We stayed at the stunning Heritage Awali on the all inclusive package as our honeymoon (we were married on 21st June and stayed at the Awali 24th June - 1st July). Having researched options in Mauritius very carefully, the Awali came out top of our pile and we couldn't have been happier that it did.
Firstly, I'd like to address some of the negatives that other people have mentioned because if like us you read reviews to do your research before you book, it's important to hear about them! We had no issues with any of the things others have mentioned, so from my perspective;
1) All inclusive - not complicated at all as to what you can have, where and / or when, and what is extra, and if in doubt refer to your sheet... or ask!
On arrival at the hotel, you are given a 2-sided A4 page detailing very clearly what is, and is not, included on the all inclusive package and at what times, where. You also get a very complex sheet of what activities are run on which days. The number of different dining options there are make it very easy to have a meal and a drink at whatever time you'd like to, what activities are free, and what things are extra. My husband and I knew we needed to be careful about what we did, where, and when - but the staff couldn't have been more accommodating and helpful, and if we were ever confused or in doubt, we just asked. It really wasn't complicated!
2) Advance booking - Make your reservations for your first two nights through your tour operator if you're really that bothered, and be sure to take time to read your paperwork.
The Balafon restaurant is a 3 times a day turn up and eat what you like from the buffet restaurant. The Amafrooty mini restaurant located in ZenZiBar is a help yourself from noon until evening snack / junk food / hot option restaurant. Both don't need to be booked at all. The Infinity Blue is a turn up for lunch whatever day you feel like option - that's 1 on-site non-book breakfast, 3 on-site non-book lunch options, and 1 on-site non-book evening option.
Infinity Blue does need to be booked 48 hours in advance for the evening through the Balafon restaurant - this was made clear to us by our tour operator as we booked the holiday. I'd recommend that you book this for your first and second night in advance if you enjoy seafood, but that wasn't impossible to do had we chosen to.
As part of the all inclusive package, you also get the option of dining once at Le Chateaux, which is a 24 hour in advance pre-book. You need to pay for drinks, and some of the meal options do require a supplement (like Lobster) but the menu is very clear as to what is what with this. Again, had we chosen to book this for our first night, the tour operator could have arranged this for us.
The package we were on also included a candle-light meal as we were honeymooners - this is run on a Tuesday and a Thursday. Having missed this bit of information to be in time for either option, the front desk very kindly contacted Infinity Blue and booked a special 'off-night' version for us - staff go out of their way to be helpful and accommodating.
The food was so good at Balafon, Amafrooty and Infinity Blue that we didn't wander as far (not that it IS far!) as C Beach Club, where we could have dined for lunch at 2 non-book restaurants and for an evening meal at 1 non-book restaurant, with limitations on what could be had.
Due to some issues with our booking in advance of arrival we were also given a free meal at Gin'ja (though it isn't included generally in the all inclusive package, it is definately worth a visit), the Tel Afair's Oriental Fusion restaurant. This, too, needed to be booked in advance, partly because it isn't open every night.
3) Dress code - It isn't painful or difficult to be a little smarter, marginally so, for evenings and it adds something to the experience - enjoy the sense of occasion!
The Awali (and other linked Heritage resorts) have recently relaxed the dress code and a little card detailing the simple guidelines can be found in the bedrooms. The dress code is from 6.30pm through all bars and restaurants, but essentially is a 'no t-shirts, flip-flops or beach shorts'. A polo shirt (which classes as collared), pair of cotton chinos and trainers was fine for men. Women get off relatively lightly (though I think wearing bikini tops would have been pushing it!) but I always opted for a long skirt or trousers to avoid potential mosquito bites, and if wearing open toed, heeled sandals, ensured I was well covered in insect repellant. Indeed, trousers and longer sleeves are recommended on several travel sites from dusk to avoid being bitten. It certainly wasn't hard to 'dress for dinner' and it ensured we felt a sense of occasion, albeit relaxed. It added a certain something to the holiday.
