Dubai and Mauritius in 2015

Last summer Sue Googled "Best places for travel in October?"  One of the options was Mauritius (which we'd vaguely heard of before) and to get there, you had to pass through Dubai (which we'd not yet visited), so the annual fall expedition was planned.

Both destinations turned out to be good choices as they included locations on our respective bucket lists - for me, the Burj Al Arab Hotel, plus skiing in the desert - for Sue, it was ascending to the top of the Burj Khalifa, and later (though she didn't know it at the time) to walk with the lions in Mauritius.

Off we went.  The drag of course was the length of time to get first to Dubai.  How does fifteen hours on one leg of the flight sound?  Not good for sure.  Where's an SST when you really, really need one.

Anyway we arrived just after nightfall in Dubai and took a taxi to try to find our first stop - the XVA Art Hotel in old town Dubai.  The taxi driver had no idea where it was.  Eventually we made it to a roundabout near the place, got out, and started wandering the alleys in the general vicinity of the hotel.  With help from some locals out and about, we finally found the entrance and checked in for the night.  This unusual little hotel with 12 rooms has a variety of smallish, individually shaped rooms and a highly recommended locals type restaurant.


It was a fun experience.  Not perfect, but a nice taste of local's life in the city.  We stayed there for two nights before going upscale at the Burj for the last two nights in town. 


Did some walking and exploring the next day along Dubai Creek and the old souk, then figured out the Metro, and took it to the Khalifa, the Dubai Mall and the Emirates Mall.  Sue went all in and bought the most expensive private tour of the tallest building in the world.  It was worth it.  Amazing views from the absolute highest point.  Just seeing all the new construction in Dubai is stunning.  I would guess that the amount of work going on in every square mile of that city exceeds all the construction in the whole state of Colorado - at least it feels like that. It's clearly the “City of Cranes”, given all the construction.

Both malls were astonishing as well - the Dubai Mall being the largest in the world.  We scoped out the Ski Dubai building, returned to the XVA, and next morning made our way back for some skiing indoors. 


It turned out to be a lot more fun than we'd expected.  Made about ten runs in the two hours our ticket allowed.  Need to remember to take along a pair of warm gloves and a knit cap as those are the only two clothing items not provided.

Returned to the XVA, checked out, and hired a cab for the trip to the Burj Al Arab.  Ah, what an experience this was.  Photos and the video can't do this place justice.  Beyond gorgeous inside and out.  Tallest atrium in the world.  Extraordinary finishes throughout.  Gold everywhere, but not at all garish. 


Our room was two levels with eighteen hundred square feet of amazing space.  The service, the restaurants, the quality of the whole operation deserves the seven star rating.  I'd go back in a heartbeat if we're ever in Dubai again.  Possibly the best dinner we've ever had at the Al Muntaha Restaurant.  The list goes on.

Departed on the six hour flight to Mauritius after four nights in Dubai.  Time zone is same as the UAE.  Airport was fogged in and flight delayed a couple of hours, so we arrived after dark on that island.  Had a car hired to do the hour drive to the Sands Resort near Flic en Flac on the southeast shore.  Checked in and crashed early to bed.


Really a nice smallish resort - and fairly new.  We were at the end of the road.  Just 90 rooms, all facing the sea and right on the beach.  The behemoths next to our resort included the Hilton, Sofitel, Maradiva, Sugar Beach, and La Pirogue.  We preferred the less crowded nature of our situation. Weather conditions could not have been better - probably mid 70s with light breezes.

Plenty of water activities - snorkeling, swimming, windsurfing, paddle boats, stand up boards, etc.  There's a reef about 400 yards offshore that breaks any incoming surf, and the bottom can actually be waded waist or chest deep all the way out, so it's very safe and quite benign for swimming, etc.  Only issue is that there are many sea urchins - and good sized ones - near the reef rocks.  Water shoes are a must to protect tender feet from those spiny critters and the broken coral on the bottom everywhere.

Food was OK, if not outstanding.  Did the breakfast buffet each morning.  We've given up paying for half board combinations at resorts as it's just too much food and often not what we like to eat.  So we had hearty breakfasts, maybe a late lunch, and a snack with some wine at night.  Perfect!

Read a couple of books and generally wound down.  Did a lot of walking on the beaches and (very carefully) on the roads which were all scary narrow.  All the beaches on the island are publicly accessible, though the public cannot stray onto the resort's private property a few steps up from the ocean.  Where there is public parking along the roads, it's very common for the locals to spend the weekend camping and enjoying the same ocean that the tourists do.

Interesting note - according to what we read, Mauritius is Africa's wealthiest (and most densely populated) nation, but like everywhere else in the world, there's a huge disparity between the income levels of the inhabitants.

Oh, before forgetting, our favorite activity on Mauritius was visiting Casela, a combination theme park, zoo, aviary, and animal engagement operation.


 This is where Sue got to walk with the lions.  Beautifully landscaped.  Grounds remind me somewhat of the movie Jurassic Park.  Great view from the top of Observation Hill.  Loved the place.  Incredible aviary.  Should not be missed on a visit to the island.

Five days after arriving we left for home.  Flight back was even more difficult time wise - something over 30 hours of air time and layovers.

But it was worth it.  A great trip overall.