It's raining the day I arrive, which is not quite how I imagined my introduction to a place known for being one of the most beautiful in the world. After a 50-kilometre drive from the airport along the coastal road, through cane fields and small villages, I pull up at a set of grand copper gates leading into the resort. Once security has acknowledged me, I make my way through and drive toward the entrance. Here I am greeted by two beaming footmen – one of them beats a drum to signify my arrival, while the other takes care of my luggage. I forget the grey skies as I step into the expansive lobby. Check-in takes place in a comfortable sitting area, and within a few minutes I'm in my room staring out at the ocean in front of me.
Le Saint Geran – or the Grand Dame of Mauritius as it's long been known – is set on a private peninsula at the northern tip of the Belle Mare coastline in Poste de Flacq, less than an hour by car from the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport. On one side sits the Indian Ocean, while on the other is a calm private lagoon. The country's capital city, Port Louis, is about 50 minutes' drive from the resort.
The resort has 142 rooms and suites (and one villa), and the Ocean Suite I'm staying in is light and airy and has its own furnished terrace, providing direct access to the 2km stretch of beach. Each room at One&Only has its own private terrace or first-floor balcony, and ocean, beach or lagoon views. Last year's US$55 million (Dh202m) renovation of the resort saw the rooms completely redesigned to integrate the local landscape in the interiors and infuse an island-inspired colour palette. My room has a walk-in wardrobe, hair and make-up dressing table, spacious marbled bathroom with his and hers basins, standalone tub and separate shower and toilet cubicles. There's a 24-hour butler service.
Exemplary, just as you would expect from a luxury resort that has been part of the neighbourhood for 42 years and has hosted guests such as Oprah Winfrey – and my next-door neighbour during this stay, Lady in Red singer Chris de Burgh and his family, who are regulars here. And while you might expect it to be hoity-toity, the staff are more like old friends, always smiling and warm, and happy to help when necessary. The only hiccup experienced during my two-night stay was a booking mix-up at the spa, which was promptly solved without upset or need to reschedule.
Exclusive, but not elitist. Le Saint Geran offers a relaxed and welcoming resort vibe – the number of repeat guests are indicative of that. If you want complete privacy, you will be adequately treated, but if you're after a more lively evening, the resort offers that, too: there's a live band each night at La Terrasse. Those keen on a date night or celebratory dinner can "escape" to the new Nobu-like standalone Asian fusion restaurant Tapasake, hands down the best at the property.
Celebrity chef Marc de Passorio's position at the helm of the food offerings has added a new dimension to the overall resort experience. With five diverse options, it's a well-rounded offering, extending from the casual to the more refined. Perhaps the most exciting part of the recent renovation is the introduction of Tapasake. With its traditional thatched roof, fish-shaped lanterns and statement entry, it is positioned over the water, away from the other eateries. The food here is Spanish tapas meets pan-Asian, and individual dishes cost from 185 Mauritian rupees (Dh20). Prime is the resort's steak restaurant – it has a trendy dark-brown-leather aesthetic, and the menu includes some of the best Japanese and Australian cuts of beef, but be prepared, the best comes at a cost of 6,000 rupees (Dh639) for the Japanese Wagyu.
La Terrasse is the all-day dining restaurant, which offers buffets for each meal along with a la carte. Breakfast here is a hearty affair, with stations for just about everything – bread, fresh fruit, curries, pizza breads and pastries, eggs and congee.
La Pointe is the best spot for a sunset drink or afternoon light lunch. As the name suggests, it’s located on the tip of the peninsula with views of the ocean, pool and lagoon. I can recommend the sea bass (1,425 rupees [Dh152]).
For a casual coffee or sweets, L'Artisan by the lobby is a relaxing space. Salads cost from 750 rupees (Dh80), while homemade pastries cost from 165 rupees (Dh18).
The hand-on-heart gesture delivered by the staff members across the resort is endearing and a genuine touch.
The beach hawkers. They’re a constant annoyance, but as no beach is classed as private in this island nation, there’s little the resort can do about it.
A private sanctuary that is ideal for those celebrating a special occasion, whether it be a honeymoon, anniversary or birthday.
The bottom line
Rooms at the One&Only Le Saint Geran (www.oneandonlyresorts.com) cost from Dh2,056 per room, per night during low-season, including taxes, half-board and Wi-Fi.