Sun, Sea & Smiles at One&Only Le Saint Géran!
A detailed review of our visit to One&Only Le Saint Geran, Mauritius…
As I sit here on the beach, in a state of transcendence, nature speaks to me; the waves, the swaying trees, the sand that sticks to my feet, they all seem to say only one thing – that God is an artist. Romance, passion, adventure, love, fertility and prosperity are his colours…he paints on a magnanimous canvas and what results is the beautiful island of Mauritius. The island that withholds the power to make you a poet, a lover, an artist maybe.
In my opinion, One&Only Le Saint Geran is to Mauritius what the beautiful night sky is to Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It is the highlight of the master piece, the Mona Lisa’s smile. As I begin exploring the palatial resort building, complete with a moat, a huge entrance, an airy lobby and reception area as well as beautifully decorated flora, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the days ahead. The warm and welcoming hospitality staff members were waiting eagerly for our arrival. A cheery exchange of greetings, a few formalities and within a few minutes we were good to go.
The mildly chilly breeze of the southern hemisphere’s winters and the long journey was beginning to take its toll on us. But for me, any level of fatigue can be cured with a nice glass of wine and some delicious food, both of which were waiting for me at La Terrasse, the pool side dining area of the resort.
The restaurant feels vibrant and vivacious with a wide selection of regional, French, Indian and Chinese cuisine and an ever smiling staff who would be more than happy to seat you wherever you feel you’re comfortable and even help you carry your extravagant plate full of delicacies to your table. La Terrasse offers breakfast and dinner buffets while lunch is a la carte. A point to be noted, however, is that the dressing code for all the restaurants in the evenings is smart casuals. Men are supposed to wear collared shirts, full-length trousers and formal shoes. Upon further investigation, I found out that this is the case across most A-list hotels across Mauritius.
The dress code policy is smart-casual for the evening in all the restaurants. Do not forget to carry formal shoes, trousers, etc.
Now you may find this as an obstruction to your comfort zone, I mean why would you want to dress up in a place where everyone wants to dress down, but think of it like this; there is nothing sexier when it comes to rekindling that spark that you share with your partner than a little role play. And a crisp shirt, fragrant cologne and your tuxedo shoes just might do the trick.
One&Only Le Saint Geran is a huge property with over a kilometer of beautiful beach stretch and over sixty acres of tropical gardens. This makes the property an absolute treat for anyone who enjoys the fresh air and magnificent greenery. The big numbers don’t end there; when it comes to the number of rooms, One&Only Le Saint Geran offer one hundred and sixty two suites and one villa.
The rooms include 100 Junior Suites that offer the sea or the lagoon views, 48 beach front Junior Suites that offer the sea view and are just footsteps away from the pristine beach, 10 Ocean Suites which offer two terraces facing the ocean, four Family Two-Room Ocean Suites which offer three terraces facing the ocean and one Villa Residence with a clear view of the Indian ocean. The Junior Suites are between sixty five and seventy square meters in size and can easily accommodate a family of four. The Ocean Suites are one hundred and nineteen square meters in size and offer a separate private dining room. Some even have an outdoor rain shower. The four Family Two-Room Ocean Suites are one hundred and eighty nine square meters in size and offer two en-suite bedrooms along with a separate private dining area as well as large sized bathrooms and shower areas. The Villa is the icing on the cake when it comes to accommodation. The Villa is a massive six hundred and twenty two square meters in size and offers an expansive terrace along with a private swimming pool, a spacious master bedroom that offers a king size bed. The master bedroom has large doors that open up to the patio. Then there is another bedroom with two queen size beds. The bathrooms are extremely spacious with showers and a Jacuzzi. The Villa also offers a fully functional kitchen as well as a personal chef and butler on request. Complete with a airy living and dining room, the Villa, that has been built on the theme of a classical island home is ideal for those who wish to be pampered with luxury and élan.
Note: All suites have complimentary added values in the room (nespresso coffee machine, tea facilities, rum set up, fruit basket every day.
