DodoWorkPlay co-living and co-working retreat in Mauritius – my experience

There are many exquisite reasons to go to Mauritius.

Mauritius
photo courtesy of DodoWorkPlay

Tying the knot. An idyllic honeymoon. A family vacation.

It is what everyone says it is: paradise.  Pristine white beaches, delicious tropical fruits, hospitable locals and sunshine all year-round. But when I booked my Air Mauritius flight to Mauritius in 2016, it was for a very different reason that I chose this destination.

DodoWorkPlay: pioneering co-working & co-living in Mauritius

Allow me to set the context first…

Born in Mauritius, I left in my early twenties to work abroad in a hotel. I worked and lived on three different continents. After that, thanks to the rapid rise of technology, I transitioned to working online as a freelance writer & translator, needing only my laptop and an internet connection. This gave me the freedom and flexibility to take my work wherever I wanted. I worked from home, coffee shops, and across countries. The life of a digital nomad.

coworking - laptop lifestyle as digital nomads

Naturally, I paid the odd visits back home for family weddings and such. But I never brought work with me. The thought of working from my own island, Mauritius was not exactly part of my plans. Where would I stay? (My parents divorced, one moved overseas, so in a way we lost the family home). Where would I work from? (There were no digital nomad friendly spaces as far as I knew). Who would I co-work with? (Most of my Mauritian friends also left to go live and work abroad).

Enter DodoWorkPlay.

coworking
photo courtesy of DodoWorkPlay

When Joe Lodge and Coralie Marti, co-founders of DodoWorkPlay discovered me through this slow-travel blog a few years ago, there was no doubt that there was a bigger force at play. Part of their research involved chatting to people who worked remotely (digital nomads, entrepreneurs)  before they set up co-working retreats in Mauritius. And so, in 2016 when they finally announced their popup co-working and co-living retreat on the island, I was over the moon. Joe and Coralie further explained that the purpose of DodoWorkPlay is to help entrepreneurs build a better relationship with their work.

Co-living in a villa in Mauritius

A digital nomad in my own country

I booked my flights, accommodation, and transfers for my six-month stay on the island. On top of that, I also booked my one week co-working and co-living retreat with DodoWorkPlay. For my travel blog, I was reviewing some luxury hotels, so getting a private room with all the comforts when I checked in at the retreat perfectly matched my travel style.

notebook from DodoWorkPlay

Here’s a glimpse of how the week retreat went. It’s all in the name really – DodoWorkPlay.

‘Dodo’ (sleep in French/Creole) – I got a lot of it, peaceful, stress-free and in a comfortable bedroom with my own ensuite shower. I’m an introvert, so I welcomed the balance of privacy (my own room) and interaction with the other members of the coworking and coliving retreat through daily co-work, meals, and social sharing.

We were four ladies in total who shared a large villa. The intimacy of the group allowed us to get to know each other well, and connect in a meaningful and more intentional manner.

Waking up was a feat to look forward – freshly baked bread and pastries from the local patisserie. One morning we even had hot gato pima (local street food, looks like a meatball but it’s vegetarian and with chillies) – an absolute treat from our hosts, Coralie and Joe!

breakfast DodoWorkPlay

coworking and coliving villa
my view each day

Work – I got my best work done at the co-working /co-living retreat. Our intimate group of co-livers were joined by other entrepreneurs during the day.

Entrepreneurs' Brunch
Entrepreneurs’ Brunch – photo courtesy of DodoWorkPlay

Participants bought either a weekly or daily pass and dropped in day after day. It was great to meet aspiring entrepreneurs, start-uppers and others established in their industry. Activities included a mastermind session at the beach, brunch with inspirational entrepreneurial talks, local biryani dinner, to name a few. One evening, we even welcomed entrepreneurs from Project Getaway who held their first event outside of Asia in… Mauritius!

brainstorming DodoWorkPlay
brainstorming – photo courtesy of DodoWorkPlay
eating local food
photo courtesy of DodoWorkPlay

I felt inspired, impressed, and proud to witness such change in the world, in particular stemming from the island of Mauritius. The common trait among all these bright minds: doing work with meaning and purpose. Many had a strong ‘why’ for their business. A lot included doing things for the greater good – changing the world, contributing to being a positive influence in the world, and creating a strong impact in their leadership and in the way they used their skills.

SYAH
co-founders of SYAH – Karuna and Meghna – photo courtesy of DodoWorkPlay

Prior to the retreat, my laptop crashed, but it did not impact my work. Fortunately, the founders of DodoWorkPlay lent me a spare laptop. They were prepared for everything. With fast fibre-optic internet (I did not have this anywhere else on the island over that period), I uploaded my blogposts quicker, published easier, and felt satisfied at the end of the day. It was also during the co-working that I developed an idea, which led to the creation of my second online business. And on my lazy days, I was fueled by others’ energy – they were all so focused. So I got my act together, sat at my laptop and finished the outline of my eBook!

Also, it’s amazing how we tend to dismiss Google’s ‘assistance’ when we have awesome people near us to mentor, help, exchange ideas, and provide honest feedback. I loved the sharing and collaborative spirit from each participant.

coworking at DodoWorkPlay
a bunch of us co-working at the retreat

 Play – The villa is large enough, so it’s divided into various areas. The main room serves as co-working space during the day. In the evenings it would turn into a celebration area for dinners and board games! Outside is the patio, a rest and chill area, with a pool. There’s also plenty of space to host talks, community gatherings and larger dinners.

coliving retreat with DodoWorkPlay

There was a lot of shared laughs, camaraderie, and we got to see the real person beyond the job title. A couple of us went for beach walks, watched the sun set and sighed at such beauty. Some of us got our dead skin cells polished by hungry fishes (!!!) at a nearby Fish Spa, while others cooked together. Some nights we star-gazed and other nights, we discussed about deeper things.

rainbow

Other times, visitors joined us for board games. Some went for hikes up the mountain (which I skipped in favour of an afternoon nap!). There were fun outings to explore the island, and colouring for those who wanted to stay in.

