Review: One&Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius
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A review of the idyllic One&Only Le Saint Géran…
It may have been the very first five-star hotel on Mauritius, but not one of the island’s many high-profile, ever-higher-budget openings since has quite been able to top it. Those who know, know we could only mean One & Only Le Saint Géran: the tropical paradise and Mauritian icon positioned on its own private peninsula in the Indian Ocean. First dibs on location means it doesn’t get any better than this – the resort encompasses both the crystalline waters of a sheltered lagoon and the sparkling Indian Ocean, and is lined by kilometres of pristine sands with coral reefs on one side and tropical flora on the other.
But while many members of staff have been there since its opening over 40 years ago, the interiors and amenities most certainly have not – persistent innovation has ensured the hotel has always been at the top of its game, and recent $60 million renovations have taken things to a whole new level. Rooms and suites have been elegantly revamped to offer flowing open-plan living, and feature marble bathrooms with tropical outdoor showers, swanky dressing-rooms and a private terrace or balcony from which to gaze over the ocean. And while One & Only Le Saint Geran’s loyal tribe of visitors continues to grow (staff fondly recall those who first visited as children and who today still return, with children of their own), the decision to decrease the number of rooms to allow for more space and privacy shows how special this place really is. But that’s only the start…
Understandably, guests stay for as long as they possibly can – and a vast array of exceptionally executed dining options, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Marc de Passorio, ensures they need never have the same meal twice (tempting though it may be). Head to the water-front La Pointe for barbequed catch of the day and cocktails, Prime for the finest Australian Angus and Wagyu beef (and don’t miss the foie gras: hands-down the best I’ve ever tasted), or L’Artisan for bougie pastries, salads and coffees. A short walk through the palm trees leads to Tapasake, the resort’s swanky pan-Asian restaurant perched on stilts over the lagoon, which serves top-notch sushi, sashimi and teppanyaki with a Western twist.
But, for me, the star of the show was La Terrasse, the resort’s all-day restaurant which single-handedly dashes every preconception of the dreaded buffet-style dining. Breakfast here is the most lavish display you will ever lay eyes on – a cornucopia of just-picked exotic fruits alongside rows and rows of still-warm breads and pastries; chefs on hand to make fresh crepes and waffles, and cook your eggs to individual perfection; and every speciality imaginable, from Japanese congee to traditional Indian curry. At dinner-time, think beautiful, plump oysters laid out beside fresh uni (sea-urchin), sashimi, and various nigiri and sushi rolls – and these are just the starters. Evening meals are often themed, but the island’s traditional Creole cuisine is always on the menu and will swiftly become a new favourite. And you’re urged to remember that nothing is ever off the table – chefs will be delighted to whip up all manner of favourites, whether a nostalgic family recipe or an unforgettable curry from the night before. Utter heaven for epicureans.
The old adage of ‘if you can drag yourself away from the resort…’ is nowhere more appropriate – but the vibrant Mauritian culture that lies just beyond One & Only Le Saint Geran’s boundaries is pull enough. Head to nearby Flacq for the fabulous food market and hustle-and-bustle of island life, and embark on a One&Only-curated tour to discover idyllic new beaches, colourful temples and local villages for a full immersion in the magic of Mauritius. A trip to the National Botanic Gardens is a must, as are the old plantation houses where you can uncover the island’s fascinating and varied history.
But, truly, there is entertainment enough right where you are. Water-babies will find themselves in heaven with all the sports on offer at the resort, from water-skiing and wind-surfing to sailing, paddleboarding and kayaking, and there’s even the option to join an expedition on the resort’s 55-foot fishing boat in search of marlin and barracuda. The ultimate luxury, however, is to book the private boat for a breakfast jaunt on the lagoon – the buffet’s finest comes on board with you, as does a little bottle of Champagne, for a romantic morning spent exploring the waters and snorkelling in hidden spots.
Very little effort is needed to achieve immense wellbeing when days are spent in such utter bliss – floating around sun-kissed in crisp white linen between dips in the ocean and hours of cushioned lounging does wonders for the soul. But for those who need a little extra to wash away life’s stresses, the resort’s spa offers all manner of luxurious treatments using ESPA and Biologique Recherche products. It’s worth dragging yourself briefly away from the pool for some pampering in this haven of calm among the lush, tropical vegetation and a few rounds of the hammam, sauna and adults-only pool – while the couples’ suite is swathed in romance, perfect for a traditional massage to the relaxing sounds of the waves just beyond. And for added mindfulness, there’s a picturesque pavilion where you can take part in daily al-fresco yoga and meditation.
Prepare for kicking and screaming when you leave, for One & Only Le Saint Geran is heaven on earth for little ones and teenagers alike. Two kids’ clubs, cleverly divided by ages, mean that children can holiday on their own terms – and there’s entertainment aplenty with a jam-packed schedule of activities, from traditional dancing and cookery classes to movie nights and DJ parties.