“Would you like to see a fruit bat?”’ asks our greeter as he bob-bob-bobs us from the Reception Pavilion to the reception proper in a golf buy. Being a bit of a Jessie when it comes to that sort of thing, that’ll be a no – not that there’s much of a choice when a pair of the things, as big as Alsatians, start playing a merry dance in the air above our balcony like they just stepped out of Jurassic World later on.
Over breakfast some little lizards leg it across the room while a variety of birds in a variety of colours, all bright, dip in to a box of pains au chocolat, which we assume is just for them. Others sit at your feet, filing their beaks, looking up at you, waiting.
The Indian Ocean is there, there and there – on three sides – and as you drink your breakfast prosecco (well, at least the birds haven’t been at it), you can see real live snorkeling. And kayaking and paddleboarding and people on the sun terrace trying to keep pretty blue-billed birds off their actual keyboards as they get their emails done.
The Seychelles, it turns out, is no Maldives. None of that barefoot luxury nonsense, where nature is kept way over there while you relax on 17 towels with a Mai Tai as someone conditions your lashes. Here at Hilton Northholme (where Mai Tais are readily available), just half an hour away from the airport (which has its own beach, goddamnit!), through little no-account towns, we are very much part of the landscape. You’re in nature. Not adjacent to, knee deep in that verdant shizz. You can reach out and touch your very own coconut from your own private villa with its own private Jacuzzi – plunge pool if you’re lucky – or someone else’s coconut if you’re inclined.
Villas are either on the beach or, in our case, up in the trees. All of them look out to sea, all of the Jacuzzis and pools (including the communal infinity one) also look out to sea, and all are done out in a cosy, woody, hutty sort of way with ceiling fans, not crazy-luxe – though there is a swan made out of a towel on our bed and AC and all the right tellies – but laid-back and homey with incense never knowingly not burning, with huge balconies coming with a variety of daybeds and tables and cottonsoft cushions, and showers that you just sort of wander into and then out the other side as there is no one to overlook you. No wonder it’s a big hit with honeymooners, both gay and regular.
In fact, the place is more or less all couples, both gay and regular, mainly as a result of the very welcome ‘no kids’ policy. That and the lack of Americans (it’s apparently way too far for something that is not that dissimilar from the Caribbean) means that there’s a low-key, low-energy kind of vibe, where service is attentive but not at irritant levels and the most that will happen is some locals will come in and play Easy Like Sunday Morning by The Commodores in a jazzy kind of way over dinner while someone shows themselves up on a pool table.
In the morning you can go down and do yoga with a very bendy lady as you look out to sea or meet the German marine biologist, Jan, who’ll take you out snorkeling as he explains the demise of much of the coral due to global warming. There’s still a lot to see out there, from the black and white fishes that will come right in to meet you as you step into the water (azure, naturally) to a conger eel and even tiny little sharks. And no, there have been no shark attacks around here, like, ever.
As for the rest of Mahé, the main island, if you’ve come to party away in swimwear while someone pours champagne over you, you’ve definitely come to the wrong place. There are no beach clubs, no yacht parties (though there are sunset cruises, sedate and lovely), no pumped up lips or Victoria’s Secret bikinis, just chilled out people chilling out some more.
You can see Victoria, the smallest capital city in the world (in fact, they probably don’t even pretend it’s a city) and while there are tea plantations and a nature reserve to visit, it’s basically about hanging about, having your dinner at the hotel (low-key or haute cuisine, whatever level of fancy you’re taking), hanging out with those birds that are by now just showing off.
Half an hour boat ride away, on an island they call Silhouette (literal can be so lovely), lies Hilton’s shinier, slinkier resort, Labriz. Here you’ll find that beach that looks like the kind happy kids draw, all talcum sand and holding hands and same-sex civil ceremonies (the kids we know are very recherché, thank you). And on an island that’s 93% rainforest (the
other 7% being the resort), it’s Jurassic World with CGI thrown in. The beach villas are the ones to schtump up for, classy in an easy Sunday morning way (we can’t get that song out of our heads) the deluxe of which open right out onto the sand. Which is just how life should be.
And we haven’t even mentioned wellness, which is our favourite of the neologisms. And in resorts that take nature and conservation very seriously indeed, this segues into us, the people. The morning yoga we mentioned, the gyms are tip-top should you need a pre-beach pump, then there are the massages; so deep, we think they got to third base. Seven nights in the Seychelles two centre island hopping. Spend four nights at Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa in a King Garden Villa on a Half Board basis, and three nights at Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa in a King Hillside Villa on a Half Board basis, with economy class BA flights and hotel transfers costs from £2,348pp sharing. For more information and to book, please call Beachcomber Tours on 01483 445 685