Why there’s more to a stay in the Seychelles…

If you’re looking for a luxury island getaway in the Indian Ocean there are probably three potential destinations for your castaway hit list. What follows is the case for you to Sey yes, to the Seychelles. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we submit to you that this African archipelago offers the best of both worlds. It enjoys the diverse multi-island allure traditionally sought in the Maldives, but anchors the experience with a compelling historic, cultural hub of the sort seen on Mauritius. It doesn’t peacock with manufactured feathers, there’s no pretence or pomposity – Seychelles is an authentic brand of paradise, made purer by its rough rustic edges.

It’s not just for honeymooners and destination weddings. At only a four-hour flight, Seychelles is within long-weekend range for UAE holiday-makers, and once there you can head straight for the familiar five-star luxury of a beachfront resort, or choose something a bit more rugged and adventurous. Take the high road for jungle-bound exploration of the verdant Jurassic Park peaks, whose contours come complete with giant reptiles (though these ones, Aldabra tortoises, are on a strictly vegan diet). Or opt for the low road, tracing crystal coastlines by kayak or mask-and-flipper.

There’s an isle for everyone. Out of its collection of 155 islands, Mahé is undeniably the granddaddy. Despite being just 25kms long, it’s the largest of the archipelago, contains the capital (Victoria) and the airport you’ll likely fly into. Car rental is affordably priced and provides a convenient way to stitch together touristic mainland gems (though the serpentine routes up and down the green mountainous interior often require some of that steely SZR grit) – there are coral reefs on the east coast that make for great snorkelling; rum distilleries; the fish chilli at Leo’s Burger Bus at Beau Vallon; markets; coco de mer plantations; and spice gardens. About an hour’s ferry ride off Mahé, visitors to Praslin praise its network of beaches and nature reserves; La Digue offers scenic bike rides, and more opportunities to flex your PADI license; and then there’s Silhouette Island…

Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa

If family-friendly, eco-conscious, seclusion is amongst your wildest wander-list whims, Hilton’s Labriz on Silhouette Island will cast a pointed shadow over your internal compass. Like a row of emerald talons rising up from the ocean, the tropical island’s interior – dense, steep and mysterious – limits development to the extent that, around it, you’ll only find two resorts, a village of Seychellois locals and a complete absence of cars.

Labriz’s charms are partly found in that microcosm of sedate island life, created by the geographic restrictions, but also in its low-impact construction; beach villas that are a grain-top trot from azure seas; a torqued-up kid’s club; seductive spa; eight bars and restaurants, including Grann Kaz – a converted 1800s dwelling that doubles as a heritage museum and serves killer creole curries; and a marine expedition centre that caters to all levels – Jasmine, who lead our snorkelling safari, pointed out sea turtles, sharks, scissor tails and a bashful unicorn fish.

Rates from around Dhs1,452 per night. hilton.com

Mango House Seychelles LXR

On the southern stiletto tip of Mahé, sits a special 41-room, luxury hotel converted from the former home of Italian photographer, Gian Paolo Barbieri. Mango House overlooks the Assouline-worthy Anse a la Mouche Bay, a Lake Como of the tropics, with a structural embrace that leads from hillside to pristine beach. The hotel’s design pays homage to both Barbieri’s keen eye for chic organic framing and the island’s heritage, and packages it with grandstand architecture in glass and stone that blends with its stunning surroundings.

It has a pair of privately accessed plages, naturally hemmed by boulder mounds; a watersports hub you’d be well advised to borrow a kayak from; a restaurant lineup that includes the inspirational Italian, Muse, slicing some of the best Neopolitan pizza on the island; Azido – an all-star sushi spot, and the celebration of local creole cuisine that is Moutya. Its strongest sales pitch though, comes from its indefatigable views, available from literally every angle, but best enjoyed from the balcony of your own sea view chambre.

Rates from around Dhs1,875 per night. hilton.com


Money: Though the official currency is the Seychellois Rupee, both Euros and US Dollars are commonly accepted by most businesses.

When to go: December and January represent the peak of the Northwest Monsoon season, which means wind, rain and choppy seas. But truly, there is no bad time to visit.

Language: English is widely spoken, along with French and Seychellois Creole (a French-based local language).

Getting there: direct flights are available with Emirates and Etihad.

Images: Provided