Nestled prettily on the northeastern coast of the idyllic island of Mauritius, the Club Med La Plantation D’Albion is one of the flagship resorts of the iconic hospitality brand. Opened in 2007 as the first 5 Trident (equivalent to 5 stars) property of the brand, think of it as an all-inclusive luxury resort – where you can just order a cocktail (or two) at anytime or have wine while dining in style for every meal during the stay. During my trip to Mauritius, I stayed at the Club Med La Plantation D’Albion for a couple of nights – my first time to experience Club Med.
The Club Med La Plantation D’Albion is located in the town of Albion, not far from Port Louis. From the airport, watch out for the Club Med kiosk at the arrivals area. Transfers are complimentary for staying guests – make sure to have a copy of your welcome letter (a digital one will do). The journey from airport to resort is around 50 minutes.
Arriving in the resort, I was greeted by the trademark Club Med style of waving repeatedly from left to right by the GO (Gracious Organizers – this is Club Med’s term for certain staff members who interact closely with guests), where I had a briefing session regarding the facilities and inclusions of the stay. The GO also drove me to my room using the inhouse buggy. It then dawned on me just how expansive the resort is.
The Club Med La Plantation D’Albion has three category of rooms ranging from the entry-level Club (41 square meters) to the sumptuous Suite (70 square meters). During my stay, I was billeted at a Deluxe Room (50 square meters) which has a private terrace and modest living area. At first glance, my room evoked Creole sensibilities – it reminded me very much of the hotel I stayed in New Orleans (a place where Creole culture is also quite prominent). The tone stretches from yellow to deep red, creating a deeply passionate vibe that can equally stand for couples who come to visit for honeymoon.
While barely any business travelers are expected to check in to a Club Med property, those who need to get some work done can do so by the desk. Plenty of power outlets are provided there and that same desk doubles as a vanity area through the gigantic mirror that can be lifted up from the table’s surface.
That being said, the most striking feature of the room is probably not in the bedroom itself but in the bathroom. The doors can be fully opened to integrate it with the bed area, revealing an old-style standalone tub. There is a separate shower area with refreshing rain shower facilities while the toilet is located in another room. This is especially helpful for families that are a main target market for Club Med. Each member can do his own business without intruding.
As a 5 Trident property, turndown service is a daily inclusion to the stay. Housekeeping staff are thoughtful enough to leave behind Ferrero Rocher chocolates by the bedside for guests to enjoy at night.
You’ll never run out of food while at a Club Med property. While there are set meal times, guests are free to munch on the goodies found in the complimentary minibar or order in-room dining for breakfast without additional cost. In my case, I was looking forward to check out the restaurants. The property has two – The Distillerie, the main restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets as well as La Phare which serves lunch and dinner (except Mondays) and typically opens later.
While one would expect the buffet at The Distillerie to be mass-produced, I found a surprisingly good amount of made-to-order dishes. The menu changes each day with specific themes including local Mauritian fare as well as fine French dishes. Steak is a common items in the buffet as are fresh juices and exotic fruits – watch out for the pomegranates and passionfruits on most days.
The buffet is spread over a large area with distinct Asian, French, Italian and fine dining sections. At the center, recommended wine pairings are also featured while desserts also figure prominently with a wide variety of cakes, tarts, fruits and ice cream available.
Central to the Club Med proposition is the close guest interaction of the staff members. In the case of mealtimes, the GO’s are actually expected to dine with guests. This creates a convivial atmosphere and a service level that you won’t find in any other hotel chains.
Dinner usually starts late – at 7:30PM – but evening cocktails are held every night by The Banian along with light bites and free-flow of alcohol.
Dining at the more intimate La Phare is highly recommended. There’s no buffet here but the dishes are meticulously crafted and you won’t find any of the dishes in the buffet restaurant. Start with a glass of champagne (also included with the stay) while going through your starters and mains. From time to time, the venue also offers an upgraded menu with more premium dishes for a small supplement. During the night I had dinner, they were serving huge lobsters as mains.
To say that Club Med is all-inclusive is a bit of an understatetment. Apart from your standard full-board accommodation, you also get live entertainment every night when the same GOs who greet you, check you in and eat with you in the day take on a different persona by performing at night. The theme changes by the day and during the night I watched, the show mimicked a circus complete with plenty of stunts and balancing acts. It’s hard to imagine how the same people who actually handle the nitty gritty work in the hotel can have the time (and energy!) to practice in order to make such theatrical performances. For guests who have inclinations to try out circus stunts, the resort also has a flying trapeze for guests to check out.
Facilities-wise, there is plenty to keep you busy. Aside from the beachfront and two swimming pools, the resort also has facilities for snorkeling, archery, golf, sailing and many different sports. For those who wish to see more of Mauritius, the tour desk can arrange transport and tours for a fee.
As mentioned previously, my stay at Club Med La Plantation D’Albion was my first time to check out a Club Med property. While I have, on separate occasions, experienced fantastic service in a hotel, I have never done so in the scale and intensity of Club Med. Here, the guest interaction goes way beyond politeness and the small talk. Through the GOs, there is a pronounced effort to get to know guests during their stay. What is amazing about this is how the whole operation is run like a tight ship. This is an all-inclusive property after all, where you’re bound to receive more orders for drinks, foods and request to use facilities than your usual hotel or resort but the staff members are able to juggle all that like a live act.