After a long day at the office and traffic-jammed roads to Heathrow we finally checked in with Etihad Airways for our Mahe, Seychelles flight via Abu Dhabi. Joining me (Hi, I’m Dipshaa, Indian Ocean Product Manager) were my colleagues Adam (Destination Specialist) and Pete (Head of Marketing).
And we boarded just the way I like, with a turn to the left! Slick, black-and-cream decor throughout the airy A380 Business Class cabin made the environment relaxed yet exuberant with a touch of elegance. A bit like me! Bone china crockery and metal cutlery make a big difference, and a vast selection of in-flight entertainment plus live TV allowed us to cheer on Wales in the Euros. Result. Seven hours later, a seamless change of terminal and quick connection at Abu Dhabi meant paradise was only five hours away.
Mason Travel met us upon arrival and whisked us via private air-conditioned car to our first port of call: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles. A buggy ride took us to our hillside-perched luxury villas, each with private pool overlooking the beautiful bay. After a hotel tour we were treated to drinks and a gourmet a la carte meal. Tummies full, we retired for a nightcap under the starry skies of the southern hemisphere. Not a bad start to the week.
Breakfast was a la carte so there was a lot of choice – there won’t be enough mornings to try it all! Next stop, a quick visit to Kempinski Seychelles. With its beautifully private setting, this is an excellent 5-star option that doesn’t require digging deep into those pockets. We wished we had more than just an hour here to savour the popular dining, but having visited the rooms and spa, it was time to move on.
Forty minutes later we arrived at Bel Ombre Jetty, ready for our short ferry transfer to Silhouette Island and a two-night stay at Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa. Our private villas enjoyed direct access to the picturesque beach but, as the weather had turned, we embraced happy hour instead. That evening we enjoyed good food and company at the hotel’s pan-Asian restaurant before hitting the sack after a long day.
A buffet breakfast accompanied by the sound of the waves kicked off the day – a day of poolside relaxation, lagoon swimming, a fresh fish lunch, an historic bike ride around the island and a long soak in the spa’s hilltop hot tub. Dinner was hosted in Gran Kaz – former home of the island’s original family, the Daubins. Local cuisine was the theme, all so tasty and freshly prepared.
Time to leave the second-largest Seychelles island and head to the third-largest: Praslin is completely different in character. We flew the 15 minutes from Mahe on a twin otter 15-seater. Quite the experience. Raffles Praslin was glowing beneath a stunning sunset as we touched down. An all-villa-with-private-pool property, elegance and understated luxury are definitely on the menu. A selection of sushi, canapés and other gorgeous food, served under a starlit sky, ended another perfect day.
An early rise made time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings from the comfort of our private pool, before visiting the quaint island of La Digue where life lumbers by at a reassuringly slow pace. A great way to explore is by bike, leisurely pedalling down winding tracks to hidden beaches. We were heading for Source d’Argent, one of the most photographed beaches on earth. En route we visited L’Union Estate coconut farm, while vanilla and cinnamon plantations led us to the aforementioned beach. Picture crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches whiter than you could possibly imagine, all surrounded by the volcanic boulders the Seychelles is synonymous with. It is, simply put, paradise. A few swims with the huge bay fish and we knew we were somewhere truly special.
Next we found ourselves on the upper deck of a catamaran for the 15-minute Praslin transfer, then off to Paradise Sun: an intimate, home-from-home-style property with a long beach and well-appointed rooms. We walked along the beach and had drinks in the bar, followed by a seafood dinner sound-tracked by the in-house band.
After visiting the national reserve to see the infamous Coco de Mer Tree (the country’s national emblem) we hopped a quick flight back to Mahe for lunch and a tour of the newly opened H Resort, a 5-star boutique property on the stunning Beau Vallon Beach. This was the best lunch of the whole trip and I personally loved the Bourgeois catch-of-the-day. The tropical landscape is stunning here, with the island of Silhouette commanding the horizon.
Next stop, Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa. We toured the property and were blown away by the presidential suite and the recently-added pool villas. Pete and I decided to hit the beach and try some snorkelling, emerging from the water to another beautiful sunset. We tucked into a South African themed dinner and, having made the (all too easy) mistake of eating too much (again), spent the rest of the evening playing pool. I didn’t do too badly, for a girl!
Waking up in a four-poster bed is my idea of the perfect morning. Today we visited Victoria, the smallest capital city in the world. Our Tour guide explained the colonial history, showed us Little Ben that stands in the crossroads of the centre of town, the arisen quarter, the temple and the bustling market. Fresh fish and seafood everywhere you looked, the locals bargaining; a lively place with a great buzz. Further into the market all kinds of fresh fruit, vegetables and spices were on offer. Upstairs were souvenirs and toys where we took the opportunity to grab some gifts for home.
Next we visited the new Carana Beach property –a bright and airy modern hotel ideal for couples, with a glorious beach and funky public areas; a good option for the modern-day traveller. Onwards for a lunch stop at another new property: Eden Bleu, set on the Eden Island man-made marina near plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. A pop-art hangout for locals on the weekend while for tourists it’s chiefly used as a one-night stop to/from the airport which is only 10 minutes away. Another modern, well-appointed hotel and another tasty catch-of-the-day for lunch. I could get used to this…
Constance Ephelia was to be our last hotel of the trip. A larger resort set amid protected mangroves, this was one I’d been particularly looking forward to. After checking out our spacious Senior Suites, where a bottle of bubbly was waiting for us in the living room area, we settled on North Beach to enjoy a tipple and a bit of snorkelling. The sunset was another stunner – so many shades of pink painting the sky. Afterwards we dined on buffet curry, salads and deserts to our hearts’ content then, with spirits high, headed to Zee Bar for dancing and cocktails.
A day at leisure began with breakfast and a dip in the pool, then off to the beach again. Having had one too many the night before, we decided to order fancy burgers to our rooms for lunch, and enjoyed them al fresco on my balcony. Now, what’s the best thing to do after lunch? Zip lining! Constance Ephelia is the only place in the Seychelles where this is available and what a memorable experience it was. After a steep uphill climb we were greeted with amazing canopy views to the beach, but the actual zip lines lead to another world. Such an exhilarating, adrenaline-fuelled experience, one for the whole family. Back on terra firma, we hit the relaxation pools at the spa. Why not, right? Dinner was hosted at a la carte outlet Cyan: mouth-watering food with wine suggested by expert sommeliers. We were so satisfied we fell asleep 15 minutes into our post-dinner movie.
Our last day but we were determined to make the most of it. After breakfast the boys went kayaking on the mangroves while I enjoyed my book on the beach.
One last dip in the Indian Ocean followed by a final Seychellois curry for lunch. Afterwards an hours’ spa treatment felt like being transported to another world and as our departure time approached we felt sad to be leaving but also grateful for everything we’d experienced. At the airport we enjoyed privileged access to the Air Seychelles lounge. This plush, comfortable facility really was the perfect place to quietly reflect on your holiday, have a drink and a tasty snack, and relax before boarding, away from the busyness of the main departure lounge. Good in-flight dining & service and a very comfortable flight. A quick connection at Abu Dhabi meant that we were already half way home.
In order to truly understand just how different the Seychelles is from other Indian Ocean islands you must see it for yourself. The friendly locals, fresh food and beautiful weather are all wrapped up in a unique spirit and charm; we’re missing it already.
View a selection of our fantastic Seychelles holiday offers starting from £1,085 here.