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Well-traveled, luxury-minded clients are probably well-acquainted with everything that South Pacific havens such as French Polynesia and Fiji have to offer. Some travelers, however, will be shopping for a completely different perspective on paradise. The Seychelles fits the bill — and, yes, it’s worth the 24-hour flight time (on average) from the U.S. to get there.
The Indian Ocean archipelago nation boasts culture and cuisine informed by East Africa and India, as well as white-sand beaches; distinctive vegetation and wildlife; and fewer tourists. Several five-star resorts on the islands of Mahe and Praslin are tapping into those assets in extraordinary ways, which encourages U.S. travelers to take the full air journey or add several days on to an existing holiday — an African safari or European vacation, for example — for a getaway that’s equal parts glamour and adventure.
Here are some of our top picks.
Banyan Tree SeychellesA small plot of land that was a private getaway for actor Peter Sellers and musician George Harrison evolved into an intimate colonial-style “sanctuary for the senses” under the direction of Singapore-based hospitality brand Banyan Tree. More than 15 years after its opening, the renowned jet-setting friends would approve of the resort.
Sixty pool villas are concealed from one another, and the staff endeavors to make every guest feel like a VIP who has the place to himself or herself. Beyond the Banyan Tree Spa and dining rooms, the hotel experience can be summed up as the ultimate homestay, down to views facing out to the open ocean (as opposed to inlet beaches at other resorts). On-property food offerings — Creole, Thai, Arabic and continental — are uniformly excellent, enabling guests to enjoy the quieter side of the Seychelles as Sellers and Harrison did. Excursions to the rest of the islands, meanwhile, can be booked through the concierge.
Constance Lemuria Praslin SeychellesConstance Lemuria Praslin Seychelles fuses five-star elegance with respectful adherence to Seychelles’ Creole culture. Guests are greeted with striking Afro-French architecture and decor, as well as a check-in offering of tea or fresh-squeezed fruit juice with French pastries. As part of Constance Hotels & Resorts, which focuses on destinations across the Indian Ocean, the property features an emphasis on details that ensures guests will come away feeling like they’ve truly been to the Seychelles.
The Marc Antoine Farry and Rodney Wright-designed golf course — the only 18-hole course in the Seychelles — is one of the resort’s biggest draws. However, the laid-back ambiance introduced in the lobby carries seamlessly over into the airy villas and suites, as well as restaurants including The Nest, Diva, Legend Pool Bar and Takamaka. The kids’ club offers educational activities, arts and crafts and cooking lessons.
Le Meridien Fisherman’s CoveLe Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, whose 68 units and pool area fan out across Bel Ombre (overlooking Beau Vallon Beach) and Mahe’s only jetty, is designed for travelers vested in immersing themselves in local culture. While the capital city of Victoria is about a 10-minute drive from the hotel, other points of interest are right on property, such as Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, which assists in the restoration of corals in the hotel’s bay.
Paintings by local artists add a sense of place to the property, and the Art Studio in the Fisherman’s Cove Lobby provides a means for guests to support the artists and bring home a permanent piece of the Seychelles. And speaking of artisanal creations: On-site restaurant Paris Seychelles is a standout for its impressive collection of 51 varieties of gin and a dozen natural-flavor-infusions of the islands’ own Takamaka rums.
Raffles SeychellesRaffles Seychelles’ 86 residential-style hill-inset and hilltop villas are outfitted with minimalist decor, retractable floor-to-ceiling window and doors and adjoining outdoor pool pavilions that put guests squarely into the splendor of Praslin’s Baie Sainte Anne beaches and mountain scenery. Public areas, accessed by on-call golf carts, are just as opulent.
Dining opportunities include Curieuse Restaurant and its Pan-Asian fare; The Sushi Room’s showcase of local fish and seafood; and Losean Restaurant’s continental menus, executed with Creole flair. Guests will also appreciate easy access to UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallee de Mai, as well as 15-minute ferry rides to Curieuse Island and Curieuse Marine National Park, home to large bumphead parrotfish and roughly 500 giant tortoises.
The H Resort Beau Vallon Beach SeychellesWhen it comes to first impressions, The H Resort Beau Vallon Beach Seychelles goes big. Its hangar-sized “Creole rock house” lobby features mosaic murals crafted with tiles from the same Italian ceramic artisans whose works adorn the Vatican. There is an interesting array of restaurants (including Trader Vic’s Seychelles, Seyshima, Vasco’s and 1502), as well as minimalist landscaping that nicely frames the beach and pool areas.
The Beach Pool Villas continue the theme; each has direct access to Mahe’s Beau Vallon Beach — a colorful neighborhood noted for its night market — a private pool deck and cabana, indoor and outdoor rainfall showers, an oversized bathtub and Elemis spa products. Other guest perks include complimentary watersports, such as free rentals of snorkeling equipment.