I slide open the doors of my sea-facing suite and step outside. There’s nothing but the quiet of the afternoon and the gentle swoosh of the surf just a few metres away. I walk barefoot across manicured lawn and settle in a lounger with my toes in the sand. A few minutes later, I’m plied with sweet slices of chilled watermelon and a stylish cocktail made with sugarcane rum. The evening stretches languorously. I can choose to slip into the aqua pura that laps at my feet and swim in its azure depths. Or indulge in a multitude of water sports. I can decide to glam it up and head to a fine-dining experience coupled with a wine tasting. Or then again, I can just lie there as the sun sets and the Sega drums start to beat in the distance.
That’s the beauty of a stay at One&Only Le St Géran in Mauritius. You can literally breathe easy and float around on your own personal cloud nine, doing just as you please on your own schedule. And that’s something most high-flying holidayers would pay a premium for, isn’t it? As any well-heeled traveller worth his Alfred Dunhill weekender bag knows, the One&Only (O&O) chain assures a certain exclusivity and anonymity to its guests. Unlike other, flashier hotels that almost offer a paparazzi-package so you can have your holiday and see it in the tabloids too, this chain allows you to let your hair down without the global gaze ogling down your Gucci swimwear.
That’s because, in this island nation, where almost every beach is lined with resorts of every size, shape and standard, One&Only Le St Géran is set apart by sheer pedigree. It’s been at the apex of Mauritian hospitality for almost 40 years now. Its values are evident in the way you’re cherished and pampered from the get go. Your experience of O&O’s hallmark of easy luxury coupled with discreet service begins almost as soon as you touchdown at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. A very warm and efficient team from O&O meets you at the airport, from where you’re escorted to a luxe car. It swishes you past swaying palms, pineapple plantations and colonial cannons to Poste de Flacq on the Eastern coast of Mauritius, where the resort occupies 60 acres of plush property on its private Belle Mare peninsula, fringed by a kilometre-long stretch of the purest white-sand beach you can imagine. A gong is sounded to greet you with good vibrations as soon as you check in. The reverberations continue throughout your stay.
Hitting the suite spot
I’m offered my pick from their 162 suites, either at lawn level or with a terrace, each offering a breath-taking view of either the aquamarine Indian ocean or the more sheltered cove where all the water sports are arranged. My Junior Suite, all of 800 sq feet, is well equipped with all the high-end amenities I’d expect from a luxury resort like this. My personal butler unpacks my cases expertly, hangs up the clothes in the walk-in closet and exits unobtrusively. All this, while I’m busy exploring the serene seating area outside, the splendid view beyond, and the comfortable room with a colonial touch indoors. I am pleased by the high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and the goose-down pillows. And I get to pick a scent from the fragrance menu for my turn-down service too! Add the peace and purity of the air to the mix, this is going to be super sleep quality, for sure, I tell myself. There are more choices to make as I enter the beautiful bath area, with its spacious tub with scented bath oils and salts and a roomy cascade shower. After some rest and a refreshing soak, I’m all agog to discover what Le St Géran is all about.
A month’s worth of fun
Where do I start? There are scores of activities I can choose from. The nine-hole Gary Player Golf course beckons. As do the synthetic grass courts for Tennis. Meanwhile, the indoor Fitness Centre, fully equipped with Technogym® Excite and Personal Selection ranges, a mind/body pavilion and an 18-metre lap pool, offers everything from personal training to Pilates. But the biggest draw for me (and most of the visiting body-worshipping beachaholics who’ve perfected their tan) is obviously the variety of water sports on offer, most of them complimentary. I find that the water bicycles are a novel way to explore the bay, perched atop a bike that floats, which you can manoeuvre easily and stop at will wherever you like. Snorkelling and a glass-bottom boat ride are a lot of fun in the crystal clear water. And, if you’re an adrenalin junkie, apart from unlimited water-skiing, Hobie Cats and kayaking, they also have some activities at a nominal charge – kite surfing, Master Craft course, fishing and parasailing adventures and banana boat, tube and speedboat rides.
