So, if you don’t follow me on Instagram or we’re not Facebook friends, you wouldn’t have known that I went on holiday for a couple of weeks. It was incredible!! But first, I want to tell you why I hate TripAdvisor.
We booked our holiday to Cancun in October last year. We walked into the travel agents and D told the woman that he’s booking a holiday there and then, because we really felt like we needed to get away. And that’s what we did. Booked a holiday, deposit paid. Awesomeness.
D is a TripAdvisor addict. As soon as we booked Egypt last year, he was looking at all of the reviews, all of the photos, all of the questions. Everything. And, as a result, he discovered the hotel we’d booked in Cancun had a beach with a huge seaweed problem. No worries, says I. Let’s book another hotel in Cancun. So, after a couple of weeks of TripAdvisor surfing, D chose another hotel in Cancun, we paid the £100 administrative fee to the travel agent and we were still going on holiday.
Another few weeks had passed and D had been looking at TripAdvisor every single night. And had discovered that this new Cancun hotel was in a sort of strip next to other hotels, which looked pretty cramped. So D looked at all other options. We spent, what felt like, forever looking at reviews (both TripAdvisor and travel agent) and started looking at different countries. It took us forever, but we finally settled on Dominican Republic, paid another £100 and we were still going on holiday.
To be honest, the next part is a bit of a blur, but same old scenario. It got to the point where I banned D from looking at TripAdvisor for a week, because it was no longer exciting to go on holiday. We had already spent £200 more than what we had originally intended. But after that week, he TripAdvisor surfed again, decided there was something that didn’t settle well with what we had booked (I think he had read something that someone had been stealing in the rooms, but this was all the way back in February, so I can’t remember completely), we forked out yet another £100 administrative fee and had finally settled on Mauritius. I had told him that regardless of what he saw on TripAdvisor, we were not changing again and, if something really didn’t settle with him, we would cancel the whole damn thing altogether.
The main reason I hate TripAdvisor is this; people are looking for the negatives when they are meant to be enjoying themselves and relaxing on holiday. People write small novels about how they ran a white glove across a unit and discovered a speck of dust. About how the bartender didn’t know their drink after a few days at the resort. About how the beach is too sandy, the water is too wet and there are no chips as an option at dinner. I read some of the reviews and I seriously question how these people function in their everyday lives, at work or otherwise, with their constant nit-picking.
I completely appreciate the whole point of TripAdvisor, the clue’s in the name; to advise people on their upcoming trips. However, have we really become that sort of complaining society that we look at all the unimportant parts and not look at something as a whole? Does getting sand in your beach bag really put such a huge dampener on your holiday, that you couldn’t possibly enjoy anything else about it? What’s worse is that, having a TripAdvisor account, it has sort of made me into this person. And I hate it.
So, I decided to write a real review on my blog about the hotel we stayed at, because I wanted it to be true and honest, rather than a list of bullet points saying the worst thing about a resort.
We stayed at Ambre Resort and Spa, Belle Mare in Mauritius. It’s an all-inclusive resort, and we went with Thomson. The flight was loooooooong. Eleven hours. We left on a Sunday afternoon, arrived on a Monday early morning and were shattered. We had arranged a private transfer from the airport to the hotel, which took about an hour. I fell asleep in the car on D and I remember it feeling really humid in Mauritius, although it was absolutely tipping it down with rain.
We arrived at the hotel, greeted by smiley staff and a cold wet flannel. Bags were taken from us and taken straight to the room and we had to fill in some forms, just to say who we are and give some contact information. We were taken to our room by a lady – she didn’t show us directly to our room, but pointed us in the right direction – and we went in. We weren’t overwhelmed with the room, which looked quite tired, as if it needed to be repainted, but I think the pair of us were cranky and just wanted to sleep. But honestly, the room stank of damp. D investigated and there were fag ends outside on the veranda of our room. It felt like our room just hadn’t been used in a long time and almost forgotten. These are not nitty gritty TripAdvisor points – these were real life complaints that you would complain about if you were anywhere. I stormed down there, tired and in desperate need of a nap, and told reception that we needed to change our room. They told me the hotel was fully booked, but they’d get the housekeeper to our room. Literally, within five minutes, we had fresh new sheets and the room had been completely quarantined. We then napped.
Now, when we go on holiday, D and I literally like to sit by the beach and not do very much at all. Our plan was to chill for a week and actually go on excursions for the second week, but we did not move from our familiar sunbeds, just outside our room on the beach. I’m sure my one has a butt dent in it from where I didn’t move for hours. There were waiters wandering up and down the beach, asking if you wanted anything to drink and they were really great. We tipped each of them as we felt so bad that we were down the other end of the beach, ages away from the bar. The cocktails and beer that were all inclusive in our price were amazing, very refreshing and loads of choice. The beach was really relaxing, the beach was white sands. Although there was some seaweed, staff cleared it early in the morning. And really, seaweed can’t be helped, especially when the weather is rainy for a few minutes, sunny for most of the day and the tides are unpredictably in and out. There are a lot of local sellers, selling souvenirs and excursions, but we weren’t interested and they didn’t really bother us that much. I don’t go in the sea, but it looked very shallow. D had said that it wasn’t much of a lagoon (which had been stated online), there weren’t many fishes for snorkelling, but we did venture on the rocks and had a look in the pools to see some different fish.
The food at this hotel was incredible. There was so much choice, a chance to try new things and some familiar food for those who don’t venture out of their comfort zones. For breakfast, we went to the Indigo restaurant, by reception, and it was my favourite meal of the day. I had fresh omelettes from the omelette station and chicken sausages almost everyday… and sometimes a naughty crepe with lemon and sugar. So much fruit, cold meats and cheeses, pastries. Really impressed. For lunch, we alternated between La Plage restaurant and the pool bar. La Plage was another buffet, but mostly BBQ based with some fries. The pool bar offered pizza, burgers, paninis – mostly familiar food. We did not have a bad meal at either restaurant, so really spoiled for choice. For dinner, we didn’t stray from the Indigo restaurant – although there are two a la carte restaurants that you have to book at 9am on the day you want to eat there, but there was a queue and we really weren’t that fussed as the food at the Indigo buffet was great. Again, such a huge selection. On Fridays, they host a Mauritian buffet, so it’s a chance to try their local foods from their culture. I was super impressed with the fresh naan breads that they bake there and then. In the evenings, we’d go to the HxH lounge bar, which was mostly empty and lovely to just chill out in the evenings. The waiters there were amazing and really attentive.
After the room complaint on the first day, we didn’t really have any other issues with the room. It’s just somewhere to sleep, at the end of the day. There is a fitness centre (lol) if you really want to be good on holiday – it does have scales if you want to weigh in, like I did. We used both pools, which are super clean, quite chilly when you get in, but get your shoulders in and you’re fine. I had a facial at the spa and I couldn’t recommend that enough! D was really surprised with how clear my skin looked – in a nice way!
So, would I go to Mauritius again? Yeah, probably. But I probably wouldn’t stay at this hotel again. I know the Mauritian people inject a lot of money into their tourism, however I think there are just a few of the littler things that need to be sorted at the hotel. It does look very run down and, with only one bar open during the day and with that bar being the focus point of any entertainment, it becomes really very crowded for a 297 room hotel. The staff and the service were incredible, very attentive and extremely helpful.
… And now, to write my TripAdvisor review…