I really wanted to love Mauritius. You think of it as so exotic and want to be in awe. I had heard mixed, mostly indifferent or negative, things about it coming in but I came in with an open and excited attitude about the island nation. I had heard that it was just a big and touristy island that is indistinguishable from many others. I had also heard it was expensive and the type of place you stay at your hotel and don’t really leave. I wish I could disagree with those comments in total but I have to agree with many of them. However, Mauritius is a beautiful place and a nice place to spend a few days relaxing if you are the type of person that likes big hotel resorts-unfortunately I am not that type of person.
I arrived at the airport from Rodrigues and went to get a taxi. The fixed rate to my hotel in the northern part of the island was about $70. There was no shot I was paying $70 one way for any taxi ride and I was willing to take the bus but managed to negotiate the ride for $40-it did take an hour and half to get there so it is reasonable. But this was the start of the expensiveness.
I arrived at the Le Meridien Hotel and I was greeted by a huge open air lobby area (above) that was very attractive albeit hot as hell. I then went to the desk to check in and she looked confused. So that confused me and then finally I realized I had to go to some other desk to check in. The guy who checked me in was pretty dense and told me to sit down on the couch. Finally after 45 minutes of waiting for him to get his act together I asked for the manager as I was pretty annoyed and just wanted a shower.
I still don’t get what happened but the bottom line was the manager hooked me up with free breakfast each day and the royal suite in the private Nirvana section of the hotel. That sounds good I thought and I thanked him and went to my amazing two story suite overlooking the water. It had a Jacuzzi in my bedroom and also a six head shower. The rate for this room would be 1750 euros a night or like $2500 or so-you’ll have to wait til later to find out what I paid. I could get used to this I thought as I got showered up to head down to dinner.
There were four restaurants in the hotel and I went to each of them to see what they had. As I walked into each one the host met me at the door and said I couldn’t come in wearing shorts and they were fully booked. This pissed me off to no end. It was about 100 degrees and humid, I was sweating profusely and why wouldn’t I be wearing shorts as we are on an island. So I just continually said don’t worry about it and finally decided to eat at this place called 180 degrees which was the buffet.
I didn’t want to eat there because the buffet cost $50, yes $50, not including drinks or taxes. So before I sat down I went to the concierge to ask about a taxi into town as I didn’t want to get robbed for a generic buffet. He told me the taxi could take me to Grand Bay (the alleged touristic village) for $100 each way. I said it is only a 20 minute drive. He nods, snickers and says yes the hotel taxi has a set rate at night.
I asked him to call me a regular taxi. He says he can’t do that. I ask why and he says because of security reasons. Flabbergasted, I say this is Mauritius, not Baghdad! He just says sorry sir but that is the price. How can I get a regular taxi I ask? You need to walk 5km to the main road he tells me. Seriously annoyed I walk away and begrudgingly sit down for the buffet.
As I go to sit they tell me I can’t wear shorts and I just said I don’t have any pants (which is true because I gave the jeans away after gorilla trekking) give me a break and go and sit down. They didn’t seem to care and in the next 5 minutes I had 4 different servers ask me for my room number. I continually said 447 and that I just told the other guy but they kept asking. It was really annoying as it makes you think all they want to do is charge you for stuff. I asked how much a soda or beer was and they said like $10. I said can I just have water and of course they bring me a bottle and charge me for it, $9. Even at Yankee Stadium a water is only like $4.50 or so!
Anyway, dinner was whatever, a very generic buffet you get at any hotel. Then I went to walk around the hotel and there was absolutely nothing to do. As you can imagine it is all honeymooners and old people here. That’s fine but I was annoyed because if I actually wanted to go into town where there is some life, it would cost me at least $200. So I was pissed and felt trapped. I went to watch TV instead and go to bed early.
Luckily the sun rose in the morning and I had my free breakfast and a nice day at the lovely infinity pool. The Nirvana pool is for adults only so there were no kids screaming or running around. This was fine but again, it made for a really boring time. I have to say it was a pretty relaxing day at the pool as the beach is only OK here (below) at the hotel but I would’ve liked a little more action. At least some reasonably priced options or some music or whatever.
I hate bitching about prices, but I hate getting ripped off by such a large margin that it makes you mad and gets in the way of enjoying yourself. I understand at a big hotel you pay a premium for food and drinks etc. However, $50 for a buffet, $200 for two twenty minute cab rides and oh yeah, $45 for suntan lotion really pisses me off and I refuse to bend over and take those prices. This is the most overpriced hotel I’ve ever stayed at.
I feel badly being negative and underscoring the beauty of the island but in truth, it is relatively indistinguishable from many others and mass tourism and big resorts is their business. This is a “sit on your ass” island. There isn’t much else to do. If I came with a group of friends or something it would’ve been much better. There are no volcanoes to hike or real adventures to be had. The capital of Port Louis is whatever-a typical crowded and dirty island capital with bad traffic. It has a tired waterfront that is trying to be like the V&A in Cape Town but doesn’t even come close to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
That stuff is fine, but for me, I prefer a little more action as opposed to laying around in the sun for a few days. A good friend of mine who last year came here on her honeymoon said it best; “Mauritius is just an island. It’s a nice island but it’s a long way to go to lie around at a big resort pool as you could be anywhere in the world”.
So basically, Mauritius is very cost prohibitive and it is the type of place where you don’t really leave your hotel if you stay at a resort. My advice is choose wisely and check prices and packages ahead of time and rent a car as I should have done. I stayed at Le Meridien because I got a sweet hookup from Starwood and I did get the amazing royal suite all for $60 for the two nights. Obviously, I knew what I was getting myself into but you still hope for the best. I hate when the hotel room is the highlight of your stay-well that and the sick infinity pool. However, I am just baffled by the prices here and I am really looking forward to going to the Seychelles-that is if I ever get out of the Mauritius airport as I delayed here again. Allegedly it is only for two hours as opposed to the 9.5 the other day. Aaaahhhh it feels like home!
In the Seychelles, I will also be staying at a Le Meridien but only for two nights as I will be on 4 different islands in 5 days. Hopefully, I will not get bored; there is only so much sun I can take! Going to honeymoon places alone can be pretty lame at times! Plus they have more reasonable accommodation and different classes of it to choose from in Seychelles. I have also been assured there are other options outside the hotel if the prices are outrageous there as well. We shall see…