The descriptions are tossed around effortlessly: The Galapagos of the Indian Ocean; the Garden of Eden; Mother Nature’s finest work, and rightly so. The Seychelles, a collection of coral and granite isles, as well as sand cays and atolls, are the epitome of an island escape and have always been top of mind for honeymooners, but their popularity is beginning to take hold with travelers of all stripes. It’s all here: white-sand beaches caressed by azure blue waters; a tropical setting with an abundance of wildlife; and the sense of truly being isolated and miles from civilization—all framed by verdant hills and those iconic boulder landscapes.
“Not to wax lyrical, but the Seychelles are truly beautiful and unspoiled with magnificent beaches, fauna and flora found nowhere else on earth, and warm and friendly people. A thousand miles from anywhere means that they have been kept pristine,” says Moira Smith, general manager, Africa and Middle East for Goway, who’s been to the Seychelles five times. She adds what might be one of the most important things for you to point out to your clients: “The Seychelles government is intent on keeping the Seychelles low-impact, which translates to the opposite of mass tourism.” That means that the seclusion that makes it so very enticing for travelers who truly want to get away from it all, won’t be going away any time soon. But there’s a way to push that isolation—and your commission check—up yet another a notch: Recommend one of the Seychelles’ private island resorts. If North Island is good enough for Prince William and Kate for their honeymoon, we’re thinking it—or any of the other myriad private island resorts—will do just fine for your clients, even the most demanding of them. Although, of course, staying at the fabulously intimate Banyan Tree Seychelles retreat, for example, on the main island of Mahe—where there are plenty of top-notch resort options—isn’t too bad a proposition either (no, not at all).
So you can draw a mental map of the destination, the Seychelles is divided into the Outer Islands, which are truly remote, although a couple of those islands do offer those serenity-encompassed private island resorts, as well as the Inner Islands, which form the cultural and economic hub of Seychelles, and is the center of its tourism industry. It’s here where one finds Mahe, the Seychelles’ largest and most developed of the islands, and home to about 90 percent of the island group’s population. Are you getting the picture here? If the other 10 percent of the population (there’s an estimated 86,000 people) are strewn around the rest of
the islands, then those private island resorts…well, they’re pretty isolated.
“The appeal of these resorts in this part of the world,” says Patrick Siebel, managing director for Seasons in Africa, the management/marketing company for Desroches Island, “is that they offer full-service facilities and amenities for all guests so they never have a need/desire to leave. Plus, it gives guests a sense of exclusivity of their own piece of paradise.” Here’s a peek at a handful of these blissful-laden private island resorts.
hilton seychelles labriz resort & spa
This island resort, located in the Inner Islands, about 40 minutes by boat or 15 minutes by helicopter from Mahe, is “the only resort located on Silhouette Island,” says Claus Steiner, general manager for Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa. “We are one of the most untouched islands in the region; more than 90 percent of the island is protected by the government.”
The entire property is comprised of 111 villas, with five different villa categories: Garden; King Beachfront; Deluxe Hillside Pool; King Deluxe Beachfront with private pool, and King Presidential. There are seven restaurants and bars—from Italian cuisine under the stars to cocktails served poolside—a spa, a kids’ club, and a multitude of outdoor activities, from hiking rainforest trails to diving, snorkeling, and day or nighttime fishing.
The resort’s Seychelles Free Ferry Offer, which needs to be booked by Dec. 31, offers 15 percent off when staying five nights or longer, as well as a complimentary return boat transfer between Mahe and Silhouette, and daily buffet breakfast. Contact the resort for specific rates.
Located a 20-minute flight from Mahe in the Inner Islands, Fregate Island, part of the Virtuoso network, is simply sublime. To start with, it offers no less than seven beaches, including Anse Macquereau, which is framed by palm trees on one side and by impressive rock formations on the other and is the only beach with a “do-not-disturb” sign. The private island resort is home to only 16 villas and one Presidential Villa, each of which offers a private infinity pool, and a large terrace with day bed and jacuzzi. There are two restaurants, two bars and a wine cellar, or guests can opt to create their own dining experience anywhere on the island—dinner in the Tree House, barbecues on the beach. A must-try is the RockSpa, located on a cliff-top plateau and, of course, the myriad activities, from nature walks through lush forests to kayaking. From May 15 through Sept. 30, guests staying six nights pay only for five. Contact the resort for specific rates.
Part of the Amirantes Archipelago group of islands, Desroches Island is located 40 minutes by air from Mahe in the Outer Islands. It offers eight miles of unspoiled beaches and pristine forest, and is home to 20 Beach Suites, four Beach Retreats, 24 Beach Villas, one Beach Residence, two Dibwa Retreats, two Dibwa Residences and one Madam Zabre Spa Retreat, all with sea views and steps from the white sand and azure beaches. Here, guests can dine on Indian Ocean cuisine and traditional Creole delights at the Terrace, opt for beachside dining, or have a private dinner on any part of the island.
“The must-do activities range from snorkeling at St. Joseph’s, sunset cruises and diving the big cave,” says Siebel, “to fishing for a sailfish and swimming with it once you have released it back in the water to make sure it’s okay.” Rates start at approximately $775 for the Beach Suite.
For a full list of all of Seychelles’ private island resorts, visit seychelles.travel/en/plan_your_visit/island_resorts.php.
Emirates offers flights directly into Mahe from North America, and, says Goway’s Smith, “Air France is also a good option.”
Goway Does the Seychelles
Goway offers the Seychelles as part of its Islands Escapes itineraries, and when we spoke with Moira Smith, general manager, Africa and Middle East for Goway, she said it is actually great, too, to combine it with a safari in mainland Africa. “It’s a perfect combination with a safari because it’s not just about the beautiful beaches, but also about nature. It is truly an ideal extension as it is an outdoor enthusiast’s and nature lover’s dream.”
While on the islands, Smith recommends exploring Mahe by “self drive, as separate from the wonderful beaches, there are some really interesting attractions—from exploring Victoria, the capital, to artists’ studios, historical sites and some really unique fauna and flora. On Praslin, you have the Vallee de Mai, which is reputed to be the original Garden of Eden and where you can see the unique coco de mer in its natural habitat. There are a number of marine parks where snorkeling is incredible.”
One of Smith’s favorite island resorts is Desroches, which she points out is included in Goway’s Seychelles Stays of Distinction lineup, and which caters to all demographics, including children of all ages. “Other great options are Denis Island and St. Anne.”
Goway offers a Pay 5, Stay 7 deal at Desroches that’s $4,399 pp for seven nights in a beach suite, and includes flights to and from Mahe, all meals, and all non-motorized land and water activities. goway.com or gowayagent.com.
Desroches Island: desroches-island.com
Fregate Island: fregate.com
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa: (800) HILTONS; seychelleslabriz.hilton.com
Seychelles Tourism Board: seychelles.travel