Previous Trip Notes:
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 5 – Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai & EK703
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 4 – Dubai, Al Maha & Sheraton Mall of the Emirates
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 3 – IAD & EK232
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 2 – Trip Report Setup
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 1 – Planning
We arrived at the Mauritius Airport around 5pm and had booked taxi-service in advance through taxismauritius.com. Prices were very reasonable, and we made sure to reserve a mini-van given the amount of stuff we had. The driver was waiting at the arrivals area with my name on a placard, and we took a quick walk to the taxi. It was bright as could be, and since the drive was only about 45 minutes away, I thought we might be able to chase the sunset and watch it from our room similar to our experience in Costa Rica.
Boy was I wrong. Within twenty minutes, it was completely dark outside. It was amazing how quickly the sun had set, so by time we arrived at the hotel, we were all exhausted. When we arrived, we were greeted by a gong:
We went to check-in, which was where we first realized that despite being thousands of miles from the Caribbean, Mauritians also set their watches to island time. Thirty minutes later we were checked in and they were showing us to our two adjoining rooms. The hotel was pretty booked up, so despite the fact that they were selling multiple suite types when we checked in, I didn’t hold my breath for an upgrade – and luckily so. Again, my streak as a Diamond member without a single upgrade continued.
The rooms were nice, very similar to the Grand Hyatt in Bali; somewhat dated, not a ton of space, but there was a spacious balcony which would allow me to watch the sun go down and smoke a cigar. What more could you ask for?
The grounds were fantastic. Sprawling pools, great landscaping, and ample beach chairs which always had availability. There was also a decent sized hot tub, perfect for NSPpeanut, particularly when it got cool in the early morning and evening. Upon check-in, we received a “towel key” for every person, and you have to turn in the keys to the pool desk to receive your beach towels. Given the location of the pool desk, it wasn’t an inconvenience and was easy then to trade out the towels whenever you wanted.
One of the highlights of staying at the Hilton were the complimentary water activities. This included everything from paddleboarding and kayaking to water-skiing and kite-surfing (although the winds were never low enough to be allowed to kite-surf given I was a beginner). We took advantage of the water-skiing, which was a great feeling to be doing so in the Indian Ocean:
They also had land-based activities such as beach volleyball and ping pong tournaments:
Breakfast was mediocre at best. Of course it is difficult to provide an amazingly fresh robust breakfast when on an island in the middle of ocean; however, one of the downsides was the complete lack of variety each day. The one item they changed on our last day was the inclusion of home fries. I ate a couple entire plates, just because I was struggling to eat another chocolate croissant or vegetable curry.
One day we arranged for a taxi driver to give us a half-day tour. We decided to head south, where we visited a number of local landmarks. We first went to the Chamarel waterfall, located within a national park. The waterfall was stunning, over 100 meters tall, and the views around it just as amazing. We then drove a few minutes to Seven Coloured Earths. It was an extremely cool experience and well worth the trip.
On the way back to the hotel, we made two side stops. The first was to the Black River Gorge. This was upon request, as I wanted to fly my drone to get some videos of Mauritius, since drones are illegal in their national parks. The views were just amazing, and this was the first place we saw tourist-trap tents selling various wares. I of course had to pick up a Phoenix Beer t-shirt and pure sugar cane drink.
Lastly, we visited Ganga Talao, a natural pond/crater lake that is formed at the top of a mountain and which is now a sacred Hindu site.
We arrived back at the hotel and hung out at the pool for awhile until we went out for dinner. We decided to go to Domaine Anna, and we were not disappointed. While more on the “Chinese” spectrum than “Mauritian” – as far as food style goes – the restaurant is laid out in the middle of a sprawling pool of water, offering a very majestic feel. The food was also very good, and not very expensive. During our stay, we also ate at Ginger (a couple of times), the Thai restaurant at the Hilton:
The last morning I woke up early, around 6:30am. I headed out to the lobby area and was pleasantly surprised to see a fully stocked coffee bar. I helped myself to a couple coffees, but when I went for a third cup at 7:30am, it was completely gone and an afternoon water & juice station was set up! I thought that was strange, but not a huge deal since the breakfast buffet had a full coffee bar. Just something that was a bit unusual.
On our last day, at around 9am I asked the front desk if we could extend our check-out from noon to 12:45pm (45 minutes). They told me that unfortunately the hotel was sold out and they couldn’t accommodate. One of the supervisors wasn’t around, so I decided to head back to the room to begin to pack up and check back later. We packed up the rooms and headed down to breakfast (and the full supply of home fries). At about 10:30am on our way back, I again stopped at the front desk to see if we could check out at 12:30pm. Again I was told it wasn’t possible. I asked if I checked out of one of my two rooms right then (at 10:30), if we could have 30 extra minutes in our second room – again without a positive outcome. That was disappointing, and made our stay rushed to get a 15-month old packed up and ready to go. While not Earth-shattering, I just can’t believe the lack of basic accommodations for a top-tier level guest, and I’ll be content being a Hilton Gold in the future with no desire to chase Diamond status.
Pro-tip: While we received conflicting information from various concierges, you in fact can charge taxis to the room, and the hotel will pay the taxi driver. Why is this important? A solid 50% discount on all travel-related charges with the Barclays Arrival card, of course!
We headed back to the airport with the same taxi service that picked us up, and made it to the terminal. We were set to fly, gasp, economy, from Mauritius to Johannesburg. It’s just under a 5 hour flight, and NSPpeanut had her own seat. I had booked the tickets for 10,000 British Airways Avois + $44 per person in taxes. When checking in, I was told that for an additional $80 per person, we could upgrade to club class. Why would I want to do this? Michigan was playing Michigan State in football, and if I could get priority tags for my checked luggage, it would have been worth a million dollars to me so I could watch as much of the game as possible (I knew I would miss the first quarter no matter what).
We upgraded and then headed to the Priority Pass Lounge. It was actually a pretty nice lounge for being in a very small airport (I’m still shocked that an A380 can land there!!).
Before we knew it we were on board ready to rock and roll. As it turned out, the club seats were a good idea (again, the $80 per person is really $40 per person when using my Barclays Arrival card), as NSPpeanut was quite the terror, and we really needed the blocked middle seat that was utilized to “create business class.” We arrived on time, had to wait forever for luggage, and then headed right next door to the Intercontinental airport hotel. Overall, Mauritius was beautiful and well worth the visit. That really leaves Seychelles as the last island in the Indian Ocean that NSPwife and I would like to visit!
*I realize I wrote a couple times about how I receive 50% off through the Barclays Arrival card. You can read the economics of this in this article.