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Destination Education Report: Mauritius

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The St. Regis Mauritius Resort is ideally located in the south-western part of Mauritius. A tropical island full of flavors and colors.

The St. Regis Mauritius Resort is ideally located in the south-western part of Mauritius. A tropical island full of flavors and colors.

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  • 1. DESTINATION EDUCATION REPORT MAURITIUS ISLAND THE ST. REGIS MAURITIUS RESORT LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 1
  • 2. MAURITIUS ISLAND“Mauritius, a sparkling crystal in the turquoise waters of theIndian Ocean, will fascinate you. The contrast of colours,cultures and tastes makes the island so charming that the sceneis set for an unforgettable holiday. Here, you have theopportunity to experience unparalleled luxury: a level ofrefinement that is head and shoulders above that on offer inother tropical holiday destinations”. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 2
  • 3. INDEXITEMMAP ........................................................................................................................................................................ 4TIME & PLACE .................................................................................................................................................... 5OVERVIEW ........................................................................................................................................................... 5NEAREST AIRPORT & AIRLINE INFORMATION ..................................................................................... 6DIRECT FLIGHTS TO/FROM DESTINATION............................................................................................... 7OTHER TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS ........................................................................................................ 8WEATHER/SEASONS & AVERAGE TEMP..................................................................................................... 8PASSPORT & VISA REQUIREMENTS AND OTHER SAFETY & SECURITY INFO ............................... 9CURRENCY, CUSTOMS & EXCISE ................................................................................................................. 9HISTORICAL & CURRENT FACTS ............................................................................................................... 10WHEN TO GO .................................................................................................................................................... 15THINGS TO DO.................................................................................................................................................. 15 LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 3
  • 4. MAP LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 4
  • 5. TIME & PLACETime Zone: EST + 9/GMT + 4Daylight Saving: SummerWeights Measures System: MetricOVERVIEWEast of Africa, east of Madagascar, on a remnant of the land bridge that once ran between Asia andAfrica, the island of Mauritius basks in the tropical sun of the Indian Ocean. The pristine locale, mostfamous as the home of the extinct dodo bird, was created by volcanic activity and is encircled by a nearlyunbroken coral reef that renders snorkeling and diving sublime. Known to 10th century Arabs and 16thcentury Portuguese sailors, the island wasnt settled until 1598, when the Dutch established a smallcolony which they abandoned in 1639 after extinguishing the dodo and disrupting the islands ecology.The French quickly stepped in (1715) – changing the islands name from Mauritius to Île de France –built roads, and bolstered the sugar industry. A hundred years later, the British usurped control, andalthough the French gave up claim to the island, their culture and traditions remained firmly in place,even to this day. In the later half of the 19th century, Chinese and Indian immigrants came to Mauritiusas indentured servants and comprise much of the current-day population, although theyve achievedpolitical power now.On the 12th March 1968, the island was given independence from Britain and, on the 12th March 1992,was declared a republic. Lately, the country has cultivated tourism to much success, thanks tospectacular scenery, a perpetually warm climate, and opportunities for leisure, whether they be in thewater or inland. The multicultural environment also gives rise to fabulous restaurants, incomparableshopping, and a welcoming citizenry. Port Louis, the capital, looks out over a western harbour andboasts the Natural History Museum, an amazing market, and charming colonial architecture. Othermust-see activities on the island include visiting Pamplemousses Garden (with its tropical flora and giantwater lilies), the Casela Bird Sanctuary, the Naval Museum, and any of the parks and natural attractionswhich so elegantly display the exotic beauty which Mark Twain said appeared to be the model forheaven. MORE INFO LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 5
