Mauritius. – Anchoring the catamaran off shore, we slipped into the warm clear waters with our fins, mask and snorkels. Needing to breath in the beauty of the coral reefs with the tiny fish that darted curious and colourful up to the camera.
Striped, spotted, bright and muted. Seaweed floating peacefully, eels coming into sight, then returning to their shelter. The swell reminding us that there was a world above. All the time the Chef onboard prepared the lunch that we would return to enjoy, invigorated and alive with the moment.
This was my first visit to Mauritius, that idyllic island in the Indian Oceans that has become a household name. Instantly familiar to me, from the start exceeding all my expectations. A paradise found.
By invitation of Manley Communications and in celebration of South African Airways’ 50th year of flying the route between Johannesburg and Mauritius, I joined a group of media boarding the flight in business class where sipping on Tattinger, we found ourselves Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport bound.
We were headed to a week at the exclusive One&Only Le Saint Geran, who simultaneously celebrate their 40th Birthday. There was much time revelling in the relaxed delights of this signature resort, also for exploring the various interesting aspects of the island.
The One&Only Le Saint Geran probably has the best location of all with its own private peninsula and secluded hideaway spot on the island’s East coast. (Pic supplied)
Here with white sands on either side, all of their guest rooms have a sea view through the 4000 lovingly planted palm trees that have seen decades of growth as happy guests came and went, many returning. Stretching tall and offering shade and privacy as well as support for idyllically placed hammocks.
But more than this sense of space, calm and splendour that the property exudes, it’s the heart and soul of the hotel that draws you in from your arrival. With it’s easy luxury and friendly attentive service, there’s a great pride and sense of ownership among the special people that work here, take care of you, anticipate and cater for your every need …
The expansive warmth of the reception area.
Outside pool and dining area. Here a small child enjoys a swimming lesson.
Below the Indian Pavilion with views towards the water. Here Chef Faizan Ali, who comes from a family with a long line of chefs in Northern India brings his own style of creative cooking with personally selected Indian spices and herbs, to the open kitchen. Food heaven!
Bar Manager Oliver Ramtohul took us through the St Geran home-brewed rum flavours before dinner, all the while the skies darkened for the stars to come out and water lapped quietly under our feet. Offering the option of Vanilla, Tamarind, Coconut and the more sophisticated Pink Pigeon, named after the endemic bird that has managed to defy extension.
On the one night we dine in the flagship PRIME Contemporary Grill which brings a new kind of culinary sophistication to Mauritius. Serving only the finest Australian Angus Wagyu beef, fresh seafood and organic produce all carefully selected by Mauritian-born Chef Vikash Coonjan, flavours are delicate and presentation the finest.
An added treat was the company of her Excellency the High Commissioner Dr Nomvuyo Nokwe who had much insight into the island to offer. Such great company.
Other dining options includes the relaxed La Terrace with it’s incredible buffet that is worthy of many visits. Many. Also time at the Sunset Lounge and private dining on the beach, is essential.
The beautiful suits, some on ground others on first floor. Mine was elevated which meant that I could sleep with my doors open to the sound of the sea.
Then the Spa, as everything about the destination calls for pampering, wellbeing and rejuvenating. A secluded sanctuary with its own private lap pool, an assortment of treatment options, a gym with personal trainer on hand and even yoga on the beach and tennis courts with Pro.
The spa also offers a full-service beauty centre and the exclusive Pedi: Mani: Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez which I was treated to. A completely life altering reconnect and cure for my damaged feet.
The gym, pool and Spa area.
This made me wish I could play tennis. But alas.
Why people come here. For the beach, the loungers, the warm waters.
Clever, put up a blue flag for service and a yellow one for don’t disturb.
Here too is a wonderland for all manner of watersports with beaches, coves and reefs in the sheltered lagoon providing calm waters for swimming, the Gary Player 9-hole golf course with clubhouse and Golf Academy appeasing the enthusiast and kiteboarding, water-skiing and scuba diving the adrenalin seeker.
The Gary Player 18-hole Golf Course.
With Simone of One&Only Resorts. We went out for some very rewarding snorkelling, before three of us climbed on a ‘Donut’ to be spun around behind a speedboat in the craziest most fun way. Haven’t laughed that much in years!
The most romantic spot for dinner. Right on the beach.
The best thing about Mauritius is it’s small enough for you to base yourself in one place and explore the island’s highlights from there, which is exactly what we did.
Tearing ourselves away from the One&Only Le Saint Géran, we toured the island, visiting the Thé Bois-Chéri tea factory for a fascinating tour and tasting. Followed by a visit to the sacred Hindu temple at Grand Bassin and a Rum tasting at the Rhumerie de Chamarel. After All, personal research has shown that rum tastes better on an Indian Ocean Island.
Time at the Eureka House, a colonial homestead with ‘109 doors and 104 heirs’ and set in 6 acres of lush landscaped lawns with a waterfall within easy walking distance, was a treat. Sugar Barron days of past and a perfect place for lunch and a walk.
Driving through some of the remaining indigenous forest in the protected Black River Gorges National Park. Here from the lush green of tall trees and dense ferns, we found sugarcane plantations as far as the eyes could see. I was endlessly surprised by how green the island is.
On the last day we sailed by catamaran for a while before anchoring off shore amid varied shades of turquoise and blue, hopping overboard to snorkel in the fish filled corals while lunch was prepared on board. The laughter, happiness and a sense of joyful summer living. A perfect end to a wonderful week.
Wonderful to get a closer look at Mauritius, better still to return for a walk and the beach, some Sega dancing and Le St Geran special moments.
When I come back I’d love to hike in these lush lands.
Each night I slept to the sound of waves breaking on the white beach just below my suite. There was a gentle wind on the air that found it’s way to where I lay tucked up under the cotton sheet, sleeping with a happy heart and a glow of colour on my cheeks. For me, island living had never looked this good.
All the while in my sweet dreams I explored the blue waters …
With the special group enjoying a special One&Only Le Saint Geran moment.
Footnote: To help get you there to enjoy a similar experience, I encourage you to keep an eye on the resort specials for South Africans. Here is good value when you add up the beauty of the location, beautiful rooms, attentive staff and myriad of activities included in your rate.
Read the rest of my posts about Mauritius here. Click on the links for details on activities.
As above I was a guest of South African Airways in celebration of their 50 years of flying the route, hosted at the One&Only Le Saint Geran by invitation of Manley Communications. Guided by the wonderful Iris of Connections.
Top pic supplied by One&Only Le Saint Geran.
Because basically, every girl needs a tepee on her island.