I'm told the Merville Beach can never become a 4 star because there's no space to enlarge the pool but everything else about it is lovely and with the best beach(es) around it doesn't need to.
I like a 'nice' hotel but this one was not too grand; Merville Beach had just the right balance for me - it sounds snobby but you had neither the Benidorm crowd nor the uncomfortable feeling that everyone there but you is loaded and you are letting the place down by even being there. My sister-in-law had been before and insisted we go this time and she was absolutely right. We've stayed at La Plantation before and it was lovely but, frankly, a wee bit too grand - I knew it was just a matter of time until they discovered I didn't belong there and evicted me. ;)
Staff are extremely warm and helpful (although one chap on reception could use a few happy pills, but he stands out because everyone else is so nice to talk to), rooms are being upgraded and the location is great - easy walk to Grand Baie but still a sense of being out of town.
My choice of room, if I was to go again, would be a sea-facing superior room. We had one and the only reason I haven't given this place 5 stars is that ours was yet to be modernised. I saw one that had been, though, while they were airing it as the paint dried, and it was gorgeous - all light and airy and white.
My sister in law was in a villa room, first downstairs then (better) upstairs) and hers had been renovated but actually the renovated sea-facing superior rooms in the garden buildings were, I thought, nicer. The hotel has 3 sections of beach and the sand was definitely best at the beach in front of the garden rooms, although obviously we were free to go to any bit we wanted. She liked her room better, though, so it really is a matter of taste. Her bathroom was enormous.
Restaurant staff were lovely and would make you special food if nothing suited - my daughter turned up her nose at their Indian night so they rushed off to make her chicken and chips, which was really kind of them. The breakfast pancakes and waffles are fantastic. Alcohol was a bit pricy - we ended up stocking the fridge with our own stuff and having a drink before dinner, but I expect the prices would be just the same anywhere else. (We went half board, which was worth it as we hired a car and were off exploring all the time but if I was planning on sticking around then full board would definitely be worth the extra.)
They have a free phone booth just outside reception, where you can make calls to anyone in the world. That was a lovely touch and I really appreciated being able to ring back to check on my parents while I was away without having to worry about what it was doing to my room bill. (I think next time I go to Mauritius I'll buy a local SIM card - no need if you're always in the hotel but if you're out and about and splitting up and want to meet up with others later, it cuts out the ridiculously high overseas rates the phone companies charge.)
Must mention Khalida in the gift shop - what a nice lady. If anyone in the hotel reads this, please tell her Adam's mum says hello. (My 11 year old was off making friends with the staff and between them and other holidaying boys he met we barely saw him on this trip.)
Keep an eye out in the evening around the villas for the Mauritian shrews (Tenrecs), a bit like furry hedghogs without spikes and which come out at night. They're really cute and are not rats, so don't get them mixed up and worry about them. Spotting them was a real highlight for the kids each evening.
The hotel does lots of free watersports, although we never got around to doing them - only had a week and we were too busy doing other things or just relaxing.
Hotel staff speak good English and French - there are still British voices around but this hotel is used more by French holidaymakers, which makes it feel a little more cosmopolitan. There are also South Africans, Danes and Germans - we left just as the English school holidays started (we're in Wales and ours started a week earlier) and there were definitely more British people arriving as we checked out.
Surprisingly, although they have Mauritian food, it's not the dominant cuisine at the hotel - we were told the other guests complain if there is too much Mauritian food. (Mad, because it's fantastic. Mind you, the French are famous for preferring their own food so perhaps the themed 'Italian/Chinese/Indian/Mediterranean' nights were as adventurous as many were willing to go.) However, the staff were happy to make us Mauritian food on request and it was very nice.
It's about an hour's drive from Grand Baie to the airport; watch out for traffic in Port Louis from 3pm-about 5pm as schools & office let out. We left earlier than we needed to, cleared Port Louis then stopped for lunch at a shopping mall just south of it called Bagatelle, just off the main road. Really nice food court and a good way to break the journey.
NB If you need a supermarket on a Sunday afternoon, the local shops close but the Food Lovers Market at La Croisette, the new mall on the way into Grand Baie, is open on a Sunday until about 5pm. La Croisette also has a food court, which helps if you're trying to keep control of your spending.
If you're after good value car hire, we used AKD. The car definitely wasn't new but it did what we needed it to and was much cheaper than the other firms - local companies beat the pants off the big internationals in that respect - and we'd seen good reviews on them from other people. They met us at Arrivals with it and collected it when we got back to the airport to leave again - no messing about standing in line at Hertz/Avis depots as people ahead of you wrangle about forms etc.
So, would I go to Merville Beach Hotel again? Definitely. Many thanks to all at the hotel for making it such a nice trip.
Sea-facing superior are fab.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
29 April, 2013
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Thank you for staying with us during your recent stay in Mauritius.
We are indeed delighted to read your nice comments that encourage the whole team and I to maintain and improve our services and facilities.
The Merville Beach is facing interesting and motivating challenges this year and as a matter of fact, our bungalow rooms have already undergone a soft refurbishment.
Very concerned about the comfort of our customers and to ensure the least disturbance possible, we are progressing slowly but surely in our soft refurbishment campaign of deluxe, Superior and standard rooms.
Thank you for recognising Khalida and the whole team, I shall pass on to them your kind remembrance.
With renewed thanks for trusting Merville Beach and looking forward to welcoming you back in the not too far distant future.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.