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Ever thought you’d hear ‘model’ and ‘carbs’ in the same sentence? For all-round wonder woman Alicia Rountree, defying expectations is the norm. Not only does the Victoria’s Secret beauty and aspiring actress have her own ballet-inspired fitness app, in 2010 she launched NoLita’s chic restaurant chain Tartinery with business partner Nicolas Dutko. With plans to write books on both wellness and Mauritius, she’s living, catwalking proof that there really is such thing as beauty and brains. She let SUITCASE in on the best of island life in her homeland, Mauritius.
Where are you from?
What languages do you speak?
I speak French, English, Mauritian Creole and I’m not bad at Italian either!
Where do you feel most at home?
Close to my family. I feel most at peace in Mauritius. But I enjoy discovering many countries and making myself at home wherever I am.
What impact has growing up in Mauritius had on your outlook?
I grew up far from materialistic things. Play time was spent out in the sugarcane fields and climbing trees. It has made me appreciate life and all its beauty. I enjoy cities and technology, but I know I can be happy with nothing.
When you’re not modelling, you’re…?
Outdoors, I love hiking. I like to visit museums, go to restaurants, read, see a play or musical – I enjoy keeping busy! I like working out everyday, whether it’s yoga, pilates, boxing or taking a walk in the park.
Your best travel tip
Always bring healthy snacks! I am vegetarian so it’s sometimes hard to find healthy options when I’m travelling. Airport restaurants and plane food aren’t the most appealing!
Alicia’s Guide to Mauritius
Which is your favourite hotel?
LUX* Belle Mare on the East Coast. It combines a relaxed vibe with flour-like sands and calm, turquoise waters. I enjoy sipping a fresh juice cocktail at its bar, Mari Kontan (in Creole that means really happy) while watching the sunset with friends.
What’s the best breakfast spot?
Under a palm tree eating a coconut. Or, try The Plantation Club in Bel Ombre, it has the loveliest colonial-style setting.
How would you recommend spending your day?
There is so much to do in Mauritius! It’s definitely not a boring island. A visit to La Vanille Nature Park is a must: it has a lot of exhibits where you can interact with the animals. I love getting close to nature so an early morning hike on Le Pouce mountain is a great way to start the day. The views from the top always take my breath away; you can see the whole island. I love to grab street food for lunch, ride horses at sunset and go to bed early before starting all over again. Swimming with dolphins and whales is also great fun.
Where would you stop for lunch and what would you have?
I love local street food in Mauritius! I dream about it. I adore dholl puri which is a kind of a chickpea base, like a savoury pancake. I’m drooling just thinking about it – it’s so tasty!
What would you do in the afternoon?
Go swimming at Pointe d’Esny beach. It has one of the longest stretches of white sand on the island. Another great hike to do is to go to the 7 Cascade waterfalls.
Where would you be at sunset?
Horse riding on at Riambelle. The equestrian centre there organises some lovely beach rides.
Where would you go for dinner?
I usually have dinner at home because we grow most of the food we eat. All the veggies taste so fresh and it’s a good time to connect with my family. There’s also a great restaurant in Curepipe called Le Comptoir du Marché, the chef is excellent.
What would you do after dinner?
The Irish pub in the centre of the island is perfect for dessert and drinks. It has the most luscious chocolate lava cake and a great crowd to match.
What’s something that people don’t know about Mauritius?
It’s a melting pot of culture and different religions. Mauritius has also become a big kitesurfing destination; professional kiteboarder Evgeny Novozheev runs Pryde Club, a watersports centre with an awesome team.
What’s one dish you must try?
A local dish of rice, lentils and poisson salé [salt fish] and watercress bouillon.
Tell us some useful phrases in Mauritian Creole.
Tou korek? – Is everything ok? Ki manier? – How are you? Ki so pri? – How much is it?
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