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Mark Pilgrim Kia

Westin Turtle Bay Mauritius: The review

It was time again for a family vacation.

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I'm a big fan of Mauritius. Nothing beats a tropical island getaway, and being a 4 hour flight for South Africans, it's probably the closest tropical destination. Well, having said that, if you take the earlier flight out of South Africa (9.40am), you land up getting to your hotel about 5pm local time (they are +4 GMT). Door-to-door you are still looking at about 10 hours in total.

This festive season my girls and I (along with my wife's family) spent 10 days at Westin's new 5 star Turtle Bay Resort. I don't know the whole story, but it's something along the lines of it used to be called the Grand Mauritian. About 2 years ago a sugarcane field fire jumped the road and engulfed the resort, resulting in a total rebuild and the new hotel opened about 3 months ago.

We took an Ocean View Family Room, which I must say is quite spacious and modern.

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Being an Apple nut, I loved it that the bedside clock radio accommodated the newer iPhones with the smaller connector:

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I must also say, it's the best room I've ever stayed in for kids. It has a spare full king sized bed nestled in an alcove, which the kids slept in (as opposed to having to book a more expensive double room, or have the girls sleep on a sleeper couch).

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Possibly, being a new resort, every staff member seemed invigorated and ready to please and the lasting impression I have of Turtle Bay is the good service. But there again, I suppose you get what you pay for, and especially over the holiday period, we were paying a FORTUNE per day, so in a way, I expected nothing less.

They have 2 pools, their main large pool on the one end of the resort, and then this smaller pool off to the other side of the resort (very close to our room):

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Both pools are great to swim in, but the bigger pool is more kid friendly with a much bigger shallow area, so we landed up trekking a good 15 minutes each way a few times a day. Most resorts tend to have their large pool towards the centre of the resort floor plan, but not this one, so if you have kids, I highly recommend trying to get a room closer to the southern side.

The breakfast and dinner buffets are quite nice. Not a huge selection, but the food is prepared well and tastes good.

Lunch proved to be a little more of a challenge though. The 3 lunch restaurants are spread along the beach from south to north and each have their own menu. Collectively, it's a nice selection, but sitting at a particular restaurant or ordering from the beach menu on its own didn't provide a great selection. The food and beverage manager did try and accommodate us as we always wanted orders from multiple menus. The problem was the waiters landed up running around like headless chickens trying to get to the various kitchens and communication got lost and food orders took too long or simply never came. I commend their efforts though on trying to appease us, but almost feel they need a better lunch menu per restaurant so patrons don't feel the need to try and order from a different menu. The food is not cheap,  but never is wherever you stay in Mauritius. If you're on half board, you're looking at about R250 for a hamburger. A piece of steak will cost you about R600.

Also, not a good or bad comment, just something to be aware of if you have kids. Even though we were on the all inclusive package, any room service is fully charged for, even if you order an early dinner for the kids. To feed your kids it's better to take them to the main restaurant at about 6pm where the friendly staff will make them dinner (but bear in mind, buffet for adults only opens at 7pm). As a side note, the Four Seasons in Mauritius is a little more flexible for children, where they offered complimentary room service for kids dinners.

With any resort though, and I've stayed at a few of them in Mauritius,  it's not normally the big things that differentiate them, it's the smaller things. So, if you're reading this and deciding whether Westin Turtle bay is a feasible vacation destination, here are the "small" good and bad:

GOOD

  • Free Wi-Fi. Their website still says there's a euro charge per day, but this is no longer the case. You have reliable Wi-Fi throughout the resort. This made me happy! Besides being a gadget geek, these days Wi-Fi just makes sense as a free value added service.  It makes you feel that the hotel is not trying to grab every little penny off you when it has a chance.
  • Turn down service. All the hotels have it, but I find the staff at this hotel do it really well. Even though our room generally looks like a bomb has exploded with toys and crap everywhere, they make order out of the chaos and pay attention to small things, like how they arranged my daughter's toys:
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  • Television. Unlike even some South African Hotels, their TV channel selection is extensive. My gauge is whether they have Sky News. A lot of resorts have CNN, but you know you have variety if Sky News is part of the bouquet. And importantly, every channel was crystal clear. No snowy pictures. 
  • Beds. EXTREMELY comfortable. They spared no expense on using the best mattress range available (unlike when we stayed at Belle Mare Plage and it felt like we were sleeping on a plank). 

THE BAD

  • We had a ground floor room leading onto a grass patch and the the beach. Yet, because the patio door has no keycard access, you need to always go out your back door and walk around to the beach if you wish to leave your room locked, which they recommend, as lots of locals walk past on the beach. This was really perplexing for me as part of the joy of paying more for a ground floor room is that you can simply "walk out".
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  • Golf carts. Having 2 young girls, we often didn't want to do the 15 minute trek to the other side of the resort, so we would request a golf cart to take us there. Turtle Bay was always very obliging, but it sometimes took so long for the cart to arrive, that we would land up walking anyway. It's as if they are not really geared up for that prompt shuttle service.
  • As mentioned earlier, their restaurant/beach menus individually don't offer much variety, but collectively balance out okay (if you can get them to accept orders from multiple restaurants).
  • They kept running out of towels at pool side.
These are all minor "bads". There is one though that might be the clincher for me in deciding whether or not I'll come back again...the beach. It's not great. There are rocks scattered throughout the shallow waters and on most of the beach. Both my daughter Tayla-Jean and my wife Nicole cut their feet on the beach requiring plasters.

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After a huge sea swell, I did see some staff trying to rake the smaller stones, but it was like they were farting in thunder because just as many were left behind.

Overall, I must say the Westin Turtle Beach resort is a beautiful new destination. I just think I am tempted to explore another hotel next time around as opposed to coming back again too soon. Having said that, if you've never been there before, it's worth staying at...just wait a few months for them to iron out some of the bugs. I give it a 7 out of 10.
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