“The Sey-what?” and “Where in the world are the ‘SEA-shells’?” These two questions invariably followed when my friend mentioned that she was traveling to the Seychelles (pronounced Say-shells). A couple weeks ago, a very good friend of mine (and actually quite a talented editor) headed out for a big birthday to the Seychelles. I won’t say what birthday it was because a lady never reveals her age, but it was big! Since it has always been her dream, she figured now or never–and of course I agreed! So since I’m not headed down to the Seychelles anytime soon, I asked my friend Beth to give a comprehensive review of the Four Seasons Seychelles. Beyond just wanting to vicariously live through her, I wanted to share her experience with the rest of you guys since many of you Four Seasons fans out there have probably considered making a trip here but hadn’t heard much about it. My friend Beth is also an extremely picky person–and I mean that in a good way. She notices everything and has extremely high standards. While Beth can rough it when need be, if she is paying top dollar for Five Star luxury, she wants to get her money worth. So, with that said, I’ll let Beth take it away in this special edition of Welcome Travelingpanties, where Beth stepped into my panties…err…shoes I guess to bring you this fabulous review of everything you might possibly want to know about the Four Seasons Seychelles.
Though I would have happily slept in a pup tent on one of the endless stunning beaches during my ten days in paradise (Praslin’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, was believed to be definitive proof of the existence of the Garden of Eden), I was fortunate enough to spend two luxurious nights as a guest at the top-rated Four Seasons Resort Seychelles located on Mahé, the largest and main Inner Island. From the moment I arrived at the ferry and was chauffeured to the Resort, it was a five-star experience, as is to be expected from any property operated and managed by the Four Seasons–I know it’s Katie’s favorite brand for a reason.
Mahé is just a short, little 17 hour plane ride from New York City. There are also non-stop flights from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Nairobi, Mauritius and Johannesburg if you happen to be at any of those places. (Read my article on Dubai HERE) **Writing this also if you want*** After you endure the full 17 hours, you’ll arrive at Seychelles International Airport (SEZ), located 11 km (6.8 miles) south of the national capital, Victoria.
I arrived to Mahé from another island, so when I disembarked at the Inter Island Quay (Mahé’s main inter-island ferry terminal), I was greeted by a friendly driver and a BMW X5 equipped with Wi-Fi and stocked with cold, bottled still and sparkling water, cool hand towels, the daily newspaper, and a Four Seasons magazine. The driver noted places of interest and shared some interesting history of the island along the 30-45 minute leisurely drive to the Resort.
I was greeted by Caroline, Public Relations Manager (please, can I have her job if she ever leaves?) and given a refreshing welcome glass of ZEZ tea punch—ice tea infused with pineapple juice and grenadine. I was then taken via covered “buggy” (or a golf cart, but “buggy” sounds much more quaint) directly to my secluded Hilltop Ocean-View Villa. My luggage was delivered separately and shortly after to my doorstep. I was given a quick primer on the “privacy please” light and doorbell at the base of the stairs that lead up to my door (staff never knocks at your door–they ring the doorbell) and then a quick tour of my villa—the basics of the TV and sound system, lights, and mini bar. Then I was left to stare in awe at the view and wonder if there is any medical limit to how long you can soak in a pool.
There was also fresh fruit, flowers, a lovely hand-written note, and a welcome bottle (yes, a whole bottle) of Veuve Clicquot waiting for me. Though I wanted to sit and chug the entire bottle and never get out of that pool, I thought it bad form to get fall-down drunk right before my spa treatment–but you better believe I enjoyed a couple glasses.
The Resort covers 170 acres of a remote hillside overlooking Petite Anse (“little beach” in French) on the southwest coast of Mahé. High above the bay, the hillside and beyond surrounding the beach is dotted with 67 tree-house villas and grand suites. I noticed that each and every villa and suite has a breathtaking view of the beach or lush greenery, and there is not one bad view on the entire property. Each villa is truly secluded and private. This is what I call a romantic honeymoon destination–I would marry again and again if I could honeymoon here each time.
The Resort facilities include two restaurants, two lounge bars, an outdoor swimming pool, a full service spa, water sports pavilion, fitness centre, library, art gallery, Kids for all Seasons Programme, two shopping boutiques with jewelry and resort ware and souvenirs, and “Foumba”, a small and unique 20-person capacity, venue that is the ruins of a traditional Creole house. A dive centre, marine education station, and Tropicsurf School are also located down by Petite Anse, and there even is an on-site nurse for minor medical issues.
