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Alicia Rountree on her Love for Mauritius

By Lauren Jade Hill

Alicia Rountree is perhaps best known for representing Victoria’s Secret for almost a decade, but the supermodel has long proven her diversity of skills having co-founded New York’s chic Tartinery restaurants among a series of other entrepreneurial endeavors. Now, in addition to launching her own brand of Mauritius-made swimwear and setting up a foundation in which proceeds go to protecting the island’s coral, Alicia is channeling her efforts into telling the world about her home country. This role comes naturally to Alicia as it gives her the chance to talk about her love for the island, having grown up as the eighth generation of her family in Mauritius with fond memories of the sugar plantation she grew up on, swimming in the crystal clear sea and having exotic creatures such as a lemur as pets. We sit down with Alicia to find out how to experience Mauritius at its best.

How to See Mauritius

“I recommend hiring a car to drive you around the island. Don’t stay in just one place. The island is made of many small micro climates with beautiful variations in land, animals, and vegetation. In the north you have urban centers and port cities like Port Louis, while the south is wilder with waterfalls, Le Morne mountain, dramatic cliffs of black volcanic rock and vast stretches of sugar cane plantations. There is so much to see. You can take the scenic route around the island and watch as the landscape, the coast and even the water changes.”

The Best View

“The most breath-taking view of Mauritius is from the sky, and the best way to enjoy it is by taking a helicopter tour. One of the iconic natural wonders of the island is the underwater waterfall just off the south-eastern coast. It’s really astonishing and there is nothing else like it in the world. If you like hiking, Le Morne is also amazing and has a rich cultural significance as a UNESCO World Heritage site. I would suggest going with a guide. It is a wonderfully challenging hike with incredible views from the top.”

Sunset Drinks

“For sundowners I definitely suggest The St. Regis at Le Morne. It is the perfect place for enjoying a magical sunset.”

Local Food to Try

“Mauritius is incredibly unique, blending influences from the cuisine of France, England, India and continental Africa. Dholl puri, gâteau piment and rôti are my absolute favorites. Dholl is type of very thin flat bread, almost like a French crepe, made from yellow split peas. It is served with various types of curries, achards (pickled vegetables) and chutneys. If Mauritius had to pick a signature dish, this would be it. There is also gâteau piment, which translates to “chili cakes”. They are small cakes of fried dholl with many different spices. For me as a vegetarian, Mauritius is an oasis of fantastic, flavorful dishes, not to mention the fruits and vegetables that I can’t get anywhere else.”

The Souvenir

“For me, the best souvenirs are memories, especially since Mauritius is so unlike anywhere else in the world. The opportunities for photography are of course incredible. But if you are looking to take home a little something, the island is known for having some of the most delicious teas. Dating back to 1892, Bois Chéri is the largest tea factory on the island. It has a tea museum and tea tasting chalet on the estate and offers guided tours of the plantation.”