Starry-Eyed Love in the Seychelles
Published: March 2010
Travel is my life (normally with a film crew in tow) so trying to find a honeymoon destination that Stuart and I had never visited proved challenging. It also had to tick a long list of ‘newlywed’ boxes; we wanted our very own slice of paradise, somewhere achingly beautiful, romantic and secluded but not too much of a hike. Somewhere ultra luxurious with the quintessential white sand and sapphire seas but not inundated with starry-eyed honeymooners. And we wanted sunshine, oodles and oodles of sunshine, with plenty of water sports and lashings of good food and wine. After several weekends trawling the internet we eventually found not one but 115 coral and granite islands scattered across the Indian Ocean that fitted the bill perfectly; The Seychelles.
We opted for a two centre holiday, and our first destination was Sainte Anne’s Resort & Spa, a ten minute boat ride north east of the main island, Mahe. This five star hotel is built on its own private island in 500 acres of tropical wilderness. There are 87 private villas, and ours had its own swimming pool and a garden that opened on to the beach. There was also a lovely outdoor gazebo where we sipped champagne under the stars breathing in the scented bougainvillea, frangipane and hibiscus.
Despite our best efforts to find a destination with plenty of sunshine (July and August are supposedly the driest months of the year), we unfortunately had lots of rain, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. There’s something quite romantic about swimming in a downpour or watching storm clouds brewing from the snugness of a king size bed. Rainy afternoons were spent pampering ourselves in the Clarins Spa and when the temperature dipped, we smashed volleys on the tennis court.
In addition to three beautiful beaches and the trips that are included in the price of your stay (snorkelling, glass bottom boat ride, trip to Moysen Island to see the turtles), the best thing about Sainte Anne’s is the food. There are four fabulous restaurants. Our favourite was Le Robinson which offers a ‘two feet in the sand’ dining experience. Chunky hand built tables and chairs lay scattered under the palms, surrounded by candles and twinkling fairy lights. We sipped our pre-dinner cocktails gazing at the lights of Mahe across the water and digging our toes into the sand. We ate here on more than one occasion, tempted back by the stunning views and the fabulous lobster carpaccio with papaya salsa and black truffles.
One morning we took the free shuttle boat over to Mahe to explore Victoria, the capital. A third of the population live here but Victoria is more like a little town. There’s a handful of old colonial buildings and a lively market stacked with fresh fish and locally grown fruit and vegetables. We stocked up on the herbs and spices that we love to use in our cooking back home. Everyone speaks English. It’s one of the three official languages alongside French and Creole. It was the French who settled here first but for much of their history the Seychelles were British, gaining independence in 1976. But despite the English place names, it’s the French influence that predominates.
After a fantastic lunch of fish and aubergine fritters, tuna steaks and chicken curry at Marie-Antoinette, our guide Jeanac took us on a drive around the island. To the north east a trio of granite peaks which the locals call ‘The Three Brothers’ tower over Victoria. The views from the top of the largest one, Morne Seychellois are spectacular. Giant tortoises roam across the islands and there’s definitely something prehistoric about the look and feel of the place. The colossal granite boulders, giant palm trees and huge fruit bats make you feel as if you’ve stumbled into Jurassic Park. It’s easy to see why the government is so eco-conscious. Unlike its Indian Ocean neighbours, development here is strictly contained.
Back at Sainte Anne’s, we were continuously surprised by how empty the resort felt; a real antidote to our busy lives back in London. In fact, even though it was 80 per cent full but we felt like the only people on the island.
After five fantastic days it was time to set sail to our second location. I’ll be honest. We’d had such a lovely time we were actually cursing ourselves for booking a two centre stay but all that changed when we arrived at Fregate Island Private. Welcomed by our own personal butler ‘Amos’, our clammy hands were soothed by ice cold scented towels and frangipane flowers were garlanded around our necks, a tradition for newlyweds. Amos drove us to our private villa in our own private golf cart and over the next five days, we lived the fairytale. One morning we breakfasted 17 metres above the ground in the canopy of a Banyan Tree, the next afternoon we had high tea on a hill top overlooking the island, and one evening an unforgettable private candlelit beach BBQ under the stars for two.
Fregate Island is a 3 kilometre square tropical paradise shared by no more than 40 guests at any one time. There are 16 villas, each with its own infinity pool, Jacuzzi, outdoor dining area and private sun deck overlooking the ocean. Colonial in style, the stilted villas are immaculate; dark wood floors and furniture, crisp white fabrics and off-white walls, and huge floor to ceiling windows providing panoramic views of the ocean. The motto here is ‘anything, anytime, anywhere’ which means for those of you seeking complete privacy there’s no need to venture beyond your villa. But for us, the most exquisite pleasures of Fregate Island lay outside.
With over 90 percent of the global population of Magpie Robins and the world’s second largest population of giant tortoise, the preservation and protection of the island’s unique flora and fauna is a number one priority. A tour of the island’s hydroponics and outdoor plantations where they grow 99 percent of all the fruit and vegetables consumed on the island reveals Fregate’s commitment to becoming a self sustainable island. The resort’s menus are designed around what’s been picked or fished from the sea that day and any surplus crops are sold to other five star hotels in the archipelago.
Imagine those old Bounty ads. There are seven beaches, all of which blew our minds and our favourite Anse Macquereau where before ambling down the cliff you turn over a wooden sign reading BEACH IN USE ensuring total privacy. In true Fregate style, waiting for you at the bottom is not only the most beautiful beach you’ll ever see, fringed by giant palm trees and pink-granite boulders, but an ice box filled with drinks, freshly laundered beach towels and a telephone in case you’d like to order lunch.
This was the honeymoon for the perfectly picky, and by that I mean me. Yes, we pushed the boat out but it ticked all those boxes and provided us with the honeymoon we’d dreamt of. And let’s be honest, I’m not planning another.
Starry-Eyed Love in the Seychelles
Amanda Hudson joined the Travel Channel at the beginning of 2006 as Head of Production and looks after all our in house productions and the production team. She's travelled extensively around the globe and recently fulfilled one of her life long ambitions - horse trekking through the Andes from Argentina to Chile. When she's not writing, producing, directing crew or dealing with budgets you'll find her on a hockey pitch scoring goals for West Hampstead Hockey Club.
Amanda travelled to The Seychelles with Emirates and stayed at Sainte Anne Resort and Spa and Fregate Island
To find out more about Emirates visit www.emirates.com
To find out more about Sainte Anne Resort and Spa visit www.beachcomber-hotels.com
To find out more about Fregate Island www.fregate.com
To find out more about The Seychelles visit www.seychelles.travel