How royal designer Emilia Wickstead switches off after a hectic schedule at fashion week

Advice

For me, switching off means a complete break from work and a focus on family. During the busiest periods in my work life as a designer, I seem to be in and out of home too quickly, running from one place to another, and picking up my children – Mercedes, 7, and Gilberto, 5 –  from school feels like the height of luxury, so taking time out to reconnect with the most important people in my life is a necessity. 

Often, I’ll take a staycation. We’ll have pyjama days where we stay at home all day with our children watching movies, cooking and playing, or we’ll spend time exploring London, walking around areas we’ve never been to before and trying a new restaurant.

Admittedly, I always prefer a real holiday. Being able to travel after designing a collection is, in my mind, the most effective way to refresh and reset. One of the holidays that I’ll always remember, after a particularly intense period, was a getaway to the One&Only Le Saint Géran resort on the island of Mauritius. 

It was my first time in Mauritius. One look at the expansive, clear blue sky, and the private beachfront overlooking the crystalline Indian Ocean and I immediately felt a sense of ease and calm, worlds away from the scheduling, rehearsals and creative bustle of Fashion Week. The resort, located on its own peninsula, is cleverly designed to be both sprawling and easy to navigate. Each area links itself to another part of the hotel, which makes everything feel like an easy skip away – perfect for a family holiday.

The design of our room was minimal, fresh and elegant, with pale wood finishings, soft linen sheets and light walls, and was swathed in natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. I loved the modern, grey marble bathroom and contemporary art, but the best part was our private balcony overlooking the sea, which made us feel like we were at the beach from morning to night. A much-welcome bonus was the tent the staff had very kindly set up in the room, complete with an abundance of toys and treats for the children who excitedly insisted on ‘sleepovers’ every night. 

The beach, over one-mile long stretch of white sand, is where we spent most time. The children loved running around making new friends, and we all enjoyed the delicious, unlimited homemade ice-cream served throughout the day, as well as the lunchtime barbeque.

A bedroom at One & Only Le Saint Geran

A bedroom at One & Only Le Saint Geran

Food at the resort was incredible, with options to cater to any and every mood. I love hosting and am often obsessive about the small details, so it was wonderful to be able to totally relax and be spontaneous. Particularly good were the cocktails and fresh sashimi at Tapasake – the resort’s Asian restaurant perched on top of a lagoon. Sitting on the terrace at the restaurantPRIME – the resort’s Australian steakhouse, which serves wagyu beef, fresh seafood and local produce – was the perfect way to spend balmy evenings. We also loved the hotel’s pergola-style restaurant La Terasse, which had one of the most impressive and decadent breakfast buffets I’ve ever seen. 

The range of activities for both adults and children was impressive. Taking the children sailing – their first time – was both a sentimental and hilarious afternoon for Daniel and I and made both of us feel like children again. We also loved taking part in the cooking classes, where the children wore miniature chef’s hats and baked pastries and home-made pizza. A morning cruise on the resort’s private boat, an opportunity for the children to feel as though they were on a breakfast adventure, was memorable.

Whilst you could happily spend all day at the One&Only, there’s also the option to venture out of the resort and immerse yourself in the island’s capital, Port Louis, which has a thriving street art scene. Also worth a visit is the Citadelle Fort, a 19th-century military fortress which offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding hills.

One & Only Le Saint Geran

One & Only Le Saint Geran, the Grand Dame of Mauritius hotels, is set on a private peninsula

I also took some much needed time to rest alone. I opted for a personalised facial at the Biologique Recherche spa, where I left feeling radiant and relaxed. Daniel and I also I enjoyed a 90-minute traditional Mauritian Poultice treatment – an incredibly therapeutic treatment that effectively removes all aches and pains, beginning with exfoliation and followed by a massage using potent aromatherapy oils. We followed the treatment with a wine tasting – the resort has a well-stocked wine cellar, offering over 400 different wines. I loved taking a pilates class but equally our morning walks on the beach, running around after our children in and out of the water.

Having children is a constant reminder to not only work hard, but also to take breaks and enjoy a slower pace of life. The One&Only Le Saint Geran left a lasting impression on us because of the wonderful memories we made there as a family.

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