Brendon hits the travel jackpot in Mauritius. With some luck at the racecourse, he ends up at one of the leading hotels in the world.
While Australians are quite familiar with the islands of the Pacific, we aren't as au fait with the islands of the Indian Ocean. The French once dominated the area, but after the 1814 defeat of Napoleon, the British ended up in control. While almost reluctantly governing Mauritius and the Seychelles, no attempt was made to change the ingrained French language and Créole culture.
The island of Mauritius sits 800km off the coast of Madagascar. Port Louis, its capital, while home to only a small percentage of the population, is a busy, bustling city. During the day it is full of traffic snarls, honking car horns and much activity.
Once a city which died at night, the Caudan Waterfront has changed all that. It was developed in the late 1990s, with a new marina and the old dockside buildings given a new lease on life. It has upmarket boutiques, cinemas and pavement cafés and a mix of old and new, with a mingling of locals and tourists.
Port Louis Market, at the water's edge, is a great place to get a feel for the city and its people. Sections are devoted to fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, souvenirs, craft and clothing. Get ready for some hard bargaining. The spice and herb section is colourful and aromatic, with goods sold not just for eating, but as a cure for almost every ailment known to humans.
Model ships are big sellers in Mauritius, as is a lot of well-known designer clothing which is made on the island.
The Natural History Museum has an interesting collection of stamps, along with replicas of the dodo, which has been extinct since the 17th century.
Government House stands at the head of Place d'Armes, a broad avenue lined with elegant palms and half-buried cannons, said to symbolise peace.
Champ de Mars Racecourse was a military training ground until 1812, when the Mauritian Turf Club turned it into one of the world's most beautiful courses, set high above Port Louis between mountains and ocean.
Horse racing is a favourite pastime of Mauritians, with meetings every Saturday between May and December. As many as 30,000 people head to the course for a flutter; many make it a family picnic day. As at most race courses around the world, you see workers on the flat, middle-class locals in the stands and sugar barons and textile magnates in the upper boxes, all enjoying their day at the track. The track is still used for police and army manoeuvres during the off-season.
Thanks to the cultural diversity of Port Louis, there are many delightful cuisines Indian, Chinese, European, Creole and excellent seafood.
Fifteen minutes north of Port Louis on Turtle Bay is the Oberoi, the newest hotel in Mauritius. It sits on eight hectares of tropical gardens, surrounded by a turquoise lagoon and with 600 metres of oceanfront. A range of majestic green mountains can be seen on the horizon. The architecture is very much influenced by Mauritian culture and heritage. Rooms are a rust colour to match the natural volcanic boulders and roofs are thatched with thick sugar-cane. The resort is more like a spacious garden than a hotel.
All public rooms overlook the lagoon. Accommodation includes 26 luxury villas, 16 with private pools, and two royal villas.
There are two restaurants, three bars, a tea pavilion, two pools, health spa, two floodlit tennis courts and two boutiques.
On the north-west coast of Mauritius
Air Mauritius flies weekly to Mauritius from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
The Oberoi Hotel's luxury pavilions start at around $1160 per double per night and the Royal Villas start at around $3460 a night.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.
Air Mauritius: Ph: 1300 658 572
The Oberoi Mauritius
Turtle Bay, Pointe aux Piments, Mauritius
Ph: 230 204 3600, Fax: 230 204 email@example.com
The Mauritius Turf Club
Dr Eugéne Laurent Street
Champ de Mars Port Louis, Mauritius
Ph: 230 208 6027, Fax: 230 208 3211www.mauritiusturfclub.com
84 Gustave Colin Street
Forest Side Mauritius
Ph: 230 670 4301, Fax: 230 674 firstname.lastname@example.org
It is recommended travellers to Mauritius see their doctor at least 6 weeks before departure. Prior to travel, travellers should be ‘in date’ with vaccinations listed on the Australian Immunisation Schedule, including hepatitis A and B and tetanus. Travellers may also be at risk of malaria depending on the time of year of travel and exact destination, and preventative health measures for this are best discussed with your doctor.