Holiday destinations - Dubai and Mauritius
PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 October 2016
If I were to dream up my fantasy holiday, it would look a lot like my experience with One&Only in Dubai and Mauritius. Oh, who am I kidding…it would look exactly like this, writes Kate Houghton.
Dubai is just an overnight flight away, but so distant from our British reality it might as well be on the moon. Add to this the utter luxury and intense consideration of the One&Only hotels and their staff and you have a dream vacation just waiting to happen.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was actually heading to the One&Only Le Saint Géran resort hotel in Mauritius, with Dubai merely a stopover…but what a stopover. I now can’t imagine why you’d do anything else but head to a glorious hotel for a little recovery time before moving on to your next destination.
My dream holiday started in style; greeted at Manchester Airport by a charming chap who walked me briskly through check-in, raced me through fast track security checks and deposited me in an airport lounge, never having felt so looked after and carefree before in an airport; this was part of the Elegant Resorts service and something I could easily get used to!
Once in Dubai, we stayed at The Palace at One&Only Royal Mirage; utterly fabulous. The rooms are beautiful, the service is exceptional and the food extraordinary. Dinner in Tagine was the dining experience of a lifetime. My day was spent being thoroughly spoiled by lovely people. A morning by the pool – sun-loungers spread around a very glamorous poolside, huge umbrellas providing welcome shade and a vista of towering edifices in the background – was followed by an afternoon in the Hammam being assaulted by ladies from Morocco. I know, it sounds very wrong, but felt very right (afterwards, at least.) The traditional Hammam experience at the Spa includes a cleansing wash down with Moroccan black soap, some steam-room time and then a vigorous (really vigorous) loofah body scrubbing while lying on a heated marble bed, followed by a deeply relaxing massage. It was an experience to overwhelm the senses, but one that brought me to a state of total relaxation and, I promise you, my skin has never been so soft and glowing.
The following day I enjoyed yet another unforgettable experience: a sea-plane flight around the skyline of Dubai. Floating past the famous Burj al Arab, swooping over the Palm Jebel Ali and the Palm Jumeirah (home to the Atlantis hotel and One&Only The Palm) and past the Burj al Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) was a breathtaking experience I can’t recommend enough. And I am not a fan of teeny tiny planes, I assure you.
As stopovers go, this is one to relish and repeat.
Our early evening arrival at One&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius prevented us from witnessing the glories of the tropical beaches we were to fall in love with next day, but first – dinner.
With 70% of the island’s population being of Indian descent (brought by British slave traders, indeed) you can expect their influence of the subcontinent to have pervaded every part of the island, and a particularly glorious part is one of the hotel’s fine dining options (there are two, the other being European style contemporary grill, Prime) the Indian Pavilion. Run by third generation chef Faizan Ali, this is the ultimate in Indian cuisine.
We got to know Faizan quite well, as we arranged a trip to the local market with him, before enjoying a cookery class at his restaurant. Local markets are always exciting and exotic, but I think nothing can beat the sights, sounds and smells of a Mauritian one, especially when in the company of someone who really knows what’s what. Our cookery lesson was superb - chicken Makhani and fish in coconut sauce – and the results were delicious. I have brought the recipes home, but somehow think it won’t be the same…
The rooms at Le Saint Géran are situated along two wings, giving every guest a fabulous view, and are beautifully designed inside and out with their own terraces or balconies on which to rest after a hard day being spoiled. When I flung back my shutters (flinging back of shutters being obligatory when the opportunity arises) I was faced with palm trees, golden sands and blue, blue skies. Heaven is a place on earth.
Le Saint Géran offers all its guests nothing short of total luxury and relaxation – your butler is there to ensure you don’t even consider anything mentally or physically strenuous. A stay at this glorious beach resort offers the total hedonism of doing absolutely nothing that doesn’t suit you to do. Sit by the pool or grab a lounger on the beach, where you have a choice of two flags to plant in the sand: ‘Service’ or ‘Do Not Disturb’. Wave the former and men come running with iced water, beach picnic menus (have a picnic, it’s awesome) and chilled cloths. Plant the latter and doze till dinner.
Being of an adventurous nature I took advantage of the hotel’s snorkelling excursion to a nearby mini-reef. I could have chosen to play golf on the house course, tennis, kayak, waterski, windsurf, waterbike or even a trip on a glass bottomed boat, but snorkelling is a joyful experience and a wonderful, easy way to pass a lazy hour or so.
Mazritius grows a lot of sugar cane. And what can you make from sugar cane? Rum! There are several distilleries on the island, and we visited Rhummerie de Chamarel, where we not only learned how this delicious tipple is made (and tasted 12 varieties, hic) but enjoyed a fabulous lunch. It was seriously fine dining in beautiful surroundings, then back to the hotel for some intense lounging on the beach before more seriously fine dining, ending our evening dancing to live music, fuelled by rum cocktails and lit by the moon and the stars.
Quite definitely the stuff that dreams are made of.
To plan your dream holiday, contact Elegant Resorts on 01244 897 000 | www.elegantresorts.co.uk
Book a seaplane tour at www.seawings.ae