Monday, October 26, 2015

Mauritius, Oh Mauritius!

The last time Mandisa and I were in Mauritius was in 2009 after celebrating our 5-year anniversary. Our son Andisa was 2 years old and our daughter Wandi was not born yet. We had such a great time on the island that we vowed to return, this time with the whole family. A few weeks ago we visited the Club Med La' Plantation D'Albion. What an experience! 

This was to be the first time we travel abroad as a family, since the Department of Home Affairs' law requiring children to travel with their unabridged certificates. So my very organized wife had started applying very early for all the travel documents. Thanks to Mandisa for doing this in time as it revealed all sorts of issues Wandi & I had at Home Affairs including the need for me to apply for a new ID and a new Passport after being a victim of identity theft. Thanks to the swift work of the Department, we were able to sort all this out in time for our travels. 

On travel day, I learned a few lessons: 

Number 1: When traveling with the kids never order Uber Black to the airport - Always call Uber Van - the poor Mercedes Benz C-Class had to squeeze in luggage to last 6 nights for 4 people, including 2 golf bags, because I had called the normal Uber Black to collect us for the trip to the airport. But we survived.

Number 2: Always arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before departure. As we were checking in at the Air Mauritius counter, Mandisa's eyes suddenly widened as the check-in agent was perusing our travel documents - she sensed we had forgotten something important - at that point we realized that we had left behind the very same unabridged birth certificates we had worked so hard to get. For some reason after we received them we put them in the safe, but not in the same bag as the passports.
"I can't find the unabridged certificates!"
We immediately switched from 'holiday mode' to 'problem-solving' mode. I called an Uber. Jumped in. Gave him instructions to do whatever was necessary to ensure I was back in time for check in. It was time to abuse another Uber driver. 

He did great. We were back in time to check in, and board. We landed in Mauritius at around 19:30. At the brand new airport, Club Med has its own counter where you are directed to your transfer to the resort. I was worried about whether we would catch dinner in time, and was assured that the resort is expecting us and have made arrangements for us to have dinner before bedtime. 

The drive to D'Albion was very interesting. Our driver was very knowledgeable about history of the island, the resort, things we should try out during our stay. 

We were warmly received by our Club Med D'Albion hostess who took us through all the activities and facilities of the resort. All the resort activities were included in the resort rate and wouldn't cost anything extra. These included snorkeling, boat cruise, sailing, catamaran tour, trapeze, golf, soccer, beach volleyball, and many others. All food and drinks were included in the resort package also. Yes, even the drinks. 

When the hostess mentioned Mini Club, our eyes brightened. We had heard about Mini Club Med. I think we were more excited about it than the kids. The Mini Club is a kids’ section of the resort that has activities all day everyday specifically designed for children to enjoy the resort their way. There are child minders on duty all day, who often take children from all over the world around the resort to the beach, pool, games area, etc.   

"See you later, parents!"
"Here I come!"

I was really excited to find out that the resort had a second restaurant that was specifically set up for people like us: people who are always late for breakfast cut-off time. Let me explain: At the main restaurant breakfast kicks off at 07:00 and ends at 10:00. At the second restaurant, breakfast starts at 10:30. This was heaven sent. We tend to sleep in a lot when on holiday and breakfast cut off times are the enemy. Apparently not at the Club Med D'Albion.

"I believe I can Fly"
The resort also has an ‘adults only’ pool that caters for those who want to take a dip in silence and without the noise or children playing. But if you really want to soak up a week of chilling at the pool and taking the odd walk on the beach, with the bar in full sight, the main pool is for you. Mandisa and I spent most of our time here reading, swimming, and enjoying cocktails. Even the noise of children playing in the background can be very relaxing. 

Dinners are themed every night and the restaurant offers 5 serving stations including Italian, Mauritian, and Japanese. The variety of food is a little overwhelming as you can find yourself walking round with a plate in hand, very confused what to have, as everything looks soooo good. I visited the Italian and Mauritian stands often and was never disappointed. My staple drinks diet was the leading Mauritian beer, Phoenix – which was on tap every night at dinner. The wine list is also extensive though you have to pay for most of the selection. Mandisa often had her favourite of vodka, lime & lemonade and that seem to go down well also.

"Peace to the Creative Director!"
Another highlight of our stay at the Club Med D'Albion are the theatre shows every night - all with different themes from the Cabaret show to Infinity Circus Show. 

The best was the musical that featured pop music from Lady Gaga, Madonna to Rihanna. Mandisa loved these shows so much it was a welcomed suprise when she got an opportunity to meet one of the leading actor on our last night there. 

The sports activities were brilliant also. Andisa and I played some golf at the resort after turning down an offer to pay R4,200 for a 9-hole game at a nearby golf course. Err... how about "NO"! We had a great time in the sun, and it gave Andisa a great opportunity to make a case for a new set of golf clubs. I’m happy to report that I have made good on my promise and in fact today he tried out his new set with me over a 9-hole game. He seems very satisfied with his choice.
"Second shot. Birdie!"
"That's how we roll!"

The kids also tried the trapeze – something they’ve never done before but were quite intrigued by it. I suspect next time they do it, they would be better prepared. 

The final day of our stay was a day of snorkeling and sailing for Mandisa and I. Swimming in the middle of the ocean is such a surreal and peaceful experience. Watching sea life go through its version of normality is fascinating. I could watch it all day. I did however hope to see more fish than I did. Our sailor did warn that the time of the year isn’t great for seeing a wide variety of fish and sea life. It was a great experience nonetheless.

"Fun in the Sun"
The date of departure was a tough one. We had to leave the resort at 06h00 and the flight was delayed by 2 hours after the pilot found a fault in one of the engines. The airline, understandably didn’t let anyone out of the plane during this time, and that resulted in a number of passengers being uneasy. The Khumalos slept most of that time, as we had had an early morning. I got some work done, as the brain was now switching back into work mode.

We eventually landed safely in Johannesburg. 

We were happy to be back home. But we were sad the holiday had come to an end. This one will stay with us for a long time to come.

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