By James Park Associates Design Consultants
Taj Exotica Resort& Spa, Mauritius
65 elegantly set villas and suites, offering spectacular views of the sea, private pools, open garden showers, al-fresco lounge and dining areas, and more. There are two restaurants, a bar, a signature ayurvedic spa, a state-of–the-art sports club and a kids club. The interiors were inspired by French Colonial, Indian, African, and Arabic design.
Jive Grande Spa
Shanti AnandaArchitecture by Jean-Marc Eynaud/Interior Design by Chandu Chhada/Landscape Architecture by Bill Bensley.
The designer believes the key feature of the hotel is that it is a destination spa. The word ananda indicates that it has philosophical underpinnings that make it much more than that. “Ananda means bliss in Pali, Sanskrit and other Indian languages and was the name of one of the principal disciples of Buddha,” says Chhada. In recent years it has also become the name of a global holistic movement. “The director of the hotel and I dreamed of a holistic spa,” explains Chhada. “We created our first Ananda hotel in northern India, and we revived rituals discovered there 3,000 years ago.” What Chhada hoped to achieve with his first Ananda hotel and Shanti Ananda Maurice is a sense of harmony.
Shanti embodies his vision. The complex is located on 32 acres on the shore of a less populated part of the island. It has 55 rooms that overlook the ocean and are a minimum of 500 to 600 square feet each. A spa offers hydrotherapy and Swedish massage, and three swimming pools are nestled among lushly landscaped gardens. Trained attendants are flown in to give special spa treatments. “The expert staff contributes to the relaxation of mind, body and soul,” says Chhada.
Architect Jean-Marc Eynaud was brought in to design the buildings. “I tried to create something different for guests than they would find at home,” he says. Eynaud has lived on Mauritius since birth, and, in 20 years of practicing architecture, he has worked in the Seychelles and other maritime locations. “I tried to make the hotel reflect a typical tropical architectural style,” he says. “There is no characteristic Mauritian architecture apart from the manor house style in the homes of the French and British settlers, which was a cross between Anglo-Indian buildings and what they would have aspired to at home.” For the hotel, Eynaud used natural materials: local hardwoods, lava stone, granite, marble and slate. The roofs of the buildings, with their distinctive pyramidal shapes, are derived from tropical models. They are sheathed in wood shingles or covered with sugarcane thatch.
As Chhada explains, “The principal product of Mauritius is sugarcane, and every part of it is used. It produces sugar- cane, rum, white sugar, brown sugar, and the skin is used for thatch or flooring mats.”
Another native material that is ubiquitous is the palm leaf. This was the inspiration for a sculpture he designed, with stylized concrete palm fronds, that covers a wall in the corridor between the lobby and the restaurant. The hotel has two restaurants, a bar, the reception building and a number of structures that each have four suites. In addition, there are separate villas, “which are so popular that we recently added six more,” says Eynaud. “We took a lot of care to create rooms to the scale of a house.”
The villas are laid out for maximum sea views and privacy. “The area on the beachfront is more public; it is for use by all the guests,” Chhada says. Throughout the complex are numerous water features designed to provide “a visual coolness.” There is a cascading pool and a large reflecting pool with a footbridge that leads to the lobby. “These pools signal the serenity that we hope guests will attain during their stay,” says Chhada.
When visitors arrive, they are greeted by staff members, who bow with their hands folded together and placed before their chests. This gesture, known in Sanskrit as namaskar, symbolically means “may our minds meet.” Guests are then given a garland of rudraksha beads, which are made from the seeds of an evergreen that grows from the plains of the Ganges to the Himalayas. Rudraksha beads have been used in meditation in India for thousands of years, and they are believed to combat stress and hypertension and promote a meditative state.
Such rituals support the holistic spa experience that unfolds as guests enter the tranquil world of Shanti Ananda Maurice-Architectural Digest(2008)
(Source: Architectural Digest)