This is our review of the Sofitel L’Imperial hotel and resort in Mauritius.
It is the first of three hotel reviews in Mauritius including the Westin Turtle Bay (review here) and Le Meridien Ile Maurice (review). Our introductory article about how to get to Mauritius from the UK using frequent flyer miles is here.
To avoid confusion, there are two Sofitel hotels in Mauritius. In addition to the Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial, which I am reviewing here, there is also a SO Sofitel on the South Coast.
The Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial is probably one of the older resorts on the island and first opened in 1991. In recent years the resort has undergone a number of rolling refurbishments, the latest of which has updated a sizeable portion of the rooms to ‘magnifique’ status.
Our stay was arranged by the hotel for review purposes.
Where is the Sofitel in Mauritius?
Like the majority of hotels on the island, the Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial is on the west coast, protected from the majority of the high winds and poor weather that occasionally pass across this Indian Ocean nation.
The Sofitel L’Imperial is located alongside a cluster of resorts just south of Flic-en-Flac, about half way up the island’s western coastline. It is around 40 minutes by car or taxi from the main airport. There are no real public transport options.
Arriving at the Sofitel
From the car port you reach the lobby via a short raised bridge over a pond:
I was worried this would mean midges at night but I’m pleased to report that I didn’t see (or hear!) a single mosquito during my stay at the Sofitel.
The lobby is open to the elements, as so many of the hotels around here are thanks to the tropical weather. You get an impressive view across the main pool and towards the ocean when you arrive, framed by this lovely circular sculpture and fresh flowers:
Reception is off to the left but check-in is carried out on the lobby lounge area, whilst luggage is taken directly to the room. The experience starts with a hot/cold towel together with a virgin mojito:
Rooms at the Sofitel Mauritus L’Imperial
I was given one of the 61 refurbished ‘magnifique’ rooms, in this case on the first floor (or second floor as they call it in Mauritius). These are all ocean-view rooms, in the northerly wing of the hotel.
Annoyingly our luggage wasn’t delivered immediately and we had to call for it, although once we did it was delivered promptly.
The room is large, at 50+ square metres. Immediately to your right as you enter is a walk-in wardrobe with luggage rack, wardrobe and safe:
There is, oddly, no iron or ironing board, which I had to call for.
This also connects to the bathroom and toilet, which are separate. The bathroom features a separate shower and bathtub:
As you can see, the bathroom walls connecting to the room are made of glass, which makes sense for a resort where a high proportion of guests are going to be couples. If you prefer privacy, you can pull a full wraparound net curtain which obscures the view.
Opposite the bath are two sinks:
You’ll be pleased to know there are two towel rails discreetly mounted under the counter.
Toiletries are Les Notes de Lanvin – not a brand I’m familiar with but I enjoyed them. Oddly, the shower gel was a different and slightly more budget-looking brand.
The room isn’t short of places to store luggage. Adjacent to the bathroom you’ll find another large luggage rack, plus an attached cabinet with stocked minifridge, kettle and Illy coffee machine:
This is where the room opens up to the full width, with the king size bed on one side:
The bed has a nice padded head-board that is comfortable to lean against, and at the foot of the bed is a chaise longue:
Either side of the bed are two bedside tables, both featuring a reading light, universal plug socket, USB and light switches.
There is also a high-tech air conditioning interface on the opposite wall. Whilst high-tech, we found the room very cold and ended up turning the AC up to 24C. I don’t think it ever was 24, though, because it remained fairly cool and we decided it was easier just to turn the whole thing off. This proved to be fine so we didn’t take the issue any further.
Opposite the bed is a large TV, plus a sideboard./shelf as well as a small table and chair:
Finally, at the end of the room is a balcony overlooking the resort and ocean with two armchairs:
Note that, if you are in your room, some of the cheeky wildlife will come to say hello!
The Sofitel has removed all plastic bottles from rooms, to be replaced with reusable bottles and filtered water fountains around the hotel:
Pools, gym and spa at the Sofitel L’Imperial Mauritius
There are two pools at the hotel. There is the main resort pool located at the centre of the property, overlooked by the lobby / reception as well as the majority of the restaurants:
To the right of this, and in front of the refurbished magnifique rooms is a second, adults only ‘Flamboyant Pool’. I’m not sure why it’s called that because, whilst it’s a lovely pool, I wouldn’t call it particularly flamboyant. It does have stunning views of Tamarin mountain, however:
This one is heated (I’m not sure about the main pool). It has the feel of an infinity pool, although it’s set back a good 20m or so from the water. This pool also features a swim-up bar.
Loungers are available at both pools and all along the beach. Whilst all beaches in Mauritius are public, this one doesn’t appear to be frequented by the public – or hawkers – because it is not easily accessible unless you walk a fair way down from either end.
Despite the resort running at around 80% occupancy there were always loungers available. In fact, the whole resort was extraordinarily quiet given the occupancy rate, and it never feels like you are on top of other guests.
Watersports of the non-motorised kind are also included for free. You can choose from stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking (including ones with clear bottoms so you can see into the water beneath you which is fun) as well as pedalos and snorkeling.
