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SEYCHELLES

ELAINE PILLEY

Sil5
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiNkChb6395AlW104Hwzc1ugLPKW?e=5uqace

 

Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiNkChb6395AlW7ikzJGoiKdL8Es?e=HjXvAx

 

Our once-in-a-lifetime. money-sort-of-no object trip to the Seychelles was meant to be a Covid-delayed significant birthday present and 30th wedding anniversary celebration.

I didn’t expect to return with a new addition to the family or as a member of the Mile High Club.

I achieved the last feat at 30000 feet when we flew Business Class with Qatar Airways from Heathrow to Mahe via Doha. It’s the first time Ive stood at a bar in a plane, slept in a flat bed in a plane , had a seat which gave lower back massage,  drunk Champagne and had Chablis and corn-fed chicken with mousselline airborne served on linen napery.

valle-deMai
valle-deMai

It was the first time I spent £3000 on one plane ticket. I was a Business Class virgin and now a convert to the high life and airport lounges. As long as its Qatar Airways.

It was aerial heaven. With terrestrial heaven as the destination.

The new family member is a piece of Seychellois cabbage coral I adopted to do my bit for degraded oceans and active reef rehabilitation.  My husband invested in sonme aquatic cauliflower. The Hilton Northolme Resort & Spa Hotel on Mahe  has a coral nursery and  artificial reef  to help in the fight against bleaching, coastal development, anchor damage and the Crown of  Thorns starfish. You can sponsor cuttings.

Crew-on-QSuite
Crew-on-QSuite

Post-Covid, paradise is open again and entry formalities are fairly relaxed.  Paradise is now called a bio-diversity hotspot.   And can be booked on-line and enjoyed on a half or full board basis.

The Garden of Eden has been variously located in Iran, Kuwait, Jackson, Missouri ( according to Mormons), Armenia , Florida and even Bedfordshire, according to the Devonian prophetess of the Victorian Panacea Club, Joanne Southcott.

But, despite the lack of snakes, fig trees, apples and cherubims, the Seychelles has all the requisite exotic credentials when it comes to flora, fauna and unspoilt beauty to support its claim to be terrestrial heaven.

Floating-Ap
Floating-Ap

Earthly paradise is also a No Drone Zone.

We stayed for the first part of our dual- Hilton hotel holiday on Silhouette Island, a thirty-minute enclosed boat ride from Mahe.  Once, it took eight men six hour to paddle supplies to the French-owned cinnamon plantation.

A thousand miles from anywhere, based in a luxury 23 degree A/C villa with pool we paddled and swam,d honed our tropical hammock skills and tried out the Hilton Labriz Spa and Resort’s four restaurants including contemporary Creole, Asian/Indian fusion, Italian and lots of seafood and catch of the days.

La-Digue
La-Digue

Paradise is octopus curry and smoked marlin omelette and vanilla tea for breakfast. It is a lounger on a 2.5km calecreous beach with wind-bent palm trees where you can unwind, unclutter your mind, put everything into perspective and,  watching the ghost crabs, blue pigeons,  3m flying fox fruit bats and sipping your cocktail through a sustainable practises pasta straw,  mull certain big , burning questions that you have never had the time or been in the right place to mull.

Like how did the Swiss Family Robinson ever cope without a monsoon shower , jacuzzi  and complimentary  Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries  ( including loofah)  let alone a spa? How did  Robinson  Crusoe ever manage without Factor 30 sunblock and after sun gel. And how did he manage to get to sleep with all that sand in his sheets?

And address similar important issues such as the possibility of achieving an impressive even tan while wearing a face mask and not coming back home looking like the Lone Ranger’s Tonto or a mutant Ninjo.

Labriz-Resort
Labriz-Resort

“Unspoilt” is an overworked word.

But around every unspoilt bread and jackfruit tree in the Seychelles, you expect to discover a blue lagoon and waterfall and meet a film crew making the next coconut shampoo or “Bounty” ad.

We went on a fishing trip  here the east Somali sea meets the west Indian ocean and I caught a dorado and a yellow fish tuna which was barbecued on the beach in front of us and delicious. No more John West tins! We ate and slept well.

Overview
Overview

Labriz is a family resort but there is enough room and restaurants to make it feel adults only. It filters and bottles its own waterfall water which it claims to be purest in the world and , like all Hilton hotels , big on energy-saving. Even Man Friday would have been made very conscious of his carbon footprint.  If you could have kept him away from the kids’ cartoon cinema.

We went for walks among the Takamaka ( Alexcandrian  laurel),  thief  and stilted palms, beef woods, fish poison trees ( the flambotant flowers are used as lures) , Indian almonds and mulberries. Every day , we walked the length of the 2.5km beach. You would never know the hotel was running at full occupancy.

