Six thousand miles away and 12 hours by direct flight from Heathrow, Mauritius is not an obvious second home market for Londoners — but spend just a few days on this delightful tropical island and you start to understand why British buyers are joining South Africans and French investors there.
Mauritius is the hands-down success story of Africa, a business-friendly and politically stable country with an economy that has grown at least three per cent for each of the past five years.
Tourist arrivals increased 10 per cent last year with 1.5 million expected by 2020 — on an island with a 1.3 million population — and the well-diversified economy includes financial services, information technology and agriculture.
A French and British colony before independence in 1968, it is the happy and harmonious mix of African, Asian and European influences that stands out today.
“Everyone knows we have beautiful beaches but what makes Mauritius unique is our multicultural aspect,” says Hector Espitalier-Noël, chief executive of ENL, second-largest business group in Mauritius. “We are a tiny island in the middle of a huge ocean with all the races in the world and it works.”
At 38 miles by 28 with a 110-mile Indian Ocean coastline, the island is a bio-diverse beauty, encircled by a protective coral reef with a lush, mountainous interior. Many acres remain blanketed in tall sugar cane, swaying in the ever-present trade winds, but the change in world sugar prices since the Nineties forced landowners to diversify.
LIFESTYLE DESTINATION WITH PROPERTY FOR SALE
The Espitalier-Noël family owns substantial land in the quiet south. When they were forced to halt sugar production in 1998 Hector stood outside his factory and reassured his weeping staff that he would create a lifestyle destination there. He now oversees the Heritage Le Telfair and Awali luxury beachfront hotels and a championship golf course on the 9,500-acre estate.
Mauritius’s reputation as a five-star holiday destination is matched by a growing status among golfers, and the Heritage course has twice been named the Indian Ocean’s best.
In 2002 the Mauritian government first allowed foreigners to buy freehold property on approved resorts and benefit from residency and a low-tax regime if spending over £402,000.
Villas Valriche is a carefully landscaped villas-only golf resort on Hector’s land where 150 homes are built and sold. The detached two- to six-bedroom homes are half a mile from the sea with pools, terraces and private gardens and ocean, golf or mountain views. Villas are built to order with a fixed masterplan allowing for 288 in all.
Owners have full use of the extensive facilities of the nearby two Heritage hotels including gym, spa, tennis courts, 11 restaurants and two beach clubs. Prices at Villas Valriche start from £804,500 including all buying costs for a 1,722sq ft three-bedroom villa. Furniture packages start from £48,000 and service charges, including garden and pool maintenance and golf club membership, average £965 a month.
“Compared with prime Caribbean property, Mauritius is incredibly good value,” says Robert Green of selling agent Sphere Estates. “A similar house in Barbados by the sea would be closer to £4 million.
“Mauritius is one of our most sought-after island destinations worldwide with buyers attracted by the value and security of the investment.”
The sheltered west coast is the fastest developing area with new international schools and shopping centres.
Part of that new infrastructure is La Balise Marina. Mauritius’s first residential marina, it opened in 2012. Two- to four-bedroom flats, townhouses and villas, most with a berth and built around man-made canals, start from £603,000 through Sphere Estates. Service charges are about £400 a month. So far 99 properties are built with 40 more planned.
St Antoine Private Residences in the busier north-east has 100 off-plan apartments and penthouses on 17 acres priced from £462,000.
This is an idyllic site, 15 minutes from the tourist hotspots of Grand Baie, with banyan trees and dense mangroves, facing the calm blue lagoon. Mauritius follows France’s famously strict off-plan rules meaning deposits are fully protected by law.