CAROLINE HURRY visits the One&Only resort on the northeast coast of Mauritius
I could semigrate to Mauritius tomorrow. Everyone drives on the left and hijackings are unheard of – where would you hide? A Mecca for millionaires seeking a safe place to stash their cash, it’s tax exempt and, if not entirely crime-free, murders in gun-free Mauritius are rare.
You can watch the Blue Bulls tackle the Sharks on satellite TV and you’re as likely to hear a goeie môre as a bonjour in the markets. Anneline Kriel Bacon lives here along with thousands of other SA expats. The skies are sunny, and the water’s warm. Small wonder the island gets dubbed South Africa’s 10th province. There’s just one caveat. You need moolah to loll about in these parts, but isn’t that true of luxury lifestyles all over the planet?
Sol Kerzner set the ball rolling in 1975, when he opened the first international resort, named after the ill-fated Saint Géran vessel split in two and sunk by a cyclone in 1744. Only nine survived but with more than 100 shipwrecks around the coast, such tragedies were not uncommon.
Le Grande Dame of the Belle Mare peninsula was for years a benchmark for the subsequent 5-star hotels that dot the 300km coastline. Now a One&Only resort, Le Saint Géran comprises 162 suites and a villa. Members of the Swedish royal family occupied the latter during our visit. Yes, the SRF, no less!
What might Aftonbladet pay for a snapshot of cavorting blue bloods in bikinis? More than a few Kroner, I wagered, but my Scandinavian husband refused to shin up a palm tree with his long lens, fobbing me off with pious homilies about privacy. And, you know, bodyguards.
“What a bore you are,” I huffed but he would not be swayed. Even so, it’s impossible to be bored for long as you settle into a hammock slung between two of the 4000 palm trees with a thriller while the Dane does some snorkeling.
My idea of a holiday involves indolence to the nth degree. Give me a recliner under thatch where discreet waiters start like hounds to the hare when you raise your service flag. “Une autre cocktail, Madame?” Don’t mind if I do, thank you.
There’s nothing like a good massage too, and at One&Only Le Saint Géran’s Garden Spa Pavilion suspended over streams amid tropical gardens, therapists will soothe you into a state of bliss. Afterwards, I wander a path between glades of frangipani, the air redolent with sea salt and the kink-a-choo chatter of red whiskered bulbuls, only to encounter a crested crane eyeing out the goldfish.
Turns out Sol Kerzner bought a pair. The female died some years back so the male now swans about preening for the paparazzi, not unlike David Beckham who owns property nearby, according to our SummerTimes driver.
Rumelier Olivier Ramtohul mixes the best beach cocktails this side of a pirate’s Yo Ho Ho as the day yawns to a close. Later, at Prime – think organic Wagyu beef from Australia (discerning guests care about the provenance of their food) – staff let my husband make his own tiramisu. It’s his thing.
There’s a cornucopia of fresh fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Pool Terrace, while the open-sided Indian Pavilion on a jetty overlooks mountains, a limpid lagoon, and Hindu temple, where chef, Faizen Ali, conjures an array of Mughlai dishes with spicy accompaniments. The Indian Pavilion was Nelson Mandela’s favourite restaurant, apparently.
“He spent some time on our island,” confided our bartender.
“He spent some time on Robben Island, too,” quipped The Dane. Eish!
- Air Mauritius offers daily flights to the island from South Africa