’ holing a putt on the seventh.


Info box: Prices from £430 per night on a room-only basis for two adults sharing a Garden Pool Villa. For more info go to:

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