ADVERTORIAL • March 2020
East of Madagascar, 175km southwest of Mauritius is where you’ll find the Indian ocean’s best kept secret: Reunion Island. A treasure trove of tropical topography, Reunion Island is bursting with glorious vistas just begging to be explored. Best of all? It’s the home of LUX* Saint Gilles Resort, the island’s only five-star hotel on the west coast. We head to paradise to find out more
Reunion Island, or La Réunion as it’s natively known, has been a French territory on and off since the mid-17th century and the island today is a diverse mix of French, African, Creole and Asian cultures. Like its heritage, Reunion’s Island’s UNESCO protected geography is a varied collection, with landscapes like jewels in some divine crown – all azure waves lapping against shimmering shores and verdant green rainforest. The raw nature of the island crescendos in the fiery red Piton de la Fournaise, an active basaltic shield volcano whose lava has sculpted the island. Reunion Island’s fauna is no less thrilling, once home to the legendary Dodo, today the island and the waters around it are alive with chameleons, flamingos and over 250 species unique to the Mascarene Archipelago.
Fitting in amongst its idyllic Indian Ocean neighbours, Reunion Island is as authentic a paradise isle as you’ll ever find and, as such, has just one five-star resort in the west coast: LUX* Saint Gilles Resort. Overlooking the island’s finest white sand beach and coral-filled lagoon, amidst coconut palms and tropical gardens, the resort is design-led with colonial style décor that invites the outside in. Step into your Creole villa under the shade of the filao trees and soak up the views out toward L’Hermitage, Reunion’s lagoon. Or, for those in a junior suite, lay back in your terrace hammock. The hotel also offers the island’s largest pool, as well as yoga, fitness and wellness areas to maintain your balance. And, if you see a message in a bottle, half-buried in the sand around the resort, pick it up: it might be a voucher for a free spa treatment.
Classic Reunion Island cuisine combines the exacting standards of French dishes with all the flavour and soul of Creole home cooking. Luckily, you can discover the islands’ deliciously local food-and-drink scene without even setting foot outside the hotel. Embrace your inner pirate as you sample the local delicacy of ‘rhum’ in a special taster session. Enjoy fragrant wood-fire cooked curries, topped with spicy pickled vegetables and chilli on the beach at Carry’s Bar. Delicious vanilla-curried duck, a local delicacy, can be found at several famed local restaurants. It has to be tasted to be believed.
On Reunion, there’s quite literally something for everyone. Adrenaline-seekers can hike and horse-back ride, snorkel and surf amidst the waves, and paraglide high over the mountain tops. Meanwhile, big game fishing and waterfall tours are ideal for those looking to experience Reunion Island at a more leisurely pace. However, a 4x4 excursion to the active Piton de la Fournaise Volcano is a once in a lifetime must for all, where you can experience the lunar landscapes of the craters and explore the subterranean lava tunnel.