A PLACE AMONG THE PALMS
The aforementioned Café Dauban harks back to the Dauban family of France who once owned the island from the mid-19th century. “Rothschilds of the Indian Ocean” had developed plantations on the volcanic island, as well as several properties that have been painstakingly preserved until today. The resort itself, however, strays from the colonial style of the listed Grann Kaz reception building, for a more chic, ocean-facing experience. My stay was in a King Oceanfront Villa, which as the name suggests, is quite a regal dwelling right up on the shore. Thanks to some natural foliage, there’s plenty of privacy in the sandy “front yard”, with a deck for lounging immediately out of the sliding French windows. Inside, the studio villa is centred around the inviting 300 thread-count king-sized bed, with a surprisingly spacious, white-fixtured bathroom – and an outdoor rain shower to bathe at one with the elements. And if you’re a real water baby, don’t overlook the beachfront villas with the plunge pool option. Following my close encounters of the underwater kind, I was happy to unwind between the villa and my personal slice of beachfront before sampling some dining options. With seven on-site restaurants, it would be a challenge to sample every menu highlight within a short stay, but Friday nights present a hand solution in the form of a “Street Food Night”. Following a torch lighting ceremony that seems to involve the entire resort’s staff, the pool area and adjacent restaurants (La Pizzeria and Lo Brizan) are transformed into a food festival with handy bites and dishes from various corners of the globe. The variety of cuisine reflects the diversity of Creole cooking, with panAsian, European and African influences; sushi, pizza, barbecued meats, a noodle bar, and even a Mexican taco station for flavours from further afield. The following morning, still semi-stuffed from the night before, I made sure to scope out a more formal venue in the shape of Portobello, Labriz’s Italian fine dining restaurant, which has a comprehensive à la carte breakfast menu. My one shortcoming, however, was not booking a seat at the Sakura, a taste of Asia, open for dinner only – aside from private cooking classes.