Luxury hotels can deliver beautiful surroundings, great service and fabulous food, but they often fail to capture the vernacular of the country they're in. The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, a melting pot of ethnicities, has no shortage of five-star accommodation, but the Oberoi is one that manages to embrace its rich local heritage. Striking Indonesian stone sculptures nestle in subtropical gardens alongside African artifacts and sugarcane thatched-roof pavilions. And its Touching Senses program introduces guests to the island's art, nature and diverse culture. Lessons range from oceanside painting with local artists and aromatherapy using the oil of indigenous plants to Hindu astrology and an introduction to the religion's deities and rituals. Class dismissed, there's no better place to unwind than the spa, especially for the open-air ylang-ylang couples massage and postrub jacuzzi.
Dinner can be enjoyed either in your villa (many with private gardens and pools) or in the romantic open-air restaurant. Head chef Pierre Burgade's menu also reflects the island's diversity: seared ruby snapper with Mauritian spices and a light curry sauce followed by a Grand Marnier soufflé with mandarin sherbet are just two gems. But perhaps the best way to savor the feasts on offer is at a candlelit table on the beach with the aroma of frangipani lingering in the air, ensuring that all five senses are titillated. www.oberoihotels.com