In addition, there were plenty of tables located on solid ground rather than sand, so you certainly didn't need to get sand into smart shoes regardless of which restaurant you opted for.
4) Waiting for your 2pm check in - If you're due to arrive before 2pm, pack a change of clothes, sunglasses and sunscreen in your carry-on to change into, and crash out on a beach lounger for an hour.
Ok, you've traveled for 24 hours (by the time you've left your house in the UK, gotten to the airport, flown to Dubai, waited for your next flight, flown to Mauritius, been transferred from the airport to the hotel) and you're tired. You arrive at 12.30pm and want to collapse into your bedroom. Well, check out isn't until 12 noon. The cleaners are quick, and excellent, and they have high standards. Unless there is 1 cleaner on shift per room checking out, you aren't getting into your room before 2pm, because they can't be expected to get through all of those rooms immediately. Anyone complaining about this is being a little unrealistic. You can't have such a generous late check-out time AND have access to your room the second you arrive. However, we were given a delicious refreshing drink, filled out / showed appropriate paperwork, were offered the use of showers to freshen up, shown what was where, and were pointed in the direction of lunch whilst our room as turned around. By the time we'd had a drink, some food, and a quick change of clothing from our cabin luggage, our room was ready.
5) "Tired" decor - The Awali is intentionally charmingly rustic and gorgeous, and is being carefully refurbished anyway.
The Awali has been open for 10 years. The decor has been described by other reviewers as tired or shabby, but we honestly didn't feel or find this to be the case at all. One of the accommodation blocks was in the process of being refurbished as we were there - lots of local tradesmen smiling and saying hello as they came in and out with paint, or clambered up to re-roof (thatch, essentially) the building. We found out from our BRILLIANT cleaner, Sakir, that we were the last people to be staying in our bedroom before it was re-decorated.
The Infinity Blue is undergoing an over-haul too. The Awali has relocated the I.B. staff and menu to a section of Balafon, which is why it's still possible to eat there even though it is 'shut for refurbishment'. We were anxious that the I.B was undergoing work but were delighted with how carefully and thoughtfully the resort had dealt with this.
In all cases, the noise interruption is minimal, can't be heard from the residences or the beach, and can only be heard as you're walking directly past.
Having addressed some of the common 'gripes' others have had with the Awali, the number of positive things we could share about this place is phenomenal, but comes down to this - ambiance. The staff are all incredibly warm and genuinely helpful - no false smiles or platitudes in sight. They care and want to give you the very best experience they can.
In particular, the following people deserve an extra special mention;
ZenZiBar - Danny, Vanessa, Vish, Abernash
Balafon - Olivier
Beach Bar - Sadly we didn't get the name of the lady who didn't stop smiling and laughing, but she was brilliant, as were the other staff there during our stay - we were 'shooed' very kindly and nicely away from the bar and had immediate beach lounger service the first visit, and after that we were spoiled rotten with drinks, and even having pizzas delivered to our sun loungers.
Room Cleaning - Sakir
Reception / Front of House - Natacha and Sharone
There were many, many others who we didn't directly deal with but who were utterly brilliant - Shuma (the heavily pregnant cleaning lady) always had a warm smile and hello for us, as did all of the tireless grounds-keeping staff.
We very quickly stopped requesting specific drinks and trusted the staff to provide us with delicious cocktails. The highlight was a Pina Colada served in a hollowed out pineapple - delicious! If you like beer, DO try the Blue Marlin. We only discovered it on the last day of our stay, sadly.
The food at all of the restaurants, be it the breakfast buffet, self-serve bar snacks or waited table service, was fresh, delicious and presented beautifully.
The free massage at the 7 Colours Spa was wonderful, but we had a trip planned immediately following it and sadly didn't get to investigate the Sauna or Cold Plunge Pool.
