It was with huge satisfaction that I bought my daughter, Lucy, her first cocktail. At the age of three and a half, she loved the attentive waiter and the frangipani flower and fruit garnish, and she adored the straw.
And I loved the fact that we were lounging in a resort bar with no happy hours and that Lucy's drink cost only £3. For this, I got grandstand views of the sun as it dropped through palms into the Indian Ocean and the sky exploded into a palette of purple and mauve.
It had seemed a little over the top for my wife and me to take a toddler to One&Only Le Touessrok, one of the top resorts in Mauritius. We might have a taste for luxury, but Lucy was perfectly happy with the simpler things in life; colouring in, chocolate ice cream, and swimming pools. The finer points of Mauritian hospitality might be wasted on her.
Exhausted from an overnight flight from London, we were shown into our split-level, Junior Suite featuring a huge balcony, a plasma TV and a raised, open-plan bathroom with a free-standing tub. My wife, Nicky, lost no time in using the espresso machine. Lucy hopped from our huge bed to her small one with wild exuberance. Scrooge-like, I glared at the minibar price list. And, before Lucy spotted the snacks, I bundled them into the combination safe. This amused our personal butler, who hovered in the background, offering to unpack our bags - a task we elected to do ourselves.
Time to explore Le Touessrok, which teeters on a small peninsula. With a toddler trailing from my arm, we walked to the sea and around our new home. Lucy revelled in what was left of her fear of water and paddled squealing with delight.
Our first lunch was a trial. Nicky and I were delighted by the choice of world cuisines, show-cooked in open kitchens, but Lucy's jetlagged approach to food was to paint herself with it. Mauritians are famed for their tact, but there are limits, so we quickly set about finding the KidsOnly Club.
Lucy has never been keen on clubs, and initially KidsOnly was no exception. The huge children's area has pirate galleons, a shady children's pool and a network of rooms with games, computers and videos. Still, as the staff looked at me with pity, Lucy wrapped herself around my leg like a small but determined anaconda. "Does she always do this?" they asked. It didn't take them long to melt her shyness, though.
During our stay, we fell into a regular routine. At breakfast, Lucy would ignore the three types of bacon, crumble a croissant into a million pieces and eat only fresh-baked bread rolls filled with jam. Then, she would rush off to the children's club, leaving Nicky with ample time for the Givenchy spa. I would take a boat to the golf course on the neighbouring island to lose balls. Lucy even chose to eat in the children's club - sociable parties free of formality that left her well fed and happy.
We also found time to explore together. We took the boat to the neighbouring island, Ile aux Cerfs, where Lucy was mobbed by a group of Chinese girls attracted by her blonde hair. They posed with her on rocks, shooting hundreds of photos for their friends. We seemed to find a beach for every mood. Beyond the confines of the resort we discovered the island - we drove through a landscape of volcanic hills, visited small restaurants and found ice-cream vans on modest public beaches. There may be poverty on Mauritius but it's not obvious or oppressive and Lucy found smiles wherever she strayed. We also spent hours cocooned in our room - Lucy watched gentle French cartoons while Nicky and I enjoyed the minimalist surroundings and sea views.
In the end, even I relaxed. We took Lucy back to the restaurant and I realised the staff didn't mind her messy eating; the embarrassment hod been all mine. I unlocked the minibar and my contented, suntanned toddler didn't eat her way through a king's ransom of Pringles. And, when the time came for us to leave, I even felt comfortable letting our butler pack our bags. Luxury is not wasted on children - it's their parents who have to adapt.
Kuoni (01306 747 008; kuoni.co.uk) offers seven nights at One&Only Le Touessrok from £2,693 per person, based on two sharing includes return flights, transfers, half-board accommodation in a deluxe room. Child prices start at £517, based on three sharingReuse content