  • 6. NEAREST AIRPORT & AIRLINE INFORMATIONSir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, MRU • Air Austral • Air France • Air Madagascar • Air Mauritius • Air Seychelles • Air Italy • British Airways • Comair • Condor • Corsairfly • Emirates • Edelweiss air • Meridiana Fly • South African Airways • Transaero Airlines MORE INFO LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 6
  • 7. DIRECT FLIGHTS TO/FROM DESTINATIONBLR Bangalore MAA ChennaiBOM Bombay MBA MombasaBUD Budapest MEL MelbourneCDG Charles de Gaulle MRS MarseillesCPT Cape Town MUC MunichDEL Delhi MXP MilanDME Moscow NBO NairobiDUR Durban NTE NantesDXB Dubai ORY Orly FranceFRA Frankfurt PER PerthFCO Rome PVG Shanghai (China)GVA Geneva RUN Roland Garros (Reunion)JED Jeddah RRG RodriguesHKG Hong Kong SEZ SeychellesJNB Johannesburg SIN SingaporeKUL Kuala Lumpur TNR TananariveLHR London (Heathrow) VRN VeronaLHW London (Gatwick) ZRH ZurichLYS Lyons France ZSE Pierrefonds (Reunion) MORE INFO LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 7
  • 8. OTHER TRANSPORTATION OPTIONSHighways • Total: 1,860 km • Paved: 1,960 km (including 60 km of expressways) • Unpaved: 40 km (2002)Waterways: nonePorts and harbors: Port LouisMerchant marine • Total: 8 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 66,004 GRT/90,017 DWT • Ships by type: cargo 2, combination bulk 2, container 2, cargo 2Note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: • Belgium 1, India 3, Norway 1, Switzerland 2 (2002 est.) MORE INFOWEATHER/SEASONS & AVERAGE TEMP Average Month Average High Mean Precip. Low JANUARY 30° C 25° C 28° C 160.0 mm FEBRUARY 30° C 25° C 28° C 170.2 mm MARCH 30° C 25° C 28° C 132.1 mm APRIL 29° C 25° C 27° C 96.5 mm MAY 28° C 23° C 26° C 66.0 mm JUNE 26° C 22° C 24° C 53.3 mm JULY 25° C 21° C 23° C 58.4 mm AUGUST 25° C 21° C 23° C 50.8 mm SEPTEMBER 26° C 21° C 23° C 27.9 mm OCTOBER 27° C 22° C 24° C 30.5 mm NOVEMBER 28° C 23° C 26° C 27.9 mm DECEMBER 29° C 24° C 27° C 71.1 m MORE INFO LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 8
  • 9. PASSPORT & VISA REQUIREMENTS AND OTHER SAFETY & SECURITY INFOCrossing BordersNo visa is required by nationals of most countries although they may be somewhat strict in enforcingthat you have a return/onward ticket and sufficient funds for your stay.Nationals from Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Yemen,Afghanistan and Liberia must have a visa prior to arrival. MORE INFOLocal Health ConditionsCompulsory vaccinations: None Recommended immunizations: None, however check travelers have upto date tetanus & polio immunizations. MORE INFOCURRENCY, CUSTOMS & EXCISECurrency: Mauritius Rupee (Rs)Sample Price Guide (items found outside The St. Regis Mauritius Resort) • Cup of coffee Rs 45.00 • Sandwich Rs 45.00 • Meal in cheap restaurant Rs 130.00 • Meal in expensive restaurant Rs 500.00 • Litre of bottled water Rs 12.00 • Small bottle of beer Rs 45.00 • Souvenir t-shirt Rs 200.00 • Street snack (dahl puris) Rs 10.00 • Scuba dive (including gear) Rs 1500.00 MORE INFO LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 9
  • 10. HISTORICAL & CURRENT FACTSPre-20th-Century HistoryArab traders knew of Mauritius as early as the 10th century but never stopped to settle it. Portuguesenaval explorers later stumbled upon the island in the wake of Vasco de Gamas voyage around the Capeof Good Hope in 1498. Apart from introducing pesky monkeys (makak) and rats, the Portuguese didlittle to influence the place. This was left to the next wave of immigrants, the Dutch. In 1598, ViceAdmiral Wybrandt van Warwyck came ashore and claimed the island for the Netherlands, christening itafter his ruler, Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau. It was another 40 years before theDutch began to settle the country, preferring instead to use it as a supply base on the route to Java.The colony never really flourished, and the Dutch departed for good in1639, leaving in their wake theextinction of the dodo and the introduction of East African, Mozambican and Madagalasy slaves, Javandeer, wild boar, pigeons, ducks, tobacco and sugar cane. Seventy- one years later, French captainGuillaume Dufresne dArsel claimed the island, renamed it Île de France and gave it over to the FrenchEast India Company to run as a trading base. Popular settlement began in 1721, and within 15 years thefirst sugar mill had been built, along with a road network and hospital. During the second half of the18th century, the islands capital, Port Louis, became a free trading base and haven for corsairs,mercenary marines paid by a country to plunder the ships of its enemies. Tired of competing, the Britishmoved in on the corsairs (and on Mauritius) in 1810. After an initial defeat at the Battle of Vieux GrandPort, the Brits landed at Cap Malheureux on the northern coast and took the island.The 1814 Treaty of Paris ceded Île de France, Rodriguez and the Seychelles to the victors but allowedFranco-Mauritians to retain their language, religion, and Napoleonic Code legal system and sugarplantations. In 1835, the slaves were freed and the labor force was supplemented by workers brought infrom India and China. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 10
