Paradise beyond compare

MAY 2015 – Five-star resort properties are plentiful in Mauritius but few have the luxe appeal of One&Only Le Saint Géran, which nestles on the silver sands of its own private peninsula to offer an exclusive hideaway for both couples and families looking for incomparable hospitality, world-class facilities and exceptional cuisine.

There’s no denying the appeal of Mauritius. A quick flight from South Africa makes it an ideal tropical holiday destination. Then there’s its exotic island culture, authentic Euro-Creole cuisine and, of course, its exquisite natural scenery and beaches.

It is these qualities that helped cement the One&Only brand’s foray into Mauritius, and indeed the world. One&Only Le Saint Géran is not the biggest jewel in the One&Only crown, given that it has properties in Dubai, Mexico, the Maldives, Australia, Bahamas, South Africa (and coming soon Montenegro, China, Bahrain and two more in Mexico), but it is undoubtedly one of its most charming.

Situated on its own peninsula on the north-eastern side of Ile Maurice and blessed with more than a mile of pristine beach, the resort has become renowned as a hideaway for celebrities from far and wide who happily blend in among the honeymooners and families who return year after year.

The island resort has had consistent updates since the 1970s and now includes 161 spacious and fully equipped suites, which are either sea facing or boast unspoilt views of tranquil coves. There is also a single villa that has hosted numerous A-listers whose names the staff here are far too discreet to share, although their eyes shine when recalling a month-long villa stay enjoyed by Nelson Mandela on his release from prison some 25 years ago. The resort boasts an impressive 60 acres of palm treed gardens, a nine-hole Gary Player golf course, both a tennis and a waterski and wakeboarding academy, and an ESPA spa, host to one of just a handful of Bastien Gonzalez Mani:Pedi:Cure studios in the world.

The most recent refurbishment to the resort took it from homely hotel with an enviable reputation to rock-star property. A wide frangipani-scented walkway leads guests from the palatial entrance lobby straight to the heart of this island idyll, the pool area. Just beyond is the beach and in its midst, the main bar and dining area, which means guests start and finish their days here, ensuring there is a congenial atmosphere at all times.

One&Only Le Saint Géran is unique in  that it is both about family and couple time and the resort handles the demands of both sets of clientele beautifully. Here, families are spoilt for choice with any number of activities to enjoy together and, should parents need some time to spend a morning enjoying a game of Sudoku in silence, then there’s the KidsOnly Club, certainly one of the best on the island and absolutely complimentary to resort guests. Children, age three to 11 are paired with enthusiastic minders who are on hand to entertain and facilitate play and adventure from 10am-10pm daily, either in the KidsOnly Club (which features indoor and outdoor activity areas, a pool and dining room) or at specific daily activities in and around the resort. At any time of day, one can see the professionally trained minders pottering with their charges, sharing in the wonder of a just-discovered sea shell, learning how to fish or making their way back from a successful bout in the kitchen.

Of course there are activities for older children, too, and teens invariably leave the resort equipped with new skills and a slew of new friends to follow on Instagram when they get back to real life.

For those seeking romance, One&Only Le Saint Géran is the ultimate away-from-it-all resort. There are plenty of pockets of privacy and opportunities to settle onto a lounger-for-two for the afternoon. One&Only’s unobtrusive yet thoroughly attentive service style is a hallmark of the brand and this is especially relevant for honeymooners or couples seeking together time.

Another signature of a stay at any One&Only resort is the calibre of cuisine and One&Only Le Saint Géran is no exception. From five-star gourmet menus to the super-cool frozen yoghurt trolley that patrols the resort, there are endless edible delights that await. At waterside eatery Indian Pavilion, Chef Faizal Ali serves elegantly presented modern twists on famed favourites such as kebabs and kormas. Meanwhile at hip dining hub PRIME, Chef Vikash Coonjan prepares a mix of decadent offerings, from his signature Salade du millionaire with finely sliced palm heart to slow-cooked Wagyu beef short ribs. At the poolside restaurant La Terrasse, the offerings change every day but the constant is a focus on the mouthwatering fresh produce available on the island. From alfresco seafood barbecues featuring lobster and sea urchins to themed and local buffet evenings, it’s all about tasty, unforgettable food.

If return custom is the holy grail in the hotel industry, then One&Only Le Saint Géran is that elusive treasure. Every evening one hears enthusiastic “see you next time” exchanges as guests enjoy their last cocktails, dinners and starlit dancing before their flights home.

One&Only Le Saint Géran manages to ooze five-star style at every turn while maintaining a laidback, homely atmosphere. It’s no wonder people who started coming here in the 1980s as children are bringing their own children here to make new tropical holiday memories.

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