September 2, 2014

Sure Travel educational to Mauritius

The beach at The Oberoi in Mauritius
























This July, some Sure Travel consultants from around the country had the wonderful opportunity of joining a Sure Travel & Thompsons Holidays educational* to Mauritius to experience first-hand some of the incredible hotels on offer. Jenna, Sure Travel Social Media Coordinator, and Charné, Sure Online consultant, share their story…

*An educational is a trip undertaken by those in the travel industry, usually organised by a tour operator, to allow the individuals to experience first-hand a new destination. The purpose is to educate the consultants on all facets of the destination and will include site inspections of properties, activities on offer, etc. so that they are able to confidently impart this first-hand knowledge and advice to their clients.

We caught a SAA flight from Cape Town to OR Tambo on the evening of Friday 4 July as we were due to leave Saturday morning on the 09:50 Air Mauritius flight to Mauritius. We stayed overnight at the City Lodge OR Tambo Airport – perfect if you have an early morning flight. The hotel is about a 6/10 minute walk from baggage collection and you don’t even leave the airport building. We can highly recommend this City Lodge – it’s modern, the room was spacious with very comfortable beds, the breakfast buffet was delicious and you couldn’t find a more convenient location.

Saturday morning we met up with the rest of our group. Joining us were our fabulous tour leader, Charlene, and Brenda from Thompsons Holidays, Felicia (Sure Glenwood Campus Travel in Pretoria), Rona (Sure Aquabay Travel, Ballito), Nicole (Sure Map Travel, Durban North), Tania (Sure Link Travel, Claremont) as well as Blanche and Engela from Buena Vista Travel. And so the adventure began!

Sure Travel educational group in Mauritius
























Our Air Mauritius flight from Joburg was delayed by a few hours so by the time we arrived at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport the sun had already set. Upon landing, the first thing (us non-KZNers) noticed was the humidity although we soon got used to it. The airport is bright and modern and pleasant to navigate with a nice duty free section. After collecting our bags we were welcomed by Coquille Bonheur (which means The Lucky Shell in French), Thompsons’ ground handler in Mauritius. A cold bottle of water and refresher towel later, we set off for our first hotel.

Air Mauritius plane to Mauritius

Mauritius airport

Coquille Bonheur in Mauritius






















We were really lucky in that we got to experience all sides of the island. Each coastline differs in terms of weather and wind and so it’s important to choose your location very carefully. Make sure you discuss exactly what your expectations are with your Sure Travel consultant so that they can recommend the best location and hotel for you.

If you’re visiting during the Mauritian winter, as we did, the north/west coast is recommended. It’s warmer and a lot less windy than the east coast. However, if you’re visiting during the hot summer months, the south/west coast is often preferred as the wind offers welcome respite from the humidity. Most of the resorts are clustered around the north-west while the south is less developed and thus quieter and more isolated.

Read our Mauritius travel guide for more information.

LUX Le Morne beach in Mauritius
























Our first overnight stop was Crystals Beach Resort on the east coast, about an hour’s drive from the airport. From there we headed north to Merville Beach near Grand Baie and then The Oberoi and Intercontinental on the north-west coast. Then it was south (still on the west coast) to visit LUX Le Morne, nestled right in front of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Le Morne Brabant peak. Then it was on towards Outrigger and Shanti Maurice before making our way to our final hotel at Preskil Beach Resort, 15 minutes from the airport. One hotel per night, phew!

Reviews on each hotel coming soon – check the blog for updates.

Map of hotels in Mauritius

Weather-wise, we can really vouch for the fact that Mauritius is an all-year-round destination. The weather was amazing! While South Africa was freezing during one of the coldest weeks of winter, we were enjoying the sunshine in Ile Maurice! It was definitely summer “shorts and t-shirts” weather. There was light drizzle during some afternoons but it didn't last long before the sun peaked out. The temperature did drop a bit some evenings, and depending on the wind factor, so be sure to pack a light jersey for evenings/early mornings and when you’re out on a boat.