One point worth mentioning here is that all rooms come with a round-the-clock personalized butler service. It is amazing to see how the quality of service has been ingrained in the staff at the One&Only Le Saint Geran. Whether it is remembering your name which will be beautifully used with a bonjour while greeting you or even remembering which fruits you have a preference for while refreshing your fruit basket every morning; One&Only Le Saint Geran makes sure that you are treated like a very special guest.
Not only will they offer you a service but would even tell you stories if you care to give a listen. Most of the staff at One&Only has a tenure of over several years; something that says volumes about the excellent working conditions at the resort. They will happily tell you about their culture, there traditions as well as about the resorts colourful history.
I enjoyed my conversations with Sudhir Mohun, the restaurant manager, who educa
ted us about the Mauritian culture and how the humble roots of the people had today become the proud traditions of a prosperous island nation. I remember my discussions about the food with Nichol at La Tarrasse and how proud he felt at being part of this beautiful resort. I remember the fantastic cooking session I had with master chef Faizan at the Indian Pavillion and how he introduced me to the Mauritian cuisine and local produce.
I remember Joel, Martine and Jugoo who made my every meal special with their diligent yet caring service and there warm smile. I remember Pooshkal, who as a parting gift gave us a book about the resort, almost as if he was giving us a proud chapter from his life for us to cherish. I remember Olivier who took us to Rhum Heaven with his fantastic concoctions and surprisingly delicious recipes. I remember Anoop, who not only gave us insights on the resort and but also how the staff members at One&Only Le Saint Geranwere working behind the scenes to make the resort an absolute paradise for the guests. Last but not the least, I remember Mary, who gave me this amazing experience. Her love for the resort, her simple stories about Mauritius, her friendly demeanor took my experience to where it is today. I do not feel my experience would have been this good had it not been for her supervision. I feel, in fact, that at the micro level, it is the staff that is responsible for making any grand resort worthy of its laurels and accolades. But at One&Only Le Saint Geran, it is not a responsibility but rather a way of life. It is the passion of the staff that translates into the smile on my face. It is the diligence of the members that translates into a beautifully made up room or a deliciously cooked meal.
Travelling with kids requires meticulous planning and ensuring the kids are kept engaged and busy. One&Only Le Saint Geran takes care of kids in the most fun, responsible, and informative way. The ‘Kids Only Club’ is replete with games, kids’ pool, small kitchen garden and much more. There are trained attendants to watch the kids and engage them in interesting activities. There are baking and dance lessons. The kids can be taken to water activities under strict supervision.
“For babies and toddlers younger than 3 years old, the resort offers professional babysitting services at a nominal fee (24 hours notice required).”
The Garden Spa
While you feel relaxed at any corner of the resort, there’s a special haven for unwinding completely. Imagine walking into a garden with lush green flora, a small stream and chirping birds. Picture a reasonably spacious wooden room in the middle. Now, imagine a 90-minute spa treatment in this room with not your regular spa music but sounds of nature providing the background music. The light is natural and dim; mild sun rays peep into the room through wooden slats of the wall. Now that’s what you call an ideal destination spa! Integrating all the natural elements you associate with Mauritius, it offers the most soothing setting for a spa. You are bound to fall asleep during your treatment and wake up recharged as you’ve never been before.
The garden is the perfect place for meditation. The silence is broken only pleasantly by the gentle splashing of ducks or few playful birds.
As the masseuse gently kneaded all my muscle tensions away, I realized that the magic wasn’t created just by the location of the spa alone. The skills of the therapist, (Prakash, a certified yoga instructor) and the massage I had chosen (Mauritian poultice) were at work too.
A highly relaxing treatment, it uses special poultices made of herbs and spices wrapped in muslin or cotton. These poultices are steam-heated; the process allows the natural essential oils and aromas of the herbs and spices to be released. The moist and nutrient-rich relaxation helps the skin and muscles relax. The therapist explained that the poultices also work towards harmonizing the body’s energy flow by stimulating blood circulation. I could, in fact, feel the energy blockages just melt away.
The 90-minute treatment came to an end with a head massage, further adding to the relaxing therapy. While I usually feel sleepy after a spa session, I felt this strong sense of balance and renewal in energy. Of course, I relaxed for a while at the indoor spa. Sipping some mint tea, I spent a long while doing nothing without a worry or sense of time interlude my peace. Isn’t that what a dreamy vacation is all about?