The gym and the spa are both on the other side of the main hotel building, which is a little odd, but it turns out there is another whole wing of the resort here. The gym is in a little pavilion of its own:
The spa is also a separate building and features a lovely courtyard with warm, heated jacuzzi. It is operated in collaboration with L’Occitane, which manages many Sofitel spas.
I had a lovely massage in the spa – definitely one of my favourites, and you get a lovely cardamom tea afterwards. After my recent trip to Sweden enjoying cardamom buns and now the cardamom tea, I think I’m hooked.
Food and restaurants at the Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial
There are three restaurants available at the Sofitel, although I believe there is another site that is currently empty on the property.
You have the main buffet restaurant, called Ravinala, which is on the ground floor of the lobby next to the pool. This is also where breakfast is served.
There is plenty of seating, and the only time I saw the resort busy was at breakfast and dinner.
The buffet is spread over several islands and features an extensive selection of Indian dishes, as well as sushi, western items and other bits and bobs for dinner.
Breakast is equally diverse. As Mauritius is a former French and British colony you get the best of all worlds – excellent local and Indian dishes, plus great bread and pastries as well as English items. The only confusing thing is that they are often jumbled up – with full English stapes interspersed by curries and the hummus next to the yoghurt!
Of course there is also lots of fruit on offer, as well as yoghurts and cereals.
Cold cuts are relatively limited, and instead of smoked salmon you’ll find smoked marlin which is fished from the local waters.
If you’re in the mood for bubbles, a local sparkling wine is also available.
I went for nostalgia and had some coco shells that I remember from family holidays as a child!
Ming Court / teppanyaki
Two floors above this you have the Ming Chinese restaurant, which also features a couple of teppanyaki cooking plates. Chinese cuisine doesn’t appear to be widespread in Mauritius and it’s the only hotel I stayed at with a Chinese restaurant. It makes a change from the South Asian cuisine that dominates the island.
We had teppanyaki here on our first evening, and I believe teppanyaki is available every night although it is worth booking in advance as there are limited spots – the horseshoe had just six seats.
There are several different options for the teppanyaki which you can choose from when you are seated. We went for surf and turf, in the form of tiger prawns and steak:
Everyone gets a tempura starter:
The chef then starts cooking your choices on the flat hob in front of you. Kumar, our chef, was slightly less showy than some of the chefs I’ve had teppanyaki with but he had a sly sense of humour!
After the prawns came our beef steak which was beautifully tender:
After this you’ll get a sort of fried-rice egg burrito:
…. and, for dessert, deliciously caramelised bananas with ice cream and a sort of pear wonton:
Don’t worry about going hungry ….
The third restaurant is the beach-front Tamassa, located in a light and airy pavilion between the two pools and the ocean. This features an a la carte menu and is also open for lunch and features theme nights including lobster night on Thursdays.
We were invited to dine on Thursday for lobster night, which would normally incur a supplement to anyone on half board – 4,900 MUR, minus a 700 MUR credit if you’re on half or full board.
Chairs and tables are set up on the beach outside, although the sun sets around six so you don’t get the benefit of watching the sunset whilst you eat. A temporary grill is also set up:
Lobster night features a five-course menu, starting with an amuse bouche of lobster carpaccio. This is then followed by a crab bisque:
…. a tuna tartare starter and then, finally, the main course. The lobsters are huge and everyone gets a whole one, cooked freshly on the grill with creole rice:
Finally, to round it all off, a strawberry mille-feuille.
Half-board vs full board vs all inclusive
Getting your head around what is and isn’t included is a bit of a challenge, so here is a cheat sheet. We stayed on half board, which gets you breakfast and dinner, and that proved to be fairly sufficient and helped us to work up an appropriate appetite by dinner time.
- Half board includes breakfast and dinner, all drinks are charged separately
- Full board includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, all drinks are charged separately
- There are no all-inclusive packages available
Breakfast and dinner are served in the main restaurant, Ravinala.
If you are on half or full board you can get a 700MUR credit towards any of the dinners not included in your package, including Ming Court, Teppanyaki, Jacaranda and Lobster Dinner.
Although one of the older resorts resorts on the island, you wouldn’t know it staying in one of the newly refurbished magnifique rooms which are modern with a slight French touch. I can’t attest to the unrefurbished rooms, which I imagine are somewhat more dated.
The service was very cheerful, although not quite as slick and sophisticated as at some other resorts. To be fair, it is perfectly in-line with the more, ahem, French service culture on the island which tends to be less proactive than US/UK-style service.
In general, I would consider the Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial one of the more family-friendly resorts on the island. There are plenty of areas to escape to if that is not your thing, including the adults-only pool. I wasn’t disturbed by any of the other guests at all.
It’s good to see the Sofitel remove single use plastic bottles from rooms and the water fountains throughout the hotel are very convenient. This makes it all the more perplexing that you have to pay for plastic bottled water at mealtimes!
Rates start at around £190 per night for a normal room, with magniqifue rooms slightly higher at £250 or so. Don’t forget you can earn and redeem Accor Live Limitless points at the Sofitel Mauritius L’Imperial – 2,000 points get you a €40 saving on your booking.
Accor Live Limitless update – December 2022:
Earn bonus Accor points: Accor is not currently running a global promotion
New to Accor Live Limitless? Read our overview of Accor Live Limitless here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our analysis of what Accor Live Limitless points are worth is here.
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