The Resort’s outdoor 5,565ft swimming pool is located on the edge of the beach, and I almost stopped there without venturing to the beach. It’s surrounded by cinnamon trees and furnished with chaise lounges, and has a shallow area for the kiddies to swim while parents lounge on the poolside chaise with cocktail in hand. This pool area is probably more suited for families, as there was really no reason to leave the private pool at my villa. You can also venture over to the picnic tables area or play a game of chess with gigantic chess pieces.
The Water Sports Pavilion, located at the base of the Resort directly on Petite Anse, houses the Resort’s own PADI dive center and Stand-Up Paddle, surfing, canoe, and snorkeling equipment, as well as a WiseOceans marine education station. Kids For All Seasons is also located here–a clubhouse for children 4 to 12 years offering fun and educational activities.
The Resort is fully committed to preserving and celebrating the beautiful grounds, as described in their Living Values initiative. This particular Four Seasons works with WiseOceans to establish environmental projects that monitor, study, and protect local marine life. An onsite WiseOceans Marine Educator is available to discuss any of these projects and also take you on a guided snorkel tour. Be sure to remember you to call for the “Green Option” and request your linens be changed every third day instead of every day to conserve resources. The Resort also takes each of its staff out on these guided snorkel tours so they can appreciate and learn about the amazing, natural beauty of the property and the islands.
To work off the amazing breakfast served daily, the onsite Fitness Centre lacks for no piece of equipment, space or amenity, and that priceless view of the Indian Ocean makes running on a treadmill a little less tortuous. Those motivated enough to workout (not I!) are provided headphones, cardio machines with individual TVs, fresh fruit and amazing homemade granola bars (I tried one after my “workout” of roaming through the fitness center), and antibacterial wipes and bottled water at every turn. If you are even more adventurous, there is an outdoor jogging/walking trail which circles the property.
The library is a quiet 600ft2 nook surrounded by lush vegetation and stocked with books (there is an actual hard bound set of encyclopedias in there!), two Macs with printing access, a flat screen TV, and complimentary high speed Internet access. If I ever wanted to leave my villa and stay indoors, I would park myself here with my Kindle and a cup of tea.
The beach is absolutely stunning. Various resorts all vied for years for the right to build above Petite Anse because of the perfect location and amazing views. The beach is covered with powder white sand, and depending on the current, the visibility of the ocean can be amazing. Cushioned, chaise lounges dot the edge of the beach and are under the trees to provide shade and respite from the sun. There is also a swing on the beach. On the first day I went to the beach, there was one of those amazing egg-shaped lounge beds, but it mysteriously disappeared the second day. Marine animal and plant-safe sunscreen, rash guards (the long sleeve swim shirts) body boards, a paddle boat, canoes, a large assortment of beach and water toys, snorkel gear, an outdoor shower with shower gel and lotion, and cold water on ice is at your disposal.
You can find a comprehensive list of offered services throughout the property here.
The open-air lobby embraces the tropical feel of the resort and like every structure on the property; the view from the lobby is breathtaking. Each time I ventured into the lobby, the staff was oh-so friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. When I left the resort in my little clown car rental, a staff member hopped on a moped and personally guided me to the exit. Now that is service, start to finish!
THE TREE-HOUSES VILLAS
I really don’t need to write anything. Just look at the photos and tell me if you think there is any reason at all to step foot away from your 2,000ft2 villa (except to go get a spa treatment, of course). The General Manager, Alex Porteous, says, “As stunning as the photos are, they really don’t do the actual site proper justice.” I totally agree—as stunning as the photos are (see here), my expectations were surpassed. I stayed at 103 Cottontree Walk and had a view of the entire hillside and Petite Anse. Even another guest who saw my villa said, “Wow. Your view is absolutely amazing.”
These “tree-houses” villas are not even close to the plywood playhouse your dad built you when you were in kindergarten–these are some seriously grown-up and posh 2,000ft.2 tree houses that are perched on stilts, and the suites are not the biggest rooms in a hotel–these are multi-bedroom palaces. The teak floors are beautiful and the stilted architecture and design of the villas blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Every villa has its own expansive outdoor space to enjoy the view and soak up the sun (an elevated deck with a covered lounge bed, a main deck with a dining table, and a lower deck with chaise lounge chairs), its own cool (as in it was too chilly to swim in after the sun went down) plunge infinity pool with two entrances, an outdoor shower and adjacent lounge deck.
