Life s tyle
Life truly is a beach on the Seychelles, but
there’s more than just palm-fringed powder
white sands and azure blue sea to this Indian
Ocean gem, writes Alexander Fitzgerald
112113 IRISH TATLER MAN
Tropical beach. The Seychelles
This page, clockwise
from top left:
The Hilton Seychelles
Labriz Resort & Spa on
mountainous island of
between the island’s
slopes and a pristine
white sand beach; An
incredible variety of
fish populate the
warm waters; Catch of
the day: grilled fish is
an island speciality;
The local markets are
a hive of activity
here on earth is it?” 74-room business hotel with the country’s only resort on the island, the Hilton Labriz
“How do you largest yacht marina. – which is laid out as a series of private villas
– has been designed as a nature reserve and
pronounce it?” A waterfront location just ten minutes’ drive boasts a spectacular mountainous backdrop
“What language do they from Seychelles International Airport and with a tropical virgin rainforest.
within 5km of the capital, Victoria, make this a
speak there?” perfect spot to rest one’s head and recharge With a choice of restaurants, various
These were just a few of after a long flight. sporting activities on offer and a kids’ club on
hand to give parents a breather, one could
the many questions I fielded in the weeks prior Sustenance can be found in numerous happily while away an entire week without
to my departure to the Seychelles. I had a eateries, but for genuine creole food, it’s worth leaving the resort. Indeed, David and Victoria
reasonable idea where this archipelago of 115 stepping beyond the hotel’s confines and Beckham, not a pair known to slum it, chose to
islands was located (northeast of Madagascar heading to Marie Antoinette, one of Mahe’s do precisely that during a week-long stay to
and about 1,600km east of Kenya, should you most famous restaurants. Dishes on a vast, celebrate an anniversary.
be wondering), but must confess that my authentically Seychellois menu, which hasn’t
knowledge of the tiny Indian Ocean republic changed since 1972, include locally-sourced, While it might sound deliciously decadent,
amounted to little more than recalling having grilled, fresh fish, octopus curry (reputed to be the Hilton Labriz has much to offer beyond
read that it boasted some of the world’s best an aphrodisiac) and mouth-watering papaya lazing beneath palm trees on beach loungers.
beaches and was, unsurprisingly, a popular salad. Organised activities run the gamut, from
honeymoon destination (and the recent choice kayaking, snorkelling around the surrounding
of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge). Less then 24 hours later, having swapped reefs, fishing and various hikes and excursions.
the sleek yet corporate-style environs of the If that all sounds too draining, there’s always
First impressions were not great, it must be Eden Bleu Hotel for the unabashed luxury of
said: an overcast sky, drizzling rain and traffic the Hilton Labriz Resort & Spa
jams en route from the airport to the hotel (hiltonseychelleslabriz.com) on Silhouette
were not exactly the stuff of island dreams island, just 19km from Mahé, my first-day
– and hardly the perfect pick-me-up after two lethargy and rain-induced grumpiness gave
long-haul flights (Dublin – Dubai – way to an incredible feeling of calm and
Seychelles). But things did pick up. contentment.
Watching the azure blue waves gently wash
I’d started my island odyssey in Mahé, the on to the powder-soft white sand of a
mainstay of the European tourism market and practically deserted private beach, it was hard
the largest of the islands. My bed for the night to believe that life could get much better. The
was at the Eden Bleu Hotel (edenbleu.com), a
114115 IRISH TATLER MAN
This page, top row from left to right:
Sunset at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa;
Life’s a beach: powder white sands and blue waters at
Grand Anse La Digue; Fit for a king: a deluxe hillside
pool villa at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa;
Waterfall at Vallée de Mai; An incredible variety of fish
populate the warm waters
BEYOND THE BEACH
the option of balancing one’s chakras with a tree, prohibiting camping on beaches and Hitting the beach is certainly a must on the Seychelles.
morning yoga class, or enjoying a pampering creating an abundance of national parks and But venture further afield and you’ll be rewarded with
treatment in the Silhouette Spa. protected species. The result is a country that everything from rare wildlife and hiking to superb
clearly understands the immense appeal of its scuba diving and the delights of the local cuisine
But unless you’re a devout advocate of the natural endowments but, commendably, is
fly-and-flop school of thought, it would a unwilling to milk this healthy cash cow until its FIND FORBIDDEN FRUIT
crying shame not to take advantage of the teats go rancid.
Seychelles’ other attractions and participate in See the stuff of legend on Praslin, one of only two
some inexpensive island-hopping. A day’s excursion around Victoria, the islands in the world where you will find the famous Coco
sleepy capital of the Seychelles, is a popular de Mer palm tree.
