The Residence is a great hotel, as most of the other reviews attest. It was opened in 1998 and looks fresh as they do it up every few years. The rooms are bright and clean. The shower was one of the best I have ever had. There are a lot of repeat customers - we met one family on their third trip who are already in the process of booking for next year. One of my colleagues has been at Easter for nine years in a row. I can easily understand why as the hotel has so much to offer families. Please read on for what I hope is some fairly practical information that you will find useful.
1. We flew BA. The flight out is a night flight, which was fine, but the way back is during the day. It was a 12 hour flight, which can be difficult cooped in economy (the kids were fine, it was us that were cramped). Air Mauritius does a night flight on the way back, which I think gives you an extra half day in the hotel (we had to leave at 6am to catch the 9.30am flight).
2. Alcohol is very expensive in Mauritius. There is a 100% tax. The cheapest bottle of wine in the hotel is about £35. There is a lovely red called Arniston Bay, which I recommend. You can, however, pick up alcohol when you arrive in the airport. Prices are in Euros, but the local currency is Mauritian Rupees. We didn't leave the hotel so only used them to tip the driver who took us to and from the airport and to tip the staff centrally at reception at the end of the week.
3. When you are going back home, make sure you take some food with you for your wait in the airport. There is only one food place, which is awful and expensive. There is a small supermarket in the local village - go out of the front gate and turn right. The supermarket is after the road bends round to the left by the police station and just before it bends round to the right. Saying that, I went in the afternoon to get some bread to take, and it had all gone.
4. We went in October half-term. There was a mix of families (predominantly with younger children) and couples - I'm not sure if it is different out of school holidays. I would not personally choose it as a couples destination. I think if it was just the two of you, there are more romantic hotels that don't have kids splashing around in the pool. Saying that, without exception, there were no kids running up and down in the restaurant or shouting in the pool.
5. The transfer from the airport is 1 hour along the windy coast road. Both of our kids were car sick (both ways), which is unusual. I suggest you take a plastic bag or two.
6. We had an ocean front room. There are, I believe, ocean view and garden view rooms. These are both slightly set back from the shore and back onto the road. My parents in law were staying in one of these and said that they were woken in the morning by traffic passing on the road outside.
7. If you can, arrange to get a VIP card. I think we got this thrown in when we booked. It gives you an allowance for lunch (£30 per adult and £15 per child) and also 10% off drinks. It just means that you have no concerns about your kids ordering a £10 children's pizza for lunch, followed by a £5 Cornetto.
8. There are two restaurants - the main one and the Plantation, which is closer to the beach. They have broadly similar food, although there is greater choice at the main restaurant. The main difference is that the Plantation is closer to the beach and is open on three sides. The main restaurant is quite darkly lit in the evenings, which did make it atmospheric, but we preferred the Plantation as all of the kids tend to go down onto the beach after supper while you're having coffee to play stuck in the mud, etc. It's great because they get to run around and you can see them from where you are sitting. My one recommendation is to take some mosquito repellent as one dinner in the Plantation with cut-off trousers led to 20 mosquito bites round my ankles - I looked like an extra from the plague room in the London Dungeons. My one criticism of the whole hotel is that the service at lunch could have been slightly faster. With young kids, you don't want to be spending 2 hours on lunch. We eventually resorted to having lunch by the pool so that you could swim or read until your food turned up.
9. They have themed buffet dinners which take place on set nights of the week. These are very popular. There is a seafood evening with local dancing on Saturday night. We turned up on Saturday and by the time we found out about this, it was booked up.
10. There are three hard tennis courts, which are in really good condition. These you should book, particularly if you want to play at around 4pm or 5pm. They will give you towels and water (both essential as it gets really hot). We took tennis rackets and balls, but you can borrow both. The rackets are fine, but the balls had seen much better days. The coach, Curtis, is great, and kids seemed to really enjoy his coaching, although his backgammon is not as good as his backhand.
11. One of the great pluses of the hotel is the ocean. About 400m off shore is a reef that runs parallel down most of the East coast of the Island. It means that the waves break on the reef so that inside the reef, it is like a large swimming pool (unless it is windy). The water is also quite shallow going out some way from the shore. It's similar to the Maldives, except there is quite a bit of coral not far off shore.
12. The reef means that it is a great place to learn to water-ski as the water is calm. You can also learn to sail - they will organise lessons for you if you want/need them. Water sports are on tap and you only need to sign you name and you can go waterskiing, sailing (Lasers and Hobi Cats), ringo-ing, kayaking and on a pedalo. There is also a dive school, which costs extra. I didn't read the small print, but did wonder, at least in passing, as to what my liability/come back would be if I happened to slam my boat into another boat at full speed or got run over by a boat when I was waterskiing... The guy who runs the Yacht Club (apologies for forgetting his name), is very knowledgeable and willing to give you tips for how to improve your waterskiing, rather than just sitting behind the boat inside the wake. All of the staff were very friendly and many had learned our names by the end of the week. They are one of the hotel's real standout points.
13. You need to think carefully about what time you go as the weather can change considerably. According to some of the staff we spoke to, late October is one of the best times (as is the corresponding time in our spring). The temperature was about 30 Celsius, the humidity was about 30 percent and there was a gentle breeze. It meant that we were never too hot. There can however be neap tides at that time of year which can affect the water sports due to the depth of water. On one day, you couldn't go out until 1.30pm and then again from 4.30pm. They have had occasions where the water hasn't been deep enough for waterskiing and sailing for a whole week.
14. My wife did circuit training while she was there, which she really enjoyed. Other than that, they don't have any classes (step etc), although the gym is well equipped.
15. The kids club looks excellent. I say looks as our kids didn't want to go into it. Part of the problem is that they divide the kids into two age groups - up to seven and over seven. We have one above and one below who wanted to be together. They keep the kids really busy with a variety of activities and the facilities are great. I don't think our kids missed out, but I'm sure they would have really enjoyed it.
16. I had assumed that there would be wifi in the hotel, which there isn't. There is internet access in the rooms, but it is via a cable, which was of no help with my iPad. There are a number of computers within the hotel that you can use to check in for your return flight.
All in all, I think the hotel is excellent and would not hesitate to go back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Residence Mauritius is situated on the east coast of Mauritius along a mile-long beach of immaculate white sand, fringed by the azure Indian Ocean and tropical gardens - an idyllic retreat for your unreserved relaxation. Inspired by the island's stately turn-of-the-century plantation houses, this luxury Mauritius resort blends modern elegance with classic, colonial style that envelops you in an endearing sense of nostalgia. Live like royalty in rooms that radiate luxurious comfort and charm, with attentive service worthy of the grand colonial houses of yesteryear. Dine on exotic cuisine that captures the incredible potpourri of island flavours. Discover new secrets to soulful relaxation within our serene spa sanctuary, and an endless playground of attractions and activities to be found in the island's unique mix of cultures and stunning landscapes. Whether you seek a romantic escape with your loved one or a spectacular beach getaway with your family, The Residence Mauritius will enthrall you under the warm glow of the Mauritian sun. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Residence Hotel Belle Mare
- Residence Belle Mare
- Residence Hotel Belle Mare
- Residence Mauritius
- The Residence Mauritius Belle Mare