  • 11. Modern HistoryWhile Franco-Mauritian plantations supported some wealthy sugar barons (as they do today), Indianworkers continued to be indentured by the thousands. Through strength of numbers, Indians graduallybolstered their say in the countrys management, aided in 1901 by a visit from Mahatma Gandhi. In1936, the Labour Party was founded to continue the struggle for laborers rights. The following year,their burden was lightened by a new constitution granting the vote to anyone over 21 who could signtheir name.Under the direction of Dr Seewoosagur Ramgoolam (who was later knighted), membership swelled andthe party flourished. Mauritius was granted independence from Britain on 12 March 1968, and SirRamgoolam was elected prime minister, a title he retained for the next 13 years. He was succeeded by acoalition of the leftist Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM) and the Parti Socialiste Mauricien,though tensions in the parties upper ranks rattled the infrastructure throughout their reign. In 1986,three Mauritian MPs were caught at Amsterdams airport with heroin in their suitcases, and the resultinginquiry implicated other politicians in drug money and led to several resignations. Mauritius officiallybecame a republic on March 1992.Recent HistoryIn 1999, tensions between the Creole population and the Indo-Mauritian majority exploded. Popularreggae singer Joseph Kaya Topize was arrested during a rally to legalize marijuana and died of a skullfracture while in police custody. Riots broke out across the island, particularly in Port Louis. On thepolitical front, Paul Bérenger became the countrys first non-Indian prime minister in 2003. It was short-lived, however - Navinchandra Ramgoolam, son of Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, took over in July 2005.With its traditional industries of sugar, tea, tobacco and textiles at the end of a long decline, Mauritius isin the process of reorienting itself towards IT, banking and tourism to ensure its long-term economicviability. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 11
  • 12. CultureThe cuisine of Mauritius is a blend of Indian Cuisine, Creole, Chinese and European. It is common for acombination of cuisines to form part of the same meal. The "cari poule" or chicken curry, for example,is a very popular dish. Other common Mauritian dishes include the "dholl puri" (a type of bread, madefrom lentils) the "mine-frit" (Chinese fried noodle), and "niouk nien" (dumplings). A commonMauritian drink is "alouda", a milk based drink containing basil seeds. The production of rum iscommon throughout the island. Sugarcane was first introduced in 1639 some months before they left theisland (on the island when the Dutch colonised it in.) Even then, the propensity of making rum out ofsugarcane was strongly recognised.Sugarcane was mainly cultivated for the production of "arrack" a strong drink made of the juiceextracted from the cane plant a precursor to rum. Only much later, after almost 81 years, the first propersugar was produced. However, it was during the French and English administration that sugarproduction was fully exploited, which considerably contributed to the economical development of theisland. It was Pierre Charles François Harel who in 1850 initially proposed the concept of localdistillation of rum in Mauritius. In part due to his efforts, Mauritius today houses five distilleries (Grays,Medine, L’aventure du sucre and St Aubin, Chamarel).The sega is a local folklore music. Sega has African roots, and main traditional instruments forproducing the music are goat-skin percussion instruments called ravane and metallic clicks using metaltriangles. The songs usually describe the miseries of slavery, and have been adapted nowadays as socialsatires to voice out inequalities as felt by the blacks. Men are usually at the instruments while womenperform an accompanying dance. Shows are regularly hosted in the coastal hotels. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 12