I am never more of a morning person than when I travel to a tropical destination; I suddenly have to wake up BEFORE dawn to watch the sun rise. (Don’t tell my boss.) And believe me, from my Hilltop Ocean-View Villa, I was not disappointed. The floor to ceiling and virtually wall-to-wall sliding glass doors open up to the upper deck so you can smell the fresh ocean air and watch the sun rise from your luxurious king-size bed. Nespresso Machine + Milk Steamer + Sunrise = Paradise and Heaven all Wrapped into One. Have I sadly reached the pinnacle of my hotel experiences already? I very well may have.
Closet/Dresser details? There were two large free-standing armoires (with a straw beach tote inside for complimentary use while at the Resort) and a lighted closet with shelves and a safe, laundry service items, bug repellent, what I believe were outlet converters (didn’t try because I bought my own outlet converters), an iron and ironing board, shoe shining brush, and two robes and two sets of slippers.
Charging situation? After moving the drapery and scooting the furniture a bit to find the outlets, there were plenty of outlets to charge my iPad, phone, camera battery and Kindle all at once.
Bed? The king-sized canopy bed was luxurious. This is the tropics, so the bedding wasn’t too heavy or excessive. Next to and on the headboard were light switches to every light in the villa so you didn’t have to get up to turn off anything, as well as individual reading lamps. There are also under-the-bed night lights that softly glowed—no stubbed toes from getting up in the middle of the night. Be sure to remember you have to call and request linens be changed every third day to conserve resources.
Turn-Down service? Yes. And the bug netting was pulled completed around the canopy bed, the exterior doors left unlocked were locked, my dress I threw on the floor in a rush was neatly folded on a chair, and the TV and DVD remote, TV channel guide, bottle of water and clean glass were placed on the bedside table.
Bottled water? Yes. Unlimited in the room, the bathroom, and throughout the entire Resort and on the beach. Given the heat and tropical climate, this thankfully is an unlimited amenity.
Coffee maker? A Nespresso CitiZ Coffee Maker with Milk Frother, choice of two caffeinated capsules and one decaf capsule, milk, and bottled water to prepare your coffee.
Reading material? Resort literature, but frankly, even as much as an avid reader as I am, I wanted to stare at the ocean, not at a book.
Anything else? The light switches were labeled. This sounds insignificant, but after turning on and off every unlabeled and weirdly placed light switch in my Dubai hotel room, my La Digue guesthouse and my Praslin suite, this was much appreciated.
White Glove Inspection: Flawless and spotless. The Resort does an overhaul of each entire Villa, inside and out, three times in every two years, as salt water and sun quickly wear down exteriors and interiors. Upon arrival, I turned around to find a little gecko on the floor and called to the Lobby in a girly panic, but apparently they are good to have around because they eat mosquitos and are harmless (which I saw later on a note by the bedside).
The bathroom was far larger and far more stunning than my entire one-bedroom NYC apartment. There is a separate water closet, clothing closet, two freestanding armoires, his and hers vanities (there were night lights under each vanity that stayed on when you turned off the light at night), a separate shower with rainfall shower head, the biggest bathtub I’ve ever seen (I am 5′ 3″ and could lay down with my arms extended over my head) and floor to ceiling glass windows that looked out to the infinity pool and on past to the bay and horizon. There was even a leather chaise lounge in the bathroom because, yes, the view out the bathroom window was that captivating. Double glass sliding doors led to the outdoor shower and plunge infinity pool. Of note: only the young and agile should attempt to climb in and out of this deep tub made for two. Also, start filling it up about half an hour before you want to soak.
Makeup mirror? Yes, large and lighted for a good look at my magnified pores.
Hairdryer? Yes–a full size hair dryer with outlets under the sink.
Designer toiletries? Yes, L’Occitane En Provence face and hand soap, after sun lotion, and locally-made, organic Yi-King brand shampoo and body wash in handmade, ceramic containers. These were very quaint and looked great, but not the most practical for dispensing the product–the liquid poured out rather quickly and I was slightly paranoid I would drop the container and it would shatter on the shower floor. There was no separate hair conditioner, which I wish I had for my long hair after days spent in the sun and the ocean. The shampoo and body wash are also sold in the spa.
Towel quality? Sumptuous and many of them. Again, be sure to remember to call and request towels be changed every third day to conserve resources.
Robes? Yes. Two–his and hers robe and slippers. Though there were two size small slippers…not sure if that was because I was traveling alone or if there typically are only size small slippers. I don’t know many men with feet that small. Maybe men prefer to stomp around barefooted?
