Recently, I went to Mauritius for the 1st time with my family. We flew Air Mauritius & stayed at The Oberoi. What a super trip it was. In fact my son asked me yesterday if we could go back for our next holiday.
Its certainly an offbeat place, but superb to visit. Its a small island off the east coast of Africa, 7 hours from Singapore. Its got great beaches, resorts and is surprisingly well connected with direct flights from Paris, Dubai, Singapore & other places. It has an interesting history, being successively a Dutch, French, British, French & finally again British colony before gaining independence. Though the longest stint was British, the island is very French. Most of the 1.3 million people are of Indian origin, from 2 districts in Bihar, who came to work sugar cane plantations that still cover the island. It was amazing to meet people of Indian origin whose main language is French. I remember seeing 2 elderly Indian ladies, one in a sari & the other in the Goan style frock, greeting each other on the street with the French style kisses on the cheek.
People speak French, Creole (the local-French hybrid), many also speak Hindi & Bhojpuri, and most speak English. The local food was superb, similar to that in coastal India with lots of seafood and spices. While we were there I started speaking in French with the kids. Agree became “Dáccord”and disagree “Päs dáccord”.
In May & the weather was nice – sunny but not hot, some rain & cool evenings. We spent most of our time at The Oberoi & took a day trip round the island to some great locations & had a wonderful lunch. The drive reminded me a lot of Assam in India where I am from.
Getting to Mauritius
We flew Air Mauritius from Singapore who fly thrice a week from Terminal1. They offer airport upgrades, so I bought one for my daughter for S$1000 (about US700). The girls flew business and the boys economy. At check in we got only 2 passes for the lounge (we are Star Alliance Gold Members but Air Mauritius is not a member). However, in the lounge, they let us all in. It was a day flight so I watched TV, looked after my son & checked up on the girls up in business. The food (catered by Oberoi) was wonderful. I had forgotten to book kid meals so I asked for the chicken for both my son & me. I ended up eating his main course too, it was so good. The plane was where I first experienced the French speaking Mauritian-Indians.
We reached at night & arrival at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport was smooth. As usual when traveling with kids to an unfamiliar place, we had booked an airport pick-up. The Mauritian-Indian driver gave us interesting commentary on the country & its culture.
The Oberoi Hotel
The legendary Oberoi service & delivery lived up to its reputation. We had a nice room with a big double bed, the sofa bed made up for our son & an additional bed for our daughter. We initially woke up around 8am, but that soon became 9am as got over the jet lag. Breakfast was an hour long feast with buffet & hot cooked options, included in the room. I really pigged out, with am omelette & a dose on most days. The kids had their choice of waffles, pancakes & the like. And gluten-free bread for my wife! Then we would spend time on the beautiful beach or play in the pool. This had a crocodile figure spouting water & the kids enjoyed my antics when I “pretended”to be surprised (about a 1000 times over our stay) at being drenched by it. Lunch would be at the poolside, followed by a snooze. I discovered a short cut back to the room that somehow seemed to amuse the kids a lot. In the evenings, most often we would eat at Ön the Rocks” a seaside place with a wonderful barbecue. There were lots of seaside activities that we didn’t end up using.
The Oberoi is very kid friendly with a complimentary kids club. We tried hard but the kids refused to let us off the hook and insisted on being with us! And I must not forget the spa, heavenly.
Getting Back Home to Singapore
Recently I have noticed many airlines offering ingenious Upsize options like airport upgrades, bidding for upgrades, extra legroom seats. After booking my tickets through the Air Mauritius website, I got an email asking if I wanted to bid for upgrades to business for the return leg. I bid S$815 for each of the tickets and got an email few days later saying it was done. A very good feature that allows us to get business class seats for less than a full business fare, and also allows airlines to fill empty seats. The return was a night flight and I slept most of the way. I had dinner first which was scrumptious. Reaching home was, as always, great, especially the welcome we got from our pet Labrador.