By Hermoine Macura-Noble
Special to The Times Kuwait

It is a location on the map that is often cited for having some of the best beaches in the world, and often praised in travel brochures as the ideal slice of paradise to stretch out on soft white sands, sunbathe, snorkel, celebrate special occasions, or just sit back and dream.

Located around ten degrees south of the equator on the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles Archipelago is made up of around 115 islands that feature either granite formations and mountainous topography or coralline islands, which have very few people living on them.

Isolated for many years, Seychelles was able to preserve its unique flora and fauna and maintain its virgin forests and their incredible biodiversity. It is also undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to go diving in the Indian ocean — the south of the main island features sixteen world-class dive sites.

Most travelers begin their journey strolling through at the island’s charming capital, Victoria, past the clock tower and the bicentennial monument. The vibrant Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke market is a popular stop with its maze of stalls selling exotic fruits, spices, and vegetables. The botanical gardens are a 10-minute walk from the town center. Established over a century ago, this tropical oasis features endemic flora and fauna, including Seychelles’ famous Coco de Mer trees and giant Aldabra tortoises.

Moving out and away from Victoria, there is a coastal road that takes you around the entire island. But for those who prefer to get lost in nature, trekking through the granite mountains and dense rainforests on one of the 12 trails located in the Morne Seychellois National Park is also quite popular. Regarding accommodation, only a few hotels in Seychelles deliver the luxurious standards that Gulf residents expect.

Nestled on the cliffside and beach on the west coast of Mahé, Anantara Maia Seychelles Villas is one of the best hotels in the area that understands privacy and a high level of customer service. Overlooking the gorgeous Anse Louis beach, the unbelievable views are just one of the resort’s alluring features. Guests will also enjoy the secluded Bill Bensley landscaped grounds, fringed by palms, Takamaka trees, and massive granite rocks, which sometimes make you feel as though you are the only guests in the hotel, even though it is running at total capacity.

Featuring a small collection of private villas, the property is ideal for honeymooners due to its stunningly romantic location and secluded five-star service, which includes a personal butler for each spacious villa. Upon entering the villa, guests are welcomed by warm wood tones and stunning floor-to-ceiling glass bathrooms surrounded by forest, an open pool, and an outdoor jacuzzi. One of the property’s highlights is the hideaway forest spa, which features soothing treatments that relax and mesmerize the senses. From couple massages to foot rituals — the spa offers a unique menu of treatments set amidst a forest symphony that offers ultimate relaxation.

Anantara Maia Seychelles’ passion for food is a sensory affair, and dining at Anantara Maia is a gastronomic tribute to fresh coastal living with an array of options ranging from seafood barbeques to gourmet picnics.

Tec Tec restaurant, located at the heart of the property, draws inspiration from multiple cuisines, and guests can choose from five different menus. There is also a great choice of à la carte breakfast dishes, including tropical island fruits and French pastries, signature pain perdu, detox boosters, garden galette, Arabic specialties, or classic eggs Benedict. Lunch and dinner menus feature island-style appetizers, including green mango salad and yellowfin tuna tartare. Creole comfort food dishes include crusted red snapper served with garum masala lentil salad and bilimbi (tree cucumber) compote, while classic Indian and Asian comfort dishes feature butter chicken, dim sum, and wonton noodle soup.

Anantara Maia also offers unique experiences, such as a tour of the resort gardens to learn about the wide variety of endemic plants and discover the medicinal virtues of lemongrass, cinnamon, avocado, starfruit, and Gro bonm leaves – traditionally an infusion to treat sore throats.

Another stunning eco-resort is the family-friendly Constance Ephelia hotel, situated on two of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Mahé. Overlooking the marine national park of Port Launay, Constance Ephelia is perfect for families seeking quality time and privacy. The hotel enjoys a unique location within 120 hectares of land covered with luxuriant and rare vegetation and offers a level of privacy and luxury often associated with private islands’ peacefulness and seclusion. Gulf residents will be drawn to the secluded private villas, which feature 100 percent enclosed pools and tanning areas fringed by tropical plants and tall palm trees for maximum privacy.

Lovers and families will enjoy being locked away in these private villas, which feature super romantic bedrooms with comfortable wood interior designs, modern furniture, and bathrooms with high-tech steam showers, evoking a fresh and chic atmosphere. The villas are conveniently designed so kids have a separate section and can access the pool, lounge, and beaches so mu and dad can have some peace and quiet.

Some of the property’s other highlights include Seychelles’ only zip line, which stretches over the hotel’s hills, offering a bird’s eye view of the property, and extensive forest trails for walking and mountain biking along jungle paths and sleepy roads. Guests will quickly fall in love with the hiking trails through breathtaking scenery, discovering flourishing wildlife and untouched landscapes.

The Constance Hotel’s five-star wellness spa, listed as the largest in the Indian Ocean, is also worth a visit. Featuring 18 single and couple spa rooms, a sauna, plunge pool, and reflective pool, one of the best treatments is the spa’s classic massage for couples using natural aromatic products inspired by local plants from the Indian Ocean, which bring your mind and body to a state of complete equilibrium. The French luxury skincare brand Sisley is also exclusively available at Constance Ephelia and offers a lush range of phyto-aromatic facials and body treatments that deliver soft, clear, and glowing skin.

When it comes to dining, the Constance Ephelia features five unique restaurants spanning Mediterranean, Asian, international, and native creole cuisine, so there is something for everyone. Another great place to try the local Creole-inspired cuisine is at Mango House — a boutique hotel located on Anse aux Poules Bleues on the southwestern side of Mahé Island. A favorite among travelers is their Moutya restaurant which pays homage to the authentic creole cuisine delicately inspired by generations of local cooking techniques. Moutya offers dishes that explode with flavors and scents such as the ceviche, the king snapper, and the slipper lobster.

For those staying for several days, taking a short 45 km boat ride to the island of Praslin may be worthwhile. Famous for its clear gem-blue waters and easy access to Anse Georgette, visitors can enjoy the uncrowded pleasure of snorkeling in St Pierre Marine Park. Another great experience is to book a two-hour guided walk through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Vallée de Mai forest or even a scenic helicopter flight to Aride Bird Island to see endangered birdlife.

La Digue, another island worth a visit, is framed by the famous picturesque granite boulders. Other great activities include cycling around La Passe and enjoying lunch at Chez Jules, a charming water’s edge restaurant

From half-moon beaches to azure blue lagoons, Seychelles offers something for everyone, whether it is a family oasis, a honeymooner’s dream, a short weekend getaway or a family trip, the magnetism of Seychelles should be a must on your travel wish list.

By Hermoine Macura-Noble The first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East and Founder of US-based 501c3 charity – The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. For more from our Contributing Editor, you can follow her on Instagram, here.By Hermoine Macura-Noble
The first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East and Founder of US-based 501c3 charity – The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. For more from our Contributing Editor, you can follow her on Instagram, here.


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