Another unique experience I tried for the first time – a yoga session by Fit Nath. I moved muscles I never thought existed! It was a powerful way to start the day, and to better care for ourselves.

morning yoga
photo courtesy of DodoWorkPlay

I leave my first DodoWorkPlay retreat with memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Sounds clichรฉ, but it’s true. DodoWorkPlay is a haven to get work done in the best environment possible (hello, tropical island!). I was also surrounded with like-minded individuals who are achieving greatness. A place where I made friends for life. Did I mention this is where I met my partner? But that’s another story… ๐Ÿ™‚

Still hungry for more?

Learn more about DodoWorkPlay’s upcoming Work|Flow Retreats here.

Follow DodoWorkPlay on Facebook.

Follow DodoWorkPlay on Instagram.

Disclaimer: please note that I enjoyed the retreat organized by DodoWorkPlay at my own cost. This is an honest review of my stay at the villa used for the popup retreat in 2016. Future retreats from DodoWorkPlay may be at other locations within Mauritius. Even though the founders are now good friends of mine, my opinion remain as always my own. 

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  • Hi Mademoiselle Nomad,

    for me, Mauritius has been a place to go back home for a holiday only for a long stretch of years. Whenever I came back I would check on my old friends, if anyone else is back to the island and enjoy sports, the nature, read books and play some Civilization game. To keep in touch with social media wasn’t yet common. Mobile phones were making their market penetration and Mauritius seemed to still have a big gap of development compared to Europe – so the idea of working and living in Mauritius didn’t cross my mind… it only came later on… years later! But not as an intentional plan, but more like a development in my life where it was logical to move back…

    Quote: “The thought of working from my own island, Mauritius was not exactly part of my plans.”
    While I have been doing this (this WORK thing…) now for several years, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m in Mauritius nor anywhere. Mauritius has what you can get elsewhere too, internet, you can connect and work, get so busy you don’t notice the island anymore… you travel everywhere, to some other place, and there too, it feels the same, you are neither there, nor here, feels like not being anywhere! Even though trying to be more mindful… I believe I’m partly responsible for this myself, but also that the fast paste of life and the ever more people getting busy – something has changed compared to the days when you had to wait a little bit longer for everything – and when you got it, you appreciated it more… How do you feel about this? -does this make us sick – this way of life that is also our surroundings being like that?

    Quote: “DodoWorkPlay is to help entrepreneurs build a better relationship with their work.”
    Nice ๐Ÿ™‚

    Looks to me like an interesting wellness concept that is very innovative and new, yet I have a mental “barrier” in understanding it – but that’s just me ๐Ÿ˜› (Talk binary? X) Definitely the socialising aspect must be so rewarding as well!

    Great that you met your life partner there ๐Ÿ™‚ Didn’t know that! That must mean a lot too, to the organisers that this took place there – and be even more inspiration for them to keep going.

    When are they planning the next retreat? …I just noticed they got a new website.

    • I’ll start by answering your last question – DodoWorkPlay has retreats coming up in August and October this year. The link to their new website is also in this post, feel free to check it out. They also offer team retreats for companies and larger groups.

      To comment about what you’ve noticed in yourself, that is working on the island and feeling after a while that it could have been anywhere. Perhaps it’s like you say, about being partly responsible, it’s up to you to make these small changes towards mindfulness. Not in terms of mindful meditation solely, but also in how you go along in the day. What I mean is: start the day journaling with the morning pages (which I am aware you do), then have a walk or cycle or have breakfast, but as you do any of these activities, focus on the task at hand, don’t let your mind think of work or anything else other than what it is you’re doing. That’s the art of slow.

      There’s a girl I know living in Hong Kong, typical concrete jungle and fast-paced life, however what I see about her days are little moments of green. Little moments of quiet. Little moments where she’s sitting there sipping her cup of matcha. And doing nothing else but that. And so it goes for the rest of the day.

      For me it’s naps. Or like today, being away from my laptop for four hours and truly connecting with another human being, although in all fairness she’s a girl so us girls could talk and talk for days on end! ๐Ÿ˜€ Then, at some point, I also simply went over to the coconut tree and as I stared at the blue sky, listened to the songs from the birds. I allowed myself to be immersed fully in this moment and capture it deep within my veins, let it flow deep within all the way to touch my heart and soul. These are the moments that keep us grounded, that makes time stop – social media or not, technology or not, urban jungle or not, 21st century or not – and are essential to our survival. That way we can’t be ‘sick’ like you mentioned. Because our inner selves will remain intact no matter what goes on around us. Without being in denial of course, but also by swimming against the flow a bit, and sometimes even stopping to catch our breath by the river bank. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope that helps!

  • What you have been doing is really great. Connecting people and motivating each one to be a better person as I can see and read in your article. What we offer is the business side of each entrepreneur. It’s for each entrepreneur who wants their MVP to turn into reality. A Bed&Breakfast and a Development Agency all in one. All-ยญโ€inclusive facilities for startup founders to team up with passionate designers and developers to bring their idea to the next level. We are in partners with Web & Mobile agency in helping Entrepreneurs or aspiring ones to make it to a step in their eEntrepreneur journey.