How do you like your Island?
I’d heard all sorts of things about Seychelles including the tag “5 star location but 3 star hotels and service”, so I was delighted to be able to go and investigate for myself with my husband Peter earlier this year.
Each guest is given a bicycle for their stay and the sandy paths that criss-cross the island are good for cycling. Every now and again a sign directs you off the path through the palm trees to a deserted sandy beach. There’s something quite special about cycling up to a pristine white sand beach with pale blue sea lapping the shoreline - idyllic. Some of the best diving in the world is very close by and fishing, both from the shore and deep sea, is excellent. It’s well run, very comfortable and with great staff it’s perfect for anyone wanting a beach with a little activity too.
Among the other hotels I looked at on Praslin were L’Archipel, a small and very elegantly understated French run property – not so good for families, but lovely for adults. Café des Arts on the fabulous Cote d’Or beach looked another good shout. This simple beach front property accommodates just six people and for laid-back beach front living it seemed both good value and fun.
Each of the twenty two cottages is simply furnished; without TV, phone, mini bar or air con (but there is an overhead fan). Outside, there’s a large shady verandah for whiling away the hours. It was incredibly relaxing. You can walk around the island in no time at all and the beaches are simply glorious – completely unspoilt. The bird life is very abundant. The sooty tern colony on the northern tip of the island is inhabited from April to October, but there is tremendous bird activity all year round. I loved Bird Island. After all the luxury we’d been treated to on Desroches and Praslin I wondered whether it might be a bit of a let down, but the beautiful location and easy simplicity made it somewhere I’d love to revisit.
The luxury on North Island is only one side of the story. This private island sanctuary is somewhat of a modern Noah’s Ark and a genuine authentic eco-tourism project. Uninhabited for over thirty years until recently, the original Seychellois fauna and flora species had been lost due to loss of habitat and alien species. Turning the clock back by two hundred years is the aim, and to give visitors the chance to view some of the world’s most critically endangered species which are being re-introduced. These include tortoises, several species of bird and the legendary coco-de-mer palm.
Each villa has its own golf buggy which you use to explore the island. A single track takes you to the opposite side of this island paradise where there are two beaches and a sunset bar. One of these beaches has to be just the most perfect tropical island beach, if you think Bounty Bar ad you’ll get the general idea. For those who want a little more than merely relaxing, there are dive and deep sea fishing boats. We don’t dive, but thoroughly enjoyed taking out a boat and doing some fishing one afternoon and caught tuna and several bonito. The chef used our catch to produce some delicious sashimi for supper.
If you can tear yourself away from the privacy of your villa, the main areas are also pretty spectacular. The swimming pool has somehow been built into a cliff-side and has amazing views over the beach and to the far end of the island. The main dining and bar area is set back from the beach, has been decorated in the same understated style as the villas and provides the perfect environment in which to enjoy the chef’s daily delights and to work your way through the extensive wine cellar.
And finally to say that perhaps Seychelles had deserved its less than complimentary 5*/3* tag, is definitely a thing of the past. From the big international hotels to the little family run places, everyone is aware of the need to provide excellent service and that they certainly did. There are places to suit most people’s tastes and budgets, including couples, honeymooners and families. It’s beautiful, it’s friendly, the weather’s lovely and I can’t wait to go back.