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When deciding to go to Mauritius a common dilemma is whether to go HB or AI. Half Board means you get buffet breakfast and dinner. Drinks and lunch are chargeable extras. Of course at breakfast you will be able to drink fruit juice, tea, coffee and water.
If you choose All Inclusive it will normally include breakfast, lunch and dinner with drinks included. Some hotels also include a free mini bar and some afternoon tea or pancakes.
A few hotels will have a Full Board option.This includes breakfast, lunch and dinner but drinks will be excluded.
Significant exclusions for AI in Mauritius hotels commonly include imported beers and spirits and also freshly squeezed juices. There may be restrictions on a choice of hotel restaurants or credits given if you choose a certain restaurant instead. So locally produced wines, beers, rum, whiskey, gin etc will be part of the AI package but not Bells Scotch whisky or Gordons Gin for instance. Hotels such as Shandrani are now including premium branded drinks as part of their AI but it comes at a high price point.
Note that most AI packages end at 2300 hours although others are later - the new Riu hotels at Le Morne offer their AI 24 hours round the clock and Ravenala offer a 24 hour service via their nightclub which only closes at breakfast time.
Whichever option you take you are likely to sign a chit (They do not tend to bother with wristbands that AI guests have to wear in other countries except for the new Riu hotels and Casuarina Hotel) Please check for any discrepancies before you sign. For HB customers, your drinks and lunches will form part of your final bill. For AI customers, extras such as imported alcoholic drinks will count as extras and will be part of your bill.
To decide which option to take, it is suggest that you take into account the following factors:
On the southern and eastern side of Mauritius, many hotels are on sprawling estates with nothing much outside. There is little by way of other restaurants and shops and you are a captive market a far as the hotels are concerned. This is reflected in the price of food and drinks. It may make more sense to go AI.
Once you have gone AI you have taken care of a significant part of your holiday expenditure. Except for tips, taxis and souvenirs you may not spend another penny, dime or euro during your holiday. Those drinks by the pool bar seem to taste twice as good when you are on AI and you can have them countless times.
If you go HB then all those drinks that you have and any other lunches can mount up significantly. If you are lucky and there is a café or a fast food joint nearby then lunch can be cheaper, but this is not always the case in Mauritius, where restaurants in tourist areas tend to be expensive.
If you wish to go AI then you need to consider the difference between the HB budget and the AI budget and see if it is worth upgrading.
Imagine you are a family of 4 that are considering going AI on a 10 day holiday. To upgrade to AI will cost £20 per day per person. That is for a family of four; £80 per day and the total cost over the 10 day would be £800.
It is a lot of money but with mid-day lunch averaging at hotels, £10 -15 per person in 3 to 4 star hotels, soft drinks at £2 per glass then it will not take much to calculate that lunch and 5 drinks a day will mean you will break even. (Remember drinks with your evening meals are extras when you are on HB).
If you are on HB as a family of four it may not be unusual that your spending pattern for the same 10 day holiday has exceeded £1000. If you are one of these people that like a bottle of house wine with your meal or like to relax and watch the evening entertainment with a glass or two of beer then it will be expensive and you may be better off going AI.
Disadvantages of AI
If you do choose the AI option then neglect to take advantage of it, you have wasted your money. This does not mean you should force yourself to eat the chocolate bars in the mini bar if they are part of the deal or drink like a fish. But if you are out touring everyday then you have not exercised your lunch options for example.
A more abstract disadvantage is if you go AI is that you are not actually spending money in Mauritius that benefits the Mauritian economy. Once you have paid for the trip to the travel agent, your money tends to end up with multi national chains such as Hilton, Meridien and Sofitel etc. You could certainly go to Mauritius and spend very little actual money directly at the place you are visiting.