Wherever you go, it seems, the Seychelles is option with tourists who tend to make a
blessed with natural beauty – biblically lush beeline for the colourful, bustling Sir Selwyn BUY, BUY, BUY
jungles, kilometres of reefs teaming with sea Clarke Market. With smiling characters whose
life and jaw-droppingly beautiful beaches. It charm would put the average Moore Street Embrace the local culture at the thriving Sir Selwyn
should, all things considered, be one of the trader to shame, the open-air market space is a Clarke Market, where you can stock up on local spices
most visited places on earth – especially since blur of activity, and home to local sellers and herbs.
tourism is a fertile source of income and one of hawking everything from fresh fruit,
the few industries thriving in the Seychelles. vegetables, fish and spices to clothes, gifts and FEAST LIKE A KING
trinkets. Transactions are mostly carried out in
To its immense credit, though, the Seselwa Creole, a local language that, to the With ultra-fresh produce and a fusion of flavours,
Seychellois government has avoided the untrained ear, resembles mumbled French, but Seychellois cuisine is truly a feast for the senses.
temptation to over-capitalise on the country’s
assets, preventing buildings taller than a palm PLAY CATCH
Take advantage of the location and enjoy a day’s big-
game fishing in waters that are ideal for both deep sea
and bottom fishing.
INTO THE BLUE
Whether you’re a beginner or expert, the Seychelles’
clear waters are perfect for scuba diving.
perfect English – and broad smiles – are to the
fore when tourists show their sunburnt faces.
Popular souvenir purchases include bottles
of vanilla essence and coconut oil, sachets of
spices and the carved and polished coco de
This page, top row from left to right:
Wallet-friendly lodgings at the charming Indian Ocean
Lodge; An incredible variety of fish populate the warm
waters; Cheeky: The nut of the coco de mere is very large
and is oddly shaped, being the shape and size of a
woman’s disembodied buttocks on one side, and a
woman’s belly and thighs on the other; Gardens of the
Indian Ocean Lodge; Anse Source d’Argent on La Digue
is a serene stretch of sand backed by palm trees and
jumbled, time-worn granite boulders; Cradled by a large
bay with two mountain peaks on each side, the
half-kilometre long beach of Anse Lazio was recently
rated as the sixth best beach in the world by TripAdvisor
mer nut, which is a national icon for this tiny strip set against a backdrop of huge takamaka And while this jewel of the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean republic. trees and bookended by shapely boulders that boasts its fair share of high-end resorts, there’s
form clandestine coves, its calming turquoise far more to the islands than luxury. Reasonably-
Things are infinitely more ‘picture postcard’ waters – think 50 shades of blue – gently lap priced accommodation, inexpensive restaurants
back on Praslin, where the 32-room Indian against its velvet-soft sand. Seeing truly is and efficient transport make island-hopping,
Ocean Lodge (indianoceanlodge.com) on the believing. Seychelles-style, a viable proposal, whatever the
southwest of the island provides charming depth of your pockets. Just be sure to go before
beachfront accommodation and ultra-friendly If Praslin feels idyllic and relaxed, it’s it becomes too popular. ITM
service at wallet-friendly prices. nothing compared to the borderline-comatose
pace of La Digue, which is a short boat-ride FACTFILE
Although unlikely to be confused with, say, away. Except for a smattering of battered cars,
a Four Seasons resort, the simply furnished the fastest vehicles on the road appear to be CLIMATE: The Seychelles enjoys a pleasant tropical
rooms are clean, well-appointed and feature the ox-carts that serve as taxis. This truly is life
canopied beds embellished with colourful in the slow lane. climate throughout the year with temperatures seldom
hibiscus blooms plucked from the tropical dropping below 24°C degrees or rising above 33°C.
gardens. The island, the fourth largest in the
Seychelles, is deservedly one of the most TIME DIFFERENCE: The Seychelles is four hours
It would be easy to while away the hours popular tourist attractions thanks to its
enjoying island-brewed beer and the famous premier beach, Anse Source d’Argent – a ahead of GMT.
local rum and delicious Creole cuisine by the serene stretch of sand backed by palm trees
pool, but that would be to miss out on and jumbled, time-worn granite boulders. For LANGUAGE: English is the main language, although
Praslin’s key draws, namely the Vallée de Mai a spot to sun-worship and recharge the
and, a must-see destination for beach-lovers, batteries, it takes some beating. locals also speak Creole.
With its sublime beaches and tropical CURRENCY: The currency is the Seychelles rupee,
The former is a UNESCO world heritage site climate, the Seychelles will, obviously, remain a
of pristine palm forests that are home to the huge draw for honeymooners and with about 15 to the euro.
protected coco de mer tree – which is unique holidaymakers in search of a relaxing, romantic
to the Seychelles islands – as well as rare getaway in one of the world’s premier paradise GETTING THERE: Emirates (emirates.ie) has
species such as the Seychelles black parrot. destinations. But to travel over 12 hours and
overlook the country’s other attractions is two daily flights from Dublin to Dubai with 12 weekly
Anse Lazio, meanwhile, is a breathtakingly almost criminal. connections to the Seychelles. Prices inclusive of taxes
beautiful half-kilometre beach that represents and charges start from €667.
something of an upgrade on Brittas Bay. A
sleepy curve of sand capped by two granite ENTRY/EXIT FORMALITIES: There are no visa
outcroppings, it invariably makes the shortlist
for just about every best beach in the world requirements to enter the Seychelles. Visitors need
award going – and deservedly so. A stunning to have a passport valid for more than six months, a
return or onward ticket, proof of accommodation and
116117 IRISH TATLER MAN sufficient funds for the duration of the stay.
FURTHER DETAILS: For more information, contact
the Seychelles Tourist Office on +44 (0) 20 7730 0700
or [email protected], www.seychelles.travel