  • 13. In 1847, Mauritius became the fifth country in the world to issue postage stamps. The two types ofstamps issued then, known as the Red Penny and the Blue Penny are probably the most famous stampsin the world, being very rare and considered to be the among the most valuable in the world. Whendiscovered, the island of Mauritius was home to a previously unknown species of bird, which thePortuguese named the dodo (simpleton), as they appeared not too bright. However, by 1681, all dodoshad been killed by settlers, makak monkeys or their domesticated animals. An alternate theory suggeststhat the imported wild boar destroyed the slow breeding dodo population. Nevertheless, the dodo isprominently featured as a supporter of the national coat-of-arms.The island has also given rise to a diversified literature, prominent in French, English, Creole and Indianlanguages. Ancestry Mauritian society includes people from many different ethnic groups. A majority ofthe republics residents are the descendants of people from the Indian subcontinent. Mauritius alsocontains substantial populations from continental Africa, Madagascar, France, Great Britain, and China,among other places. The Indo-Mauritians (when the ethnic groups are combined) composeapproximately 60% of the total population, the remaining 40% being mostly Creoles. There areapproximately 30,000 Mauritians of Chinese descent, from the Hakka, Mandarin, and Cantoneselanguage groups. More than 90% of the Sino-Mauritian community is Roman Catholic, the remainder islargely Buddhist. While there is a sizeable population of British citizens living in Mauritius, most ofwhom have Mauritian nationality, few identify as being Mauritian. The term Anglo-Mauritian, a termwhich may include Mauritians living in the UK, is used unofficially. Small groups of foreign studentsfrom Europe or the Indian Ocean region are also present. Recent years have seen a steady flow of foreignworkers into the textile industry (primarily Chinese women), the construction industry (primarily Indianworkers), and harbour-related activities (primarily Taiwanese men). Immigration policy does notprovoke much debate in Mauritius, and the relative economic stability of the island serves to attractforeign workers. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 13
  • 14. LanguageThe official language of Mauritius is English. All government administrative documents are thereforedrawn up in English. Together with English, French is also used in instruction in the educational system.French, however, predominates in the media, both broadcast and printed as well as with business and incorporate affairs. A majority of the population can speak French fluently. American and other English-language movies and TV programmes shown in Mauritius are conventionally dubbed in French.The most widely-spoken language of the country is Mauritian Creole, which has close ties with Frenchpronunciation, but with a few marked differences - Creole does not contain some of the deep androunded consonants that French does. Mauritian Creole is considered the native tongue of the country.Creole was the language used by the African slaves to communicate with their French masters. Today,Creole is used in everyday life by all Mauritians. When Franco-Mauritians engage in conversations withCreole speakers, French is more commonly employed than Creole. Hindi and Urdu also have numerousspeakers in the country, although both are used mainly by the Indian community. Several otherlanguages, including Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi and dialects of Chinese, suchas Cantonese, Hakka and Mandarin, are also spoken. The Indian languages are spoken by descendantsof the laborers brought from British India during the British rule. Arabic is taught in Mosques aroundMauritius.ReligionThe largest religions of the republic are Hindu (52%). Roman Catholicism (26%), Muslim (17%),Buddhism (3%), Adventist Protestantism (2%) and Sikhism (0.3%). MORE INFO LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 14
  • 15. WHEN TO GOMauritius enjoys a typically tropical climate with year-round heat, although the southeast trade windshelp it to never feel too muggy. The best months to visit Mauritius are from mid September to earlyDecember. January and February, the peak cyclone months, are best avoided by water-sports enthusiastsand divers. Cyclones rarely hit Mauritius (but Rodrigues has suffered far more regularly than themainland). Hardly a week goes by in Mauritius without some celebration. On Rodrigues, the maincultural event is the Festival Kréol, which takes place over three days at the end of October. Apart fromthe Christmas-New Year peak, Mauritius doesnt really have high and low seasons.THINGS TO DOWater SportsNo visitor to Mauritius should miss the opportunity to sample the tremendous range of water basedactivities at many of the beach resorts. Offshore winds are consistent during summer months andprovide ideal conditions for parasailing, windsurfing and Kitesurfing at Le Morne. Underwatersubmarine rides are also available and offer a uniqueglimpse of the colourful marine life of Mauritius.Always popular, water sports are fun and a fulfillingexperience for visitors of all ages.BeachesThe sun kissed beaches of Mauritius are the major attraction of the island and offer idyllic tropicalsettings for sunbathers. Long sweeping bays and crystal clear lagoons provide perfect relaxation andswimming for those seeking peace and seclusion. Lovely beaches are found all along the coastline andmany have ample facilities for water sports and beach activities such as the popular Grand Baie. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 15