Other amenities? Standard cotton swabs, cotton balls, body lotion, and shower cap, and Y-King bath salts and loofah for the bath.
The Food & Drink
There are two restaurants and two lounge bars on the property, and in-villa dining is always an option. A full breakfast is included with your stay, and it’s miraculous that I didn’t gain 20 pounds from breakfast. There were no less than nine—yes, nine–breakfast stations: 1. fresh fruit, 2 freshly squeezed fruit juices, 3. sparkling wine and fresh fruit juice to make your own mimosa, 4. egg station, 5. the most impressive assortment of pastries and carbs (complete with a bagel tree and toaster to toast your bagel), 6. local, themed cuisine (Middle Eastern on day one–think hummus and pita bread, and Asian on day two–think miso soup and dumplings), 7. yogurt and oatmeal, 8. meats/ cold cuts, cheeses, and an assortment of breads and baguettes that rival my neighborhood deli and bakery, and 9. a kid-friendly section of cold cereal. These are just the main points–everything from olives, nuts, and bacon and sausage was available. Grab the daily local paper in your language of choice and enjoy a breakfast fit for Paul Bunyan while looking at the ocean.
The Resort’s restaurants are ZEZ and Kannel, and both are open-air to take advantage of the warm weather and sweeping views of the property or ocean breeze. ZEZ (named after a stringed instrument from Sub-Saharan Africa) is the more formal venue (and where breakfast is also served)–no beachwear or sleeveless tees are allowed here. Dinner features Modern Mediterranean and intercontinental cuisine, and they also have a vegetarian menu. I had tuna tartar and salmon abogado cold soup for an appetizer and red snapper (caught locally for an entrée. Since I always save room for dessert, I could not turn down the pineapple delicacy. The wine list is presented on an iPad, so it’s easy to swipe through and narrow down your wine selection.
Kannel is next to the pool and steps from the beach, and beachwear coverups attire is permitted here. Creole and international fare is served at this restaurant, which features a variety of fresh fish and seafood. Do not miss trying the Plantation Coconut Sorbet!
ZEZ Lounge and Kannel Bar are both next to their namesake restaurant–ZEZ Lounge is where the weekly management cocktail hour takes place, and there is ample seating overlooking the ocean from high atop the hillside where you can enjoy sushi or sashimi. ZEZ Lounge also maintains a wide selection of wines and cigars, and Sheesha, a traditional Middle Eastern water pipe, is also available. Kannel Bar is beach side and next to the swimming pool–enjoy a light snack or a casual lunch while taking a break from the beach. Here is Zez and then Kannel:
Again, as is with every single space on the property, the views are absolutely stunning, and the Spa’s manager, Charlotte, took me on a tour of the spa which was a retreat itself. This full service spa offers massages, facials, body treatments (including an after-sun treatment), bath rituals, and hair and nail treatments—even private sunrise and sunset yoga sessions. I had a 90 minute massage, and I fell asleep it was so relaxing. If there is any reason to leave your villa, it’s the spa. Just look at this view:
I was treated to a 90-minute HillTop Fusion massage. As soon as I could tear myself away from the view, I was led to a private massage room with wall-to-wall windows overlooking the bay—adjacent to this was a separate water closet, shower (indoor and out, though I could not figure out how to access the outdoor shower) and changing room. In the changing room, a bathrobe, slippers, hair brush, disposable underwear, a shaving kit and standard toiletries were provided. I soon found out why my birthday was requested—the spa’s Yi-King products are tailored to your personality type—my birthday’s element is “Thunder”, or “The Awakener”. Here I am before my massage:
My massage started off with a foot spa/scrub (my feet were sunburned so I suffered through this—no way I was opting out on any step of my spa treatment!), then a luxurious massage. Elirose, the incredibly sweet and masterful massage therapist, placed some of the Thunder aromatherapy oil on a towel and held it under my nose to breathe in. The views and wall-to-wall windows offered amazing views, but it also offered amazing light. I prefer my massages in a darker room, but this stems from wanting to hide cellulite and rolls from the massage therapist who, let’s face it, Elirose has probably seen worse.
I also had a shellac/gel manicure—my first ever! I could not get over the fact that 10 seconds after the manicure was completed that I could do everything normally. To this day, it’s still on my nails. Pretty grown-out, but looking amazing otherwise. My manicure included an exfoliation and soaking treatment, and do I even have to mention the view of the hillside and bay from the manicure chair? And the chair massaged my back as well—was I the first person to fall asleep during a manicure? And just one more view for good measure.
