We have been living in Germany now for almost 2.5 years, and in this time we have traveled fairly extensively around western Europe and the Mediterranean. With an early April Easter holiday, and the fact that we had both Good Friday & Easter Monday as a holiday, we wanted to plan a vacation to coincide with this long weekend. And, since this was also Amanda’s birthday, we wanted to plan a special trip.
How we decided on where to go? As we were traveling in early April and we wanted to go somewhere warm, we started looking at various destinations in the south, which we knew would be outside of Europe. After a little research, we chose as our destination the island nation of Mauritius off the coast of Madagascar in southern Africa.
To be 100% honest, I have never really heard of Mauritius before, so I did not know what to expect. We decided on Mauritius because several of our German colleagues had been and had very nice things to say about the island. So, our decision was made.
Other than being a warm destination, our other requirement was that we did not want to travel too far east going too many time zones ahead to not have to deal with jet lag, as we were only planning a relatively short trip of 5 nights. With Mauritius being only 2 hours ahead of the CET time zone, this requirement was met. However, it was still going to be an 11 hour flight from Frankfurt.
Booking our Flights: Therefore, our other requirement was to find a direct flight between Germany & Mauritius to minimize our travel time as much as possible. Luckily, with Mauritius being a popular German tourist destination, we were able to find a direct flight with Condor Airlines from Frankfurt. Condor offers Economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class seats. Being 11 hours, we knew we did not want to fly in Economy and chose Premium on our flight from Germany, and Business Class on our flight back. Both were okay and recommended, but if you desire to try to get some sleep, flying Business is more preferred as the seats fully recline down into a bed. Also, Condor will feed you VERY well on this flight!!
Booking our Hotel: Our next requirement was to find a nice resort that offered a lot of amenities to where we would both be pampered and in a beautiful location. With a little research, we found the St. Regis Resort Mauritius, and booked our stay for the Easter weekend (5 nights). For more information about the St. Regis Resort, I have a separate blog post here.
GENERAL HOTEL BOOKING TIP: In the US, we attempt to stay in hotel chains to accumulate points for future free rooms. But, we have found in Europe, most hotels are independent and not part of a chain, so we normally lose out on this benefit. We have been using the website hotels.com, which you can book rooms and accumulate credits for a free night after 10 stays. This has given us the flexibility to book different hotels regardless of affiliations and accumulate credits for free nights. Also, hotels.com does offer some great deals on hotels, especially if you take the risk and pre-pay your room, which is what we did. (St. Regis is a Starwood Property).
Booking a Taxi Service: The next item to look into was how would we get from the hotel to the Resort and back? And, if we wanted to do any excursions while there, how would we travel while on the island? Obviously, like anywhere, you can rent a car, but since we knew we only planned to travel between the airport & the hotel. we chose not to rent and to arrange a taxi service before arriving. We found online Taxi Mauritius and contacted them to reserve our transfers. For two people with two 50lb suitcases traveling an hour to/from the hotel was only 35 Euros each way (payable in cash in Euros or converted to 1400 Mauritian Rupees). Both our drivers met us on time at the airport and the hotel, and were very helpful in getting us to our destination. They also coordinate all-day taxi services if we had chosen to see more of the island, but we wanted to only stay at the resort during our stay. NOTE: being a former British colony, cars are still driven on the left side of the road.
Currency Exchange: the currency in Mauritius is the Mauritian Rupee, which at the time of our trip the foreign exchange rate was 1 Euro = 38.5 Rupees. Normally, when we travel, we use our German ATM card to withdraw money from the local ATM, as this typically provides the best rate. However, while we were waiting for our taxi at the Mauritian airport, I saw the exchange rate being offered at the currency booths, and it was 38.2, which for me is good enough. I was not sure how much to exchange, but went ahead and exchanged 500 Euro receiving back about 19,000 rupees. And, be sure to ask for some smaller bills to leave various tips throughout your stay.
Making It Happen: Since we have been traveling quite a bit, it was a Friday evening in early February when we came up with the idea of going somewhere for Easter (2 months away), and then by that early Sunday, we had everything booked!! In year’s past, it would have possibly taken a couple of weeks to coordinate a trip like this, but not for us any longer 😉
For both ways, from the time we left our apartment in Germany to opening the door at the Resort, it took us 19 hours door-to-door, but it was so worth it!!!!