The superstar island of Mauritius is not short of luxury hotels where you can find sun, sea and sand, but of its five-star beach resorts, the Royal Palm Beachcomber and the One&Only Le Saint Géran have got to be the most prestigious addresses.
One is the original Grand Dame of Mauritius, built in 1975, and rebranded after a nine-month and multimillion-dollar transformation, courtesy of One&Only. The other is a thatched five star nicknamed the ‘Royal Calm’ for its setting on a palm-fringed ivory sand cove in the sheltered, northwest corner of the island.
The question is: for the Mauritius-bound traveler, where do you check-in?
One&Only Le Saint Géran
If there ever was a hotel made for gastronomes in Mauritius, the One&Only Le Saint Géran would be it. Sure, the hotel lost its Alain Ducasse restaurant after its costume change, but under resident Michelin-star chef Marc de Passorio, open-air pool bar and restaurant La Pointe and Spanish-Asian overwater joint Tapasake get you over the loss pretty quick.
Then, of course, the hotel itself is something of a legend. Practically the only hotel in Mauritius when it first opened in 1975, its claim to uniqueness is right on the money. Throw in the sunny dazzle of ocean, the white sand, the swaying palms and the thatched beach umbrellas and you’ve got a super slick beach hotel, immaculately maintained over the decades to have a sort of gravity-defying feel.
Le Saint Géran has also long inspired an almost cultish loyalty… When Nelson Mandela came to Mauritius, he stayed here…as did Charlize Theron, the Gipsy Kings and Catherine Deneuve. But even they couldn’t beat the record a Belgian couple who returned here 86 times.
“They don’t have “Le Saint Géran” tattooed on their arms,” says general manager, Charles de Foucault, “but they’re pretty close.”
With the whole island to choose from, Le Saint Géran had the first pick for the kind of beachfront real estate it wanted, and what the Grand Dame settled on was a white-sand private peninsula on the glam northeast coast of the island. It’s a way from the shopping and other attractions of the island, but you can’t beat the endless distractions on land and water, from snorkelling expeditions on the lagoon to gins and tonics served at your sun lounger.
The room to pick
Villa One, at the absolute pinnacle of luxurious Mauritian living with its tropical gardens, Indian Ocean views and a dedicated butler, chef and valet to cater to every whim.
The Royal Palm Beachcomber
You’ll probably recognize the Royal Palm Beachcomber from scenes of fantasy thriller Serenity, and beyond the lavish Presidential Suite with double doors swinging open to breathtaking views of the ocean, the hotel is still all intuitive luxury and exotic refinement. A stay here is a voyage in itself- think a picture-postcard location on a sunny palm-fringed bay of the island, a colonial decor of walnut wood, travertine tiles and fine silks, and open-air pillared spaces with views across emerald Grand Baie…
But the hotel is not all classic luxury. It has plenty of whimsy too, from an art gallery with works by up-and-coming Mauritian artists to corridors lined with black and white comic photography, and a spa with its own Reiki master. Befitting its setting on the sheltered north coast of Mauritius, there is also plenty to do here, from waterskiing and snorkelling to golf at the nearby Mont Choisy golf course. For the more adventurous, a new dive school offers exclusive spots to see turtles and sharks while the hotel’s 65ft yacht, The Royal Princess, is a unique offering, and quite a way to explore the little islands north of Mauritius.
In the north of Mauritius, and just a few minutes from the shopping and attractions of Grand Baie, the location of the Royal Palm Beachcomber can’t be beat. Throw in the fine-grained sandy beach and emerald blue waters this side of Mauritius and you’ve got a holiday French presidents and celebrities can’t get enough of.
The room to pick
We’d pick one of these three rooms, each more fantastic than the next.
For more Indian Ocean travel inspiration, stay tuned or check out our post on our favorite paradise islands this side of the world…