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.

About Mauritius

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.