30 hours in Réunion Island

2017 so far brought me many unexpected travel experiences, some of them were never even on my bucket list.

When Urban Decay asked 4Elements Media to assist them with the pre-launch event for the highly anticipated Naked Heat palette, never did it for one second occur to me that it would mean bring the heat to an island not so far from home during a 30-hour PR trip in July!

Réunion Island is a French island located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and about 200km southwest of Mauritius. From majestic landscapes and awesome viewpoints to attractive coastal cities and stunning forests, the island of Réunion really packs a punch. A melting-pot where European, Malagasy, Indian, Asian and African civilisations meet, Réunion Island is the holy grail of living together. With such unparalleled diversity, the population of Réunion Island is extremely mixed.

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After an easy 4-hour direct flight with national airline, Air Austral from Johannesburg, South Africa, we arrived late at our hotel located in Saint-Gilles-Les-Bains, about an hour’s drive from the Roland Garros Airport in Sainte-Marie. This was only the beginning of a magical 30 hour stay.

So how exactly can you make the most out of your visit in Réunion given your limited time? Allow me to show you what we did in over just 30 hours.

Stay at a hotel that has something for everyone:

Located on the western coast of this lush volcanic island LUX* Saint Gilles faces a shimmering expanse of aqua-blue waters, fringed by a stretch of immaculate sands. With 174 to choose from, the rooms and suites at LUX* Saint Gilles offers a plethora of modern design influences, all looking out to lagoon or tucked away in acres of beautiful tropical gardens. We did not have much time for idle lounging around their gorgeous emerald-blue pool – the largest one in Réunion Island – but during our InstaWalk tour, we were informed there were plenty activities. From playing tennis or volleyball in the grounds to floating away with a zen yoga session in the gardens or a private in-room spa treatment.

Indulge in a food experience:

The cultural mix of Réunion Island is also reflected in the food…Island cuisine is made up of a well-matched mix of Creole, Indian, Chinese and French cultures. During our stay, LUX* Saint Gilles crafted a unique series of dining experiences that immerged us in the history and bounty of their people and produce. Both mornings we had our breakfast at La Cuisine, the resort’s signature restaurant, offering a delectable array of international and island-inspired cuisine. Our light lunch was served in their sensory garden restaurant La Bar, overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean. The Naked Heat themed dinner took place at La Plage, where we celebrated the traditional Creole cuisine of the island. We dined on the wooden deck overlooking a magnificent sunset view of the lagoon while we were transported to the magic of the island listening to traditional Creole music which punctuates daily life – the rhythms of sega and maloya bend as if by magic to suit all moods.

Do an island activity:

LUX* Saint Gilles has something for everyone. For the more adventurous, the island and resort has no shortage of exhilarating activities to get your pulse racing. We decided to take an awe-inspiring tour of the island by helicopter, and discovered the captivating scenery and ever-changing landscape that Réunion Island has to offer. Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, we could not admire breathtaking views over the most active volcano in the world, Pitons de la Fournaise. None the less, we plunged into unimaginable gulfs and discovered waterfalls and the lush green mountains of the island.

While all the experiences mentioned above are wonderful ways to experience the island, I would truly recommend a longer to experience all Réunion Island and LUX* Saint Gilles have to offer. Activities include: mountain biking, recumbent biking, canyoning, paragliding and even speed flying. You can also explore Réunion Island on horseback, quad bike or in a 4×4. The island also boasts three golf courses!

Whether you are an experienced athlete or beginner, looking for freedom, adventure or thrills, there is something for everyone in Réunion and the best part – you do not need a visa if you are a South African passport holder!

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I would like to extend a huge thank you to Urban Decay, Reunion Island Tourism and LUX* Saint Gilles for making this trip possible. You can also discover the trip on social media and get the inside scoop to island fashion, what the influencers and bloggers got up to #UDGetaway, #UrbanDecaySA, #NakedHeat #LVTravels #LorindasWorld


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