Charlotte with WiseOceans took my on a guided snorkel tour. Instead of swimming aimlessly not knowing what I was looking at, she was able to point out marine creatures I would have never noticed. I also took a Stand-Up Paddle lesson from Harrison—a great success! I fell off only twice, thanks in part to my paddling slower than a snail.
And the afternoon Mountain Yoga with Vishal—I am so glad I didn’t chicken out (oh, I tried) and hiked up the mountain on the south end of the property for some mountain top yoga (or more breathing and relaxation exercises). I highly recommend this for an amazing view and great workout. Apparently, someone tried to climb down the other side of the mountain (as in not down the path) to see where they would end up on the property, and they ended up on the roof of 103 Cottontree Walk.
My last day I tried my hand at Creole cooking with Chef Sherla—she is the Chef Commis I and cooked for the Royal Family in Bahrain!!!!! We made Creole Octopus Salad, Creole Fish Curry served with Creole Rice and my favorite—banana fritters. When I say “we cooked”, I mean I sipped my mojito and ate. She clearly loves what she does, and luckily I loved to eat what she (I mean, we,) made.
The Little Things
Did I feel truly welcome by the staff? Every single staff member—from the landscape crew to the Chef Commis I–is interviewed no less than five times before they are hired. This is evident in their professionalism and friendliness—you feel like an old friend coming to stay at their home when you visit. The staff are from all over the world, and are at the Resort to experience paradise. Many, if not all, of the locals have completed a hospitality and tourism program.
Wi-Fi? Yes. Complimentary wi-fi for up to two devices per villa, plus complimentary access in the lobby bars, beach and in the Library.
Mini-Bar? Stocked with juices, liquor and snacks available for purchase. Coffee and tea and milk (and the unlimited bottled water) are complimentary. And coffee, orange-infused juice and tea is complimentary in the spa.
Cocktail Quality? Tragically, I had a horrible sun rash and/or allergic reaction on my face, so I refrained from alcoholic drinks. The mocktails, however, were delicious, large and wonderfully presented, though, so I can only assume the added liquor was a perfect addition.
Good for Families: Yes. There were families at the Resort (to be a two-year-old and vacationing in the Seychelles at the Four Seasons…) and the entire Resort was child and family friendly. I encountered only a couple loud and whiny children the entire stay—at breakfast, the hostess seated a family with two small children right next to me…a little hiccup to my perfect paradise experience.
Where do Most Guests Hail From? Europe and South Africa. Though there are more U.S. citizens that you’d imagine—they are looking for the next big vacation spot (you can only visit the Caribbean so many times), and they are familiar with and appreciate the service at and accommodations of the Four Seasons brand and choose to stay there.
Service Fee? Yes. Added to your room rate. The Resort literature said there was no need to give extra gratuity to staff as their gratuituy is added into the service fee, but I always gave a little extra.
The Wow Factor: It has to be the location. The view is unparalleled—I have never seen beaches like these. Take the exact structures, décor, layout, and place it on a mountain overlooking a lake or just more jungle, and the effect would not come close to this location. And the Resort has so seamlessly built around and in harmony with the natural surroundings. You truly feel like you are in your own secluded paradise on Earth.
Also, as is true with Four Seasons properties, anything you can dream of is available—just ask. Want to climb a rock wall or hit biodegradable gold balls into the ocean? Looking for a customized menu created for a romantic beach dinner? Do you want to deep sea fish or participate in a whale shark excursion? Maybe you want to try surfing or visit a tea plantation or visit an art gallery. Just ask, and everything will be done to make your wish come true.
The Bottom Line: Would I recommend it? Am I coming Back? Yes. I would recommend it in a heartbeat. Am I going back? If I am ever in the situation where I can trek 17 hours to stay here, I will.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
Address: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles , Petite Anse, Baie Lazare, Mahé
Phone: (248) 439 3000and Fax: (248) 439 3001
Cost: My Hilltop Ocean-View Villa ranges from around €1,200 to €2,600 (or around $1,670 to $3,600 USD) per night, depending on the season/holidays, excluding taxes and service charges. Garden View Villas are priced lower, and the suite prices are not available unless you call to book a room.
Beth was a guest of the Four Seasons and as such received a complimentary rate for purposes of a review. As is common in the travel industry, writers are provided with complimentary services for review purposes all the time, doesn’t mean it’s not honest! All opinions herein are genuine and honest.