The garden pavilion is just one part of the spa; there are eight indoor treatment rooms. There’s separate wet area for men and women while the steam, sauna and hammam rooms are common. There’s a gym area with all the latest equipments and a small separate area for stretching. A personal trainer is available to guide you and share tips for fitness.
Just like at any other corner of the resort there are happy faces adding value to your experience at the spa as well. The happy new bride, Svetha sitting on the spa front desk and a very insightful Prakash are but two of the many friendly people we had lovely conversations with.
Food & Drinks:
Perhaps what compliments the ample natural beauty in Mauritius the most is the fabulous food at One&Only Le Saint Geran. My meals at One&Only Le Saint Geran offered a peak into the Mauritian culture in the most exotic yet simple manner, for that is the Mauritian way of living perhaps. I remember having a conversation with Chef Roger Mooking about exotic food. He said “what is exotic for you is actually the local produce for the natives.” And this is actually very true. Whether it’s the local Sultana or the amazingly sweet coconut or the famous curry powder, the food at One&Only Le Saint Geran will impress you with its simple yet delicious flavours.
While we enjoyed most of our meals basking in the sun by the pool side at La Terrasse, there were some masterpieces planned by our hosts at the resort. Our welcome dinner included shrimp salad with pineapple, pomello and citrus vinaigrette, tuna tataki papaya salad, soya and miso dressing and carrot soup with golden crispy crouton. One couldn’t ask for anything more after a long flight. But being in a country where hospitality seems to be a religion, we had more. Our main course included grilled sacrechien fish, chef’s garden vegetables along with lemon butter sauce. Another option was grilled chicken breast along with potato fondant and truffle sauce followed by pumpkin ravioli with a creamy cheese sauce. The food was not only delicious but absolutely satisfying. The flavours were a perfect blend of mellow and spice. What I loved more than the food, however, was the personalized menu which mentioned ‘In the honour of Mr Sahni and Ms. Bhatia.’ One&Only Le Saint Geran really knows how to make one feel special.
Speaking of special, the resort arranged a special dinner in my honour on the jetty. The special arrangement of a canopy and cozy seating right next to the water and under the open starry sky made it seem almost unreal. The sound of the water, the glass of wine in my hand, the wind blowing through my hair… for a fraction of a second time almost stood still. It is in moments like these when one sits and looks at life philosophically, assesses what is good, what is bad, what worked and what didn’t but more importantly, what is important and what should be cherished.
Such thoughts, though essential, can work up an appetite which can only be vanquished by the master chefs at One&Only Le Saint Geran. The starter included sea food frenzy with grilled scallops served with clams, olives, roasted broccolis, baby squid and heart of palm, garlic and parsley sauce. The main course included a generous portion of rock lobster and sacrechien fish, Mauritian salsa with ginger and lemongrass. The other option was certified Angus beef rib served with morellow cherry condiment and Shiraz red wine jus. If the succulent meal wasn’t enough, the dessert options of dark chocolate shell with melting gianduja cream, exotic fruit and homemade spicy lemon chutney or fruit plate with sorbet made it a meal out of heaven.
Whether you are enjoying world class cuisine at the Prime, or enjoy a wholesome Indian meal at the Indian Pavillion or simply enjoy a beach box meal while working up your tan, One&Only Le Saint Geran has something for everyone. The fresh fruits, the generous servings, the smiles on the beautiful people serving you – all this makes you feel like the world is a happy place, where people love other people and one faith in the basic goodness in humanity is restored.
I really hope that you get an opportunity to visit the One&Only Le Saint Geran. You will come across many places that will offer you luxury and amenities but places which have a soul are rare. One&Only Le Saint Geran has a soul, a character; it is the perfect host and a resort very close to my heart. It is a place where you can sit on the beach and lose yourself while you find your true self. It is a place where couples can rekindle their love for each other while their children are well taken care of in the Kids Only play area. It is a place where families can enjoy each other and grow stronger. It is a place where one feels like a very important person. Yes, it is One&Only Le Saint Geran, the star in my heart.
PS: We’re overwhelmed by the response we received on our Postcards from Mauritius post. Thank you, readers!