Mauritius is Just an Island

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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”.
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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…

Comments

  1. Too bad, I thought it would be lovely to go there. The hotel does look fantastic though.

  2. Pictures look great but I see how it could be boring.

  3. Pereybere beach is very nice. Too bad you couldn’t get there.

  4. see any dodo birds?

  5. Hi Robin, I did not get there as Mauritius is tough to get around without a car as I said and if I ever go back I will definitely have a car. Andy, no dodos-sorry!

  6. And why couldn\’t you walk 5 mins down the road to grab a regular taxi? Or planned ahead and rented a car?

    Anywhere in the world is boring if you refuse to get transportation!

    On top of that, the island has a very extensive network of extremely-cheap public transportation. Buses. Could have caught that during the day and gone anywhere on the island.

    But no, it\’s easier to complain.

    And for your information, Port Louis is a fascinating city. It\’s too bad you restricted yourself to the Waterfront when you could have visited the exotic bazaar, authentic ethnic restaurants, myriad of temples from all religions and unusual museums.

    By the way, there\’s good hiking in the center of the island(gorges covered in dense forests).

    And there\’s such a blend of cultures there\’s almost always one festival or the other going on.

    I lived in Mauritius for 5 years and had an exhilarating time. If you found it to be just a boring and typical island then you lack an adventurous spirit, don\’t you now?

  7. Hey Sandra and thanks for your comment but you apparently have some facts wrong. The walk was 5km to get a local cab and also, there is nothing interesting or fascinating about Port Louis. I did see the temples you referred to and didn’t mention them because I don’t feel they warranted mentioning. Also, if you consider complaining about extortionate prices then you must have endless amounts of money or enjoy bending over. I do not.

  8. Im originally from Mauritius, and I think it’s ridiculous to complain about the entire country when you just see it from one point of view. Yes, you pay premium price if you want to go to a hotel, and not investigate. If I went on vacation and stayed at The Ritz I would expect it would cost more than staying at a b&b. Locals get by on the bus system everyday… Sandra is right about Pt louis, the gorges, the temples. Im confused by the beginning when you said you “arrived from Rodrigues”. Where did you fly from?

  9. Hey Vana, I transited Mauritius to get to Rodrigues without stopping then came back and stayed on Mauritius for a few days. Also, there is a difference between a premium for quality and extortion when it comes to hotel prices and what’s reasonable.

  10. He gave you the royal suite for $60 and you complain about the other hotel prices ?!!
    Give something in return man.

  11. Fair enough Yannis.

  12. Hey Lee,

    We are planning our honeymoon and decided on Seychelles + Mauritius since we can basically book the whole trip on Starwood (St Regis in Mauritius & Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove on Seychelles). Your posts were the most insightful ones I came across during my research. Now I’m debating whether we should skip Mauritius altogether or just spend less days there instead of a 5 day/5 day split. We are def planning on renting a car, and I did read on tripadvisor that Mauritius has some interesting things to do like the Lion walk & the Gorges, as well as the temples, etc, but am now second guessing whether it’s worth it. Like you, I HATE being extorted, and we’re also not resort-y people and prefer to immerse in local culture, explore unexpected gems, etc.

    What are your thoughts? Should we nix Mauritius or shorten our stay? Thanks! You have a new follower btw – we’ll be checking out your blog in the future before our travels!

  13. That’s really sad. On my visit to mauritius, we were pampered by the resort we stayed in: Calodyne Sur Mer. Considering the cost to visit the place is not really worth. But 1 time visit is a must. We were on a package by Makemytrip/Seaside holidays, so travelling or hiring a car was not a problem for us. Hotel staff was quite helpful, so we didnt really find any problem.

  14. Hi all, I came across your blog while looking for feedback from travelers going to Mauritius.
    I am originally from Mauritius and now live in Perth, Australia.
    I think Lee has many valid points. Before traveling to a new place, it is worth learning a bit about the culture, being informed about things to do etc… as visiting any country can result in a negative experience. Having a contact in Mauritius really is something that could change your entire experience. This is why we have created a Tour operator business who can look for a place that suits your budget, plan your activities and be there whenever you need some action! Even if you are bored at 11pm and looking to do something, just call your assigned guide and a car will come and pick you up and take you wherever you want to go! This might sound like a sale pitch, but seriously, our aim is to show you all the great things you can do in Mauritius and you won’t necessarily get it in a 5 start resort on your own!
    Please feel free to send me an email at [email protected] if you decide to Visit the Island and I’ll promise you an experience you will never forget! Happy travelling…

  15. Even I went to Mauritius and enjoyed a lot there were clean beaches like at blue baie and grand baie. Nightlife was amazing there were pubs, strip clubs, casinos and lot more to do.

    You can check out this link there and find that there are lot more things which you can do http://bit.ly/15DZBV7

  16. I visited Mauritius and had the most amazing time. Use local taxi’s as they will take you all over the island and will negotiate a good rate with you, or hire a car.
    There is loads to do! You can visit the pamplemousse gardens, the wildlife park, glass bottom boats, catamaran island trips, go the black river gorge national park, snorkelling or diving, jeep safaris, volcanoes and waterfalls, horse back riding, game reserve.
    The historical temples on the island are magnificent. Ok they may not match up to Thailand, but they are still lovely.
    In fact there is enough to do to keep you going for months. It just takes forward thinking and planning ahead and not just getting there and saying I don’t know what to do.
    I would always go all inclusive in the hotels so you don’t have to pay for meals, or B & B and head inland and eat where the locals eat. Don’t go to top hotels and expect the food and drink to be cheap. It’s all in the planning and research.

  17. He is completely right! This is a boring island to avoid… hours away from any civilized place!

    Just ridiculous what people think about this boring place!

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