Ingrid Jones is over the moon as Sawubona shimmies away with the laurels for Africa’s Leading In-Flight Magazine at the World Travel Awards™ (WTA) held in Mauritius last month.
I have a very common surname, and when I introduce myself, or when people see my surname, they will ask whether I know the Billy Paul song “Me and Mrs Jones”. To which I roll my eyes and ask that they should listen out for the Bee Gees song “Have you seen my wife, Mr Jones”.
On board the SAA flight to Mauritius to collect the award on behalf of the team, I was greeted with the usual familiarity my surname elicits.
Best Crew Member Ever
Senior Cabin Crew Member Kurt Rudlin greeted the Joneses jovially and asked whether Mrs Jones needed a gin and tonic because she looked so tired. Kurt treated all the passengers with such charm and wit, and every time he came to our row, we chatted.
Eventually, when he enquired about the reason for my trip to Mauritius, I confessed that I was on my way to bring back the trophy for best magazine.
He was overjoyed, and went to tell the whole crew, showed them my picture on this page and we took selfies, and I got another gin and tonic. Best Crew Member Ever Award should go to him for making every guest on the flight feel like a VIP.
And so the joyous celebrations started on the plane already. I was ready, sequined dress and all, for the glittering gala event. And what an event it was.
Best Hospitality in Mauritius
We stayed at The Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa right next to Sugar Beach where the event was held. There was excitement everywhere.
The staff at The Hilton also knew about the award, and they made our stay extra special. What an incredible team of people who were so attentive to our every need, up until the night before our departure, when my husband suffered a severe stroke in our hotel room.
They went above and beyond, even after his hospitalisation, to ensure all our needs were taken care of in a foreign country. The award for Best Hospitality in Mauritius should go The Hilton staff.
A glittering fanfare
But this is a letter about the awards. It was a glittering fanfare indeed, with red carpets, jazz bands, musicians, cocktail stations under a star-spangled Indian Ocean sky, people dressed to the nines, local dance exhibitions, and the who’s who of Mauritius out in full force.
There were so many awards before they got to our category, but when it did, I shimmied up to the stage in my strelitzia-adorned swing coat, designed by South African designer Hugo Fleur.
It felt like I was holding the world in my hand when I lifted that trophy. Then we went outside for the grand finale – a spectacular firework display lighting up the Mauritian sky.
The next day disaster struck, but I’ll hold that story for another day. It is a story of tragedy in Mauritius, the longing to be home in the arms of my South Africa, and the importance of travel insurance. A story that makes my heart stop, just thinking about it.
Thanks to everyone who voted for us to be crowned the best of the best.