Now that it is possible for many to dream, once again, of travelling outside Asia-Pacific, what is top of the list?
A hundred years ago celebrities flocked to Cannes for the dolce vita of the French Riviera. Trend-setters stayed in the then-new Carlton Hotel, and probably took constitutional walks along La Croisette to see another hotel, being built by Emmanuel Martinez. And if you were really top-notch you would dine off something at least inspired by Escoffier.
If we now jump forward to today it is Dubai, outside Asia-Pacific, that, on a year-round basis, heads the global travelista luxury list. And, similarly pairing destination with a celebrity food icon, you need Mauro Colagreco. He’s the Argentinian-Italy wunderkind whose awards for Mirazur restaurant in Menton have spawned clones worldwide. Brand Colagreco has gone viral.
In Dubai he is the food genius at One&Only Royal Mirage, the multi-resort complex run by Olivier Louis. Now this is a foodie-hotelier who believes there are two types of Michelin chefs, statement-celebs and more-considered business types. He was introduced to Colagreco and he cleverly signed a deal before all the hype. Colagreco runs three restaurants here.
We ate at The Beach Bar & Grill, in a well-tended garden by the sandy beach. It’s designed by Argentina’s Jouillia Marcello. Cool taupe colours pair with outside greenery, and beach and sea. Service is discreet, though that night I half expected a tango when talking to Julien Lelimouzin, whose father is Colagreco’s business partner.
Mauro Colagreco’s food, by the way, stresses product and flavour rather than messed-up (although he’s a literature graduate he’s also an economist – give’em what they want and you make more).
I chose fried calamari with aioli and, from the Josper oven, an Australian black onyx rib eye, 300 grams, 300 days grass-fed, with potato Jackson, cherry tomato and fries, plus a sautéed broccoli side, with chili and garlic.
Argentina provided the Trivento Reserve Malbec 2018. The whole theatre of this meal was laid-back luxury with style.
Staying at One&Only Royal Mirage’s 48-key Residence and Spa is also style, with discretion (staff are invisible until one second before you realise you need them). Interiors are cool and a little Arabic, but not too much so. I walked 30 metres over Persian rugs – no noisy footsteps here – to my private staircase, 20 stone steps up to suite #34, about 70 sqm with nearly that again in terrace. I looked straight down at the manicured gardens, along seven rows four-abreast Royal Palms, about 200 metres to the beach and sea.
Although #34 has the espresso machine that is thankfully ubiquitous in top hotels worldwide, my breakfast coffee will, in Limoges of course, be down there, in the garden. I shall listen to the birds and smile with pleasure at Colagreco and my entire One&Only experience.