Starting our day with an Uber we were surprisingly greeted with a Mercedes Benz. Riding in style to the usual atwick North terminal we took a faster, but scenic route to the airport. The price tag was quite steep at just under £40, but we did battle a lot of traffic, so I suppose it makes sense.
Bag drop at zone B was simple having checked in online the day before. We received discounted access to the No. 1 lounge as part of the package and therefore went through the premium security line. It was fast, and we were through in 5 mins. They now allow you to pay £5 on the day to go through and with the queues in the normal line… I would say it’s worth adding to any holiday budget.
We headed straight to the Lounge and tucked into the buffet style lunch. On the menu was Mushroom rice (bland and not basmati), Sweet potato and coconut curry (made the rice taste much better), a chicken and a Macaroni Cheese of the stove-top variety (and confusingly tasty to a true ‘team oven-baked’ member of society).
There were also four types of salads, soups, nuts and desserts
Three hours in here is well worth the price especially the discounted price. A massive upgrade from the last time we attended the lounge, which was truly awful and a waste of money. Gatwick has demonstrated good customer service, by listening to customer feedback and upgrading their menu. Well done number one Lounge.#
The Residence Mauritius a 5-star luxury hotel on the coast of Belle Mare. We were approximately an hour away from the airport and whilst the journey was long I promptly fell asleep as per usual. Leaving mum on Watchman duties.
On arriving at the hotel, we were taken into the Open framed reception and welcomed with a cocktail, an elegant display of what was to come of this holiday resort.
As part of check in, we were given a card with all the information that we would need for the duration of our stay.
Being the winter season, the open framed reception was chilly; so be prepared to have a cardigan or a throw at hand because the breeze is immense.
We were guided down the corridors of this beautiful hotel and taken to our 1st floor room. The doors open outwards so that was initially strange, but I always loved hotel room with a doorbell, so this was perfect.
As you walk through to the left you have a full-length mirror to the right magnificent bathroom big enough to have a party including a separate shower, bath and most importantly a walk-in wardrobe. Continuing into the room and there was a luxurious lounger with two queen sized beds and impressively sized TV.
It was explained that we’ll have a mobile phone for the duration of the holiday, provided by the hotel and that all local and international calls were free. When have you ever been to a hotel where all international calls are free? It is unheard of! Another added benefit was that you could take the mobile off-site and that the hotels number was preloaded. You could use the GPS and the data with no expenses from your own phone network, because this one could do it all. An added touch that I think all hotels should take into consideration. This small gesture literally made our holiday, being able to keep in contact with my elderly grandmother and younger brothers.
The resort has 5 swimming pools, one of which was a heated jacuzzi pool. It was technically winter but at 25°, and being British we was very happy for the heat. We were still able to get a tan.
Being on the eastern Coast of Mauritius, Belle Mare, our hotel’s location, is the best for beaches; they were stunning and the views of the Coral Reef from your room was magnificent. I never previously appreciated or recognised what a true coral Reef looks like so being able to experience this was just an experience of a lifetime.
It’s not the type of hotel I’d go to with young children however, there’s not much to do. They did have a kid’s club, but it was rarely open because not many children went there. I suppose Mauritius maybe isn’t the place to go for young children because of the how long it will take to get there. It’s most certainly a luxury paradise, rather than a family holiday destination.
We stayed at this hotel on a half board basis which meant we had breakfast and dinner included in the price.
Breakfast was the typical freshly made crepes and American pancakes with waffles, an omelette station, potatoes, beans as well as other meat options. The best thing about breakfast was the freshly made juice at the juice-station. My favourite was apple, pear, orange and passionfruit, mum however is a coffee queen so never visited the station.
The hotel had two restaurants for dinner options; one being the main restaurant where you would also have your breakfast and the other being a la carte restaurant called the plantation.
The first night we tried the main restaurant and were utterly disappointed. They didn’t have a buffet option which makes no sense for a Hotel, and the ala carte selection was abysmal we couldn’t even eat most of meal we were very, very disappointed.
The next night we therefore found the a la carte restaurant the plantation. The food was magnificent and the hospitality spectacular. I cannot respect and rave about this place more. From being pretty much ignored the night before, with dinner taking upto 2 ½ hours, to being so attentively looked after and being out within an hour – it was just mind-blowing.
The Maitre d’ was amazing, and his staff were so welcoming they can’t do enough for you. We therefore ended up eating here most nights. There was one night that we asked for a meal to be made for us, a fish curry and we originally asked for it to be made with salmon. However, the chef came and took the time to explain to us that Salmon wasn’t a good choice in a curry, due to it being an oily fish. He then recommended a different type of fish, which went down a treat. It was so nice to know that someone cared and took pride in their work.
In the last 3 days of our holiday and the main restaurant changed into a buffet. Moving from an a la carte to a buffet was the best thing they could have done. The buffet has a variety of options which were delicious. Going forward they should never try an a la carte again.
Rhumerie de Charmel
RhumerieDeChamarel was one of the restaurants we experience for lunch whilst traveling around the island. A modern wood cabin style restaurant, that you would have loved to be my house. The restaurant was located in the rum distillery, which could be completed as part of the experience. Our meal starts with a 5 coloured Style salad, then onto a fish curry with rice and a dessert of a cheesecake or tiramisu type thing. Great atmosphere, delicious food and perfect experience.
As part of our second tour somewhere in the south of the island, we also experienced a local’s restaurant. The type of place that, if you’re in the UK you would walk past; but I’m very happy that we were told to eat here. Starting with vegetarian samosas into a traditional vegetable curry and finishing it off with vanilla ice cream with hundred and thousands. What more could you need? Delicious!
Food is clearly a massive part of their culture, and if you are a foodie this is the place to go. You will never be left hungry.
Places of interest/activities
We took part in three different excursions. Two being all day tours, and one being only half day. When you’re in Mauritius they always tell you, that wherever you go, it will be an hour’s journey. So being in the east of the island it would take an hour to get to the north, or an hour to get to the South. It therefore started and ended, a lot of the time, with a very long journey.
Mauritius has many wonders and a few of my favourites included the giant tortoises, the aquarium and jungle, the tea plantation where we drank teas of every variety and even had tea biscuits. These biscuits were literally made of tea leaves.
The people here are absolutely lovely and for an African country, surprisingly most people were from an Indian background. My mum, who has Asian genes from her father’s side of the family was mistaken several times as a native. An Afro Mauritian, is basically my mum. It was quite funny when natives would approach her speaking Creole or French and wonder why she look shocked and couldn’t respond. The national language in Mauritius is English, however please don’t expect them to speak the Queens English or anything close to it. Even the staff at the hotel don’t speak much English. Mum tried not to make too much eye contact with the locals, for fear of having to explain she’s English for the umpteenth time.
Overall, although a lovely place, Mauritius wasn’t the ‘Paradise Island’ we were expecting it to be. Having visited countries such as Colombia and Mexico, we kind of were expecting a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely place and if you want relaxation, good food and good sunshine… then Mauritius is a must. But I don’t see why people make it a once in a lifetime trip.
Mauritius had always been one of those destinations said to be financially ‘Out of Reach’ for many; but Emirates are currently doing a lot of deals for Mauritius holidays, so keep your eyes open for Emirates holidays deals.