Like any top end resort, Sofitel is beautifully designed too, fronting the Indian Ocean. I was really excited to reach at the end of a long day. Check in took a while. I was immediately greeted at lobby and given a nice welcome drink. From there it all went downhill. Over the next five days, I had my worst stay at any luxury hotel anywhere due to poor service. And I appreciate just how demanding a hotel job can be. I was there for a conference, spent only occasional hours at the hotel, yet it turned out to be too long.
The hotel is badly located, about an hour’s drive from the capital Port Louis. It is towards the end of a road, and the only public transport are overpriced cabs. Even bus routes end before the road reaches the hotel. There is nothing around, only more luxury hotels, so anything you need will have to procured earlier or you could pay a hefty extra charge.
The hotel architecture is standardly pretty. Apart from the concession to lattice work railings, the hotel could have been anywhere in the world and you wouldn’t have known where from its interiors. Sea shore hugging white beach – check, blue tiled pool – check, wood and stone themed bar, yes, wooden tent shaped restaurant next to the beach – yes, lawns with cement walkways (avoid goblet ones) – right, pools with lilies, check, Buddha statues - why - not sure, but check, coloured serving staff – of course.
The room was decent. I was on the ground floor, and it had a little verandah that opened towards the sea. It was a really long way from the reception though, and that made it a long walk several times a day. The bed was okay. A nice table and chair set and a spacious lounge meant the room could easily host more than two if required. Room colours were soft pastels. There was a nice walk-in wardrobe. Excellent storage spaces. The wash area was spacious, with a nice deep bath and a separate shower. Shifting panels separate room and washroom – not sure why. Toiletries were Hermes, though not of the brand’s usual retail standards. Separate basins, good. No bedroom slippers. No shoe polish. Tap water not advised and limited water supply in room. Strangely, the first evening, there was a pineapple wrapped in plastic on the table, but was removed by next morning, and never came back. No complimentary food at all, again a first of the many luxury hotels I have stayed in, but okay, that’s up to the hotel! Only very average tea and coffee sachets with the tea maker. Standard TV- most channels in French.
On my first evening there, the room next to mine caught fire, and the electricity for the block went off! First time experience, and could have been a nice ice breaker, only everyone had to largely stand outside and wait for it to be fixed. While the persons whose room had caught fire were shifted, I had a rather tense night, fearing another short circuit. But no offers to change rooms, possibly because the hotel was full, but it wasn’t reassuring.
There were a lot of lamps and soft lights. Also decent bed lamps. When I went to switch them off, I discovered at least four would not switch off. I felt silly complaining about lights, but had to call eventually. When I asked for assistance, some lamps were changed. Then I discovered the TV remote did not work. So I called again. Then I discovered that the only plug points I could plug in were two pin points, and my laptop needed a three pin plug point. On calling for an adaptor, the housekeeping staff asked me to contact reception. Reception said they did not have an adaptor. Needless to say, the hotel is in the middle of nowhere, so no shops. Anyway shops close by 5pm in Mauritius. No solutions offered. I bought an adaptor next day from Port Louis, only to discover next evening that the plug point was broken. Quite a while later, someone came, and after long testing, shut off mains to repair the point. Darkness again! A hand towel remained unreplaced – and it felt petty to call and point out these things.
The internet was something I had specially requested for, and that proved to be another challenge. Every day I had to call and ask for a password, and even though this was a paid service, did not work for more than a few minutes on any day! One day I called five times and while I was told somebody would come and check, nobody did. I was in fact supposed to get in touch with the hotel’s staff, but couldn’t even write a mail to them. When I asked the reception, they said the lobby has reception, come and work here. Well, the reception is an open area, and it is hot and sticky there, no air con, no real workplace where one can work on a laptop, and of course no place to plug in as no three-point plugs! In fact no plug in points at all. The net issue remained unresolved. Also incidentally, net usage in the room did not come cheap and was charged!
Staff service quality ranged from average to terrible. Housekeeping was okay, though not always the best English speakers. Evening service was very late each day – once around 8.30 pm. A programme of hotel activities, which I told is a daily thing, was left once in my room. Reception was generally unhelpful almost daily. Despite my calling and they being able to recognize the room I was calling from, every day I was spoken to in French when I made it quite clear that I did not speak the language. In fact on my five calls in the evening in about 90 minutes for the net, such was the stonewalling and each time in French initially, that I asked whether the receptionist – same person – could recognize which room I was calling from. Each time the call was replied to in French. Besides the net issue, almost anything I asked was met with blank faces. I am not a ‘white’ person, which I realized from seeing guests over the days, was itself quite rare in the hotel. The reception was supposed to have a folder with conference information in it, and I am still to get it, though the organizers said they had left it there. I reached the hotel around five pm and was supposed in get in touch with the hotel PR person. I asked and was told I would be contacted in my room. When I finally asked around 9pm, I was told she has left – why didn’t I ask earlier? I finally only met her the last day, when it was too late to ask about any work, nor did I have any desire left to do so. I asked for a map of Port Louis once, and was told it is not available. Once I asked the reception how far Casela Bird Park was, and I was told one and a half hours. And with such a why-do-you-even-dare-to-ask look that I did not even have the courage or the heart to ask how to go. Later I discovered the driving distance was 13 minutes from the hotel! Also the airport is at the eastern end of the island, and the hotel at the western, and even that journey, five times longer, had not taken as long. On the last day of my stay, I was walking in and the gateman asked where I was going – and I had smiled at him each morning while leaving! Skin colour matters I guess. Definitely I began noticing, and saw the same surly staff fawning over white guests. One evening at the restaurant, I was looking for someone, and was twice asked whether I would like to eat there. The tone each time was a mix of derision and contempt – and no guest of whatever colour deserves that. I am mentioning skin colour as that was the only way any impression of me could have been made, we had no other meeting ground.
The real let down for me (yes even over the above) was food. The breakfast and dinner buffets at Ravinala were very average and again the worst I have had in a luxury hotel anywhere. Choices were limited each time. There were just a few hot dishes – largely same - wait for your crepe, sad Chinese steamed veggies, basic noodles – not steamed enough, French breads, standard salads, a bit of dry looking Indian rice dish, ‘fresh’ catch seafood which could have been better steamed, the same pasta and huge roundel of cheddar… I thought perhaps I am being picky, till on two separate evenings, my dining companions mentioned the lack of options. There were hardly any local options, and the food again would not have been out of place in any European resort! Not one memorable dish. Even the fruits were just standard with no concession to local options. Once someone asked for papaya at dinner and was given a plate of almost raw, hard ones. Surely the stock for next morning just a few hours away would have available! The best part at breakfast were the beautiful tea pots and little jam bottles! Once, and I sincerely hope as adornment, there were huge cabbages in a basket. Water for dinner is chargeable, even the buffet is about 1,600 rupees plus taxes!!! A bottle of water I got for 19 rupees outside was 120 rupees in the hotel. I discovered that there was so much else on offer food wise outside. And this I was asked to pay for! Mauritius may have started look eastwards but hospitality standards do not match Asian ones yet.
There is a gym that seemed to open pretty late, as does the pool. One can hire boats for sea trips from the beach outside. There is a public beach nearby too. Also because I have a slight limp, tried to locate elevators but failed. Did not try spa.
I daresay my experiences were somewhat unexpected and too many wrongs came together. Why there were so many wrongs is another question altogether. Especially in a luxury hotel. The water and beaches are lovely, enjoy them. Mauritius is full of hotels and at this price, pick one with better service quality.
Opt for a room closer to the reception. Walks can be really long and boring otherwise.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.