Mona Prayag

It is my last night at Veranda Pointe-Aux-Biches – a forced holiday I had dreaded with all my might. Now, I am plotting not to leave tomorrow so I hope that no one reading this lets the hotel staff know as that would compromise my plan. My quarantine here has been beyond what I could have hoped for. Far from feeling like forced isolation, it turned out to be more like a relaxing chakra rebalancing stay, helped by the wonderful staff, the incredible food and a stunning sea view that greeted me every morning, making me wonder how I managed to put up with dreary London for so long.

I spent 14 days looking at the sea, so near yet so far. So tempting yet so inaccessible. My loneliness was punctuated only by the visit of the unsung heroes: the hotel staff. In normal times, these men and women working behind the scenes don’t have a name. In quarantine, you have time to interact with them and their names become relevant. Their calls, availability and reassurances were so reassuring. They are called Mr Percy, the hotel manager, Mr Julio at reception, Mr Shanil who brought us our food every day (breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner) and so many more – friendly faces and warm smiles I am not likely to forget anytime soon. They made my stay so much more bearable in true Mauritian hospitality.

The chef must have taken a lot of heat to put together a menu which covered a variety of cuisines across the 14 days (Mauritian, Chinese, French, Thai, Moroccan, Indian, Italian, American, South African) and we never had the same meal twice. It felt like culinary travel without leaving your room but also without lifting a finger as this was brought to your doorstep by Mr Shanil, smiling (visibly despite the mask), revealing the main course, beautifully presented on a tray. It’s clear that Chef Prakash put a lot of thought into the menu to make sure we didn’t get bored. For a foodie like me, the excitement of meal times kept me happy throughout the stay.

In short, good luck kicking me out tomorrow! Yes I was locked up for 14 days but for the first time, I could build a relationship with those unsung heroes who are behind our success as a great and friendly holiday destination. They work hard and they work behind the scenes. Seeing their friendly faces has been important in keeping me sane during a stay otherwise devoid of human interaction. I can only appreciate the efforts they make and the work of the manager and chef behind. They give without counting and they keep on giving. I hope they get a tiny bit back through this little recognition.

For someone who was set on complaining about forced isolation not to find anything to complain about, there can be only one explanation: the performance was flawless!

Ok, ok, I am leaving! Pity you are not cooking and serving my Christmas dinner. I hope you nonetheless enjoy yours! Merry Christmas to you and thank you for a great quarantine!

Mona Prayag