Also be sure to pack clothing that stretches… who would have guessed so much food could be consumed in just one week! A foodie highlight for both of us was definitely getting to taste palm heart. We first enjoyed this delicacy in a salad at The Oberoi and also had some at Shanti Maurice and Preskil Beach Resort. We also developed a soft spot for napolitaines (sweet shortbread type biscuits sandwiched together with jam and covered in pink icing) at Crystals Beach Resort. We sampled typical Mauritian fare such as curries, rotis and Creole dishes (their curries are more sweet than spicy), Indian dishes and, somewhat surprisingly, quite a few of the hotels had speciality Asian restaurants. Mauritius is well known for its vanilla, sugar and tea and many dishes were sweetened with heavenly concoctions of vanilla, cinnamon and spices. We sipped some wonderful South African wines, coconut water at LUX Le Morne (yum!) and rum in almost every flavour imaginable: passion fruit, vanilla, coffee, cherry, pineapple, etc. Most traditional cocktails are made with rum (Mauritius is famous for it after all) which can be quite strong so approach with caution…

Samoosas in Mauritius

Palm heart salad in Mauritius

Lunch at Shanti Maurice in Mauritius

Breakfast on the beach at Intercontinental in Mauritius
Rum at Merville Beach Resort in Mauritius
Although all had amazing beaches, one of our favourites was the beach at The Obeoroi - the small beach is raked each morning before the guests awake. Intercontinental also had a man-made swimming cove which I (Jenna) enjoyed swimming in (although Charné felt that it was a bit rough on the feet due to the coral).

The beach at The Oberoi in Mauritius
Photo credit: Charné Swanepoel

Beach at Intercontinental in Mauritius






















Some facilities that really stood out for us were the excellent wi-fi at Merville and LUX Le Morne (it worked absolutely everywhere, even on the beach) as well as the “phone home” booth at these hotels, the heated pools at The Oberoi and Intercontinental and enjoying “market-style” dining at Outrigger (and their fantastic “kid-sized” kids restaurant). If money is no object and you’re looking for a hotel that has an amazing kids club, look no further than Shanti Maurice. All of us would happily have spent a few days at their Kids Club!

The beach at The Oberoi in Mauritius

Kids Club at Shanti Maurice in Mauritius
Phone home at LUX Le Morne in Mauritius


















































































Some highlights of the trip included a catamaran cruise to Ile aux Cerfs from Preskil Beach Resort, our five minute snorkel session at The Oberoi while out on the glass bottom boat, the sunset at Merville, sabering the champagne at LUX Le Morne, exploring Grand Baie and really learning about all that these amazing hotels have to offer guests. If you're feeling active, here are 10 sightseeing activities to do in Mauritius.

Catamaran cruise at Preskil Beach resort in Mauritius

Sure Travel Thompsons group in Mauritius
Catamaran cruise at Preskil Beach resort in Mauritius





































Sunset at Merville Beach Resort in Mauritius
























This was such an informative and worthwhile trip and we are so excited to share everything we learnt about Mauritius! A special huge thank you to Thompsons Holidays, as well as all the hotels for hosting us in such style.

Photo credits: Jenna Berndt
Browse Mauritius packages here.

SURE TRAVEL BLOG CONTRIBUTORS:

Charne Sure Travel blog contributor
Charné’s favourite destination so far is Thailand and she would love to visit France, Maldives or Bora Bora and New York (actually the whole of the USA… road trip!). She has visited Austria, Namibia and Mauritius and apart from travelling, has a soft spot for wine and all animals - especially her beloved dogs and cats.

Jenna Berndt Sure Travel blog contributor
It all began when a 16-year-old Jenna got on a plane for the first time and headed to Lüneburg, Germany, for 2 weeks. Returning well and truly bitten by the travel bug, after finishing school she hopped on a plane and headed off to London. Since then, she has eaten her way through Eastern Europe, dozed in a hammock on a tiny island dotted in Lake Malawi, tracked Wild Dogs through the hills of Zululand, and explored the major sights of her first love – Europe.

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