One of the great perks about working in travel is the chance to experience what we sell. The best travel experts are those that can give you first-hand experience. When I had the chance to tick the Seychelles off my bucket list I jumped at the chance – I even gave up having a knee operation! I had the pleasure of travelling to the Seychelles with the Tourist Board, Constance Hotels, and Etihad. The trip consisted of the islands Mahe, Desroches, Praslin and La Digue.
Having never flown with Etihad I was very excited about sampling the airline’s service and seeing how it compared to the other airlines. Etihad didn’t disappoint with its efficient and smooth check in, whilst its comfort and quality of the food were also excellent. The airport in the Seychelles can be chaos due to its small size, and remember if you haven’t pre-booked your accommodation immigration won’t allow you to just turn up.
The first hotel was Constance Ephelia and one of the highlights of this journey is a little mangrove bridge located off the Port Launay Maine Reserve. The hotel is spilt into north and south sections with the U Spa located directly in the middle. The hillside villas and Presidential villas are located in the hills, and offer the kind of panoramic views you’d expect from the very best hotels.
Ephelia impressed me the moment I checked in, we arrived at 8.30am and as you’d expect our rooms were not available – A standard hotels policy would be to pay for anything prior to check in, however Ephelia sent us for breakfast and allowed us to enjoy it without any additional costs. The breakfast was full of variety it would take me about 10 days to go through all the choices, just a little fresh fruit and coffee did me fine, but there was something for everyone.
We’d been upgraded to a luxurious ‘Senior Suite’ and it was spacious, with my luggage already in the room ready for me. When I’m in a 5 star hotel I like to check out the facilities of the room. For example do they provide the complimentary slippers (I will admit this is my weakness, everyone else goes for toiletries but I go for the slippers) and yes there was 2 pairs – happy days!
The room features were first class and did have lots of extras for added enjoyment, like a Mac computer and espresso machine. The hotel oozes class and is perfect for honeymooners. The evening entertainment we had was arranged by the General Manager and was held at Seselwa. The popular, casual outfit had a lively ambiance and faced the superb North Beach. Elegantly designed with white stand out furniture, the food was excellent and evoked the freshness and spirit of the Seychelles.
Chez Batista Restaurant
Chez Batista Restaurant is a speciality restaurant with a very interesting history. In 1984 Jean-Baptiste Horter launched his dream for a beach restaurant that provided BBQ grills, featuring his catch of the day. It was from the origins of this humble idea that the restaurant was born. Visitors to the restaurant were sitting under a sunshade enjoying his fish and coconut drinks, with salads and garlic bread also a favourite.
The Italian tourists named the restaurant Batista, and it’s become a popular eating spot in Mahé. It’s considered one of the best seafood restaurants on the island and is a meeting place for local and international gourmet delights. Batista is located on Takamaka Beach, reputed for being one of the finest beaches on the island.
I loved the views here I could have got lost for hours and the food was equally spectacular, offering a selection of local cuisine. My first choice off the menu was a mixture of Mediterranean and Indian, quite herby with a hint off curry. A trip from Ephelia hotel to the restaurant would be around £35 (return) in a taxi, although local excursions can be arranged.
Victoria – Seychelles Capital
Next up on the trip was a visit to Seychelles’ gorgeous capital Victoria. One thing you’ll notice here is a few familiar sights – one being a mini Big Ben. This bustling little town gets very busy, and if you get lost then always use little ‘Big Ben’ as a vantage point. We had chance to wander for an hour in the local market and shops, and I managed to pick up some exquisite gifts and postcards here.
For lunch we went to the oldest restaurant in Mahe – Marie Antoinette Restaurant. It is very traditional and if you have a business card stick it on the wall. After our lunch we caught a flight to our next island…
Desroches Island – By Royal Appointment
Next up was the coral island of Desroches, and if it’s good enough for royalty then it’s good enough for me. The island is famous for having Prince William and Kate as guests.
The short flight is around 35mins and by the time we came to land the weather was glorious – I also noticed the staff waving at us. The hotel was already giving off a vibe that we felt important, a lovely touch. The rooms at Desroches are spread out to give the maximum amount of privacy. I was put in a four bedroom villa with a pool that was very ‘swish’ offering lots of natural products developed on the island.
If you are looking for somewhere peaceful to relax and then this is the place for you – it’s a very sleepy island, but does have activities to keep those wanting a bit more entertained. I would suggest this island for those who want total privacy and honeymooners – Rumour has it that Prince George may have been conceived here!
With Desroches being a coral island I jumped at the chance to snorkel, and I really enjoyed it. I spent the rest of the time swimming and enjoying the sun whilst reading.
TIP: If the Mosquito’s like you, then take some Vitamin B tablets two months before going and continue to take them whilst you’re there – The Island has lots of natural vegetation.
Constance Lemuria Hotel and Vallee de Mai
We arrived at our next destination of Praslin just after 6pm and after a quick check in at Le Muria we were shown straight to our rooms. On arrival to my room I was a little surprised to see that the room was not as modern as Ephelia, but a more traditional style offering its own individual charm and authenticity. After a quick shower and change it was off to the beach BBQ hosted by the hotel manager.
A real highlight of the Seychelles is Vallée de Mai, a valley located in Praslin National Park. The valley is an area which was untouched until the 1930s, and still retains its primeval palm forest, in a near-natural state.
The palm forest includes the endemic species coca de mer (sea coconut), which is one of largest nuts in the world. Something of intrigue surrounding the nut is a legend that has developed around the species. In the 19th century the British General Gordon alleged that the Vallée de Mai was in fact the original Garden of Eden, and the coca de mer was the tree of knowledge.
Five species of endemic palm are also found in the Vallée de Mai, and it’s the only place in the Seychelles where they are all found together. In addition there is the endemic black parrot, which is totally dependent on the existence of the Vallée de Mai and the surrounding palm forest.
After short boat ride to La Digue (the 3rd largest inhabited island) we encountered a few colourful characters that were just chatting to everyone and very friendly. The island until recently did not have any motor vehicles, even now there are only about 40 driving around.
We had lunch at Lanbousir which is a restaurant on the edge of the Famous Anse Source d’Argent, where a few famous films have been shot. I loved this beach and it was voted the 4th best beach in the world. I can fully understand why, seeing is believing!
We got back to Le Muria about 5pm and, this night we were dining at the Seahorse restaurant, which overlooks the golf course. The food here was superb here and our host was very amusing. After dinner a few off us went back to the bar to enjoy a few Saturday night cocktails, a few games of Pool and a little dancing – the resident DJ was excellent.
The next day we headed to Praslin which is littered with lots of little boutique shops and places to wander around. We had lunch in La Pirogue in a little Village full of locals and tourists. In Praslin I would recommend a car for a day or two to really appreciate the many things you can visit. Praslin is also home to the second ranked “Most Beautiful Beach in the World by Conde Nast”.
Seychelles Fact: Even though the Seychelles consist of 115 islands, everyone knows everyone and with no street names, how does the post get to everyone? You basically put a person’s full name, the village and island they live in and somehow it gets there – now that’s a system for you, Royal Mail take note!
I just want to share with you my thoughts and my previous misconception that the Seychelles was going to be a mixture off The Maldives and Mauritius – I’m delighted to admit I was completely wrong. It is a unique standalone destination that has lots of things to do, and I would highly recommend island hopping to get around. The people are unbelievable friendly and they can’t do enough for you.
0845 365 1659