The SO/ Sofitel Mauritius differs from many resorts within the country and it is that difference and uniqueness that made us gravitate towards a stay at this very hotel. The luxurious accommodation with outdoor tubs set in private natural gardens; the portrayed image of a peaceful retreat set in a beachfront sanctuary at Bel Ombre, on the south coast of Mauritius. It all caught our attention. But did it really meet our expectations?
The SO/ Welcome
You can forget about a typical hotel check in at the SO/ Sofitel Mauritius. Upon arrival, a greeter escorts you to a waiting area within a zen garden where a refreshing concoction awaits you; the sort you’d find at a wellness spa. Sip your welcome drink and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings while arrangements are made for you to be transferred directly to your suite or villa.
Our stay unfortunately started on the wrong foot with security at the entrance not having our reservation details. My wife and I ended up waiting a little while before we were finally cleared through the gates and into the hotel. Thankfully, the greeter was a very polite and reassuring gentleman. He maintained great conversations with us about the hotel and its interior designer, famous Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada.
Reception Comes To You
From the zen garden, you are driven through the property’s interconnecting alleys, bordered by natural landscaped gardens before reaching your suite or villa. A bell boy handles your luggage and a receptionist finalises your check-in formalities. The latter apologised for our little issue with security and proceeded on to guide us through the amenities of our room and the facilities of the hotel.
We booked the Lushury Room for our stay. An open layout suite with king size bed, walk-in closet, indoor/outdoor showers, an outdoor bathtub and a refreshment console with a fairly loaded mini bar and an espresso machine.
As pleasing as the room sounds, the outdoor bathtub left us rather skeptical. The slow response to some of our requests were also equally disappointing as our stay unfolded. But more on these later.
Bad Weather Can Ruin Your Stay
You certainly cannot blame a hotel for bad weather. Sadly, shortly after our arrival, the weather started to play up and unfortunately, lasted till we checked out the next day. The rough sea, rain and wind made it impossible to try the outdoor activities the hotel offered.
The SO/ Sofitel Mauritius is a hotel best enjoyed outdoors with activities such as water sports, golf and trips to a nearby nature reserve. It somehow lacks indoor activities to compensate for the bad weather. You will probably sob by the window as the bad weather confines you to your room; knowing you’d have a lot more to do had it been sunny.
Housekeeping & Reception On Speed Dial
My wife and I are espresso lovers and hence requested some extra coffee pods at check in. Numerous calls to reception later we finally got our pods, the next morning.
The very same night before dinner we also requested housekeeping for an iron. Over an hour and four calls later, we heard the long awaited knock at our door before we could get ready for our now ‘late’ dinner.
These are the little things that start making your stay rather frustrating especially when it carries on till the next day. And that too at a well respected establishment such as the Sofitel.
Food Put A Smile Back On Our Face
So far our stay was mediocre partly due to the hiccups with reception and also due to the bad weather prevailing that day. On the other hand, dinner and breakfast the following day put a smile back on our face. The hotel’s breakfast and dinner buffet at ‘Le Flamboyant’ (The hotel’s main restaurant) were all on point; consisting of a generous selection of multi-cuisine dishes including some live cooking stations. There is no doubt you are well looked after by the SO/ Sofitel Mauritius’ F&B staff.
The hotel’s bar ‘Le Takamaka’ right across the main restaurant is ideal for after dinner drinks. A place to sit back or dance to the live band or DJ while the bartender shakes up or pours you your favourite cocktail or drink.
SO/ Spa – In Need Of Treatment
It had been just over a week since our wedding and both my wife and I felt a desperate need for a good relaxing massage. We visited the SO/ Spa the evening we arrived and booked our session for the next day in the spa’s couple’s treatment room. Our massage was truly very relaxing and soothing. My wife even falling asleep as she let herself unwind to the background music and the able hands of our masseuses.
Whilst our massage was undoubtedly blissful, we were however left in aw with the spa’s other facilities. The modern Arab architecture inspired hammam looked impressive at first but we soon realised it had heating issues. To top it off, moisture stains and grime covered some part of its walls. Fifteen minutes in and with the hammam still not up to temperature, we left to try our luck with the spa’s hot tub.
Luck unfortunately was not on our side yet again. The hot tub we were informed had broken down. It just sat there as a gigantic bowl of cold water within a relaxation area; open to the sky above.
Private Bathtub – Good Only For Instagram
After our spa mishap, you’d probably think we’d head back to our suite and enjoy our own outdoor bathtub amidst the privacy of its natural garden. Our outdoor tub was unfortunately also a disappointment. It did not look very inviting with traces of grime lining part of the mosaic glass tiles; some of which had even fallen off. We saw awesome pictures of these very bathtubs on social media and heard nice reviews from our friends who stayed at the hotel a few years back. But nothing prepared us for this. We truly did not expect for it to be so neglected over the years.
Late Check Out Drama
Upon our request, the hotel granted us a late check out prior to our arrival. We were meant to leave the hotel at 17 00 the next day. However, at check in this had to be verified with reservations. Until the very next morning we remained unsure of our late check out. Calls to reception were to no avail. We eventually walked to reception after breakfast to find out we had to check out earlier at 13 00. Shortly after, reception contacted us to inform us we could leave at 17 00 but we would have to swap rooms.
And so, with our luggage packed, we awaited our transfer to a different room. The wait lasted quite a while before reception called to inform we could keep our suite until 17 00; as previously agreed before we even arrived at the hotel. This sort of conundrum is bound to ruin anyone’s stay at a hotel, let alone ours.
The Icing On The Cake
Our issues with the hotel was sadly not over. It lasted beyond check out. We visited the SO/ Sofitel for my wife’s birthday. Along the late check out, I also requested a small cake for the occasion. A request they somehow forgot to communicate with the kitchen staff.
However, I have to give a very big thumbs up to our waiter and the pastry chef of the hotel on that day. They quickly mended the situation and plated a cake right on time after we finished supper. At least we finished the night at the SO/ Sofitel with one awesome juicy burger and a refreshing smoked salmon salad from ‘Le Takamaka’.
“So Sofitel” Or “So So Sofitel”
My wife and I really pictured a serene retreat with flawless service at the SO/ Sofitel Mauritius. Unfortunately this sanctuary seems to be in dire need of some TLC. Instead of selling the Kenzo Takada brand out loud, management and operations should ensure a good synergy between their different teams. Our stay was a constant reminder of a disorganised establishment.
The SO/ Sofitel Mauritius boasts a brand name and the potential to really position themselves as a true ‘zen’ retreat amongst the competitive hospitality industry of Mauritius. Are we going to trust another stay at the hotel again? Our mind might say no but our hearts really want to head back and give them another chance at winning us.
Pranav started conceiving ISL AVENUE in late 2012. He has travelled the world from a very early age and hence developped an affinity for travel, hotels and food at different levels and from different cultures. He admires architecture and design but is deeply passionate about horology and cars. He carries a business background and is an aircraft pilot.