Sunday 26th June
This part of the trip has been some time coming and but referred to often in our planning discussions mainly due to the anticipated inclusive breakfast buffet at our accomodation……a key reason in booking this accomodation….more about that shortly
Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. The country includes a number of smaller islands with the total area being 2,040 km2. The capital and largest city is Port Louis.
Last night (Saturday) around 18.30pm local time (10.30pm Malaysian / 02.30am NZ) we touched down after an uneventful 7 hour flight from KL via a stopover in Singapore. We flew Air Mauritius through the newly created air corridor between Asia and Africa. Originally we had looked at getting to Africa via Dubai but that meant increased flying time and a stopover there. When the opportunity arose to look at Air Mauritius and the chance to spend a few days in a part of the world that until now had been off our radar (and less flying time) we grabbed it.
It was a comfortable flight with good food but perhaps the only downside was the reduced legroom that I’ve had with Dragonair to date and that the onboard entertainment system was a little antiquated. No matter the 7 of us had a row across the plane and in between eating and drinking we watched movies and napped.
Once we had agreed that Mauritius would be a stopover for 4 days on our way to Lydenburg to see Doc…the Baker put his hand up to make the arrangements for us.
After clearing immigration (where the biometrics that we have been used to in Asia are non existent) and customs (where our bags were not screened unlike we have been accustomed to in Asia) one of the first things we noticed was the drop in temperature. After being so used to mid to high 20’s in the evening with high humidity we were greeted by about 15 degrees and no humidity. We are back in the winter hemisphere. By this time the kids were getting tired and just wanting to get to bed. We proceeded to find the rental car agency for the vehicle the Baker had arranged as we had agreed earlier that it would be the cheapest way to get around the island. They arrived late and after more waiting time they informed us that the vehicle we had booked had been rebooked and used with another customer. They then arranged for us to have 2 cars (for the same price). More time was spent waiting for these vehicles to be brought to the airport and then we had the paperwork to fill out and followed by protracted negotiations on payment and fuel supplied. Being an ex French colony we have French as the main language which allows me to practise although it has been quite some years since I have used it proper…..I can understand a lot more than I can speak these days. Finally bags and kids in cars we departed….I took the Mitsubishi and Harlad the Nissan….I had the GPS so I took the lead. After filling up at a nearby station and more protracted negotiations about how much fuel was in each car …2 bars or 3 we were on our way to the accomodation.
Port Louis the capital is about 1 hour from the airport……..As we had not booked the accomodation and had no idea where it was I just followed the GPS. It took us on a route hugging the coastline through villages and sugar cane fields with the biggest hazards being the wandering dogs we encountered, locals who were drinking on the side of the road and a chicken who sat in the middle of the road……… all of this in darkness on a road that makes the Crown Range road look like a superhighway. 45km and an hour later after a couple of U turns due to navigator error (but listening to some funky tunes coming out of Radio 1) we arrived in the vicinity of our accomodation. I pulled over to ask the Police where the hotel was and Harald thought I had been pulled over and panicked as he left his licence in Malaysia. I too have left my licence in Malaysia but with a passport and that I have an international licence with me they let us have the cars.
After persuading the guard at the entry gate we had a booking they opened it and let us through…Welcome to the Lux Belle Mare Mauritius. This is a resort in every sense of the word. The service is impeccable, the layout and buildings stunning and the food sensational. After complimentary welcome drinks we were taken to our rooms where once had the pullout couch made up as a bed for the kids we sat back and took in the luxury of our rooms. This place is on another level to what we have been used to. The Baker booked it as he got a deal on the price and it included breakfast. Our running joke has been that the buffet had better be good. It is and then some. Our rooms are at the lower end of the scale but are very well designed and appointed.
Upon waking this morning we raised the blind and looked out past a few coconut palms to the beach and the sea. The resort sits on a large strip of white sandy beach on the outskirts of Belle Mare and it built around a huge pool. There are a number of food outlets, bars and numerous activities available. This is a place designed for you to lock yourself away for a week and not leave until you have to return to the airport. On the beach they have for use kayaks, SUP boards, windsurfers, yachts and waterskiing all free for guests use. Approx 500m off shore there is a reef that has large breaking waves for surfing but inside the reef is calm clear water where you can see the corals and fishes. Apparently the sharks stay outside the reef
We all convened for breakfast and the buffet did not disappoint. the choice, quality and presentation is superb. A leisurely breakfast (where I have broken my 1 coffee a month rule……the organic coffee they serve….mmmmmm) then saw us move about 50 metres to the beach lounger chairs. The kids jumped in the pool for a swim then hung out on the beach. We did some kayaking, SUP’ing and Noelle and the boys went out in the glass bottom boat. KK and I had some frisbee time then we convened to the microbrewery bar to sample the local brew.
The resort has a dress code in the evenings which precludes us from the michelin star restaurant and the Chinese fine dining room. The tuxes didn’t fit into the backpack unfortunately. No matter our dress standard is acceptable to the other 2 restaurants so we have been eating there where the service and again food quality not to forget taste has been simply impeccable! We have met the F&B manager and upon his finding out our hospitality backgrounds after he was given our feedback of what we thought he was very happy. He also worked on cruise ships for 10 years.
Lux Belle Mare is not our usual standard of accomodation…a 5 star resort like this where you would expect the “beautiful people” to hang out is surprisingly full of normal people from many countries from retirees to families with babies to other older families. It is a veritable melting pot. They are running at a 91% occupancy and it is winter time. but it doesn’t seem crowded. We have told the kids to enjoy it but don’t expect this standard the next time we travel…we have also reminded them that they have 3.5 weeks of ground mats and sleeping bags coming up so make the most of the comfort on offer.
It’s not cheap but for 4 days we are going to enjoy ourselves and enjoy the experience. One of our philosophies is that we would rather spend money on good food rather than good accomodation…..well here we are doing both but we figure we have worked hard and made some sacrifices to be able to do this so it is a small reward.
There is a kids club and games room and being within a walled environment it is safe and they are able to run around keep themselves busy. They plant 5 bottles each day with prizes inside around the resort so they are busying themselves looking for those.
Whilst it might seem this is all we will see of Mauritius as we have the cars we plan to leave paradise and get out into the island and explore otherwise we are doing not only ourselves but the country a disservice.
Right time for some food…and an organic coffee………more later
By the way the local time is 4 hours behind Malaysia and 8 hours behind NZ so if you have been getting some texts from us at ungodly hours then we apologise……………………………..no we don’t