African Island Bliss

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African Island Bliss

It’s long been regarded as one of Africa’s luxury island destinations, and for good reason – stunning beaches, gorgeous views, great food, excellent service and stunning hotels that make the most of the beautiful surrounds. Dylan Rogers decided to take a closer look, and came back with an enhanced view of the Seychelles, what it has to offer, and how its marketing approach hopes to start paying dividends.

It’s competitive, this tourism business, and as times get tougher and belts get tighter, those countries playing in this space and looking to bet their futures on this segment of the economy, are going to have to evolve, adapt and ‘think outside the box’, if they are to get their hands on a sizeable chunk of what is a rapidly shrinking pie.

Specifically, those countries that rely heavily on tourism to survive and even prosper. The Seychelles is one such country. Yes, it is a country, but the reality is that it is a 115-island country, spanning an archipelago in the Indian Ocean approximately 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa.

Beautiful it is, with some of the most breathtaking beaches you’ll ever see. In fact, the locals are proud to tell you that beaches such as Anse Lazio (on Praslin – see pic), Anse Source d’Argent (La Digue) and Grande Anse (La Digue) are consistently up there when prizes for the best beaches in the world are handed out.

But beaches alone are not going to crack it and ensure that the Seychelles beats off its rivals in the ‘luxury island destination’ stakes, because there is plenty of competition out there. So much, in fact, that the Seychelles and six of its fellow Indian Ocean islands – Comoros, La Reunion, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius and Mayotte – have recognised the threat as global, and have banded together to form the Vanilla Islands.

Speaking at the World Travel Market in London in November, Alain St. Ange, the President of the Vanilla Islands and also the Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture said: “We are united for a purpose. We have diversity that takes in Africa, India, Asia, and the mid-ocean island block. We are today offering to the world a new tourism destination, a destination with real diversity for the decreeing travellers and one where culture and natural beauty will be displayed side by side as key USPs.”

St. Ange appears to play a big role in driving his country’s tourism marketing effort. It helps that he’s a former hotelier and former CEO of Seychelles Tourism, but he also appears to understand the importance of visibility, the power of the media and just what exactly his role entails.

“He’s very active and very visible,” says Frank Wesselhoefft, General Manager of Banyan Tree Seychelles, one of the 5-star hotel properties on Mahé. “I also understand the ministry’s decisions, even if I sometimes don’t agree with them. The nice thing is that they involve us, and you don’t necessarily get that in other countries.”

“Awareness has definitely increased,” says Conor Cushnahan, Executive Assistant Manager of Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, also on Mahé. “We’re also now getting those emerging markets, which we didn’t have before. So, the likes of Russia, China and the Middle East, as well as South Africa.”

A quick glance at the Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics website will tell you that Cushnahan is not too far off, although the list of tourist arrivals is still headed by the traditional markets of France, Germany and Italy. Russia follows in fourth place, just ahead of the United Arab Emirates and the UK.

“80% of our visitors come from those traditional markets,” says Marsha Parcou, the Seychelles Tourism Board’s Regional Manager: Africa. “But yes, we are tapping into emerging markets such as China, Brazil, Argentina, India, and other parts of Africa such as Namibia and Kenya.”

The make-up of the Seychelles’ arrivals reflect the world’s changing times and its economic landscape. It’s no secret that the Middle Eastern influence is being felt more and more in the Seychelles, and with Emirates offering between 11 and 13 flights a week between Dubai and Mahé, and Etihad buying a 40% stake in Air Seychelles in the past year, that influence looks set to strengthen.

“There is a definite interest from the Middle East, because of the close proximity and the investment opportunities,” says Wesselhoefft. “Investors are buying up property, because their oil reserves won’t last forever, and they are looking for investments for the future. It’s also a complete change of scenery for people from the Middle East.”

“We’ve seen with the likes of Dubai exploding, and with that, people are looking for new destinations,” says Cushnahan. “It’s only four hours away, so you can come here for five days. Plus, there are more hotels, which wasn’t the case five or six years ago.”

Cushnahan, who is Irish, goes on to say: “If you’d asked me eight years ago where Seychelles was, I couldn’t have shown you – the marketing wasn’t there and it remained a luxury destination with very few rooms. But now it’s opening up.”

Which brings us back to where the Seychelles is at, in terms of its tourism development, and what it would like to be perceived as. Currently, it’s fair to say that it’s perceived as a premium travel destination, with a focus on 5-star hotels and a luxury experience.

“Yes and no,” says Parcou. “We cater for all budgets, depending on your requirements. We have different types of accommodation from 5-star to self-catering. Yes, Seychelles is perceived as a premium travel destination, but we are trying to change the consumer’s mindset, and show that the Seychelles can be affordable.”

“There are more 3-star properties opening, but they are small in capacity,” says Wesselhoefft, who consults to the Tourism Board and also advises the Seychelles Tourism Academy. “More will follow in the next few years. Seychelles Tourism has identified this gap in the market, and the high-end market is satisfied. There are some current developments, but there probably won’t be more after that.”

Parcou goes on to say that there is also a demand for more 4-star hotel properties. But the Seychelles appears to find itself in a tricky position, wanting to open up the country to more arrivals across the star range, whilst trying to retain the unspoilt element that makes it such a stunning destination.

“We don’t want to become commercialised, because we are very much into sustainable tourism and we don’t want to cause any negative impact on the environment by having too many visitors,” says Parcou.

There is an argument that Mauritius has gone this way, and the feeling is that the Seychelles wants to avoid following suit, whilst also not closing the door on a potentially new market.

