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A TASTE OF THE ST. REGIS MAURITIUS RESORT RIGHT HERE IN LONDON

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It is one of these gloomy, cold nights, so exasperatingly typical of London in November. Needless to say, as I shiver my way into the classic yet elegant Lanesborough hotel in Knightsbridge, I look forward to an uplifting evening. Fortunately, the Lanesborough hotel deserves its excellent reputation. One does not have to look very far to come across ongoing praise for the hotel’s timeless style, impeccable service and outstanding dining experience.

On this particular evening, distinguished guests, travel professionals and luxury & lifestyle experts are gathered to celebrate the recent launch of the St. Regis resort in Le Morne peninsula, Mauritius.
I am warmly welcomed into the champagne reception where guests are clearly animated with excitement. The atmosphere is light, and many share their impressions on the St Regis hotels and their experiences on their last trip to the Indian Ocean. Impeccably dressed waiters present the guests with flutes of Taittinger and an interesting selection of amuse-bouches.

With the special attendance of award-winning chefs Atul Kochhar and Heinz Beck, there is no doubt that the main focus of the evening is on the dining experience. We are kindly invited into the beautiful gold and red Belgravia room, where dinner is to be served.
The menu is modestly entitled “Mauritian Flavours” and is meant to be a preview of what we could expect from the resort on the island. It is a taster, if you allow me, of Atul Kochhar’s new signature restaurant and the standards of the St. Regis Mauritius (just in case the breath taking setting of the resort, the idyllic white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise sea were not enough).

The humble name chosen for the menu does not pay justice to the delicacy, skill and thought put into every dish. We are first presented with Atul Kochhar’s curry leaf and mustard infused lobster-cocktail. The unexpected fusion of European and Indian flavors used on perfectly cooked shellfish thrills every guest’s taste buds. The company tonight is delightful anyway, and I quickly find myself caught in an enthusiastic conversation with the travel professionals at my table over an equally delectable glass of Chambertin. I know, it’s a hard job… but someone’s got to do it.

Bernard de Villèle, General Manager of the St. Regis Mauritius, introduces us to the new resort in anecdotes and photographs. He delivers a passionate speech that, like the food and service, seems to hit all the right notes, and it is under whole-hearted applause that he returns to his table, courteously thanking guests for their company and support.

The first main course is Heinz Beck’s fine herbs coated sea bass and Sicilian caponate vegetables. What sparks my curiosity is the unusual display and succulent garnish of the fish. I find Heinz Beck’s sea bass to be an absolute delight, subtle yet innovative, which reflects the inventiveness of the menu and Heinz Beck’s signature Mediterranean influence. After a perfectly timed pause, Atul Kochhar’s rack of lamb with tempered spinach is served. Not only is it beautifully presented, but also it is the sort of dish that pleases even the most discriminating palate. I hear a pair of guests gasp as their plates are presented to them, and upon tasting the tender meat I can’t think of another word but “sublime”- which I say out loud, provoking several nods of approbation at the table. Every dish is elaborate without being overly dense, and Heinz Beck’s dessert seems to follow that pattern: orange jelly with bergamot ice cream and (a detail that does not go unnoticed) edible flowers.

The event is truly a success in demonstrating not only the potential of the new Mauritius resort, but also the ongoing values and dedication to excellence that is so characteristic of the St. Regis hotels. Writing that I feel welcome and well looked-after for would be an understatement, and the guests certainly are not in a hurry to leave.
As the charming evening draws to an end, while still enjoying petit fours paired with coffee and tea, my mind wanders and gets lost somewhere in the Indian Ocean. If the St. Regis is capable of creating such magic on a November evening in London, I can only imagine the exotic delights to be discovered and enjoyed in Mauritius.