We didnt see a wolf snake or any poisonous giant millipedes or nasty stonefish or forest scorpions. The scariest thing we saw was a Russian couple but they proved harmless.  The sea was hot and snorkeling like putting your head in an aquarium.

Qatar
Qatar

Silhouette, named after Louis XV’s finance minister and comprising 93% National Park as well as encircled by a protected marine park, is the place to acclimatize yourself to the heat, humidity and fabulous environment as well as out of the world prices and learn hew to say “very hot but beautiful” (trecho ma zoli) in Creole. Before island-hopping. By ferry and plane.

Walking is one of two ways of finding the best and least crowded beaches in the Seychelles.  Being shipwrecked and washed up on one is the other.

As well as the beaches, for those who prefer to spend their holidays upright and active rather than horizontal , the 115-island earthly paradise also has fifteen hiking trails. With the exception of the  short but vertiginous Nid Aigle on La Digue,  the six mile high altitude Mare aux Cochons and Silhouette’s seven-hour Grand  Barbe, most are fairly easy. But must be taken slowly.

Qatar1
Qatar

These includes Praslin’s 50-acre UNESCO heritage site at the Valle du Mai primeval forest which has one to three hour trails on which you realize the biggest nuts in the world belong to to Seychellois females.  Coco de mer seeds can weigh 25kg.

From black parrots, bulbuls, dancing snails which vibrate when touched, tiny leaf frogs, skinks, chameleons which look like they are wearing lipstick, there is much to take in. You quickly perfect an impersonation of a native gecko with independently moving eyes.

From Praslin , we got a ferry  across to La Digue ( named after the ship that discovered it ) so I could achieve my ambition of patting and feeding a giant tortoise.

Qatar3
Qatar

We had five days to explore Mahe – L’Isle d’Abundonce – and stayed at the adults-only , seafront Hilton Northolme.

The oldest and smallest of Hilton Worldwide’s five-star resorts, the high-end luxury stilted hillside villas are where Ian Fleming wrote one of the short stories in For Your Eyes Only. It is also where I celebrated my retirement with floating aperitifs and caviar vol au vents canapes in our private Infinity Pool. On Silhouette, our room boy had run a surprise hibiscus petal bath!

Silhouette with its five peaks –  Mount Dauban, Pot A Eau ( with its carnivorous pitcher plants), Mont Congat, Gratte Fesse and Mont Cocos Marrons ( named after runaway slaves) –  sits on the horizon and is ever-present to current and former wage slaves enjoying the Oceanside Bar, gin deck ,two restaurants and one cannonball tree at Northolme.

Silhouette
Silhouette

On the Seychelles, you never forget you are only 300 miles from the equator. Every day is a paradise of pleasure in the garden of the gods. Driving anyway you pass flamboyants, patchouli, bougainvillea and frangipane as well as mahogany and silk trees.

Mahe,  with its mini-1903  Big Ben clock, is the world’s smallest capital.  It boasts perhaps the best walk in the Seychelles on the coastal footpath on the edge of Morne National park  to Anse ( beach) Major. It is only two miles but took us two hours. Because it was hot. And we are old. And we aren’t proud of our body mass indexes!

Refreshing us with soursop and cocoplums, picked from overhanging bushes, our guide Julienne  her taxi driver husband Robert pointed out bonnet carre firework plants. Beneath snorkellers studied the local nudibranches.

HikingP-1
HikingP

After an hour negotiating the granite glacis  boulders we arrived at the deserted beach and a shack selling coconuts for £2. Still four times cheaper than a hotel G&T.  Even Robinson Crusoe would have happily paid. If he had any hard cash on him.

We collapsed on the soft white sand beside the glinting azure-cerulean-turquoise-you-name-it sea. Tricoloured blue fruit doves circled above. The coconut milk went down well. We swooned simultaneously and multiply.

Heaven is available on-line and entry formalities are relaxed. Happiness can be found on Anse Major beach in the Seychelles. It’s the name of the water taxi cab which takes you back to Beau Vallon beach. And Happy Hour.

No more “maybe one day”. Now is the time to travel less, but much, much better. And far more luxuriously.

Audley Travel offers tailor-made trips to the Seychelles. A 14-night trip with seven nights at Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa and seven nights at Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa, both on a B&B basis, costs from £3,490 per person (based on two sharing). The price includes flights with Qatar Airways and transfers. 01993 838515 / www.audleytravel.com/the-seychelles

Walking Guide : Whatapp 2482710414

Julienne.Madeleine@yahoo.co.uk

www.qatarairways.com  / Lead in price London – Seychelles return via Doha on QR is Economy £643, and Business £2,915.