Typically the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is better known as a honeymoon or celebratory destination, but in recent years it’s become more and more popular as a family holiday destination.
I recently took my two girls, aged 11 and 8 on a 12 day trip to the island to experience what it held for families. We travelled in late May when the temperature starts to fall slightly as they enter their Winter, but the climate is mild and the weather still sunny. In fact, Mauritius is sunny all year round, it’s the rainfall you need to watch out for. During the months of December to February, the rainfall is at its highest then steadily starts to decline through the following months.
We stayed on the North-West coast, a beautifully sheltered part of the island perfect at this time of year for holidaymakers. Travelling with Virgin Holidays, we chose the Maritim Hotel Resort and Spa and took an all-inclusive package.
If you’re considering Mauritius as a family holiday destination, you need to decide if the children will manage the journey. There are various routes to take; we flew from Birmingham to Dubai, and then Dubai across to Mauritius with Emirates. Each flight was 6.5 hours. Changeover time in Dubai was only 3 hours (which is just enough time to disembark, find your next gate, and then board again – perhaps with time for a quick shower if you want one), so total travel time was around 18 hours door to door.
Emirates was just fantastic to fly with though. With plenty of entertainment, including over 200 films, a goody bag for the each child, and bags of good quality food and free drinks. Every seat has a blanket and pillow, and reclines well. You’ll want for nothing on this flight. Sleeping on a plane is never easy but the children managed 3-4 hours each and coped well enough until we arrived at our destination.
The Maritim Hotel Resort and Spa is a 5* location with 2 pools and a private beach. We stayed in a Prestige room on our all-inclusive package that included food and drink (an extensive range of alcohol and cocktails) and many water sports and activities.
There’s something magical about being met off the minibus and being offered a refreshing hot towel and cooling cocktail as you check in. The decor was heavily influenced by colonial India, with tall columns, dark woods and of course stunning views.
The room was a good size and accommodated the king size bed plus sofa bed for the children. With a huge bathroom, large walk in shower, separate toilet and dressing room, there was plenty of room for all 4 of us throughout the week.
The food here was just incredible, with a great mix of Indian, Creole, European and African. We mainly ate in the buffet restaurant and didn’t get bored; there was a great variety. And even though the girls don’t eat too much spicy food there was plenty of choice for them. Pancakes and eggs galore for breakfast, burgers, curries and salads for lunch and both Mauritian and International selections for dinner. We also ate in some of the a la carte restaurants, dining on Italian and Asian plus Lobster barbecue in the sand.
Having never tried a resort holiday before we were concerned the children in particular would get bored. We shouldn’t have worried though. Everyday brought new activities and new challenges. We tried snorkelling, mini golf, tennis, archery, yoga, glass bottomed boats, pedalos and horse riding. And there was more on offer if we had wanted it. My husband and I were even treated to an incredible massage in the Spa as part of our Virgin Holidays package. And of course there was plenty of swimming; I still can’t believe how much the girls’ technique improved.
One of the big highlights of this trip had to be the sunsets. The light starts to fade about 5.30pm and it’s well worth grabbing a cocktail and heading to the beach to watch the stunning sunsets. It really is a magical moment.
The service is incredible and the people so kind and generous. Nothing is too much trouble.
Spotting a pod of dolphins whilst out on the glass bottom boat, and then seeing the girls’ faces as we followed them jumping out of the water.
The food was sumptuous and plentiful, as were the cocktails. Lobster and Mauritian curries were a favourite.
So, is Mauritius the ideal family holiday destination? Well, I have to say we fell in love with it, and had the most amazing time. The climate is perfect for families, the food wonderful and the selection of activities ideal for children. The only thing you need to consider is the travelling; it’s a long way, but oh so worth it when you get there.