There were only two minor issues our entire stay - one was down to translation issues (I was served the wrong dish at a restaurant which wouldn't have been an issue, but I had a moral objection to what the dish I was given was served with - the waiter simply got muddled between Quail and Chicken), and the other was someone being a little 'jobsworth' about a picnic booking (when his colleague who I'd approached to ask had just said 'yes') and the maximum cash we could withdraw from the hotel as Sunday is apparently a short cash day, when we'd been spoiled utterly by previous staff and hadn't expected that approach. Sadly, back to back on the same night! But on both occasions, staff were very quick to sort things out and do their level best for us (I was brought the right meal quickly, and we ended up being able to book our picnic after all), and it certainly didn't detract from an otherwise perfect (beyond perfect) stay.
Tips for fellow travelers to the Awali;
Pack a change of clothes, sunglasses and sunscreen in your carry-on luggage, and you'll be able to relax and enjoy the resort as soon as you get there, even if your room isn't quite ready.
'Winter' time (May to July, ish) is around 20 to 23 degrees. If, like me, you don't like it too hot, this is warm enough to be in t-shirts and shorts and to sunbathe on the beach but without being uncomfortably warm. The added bonus is that it is considered off season, is slightly cheaper and not as crowded at various tourist attractions. If you want it hotter, look at the seasonal temperatures and plan your holiday timing accordingly. We specifically chose 'winter', as the temperatures were perfect for us.
As soon as you can upon arrival, speak to the front desk team about activities - what you'd like to do, and when it is available. We had a few things booked privately before we arrived and as a result didn't take advantage of all the free activities available. We will next time! Remember that the resort includes a golf course and a nature reserve...
Avoid buying anything from, or engaging with, the beach hawkers. They do take no for an answer, and security staff appear from no-where if they stop and appear to be bothering you, but if you are friendly and approachable they'll start their banter. A polite 'no thanks' stopped them coming close.
Smile and say hello! Everyone will to you. The Mauritian approach is very relaxed and the sooner you adopt a less reserved attitude, the more you'll enjoy your stay.
Take note of staff names (they all wear name tags) and be sure to praise them on here, as well as in your end of stay questionnaire. They all work incredibly hard and deserve the credit. The same staff could be found setting up the bar at 9.30/10am as were closing up at midnight, or cleaning rooms at 9am and still at it during evening turn down.
Lock your safe! We forgot one day, and returned to our room to find our keys didn't work. On heading down to reception, it became apparent that the cleaner had found our safe open and had immediately vacated and locked the room, reported it to reception and reception had cancelled our keys so we would head back there and be updated. Security came with us to the room to ensure all was well. This was clearly for our safety and peace of mind and we were hugely impressed with the staff for the way they handled it (though I wasn't popular with the husband-shape!).
If you get great service, and have the cash with you, we found tipping directly (small amounts) took the already excellent service and attention through the roof to epic. We didn't wait once for a drink, table, food, attention, help... and that was before we tipped staff who were thoroughly deserving. If you feel this isn't for you, there is a tipping box in reception where you can put money, which is split amongst the staff at the end of the year.
We will definitely be back and won't consider being anywhere else on the island.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In the heart of the unspoiled wild south of the island, Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort is the ideal place to experience authentic Mauritius and relax in harmony with nature either for just the two of you, or with the whole family. This luxury hotel combines elegance with the magic of Africa and offers high-end accommodations and an exceptional range of facilities: 18 hole golf course overlooking the ocean, two of the most beautiful well being centres of the Indian Ocean area with the Seven Colours Spa and the Umuzi Fitness Centre, a unique concept in kids' clubs and privileged access to a colonial manor house and a nature reserve. A variety of unique delights to leave you with unforgettable holidays in Mauritius. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Heritage Awali Golf And Spa Resort
- Heritage Awali Golf Hotel Bel Ombre
- Heritage Hotel Bel Ombre
- Heritage Resort Bel Ombre
- Heritage Mauritius
- Heritage Golf Spa Mauritius
- Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort Mauritius/Bel Ombre