  • 16. GolfEnjoy a round of golf at one of the many hotel and country clubs in Mauritius. Challenging fairways andwell manicured greens will provide a test for any golfer and many offer delightful sea views andmountain backdrops. Tuition and equipment hire is available everywhere and visitors are warmlywelcomed on golf courses. A game of golf is a relaxingpursuit and Mauritius has the ideal climate for agolfing holiday.Port LouisThe main town of Port Louis is an interesting excursion away from the beach resorts and offers goodshopping and sightseeing opportunities. It contains a colourful Chinatown district full of authentic shop-houses and restaurants and the busy central market is well worth a visit. Selling a wide range of localcrafts and produce it has a lively, friendly atmosphere. The town offers an eclectic mix of buildings andmonuments which include colonial residences and Hindu temples, Pagodas (which are only found inPort-Louis) and visitors are assured of a warm andfriendly welcome from the local population.The main town of Port Louis is an interestingexcursion away from the beach resorts and offersgood shopping and sightseeing opportunities. Itcontains a colourful Chinatown district full ofauthentic shop-houses and restaurants and the busy central market is well worth a visit. Selling a widerange of local crafts and produce it has a lively, friendly atmosphere. The town offers an eclectic mix ofbuildings and monuments which include colonial residences and Hindu temples, Pagodas (which are onlyfound in Port-Louis) and visitors are assured of a warm and friendly welcome from the local population. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 16
  • 17. Fishing VillagesExperience Mauritius local life largely untouched by mass tourism with a visit to one of many fishingvillages located around the coastline. Enjoy the bustle of a local fish market and see old colonial ruinsand an exotic mix of African and Indian houses. Taketime to enjoy alfresco seafood specialties and arefreshing fruit cocktail or browse for souvenirs suchas basket ware and crafts. This offers a perfect way tosee the real Mauritius and its famous hospitality. MORE INFOEventsWith its host of cultures and multinational residents, its no surprise that Mauritius celebrates an equallydiverse number of holidays and special events. Teemeedee, a Hindu and Tamil fire-walking ceremonyheld in honour of various gods, takes place throughout the year but mostly in December and January.Hindus celebrate the major Thaipoosam Cavadee in January or February at temples throughout theisland. Look for processions carrying flower coveredwooden arches and pots of milk, with devoteesskewering their tongues and cheeks in homage to thesecond son of Lord Shiva. Around the same time,Tamils mark the end of the harvest season by feedingrice pudding to decorated cows in the festival ofPongal, and Chinese New Year is celebrated with thestandard barrage of fireworks and foodstuffs. Maha Shivaratri occurs over three days in February andMarch and is the largest and most important Hindu festival outside of India. LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 17
  • 18. Most of the islands Hindu population makes a pilgrimage in honour of Lord Shiva to the holy volcaniclake Grand Bassin, where they make food sacrifices and stockpile vessels of the holy water. If youhappen upon a celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, count on a good soaking: exuberantcelebrants throw cupfuls of coloured powder and water on anyone in their path sometime in February orMarch.Independence Day (or Republic Day) is held on 12 March. Similar in intent to the Teemeedeecelebrations, Hindu and Tamil sword-climbing spectacles take place mostly between April and June, thebest demonstrations occur at Mont Choisy and the towns of Triolet and Solitude. Père Laval Feast Dayin September marks the anniversary of the Catholic convert-kings death, and pilgrims come from allover the world to his shrine at Ste-Croix to pray for miracle cures. Muslims celebrate Eid-ur-Fitr to markthe end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the lunar year. Eid-ur-Fitr is apublic holiday. MORE INFO LE MORNE PENINSULA, M AURITIUS STREGIS.COM/ MAURITIUS 18