Being in the tourism industry has obvious perks for those of us who love to travel. We get to visit new countries and explore the amazing world in all its beauty. Another perk is experiencing what we call ‘educationals’ – traveling by invitation to destinations, resorts and hotels to be exposed to places the way our clients would be. After all, we cannot honestly recommend something if we have not experienced it ourselves. One of those popular destinations is Mauritius. And yes, a South African favourite for good reason!
I, myself, have been to Mauritius four times. I was delighted to find myself amongst a group of 70 select travel agents invited to experience Club Med La Pointe aux Canonniers for five glorious days. Throw a group of 70 travel agents together – from Namibia, Kenya and South Africa – and a good time is guaranteed! As I hadn’t previously experienced Club Med, I was undeniably pleased to finally discover what all the ‘hype’ is about.
Typically, an ‘educational’ is jammed packed for travel agents as we get shuttled to inspect at least four, sometimes five, hotels per day. This hectic schedule is exhausting and although we get to see a great deal, we never truly ‘experience’ the destination as a guest would. So, I was pleased that Club Med had decided to host us for five nights to provide the travel agent with a ‘dose of the good feel’ of their property.
One of the best things about Mauritius for the South African holidaymaker is that it is only a 4 hour flight from Johannesburg – big bonus! We were flying on Air Mauritius, which while as good an airline as any, has an unfortunate downfall on the Mauritius leg. The flight times present a major disadvantage for the traveller. Air Mauritius departs out of Johannesburg at 13h30 and arrives on the island at 19h30. Once through the hot, humid and non-air conditioned airport, though, the efficient Club Med staff shuttled us off to the hotel, where we arrived just in time for a night cap. Although we were served a late dinner, the reality is that an entire day was lost (and a night too) due to travelling.
The return flight was even worse: the transfer from hotel to airport collects you at 5am, so you must be certain of two things: 1) you don’t have a late night the night before; and 2) you don’t swipe the ‘snooze’ on your cell phone alarm going off at 4am. So, in short, travellers lose two days flying with Air Mauritius. Consequently, I would advise clients to either opt for the SAA flight or extend their stay.
Waking up on the beautiful island of Mauritius never gets old. The evening before was a bit of a blur, but I woke up in a Single Deluxe ‘open plan’ room with a lovely sitting area, no balcony (unfortunately) and an adequate bathroom. Mauritius is hot, so a dodgy aircon can be a bit frustrating, but nothing I couldn’t brush aside.
Over the next four days, we were treated to all Club Med had to offer. Club Med is fully inclusive so all meals, drinks (apart from hard tack, shooters and snazzy requests), cocktails, water sports, kids’ activities, yoga, snacks, ice creams, pancakes, pizzas, are all part of the package. Buffet breakfasts and lunches at the main restaurant could do with more variety, but the hotel does have a second restaurant, Paul Verginee, which is à la carte on the beach and just outstanding. Guests must book for Paul Verginee, an advisable much better choice for dinner.
Club Med has these wonderful people called GOs, Pied Piper sort of people, who make sure you and your family are having a good time. These helpful guys and girls, filled with fantastic energy, are tasked to get clients in on the action, whether it be learning how to ski, doing yoga on the beach, singing karaoke or even teaching one how to boogie Gangnam style. But they are also sensitive if a client is just not that into something, so it’s not as if you are harassed or not able to sneak off, find an umbrella and get lost in your book.
Each day is filled with a choice of activities and each evening is themed. We enjoyed an ‘amazing race’ style taste of all the activities, but Club Med includes most water sports and tennis, archery (which is tougher than it looks), volley ball and the usual other offerings. The beaches are beautiful, although shallow, so you can venture out a bit further for a snorkel, but with booties or rock shoes; otherwise you may return in need of a medic! A stroll to one of the public beaches is a splendid idea, as the water is a bit deeper for a proper swim.
The variety of themed evenings are a bit of a hit and miss: not everyone has the same taste so they do try and please everyone. We were treated to a lively Michael Jackson evening and a stunning beach party on the Sunday night. The other evenings included guests enjoying Karaoke (a lot of it in French!) and a Gala evening for which we got dolled up. Other nights were filled with hilarious fun with the GOs (they are everywhere!) performing in the Cabaret and Latina shows.
Club Med is renowned for the best kids’ club in the world and La Pointe aux Canonniers proves this. The kids’ club, in a separate building on the property, caters for kids from four months to 17 years. Although we didn’t see many teens around, the place was abuzz with toddlers and little ones having the time of their lives! The kids’ programme is impressive and parents are certainly at ease assured that their kids are well taken care of. There was even a mini Karaoke for the little ones, looking so cute up on stage.
Teens and young adults who are looking for a good old party may find it all a bit ‘lame’. The evening parties end quite early as staff pack up around 1am to prepare for the following day and so we didn’t see too many people ‘partying it up’.
Four days in Mauritius is certainly not enough time to enjoy all the island has on offer, but our group had an amazing time. We made new friends, caught up with old ones and are certainly 100% wiser about all that Club Med has on offer. This holiday is perfect for first time visitors to Mauritius, honeymooners who are looking for a bit of fun, but mainly for families with younger children – those who want to be entertained but want the kids sorted without worrying about late nights. The all-inclusive package, although seemingly expensive, comes without hidden conditions and is undeniably well worth the experience.