There are many exquisite reasons to go to Mauritius.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I leave my first DodoWorkPlay retreat with memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Sounds cliché, 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… 🙂
Still hungry for more?
Learn more about DodoWorkPlay’s upcoming Work|Flow Retreats here.
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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.