My wife & I (well-travelled and an unassuming couple), stayed in this exclusive 5* residence for a period of 9 days (half board) on the recommendation of my trusted travel agent having included this stay as part of a 3 week holiday (South Africa plus safari and on to Mauritius).
Hotel architecture, rooms and ambience, were as anticipated given the rating; the staff were accommodating and were generally very eager to appear friendly, as we are ourselves. The deposit of a previously discarded apple core in or room upon arrival was certainly disappointing and was given back to Reception; interestingly it was ‘accepted’ without any apology offered.
The first evening meal, shortly after our (latish) arrival included in the menu, loin of lamb. “How would I wish this to be cooked” I was asked? “Well done and without blood” was the reply. The lamb duly arrived and at the first cut demonstrated running blood! This was immediately returned with obvious explanation and I awaited further additional heat to quell the haemorrhage. Unfortunately the 2nd attempt did nothing to stem the flow as the meat remained ‘rare’ and oozing with the ‘red stuff’. It was sent back to the chef with adequate explanation, at which point my appetite had been extinguished and no further meal was consumed. The explanation given was that to cook the meat to MY request would be to render the meat tough and dry; that I fully understood but as I (surprisingly for lamb) had been asked initially how I wished the meat to be cooked, I had thought that the least that would be served was a dish to MY preference.
That was only the start! So then further problems - we were asked if either of us had any dietary issues to divulge? “Yes”, an allergy to mussels was notified; “Not a problem” and this was understood by the restaurant staff; point made! Trying to engage with Mauritius and its culture we ‘booked’ a Mauritian meal (24 hours’ notice required). As the meal included a seafood ragout we re-iterated forcefully my wife’s mussel allergy and this element was duly noted, being heartily assured the matter was in hand. Surprise! Guess what was served as the first course? Despite the plate being put in front of my wife with the verbal statement “No mussels” by the server, there indeed was at least one large mussel. Red faces ++++. Needless to say, the dish was re-prepared, this time ‘sans moules’. Too late, the bubble had burst and the defective communication within the staff members was further exposed.
Needless to say, the not insubstantial ‘supplementary’ charges were waived and we received wine without charge in an attempt at reparations.
The following morning, I felt it obligatory to speak with the General Manager and give direct feedback concerning the events of the previous experience. I requested from Reception details of the said name and route of access and was given his card. Unsurprisingly the gentleman was already on the lookout for us and was eager to understand the detail of our plight. We chatted well and extensively in a thoroughly low key manner, pointing out our observations/feedback that whilst being friendly to guests, the staff seemed to miss the point of ordering food and precisely noting the detail of the order.
A robust meeting with the staff was held with the Manager (as we observed) and we assumed the ‘blip’ would become a historical matter and forgotten by us. Whoops; the following morning we were again presented with breakfast dishes that were not ‘as offered’ by the waiting on staff who although (mentally) noting our order, had not re-iterated the food order to confirm the appropriate detail. The meal did not live up to expectation therefore; disappointing given the (self-proclaimed) major status of the establishment.
We had further friendly rapport with the Manager (at his instigation) who was shocked and disappointed with the service we had received, especially after our previous dialogue.
I do not wish to labour the point but if staying at a 5* hotel (as we often do), there is an expectation of an appropriate level of service.
A further minor matter also comes to mind; a complimentary bottle of water was available only upon the day of our arrival and not further offered. A ‘standard procedure’ there, as we were informed!
I must complete the review by adding that our departure was enhanced by a (duly accepted) offer of an individual late afternoon Mauritian meal, prepared and served to us adjacent to the beach at an arranged timing of 4pm. This consisted of an exceptional array of Mauritian cuisine, completely superb with fantastic and individual service by ‘Avi’; probably the most outstanding (and young) staff member encountered during our stay.
So what more can I say? The ambience and surroundings are superb however the amenities of the sister hotel (just across the road, Casuarina Hotel) were not advertised at all but as we are gregarious, we found these for ourselves (including a shop) and enjoyed several nights of entertainment (live music, dancing and demonstrations of local custom) with the reduced prices for drinks an added bonus!
We are an innately positive couple and would not let the circumstances we experienced detract from our overall enjoyment of the stay but if this residence is to maintain its own advertised standards then attention to basic detail must be taken seriously.
The general lack of choice of Mauritian cuisine was glaringly overt within the menu, despite an ‘option’ to engage with 1 or maybe 2 local dishes on a nightly basis there was a requirement to book 24 hours in advance for a fully ‘local’ meal experience - disappointing.
The Manager advised us that many/most guests choose ‘haut cuisine’ dishes rather than local food and that is the reason for the limited local dishes. Note our own findings in this respect! What a shame - stay elsewhere other than this establishment if that is your preference; let the Mauritians celebrate their unique culture. NB take note from where the winner of UK ‘Masterchef’ originates from this year?!
Thank you for reading this honest appraisal, we are very likely to return to Mauritius but not necessarily stay in the same hotel - unless of course changes are evident to engage with Mauritian culture.
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- Also Known As:
- Le Cardinal Exclusive Hotel Trou Aux Biches
- Le Cardinal Exclusive Resort Mauritius/Trou Aux Biches