After my time in the sun and surf, a spa session seems the ticket. The O&O Spa (they have a tie-up with luxury spa brand ESPA) has eight treatment rooms, but I opt for the most droolworthy space… their garden pavilion. This is a room built over a small stream and surrounded by a lot of lush foliage. The wooden colonial slats of the walls let the sunshine in. As I surrender myself to the magical ministrations of the masseuse, all I can hear are the musical calls of birds, the gurgling sounds of the brook below, and the drip of the aromatherapy fragrances and restoring oils she’s slathering all over me. The only way this could be any better would be if the Significant Other was here to join in a couple’s therapy in this pavilion, I ponder wistfully as life’s stresses are expertly kneaded out from my muscles. Almost asleep by the time my session is done 90 minutes later, I don my fluffy spa robe and head to the relaxation room, a sunshiney space specifically intended for slowly emerging from your cosy cocoon of contentment as you sip on natural iced tea and contemplate the spa’s own lap pool.
On my way out, I make a note to myself to book another appointment for major foot pampering the next day at the Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio so I can find out what all the fuss is about. Apparently, internationally renowned foot specialist Bastien Gonzalez has carefully selected and trained the staff here and I hear that his signature mani-pedis, focussing on well-being and beauty, are getting many a billionaire bikini bottom in a twist!
Eating is an activity too
Properly pummelled and de-stressed, I prefer to return to my suite for a light snack of Mauritian pineapple (tiny and sweet) and the creature comfort of my favourite Nespresso shot before I snooze on the chaise lounge outside or fall into the nearest convenient hammock. But that’s only because I’ve been eating so much ever since I’ve got here! La Terrasse, a very relaxed and airy restaurant, is the focal point of this O&O, and you tend to keep going back to it, right from a bright breakfast by the sea to a trendy tropical lunch or a sumptuous seafood buffet with live entertainment at night. This sprawling space (including the Pool Bar) wraps around the main swimming area and faces the sea, so you will almost always have a table with a view and as much privacy as you want. It’s mostly casual dining, although everyone tends to dress up a bit at sundown, especially the days when there’s a traditional Sega show or a performance by the country’s most enduring and most popular bands – the Famous 9. From Creole to Continental to Asian to American, they have it all… I’ve sampled the sushi (fresh!), the fantastic salads (I love the very tropical Mauritian one, which has juicy slices of ripe avocado, candied walnuts, pineapple florets, coconut slivers, greens, and crisp, honey mustard-encrusted chicken), shucked oysters and binged at their bountiful buffets and live food stations (one just can’t get enough). And, believe it or not, they even pack you a picnic or a bento box to eat at ease wherever and whenever you like if you let them know!
For more formal meals, there’s the elegant Indian Pavilion, even closer to the water’s edge, which can make you nostalgic for India with its live kitchen and the fragrance of Indian spices wafting over the waves. The menu is a great introduction to Indian fare for those who haven’t tried it, although it does lean quite heavily on North Indian dishes. For a special night and to try something quite different, you can book a table at PRIME. This one is a pricey steakhouse that does some very stylish and avante garde food and boasts its own authentic French sommelier too. The romantic atmospherics, starting with a short walk through a beautifully lit garden and ending with a superb dessert that has actual gold in it, certainly warrant a maxi dress and a designer clutch, I reason, as I do a date night with a superlative Wagyu grill and an elaborate Do-it-Yourself Tiramisu!
What’s to love…
While I’m here detoxing by myself, Le St Géran is most definitely the perfect place for couples who are looking for a resort holiday (read honeymooners) where they can focus on fun and quality time with each other. Distractions such as the shopping districts, Indian religious sites, dodo museum and Bollywood film locations are all a longish drive away. While the resort used to be a favourite with royals from all over the world, it now caters to a different sort of elite… people with a penchant for peace and pockets deep enough to procure it, whatever the cost. Children are welcomed and entertained (they have a fabulous standalone Kids’ Only Club, many of the suites are now inter-connecting and their restaurant menus even offer fresh purées for babies!) but the emphasis is on creating a perfect paradise that you won’t want to leave in a hurry.
The resort oozes a generosity of spirit in every detail and that’s what brings families back again and again, sometimes for generations! It’s not surprising that even the staff is loyal to the place, many of them having worked here throughout their lives. Everyone associated with the One&Onely Le St Géran tends to become part of this intimate inner circle. I know I want to belong to it for a long time to come too.
Address: One&Only Le Saint Géran,
Pointe de Flacq, Mauritius
Telephone: +230 401 1688
E-mail: [email protected]