The Seychelles second time round: Four Seasons and BA return to the Indian Ocean idyll
A decade after the last direct flight between Britain and the Seychelles touched down, British Airways is recommencing its service between London and the capital, Victoria, on March 24. Serendipitously, it coincides with the opening of Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island – the most exciting new property to emerge in a destination that is already home to some of the world’s most lavish, progressive beach resorts.
A 35-minute flight southwest of the main Seychelles island of Mahé, Desroches island is a low-lying stretch of coral, lush with vegetation and sparsely populated.
This remote, 933-acre island is enveloped by spectacular dive sites and exceptional fishing opportunities. The island’s animal sanctuary cares for 150 Aldabra tortoises; a Creole village provides an insight into the Seychellois way of life.
Opened on March 1 and the island’s only resort, Four Seasons Desroches will offer its guests effortless access to the surrounding waters, and from its Castaway Centre scuba diving, stand-up paddleboarding and ocean fishing can all be arranged.
On land, the allocation of a bicycle for every guest means Desroches’ trails can be explored at leisure and nature walks can be led by a member of the Island Conservation Society; a children’s club caters for kids aged between four and 12; a Teen Centre with games console and DVD library is also available, though hopefully those guests will find the natural wonders on their doorstep more alluring.
Elsewhere, the spa includes its own anti-gravity yoga pavilion; restaurant Claudine serves Mediterranean Riviera cuisine, guests can dine on sashimi at The Lighthouse; and outdoor film screenings take place on balmy evenings.
As for accommodation, the 71 abodes range from rustic-style suites to bungalows to residences, all with private pool, beach access and garden for enhanced privacy.
Loyal Four Seasons guests flying to Seychelles International Airport may wish to combine their visit to Descroches with a stay at the original Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, also situated on the main island of Mahé and a circuitous 45-minute drive away.
Opened in 2009, the property’s interiors lack the wow-factor of some more modern Indian Ocean resorts but the setting is unquestionably, enduringly beautiful. Occupying a forested hillside that tumbles down to a curve of golden sand and a protected horseshoe bay, it is private, peaceful and picturesque.
Every guest accommodation features its own pool; encased by lush foliage and set on stilts for uninterrupted views, the hilltop ocean-view villas are particularly popular with the many honeymooners who come here.
During my visit to the Seychelles’ original Four Seasons resort last summer, I was particularly impressed by the nimble service from a highly experienced team (close to 500 staff are enlisted to care for guests staying in 94 villas and residences), but the arrival of the new Desroches outpost should provide a welcome boost in a country heavily populated by luxury resorts.
Of the destinations served by the Toronto-based company, the Seychelles is one of the few countries in which it isn’t among the top-tier of luxury properties.
That status is shared by North Island and Fregate Island Private, two private-island resorts that are both coincidentally about the size of Monaco. The former accommodates just 11 villas; the latter just 16. Despite its focus on privacy, North Island rose to worldwide prominence in 2011 when it was revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent their honeymoon there.
Fregate Island Private, part of the Oetker Collection, is similarly popular with nobility and celebrities and is particularly notable for its exceptional beaches, imposing cliff-top villas with imposing infinity pools and hugely impressive conservation programme which has had particular success in saving the Seychelles magpie robin from the brink of extinction.
With all-inclusive accommodation at North Island starting at £6,418 and Fregate Island Private charging its guests a minimum of €3,250 (£2,905) per night, they remain the country’s most exclusive resorts.
But for Four Seasons aficionados, the welcome, long-awaited convenience of direct flights from Britain and the opportunity to stay on another distant, tranquil Seychelles island in assured comfort provide a very good reason to return to one of the world’s premier luxury-travel destinations.
British Airways fares from London Heathrow to the Seychelles start from £698 return in World Traveller economy class and £2,997 in Club World business class.
Half-board accommodation at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island start at £1,074 per night; B&B accommodation at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles starts at £1,096 per night.