“I can’t speak for Mauritius, but I know that the Maldives is on the verge of becoming a mass market destination, despite still being a luxury destination,” says Wesselhoefft. “But the Seychelles is still protected and very isolated. That’s because of its diversity and the government being protective and controlling the development of the tourism industry. They are very conscious and vigilant.”

Environmental protection is a big part of the Seychelles way of life, and to its credit, the government appears to be driving this approach, even when it comes to tourism and new economic opportunities.

“If you look at the new hotels being built, they are being built behind the tree line, so they don’t have that direct view onto the sea,” says Cushnahan. “The protection is there, even though the demand is coming. It would be a shame to turn this into a Costa del Sol or a Miami, because you come to Seychelles to be on that beach and to have that unspoilt view and to be alone in certain areas.”

If the Seychelles is going to open itself up to the ‘mass market’, one of the areas it is going to have to look at is air access.

“Our biggest concern, currently, is that there aren’t direct flights from Europe that we used to have,” says Lucas d’Offay, Resident Manager of Hotel L’Archipel on Praslin, the second-largest island in the Seychelles. “This is a problem. I talk to guests every day, and they all say that getting here would have been easier if there was a direct flight. These clients have to go through Dubai or Abu Dhabi. I’ve had clients who used to come two/three times a year, but now they only come once a year, because of the flight.”

German airline Condor operates a weekly flight out of Frankfurt, whilst the likes of Air France used to fly direct from Paris. Arguably the biggest issue, though, was Air Seychelles dropping its direct European flights in early 2012, with Paris, London, Rome and Milan all falling by the wayside.

“It has affected tourism arrivals from Europe, as all the visitors have to travel via the UAE, which just makes the flights longer and less appealing,” says Parcou. “Most of us prefer direct flights, especially when travelling to a long-haul destination.”

“I would like to see the government working with the airlines and other governments to see if they can bring more direct flights from Europe,” says d’Offay. “Even if Air Seychelles can’t do it, maybe Air France or British Airways. They used to fly here, and I don’t agree with them that there isn’t the demand. I’ve done plenty of trips between France and the Seychelles, and every time the flight was full.”

What the situation may do, though, is open up the Seychelles to the African market, particularly with three of the continent’s ‘big four’ airlines operating direct from their hubs in the south and east.

“There are possibilities with the African market, because of hubs such as Johannesburg, Nairobi and Addis Ababa, with the likes of Air Seychelles codesharing with SAA, and Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines growing as fast as they are,” says Wesselhoefft.

It’s a time of reflection for the Seychelles and its tourism authorities, as it ponders issues such as air access, environmental protection, the hotel landscape and what its actual offering is. It’s clear that the country wants to be known for more than just its beautiful beaches and sunny climate. So, does it have a role to play in the business travel space, in terms of MICE travel, an area that hasn’t been a Seychelles strength in the past?

“The MICE market is growing and there is the potential to attract more of that segment to the Seychelles,” says Parcou.

“The government, STB and the hoteliers all want to go after the MICE market,” says Wesselhoefft. “MICE is becoming more and more important, but the hotels aren’t particularly big here. The biggest size, rooms-wise, is probably Constance Ephelia with about 300 rooms (some of them are villas). The MICE market is becoming more important, but it will be in small numbers, at executive level and up to 100 pax.”

So, new avenues for Seychelles Tourism and the ministry to explore, along with that air access issue. But the men and women in suits aren’t the only Seychelles players with an appreciation for just how important tourism is to the country. You need to visit the Seychelles to appreciate this point, and engage with the locals – everyone from the taxi driver to the hotel porter, receptionist, waiter, pool attendant, pilot, tour guide and Saturday morning fish salesman. They are all on message, with an understanding that this is their lifeblood.

“We have nice beaches, everywhere you look it’s green, we have lots of islands to explore, and the people are friendly and approachable,” says taxi driver Ted Payet. “But, they also understand how important tourism is to this country.”

That sentiment is echoed by Parcou.

I guess that all Seychellois know that tourism is their bread and butter,” she says. “Tourism is the mainstay and pillar of our economy. It contributes over 23% of the GDP and over 60% of foreign exchange earnings, along with accounting for about 30% of the labour force. Hence, tourism is everyone’s business.”

Islands

You may want to take in all 115, but that’s probably going to take you the better part of the next couple of years. So, why don’t you stick to the tried and tested, at least for your first trip to the Seychelles, after which you can branch out, get adventurous, and seek out those really remote islands. For now, though, the three main islands are a good place to start.

The Inner Islands, which are mostly granitic, cluster mainly around the principal islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, forming the cultural and economic hub of Seychelles, as well as the centre of its tourism industry. Together, they are home to the majority of Seychelles’ accommodation facilities as well almost the entire population of the archipelago.  There are 43 Inner islands in total – 41 granitic and two coralline.

“Some of the tour operators or travel agencies will do a package covering the three islands,” says d’Offay. “This is a big plus and something worth considering, because you get better deals on your flights.”

Mahe

It’s the gateway to the 115-island archipelago and home to the capital city of Victoria, and whilst the temptation may be to land at Seychelles International Airport and quickly catch a connecting flight to one of the smaller islands, Mahé does have much to offer, even if it is perceived as the ‘big city’ of the country.

That’s all relative, and even though Mahé accounts for approximately 85% of the Seychelles population, that number is still only in the region of 75,000 people. The island itself measures 28 kilometres long by eight kilometres wide, and is the largest island and cultural and economic hub of the Inner Islands. Further to that, the population reflects the Seychelles’ diverse ethnicity and descent from African, Indian, Chinese and European populations. Mahé is also the seat of government and the chief centre of commerce.

With a backdrop of towering 1000m granite peaks, Mahé is a treasure trove of flora that has evolved over centuries of isolation. Rare endemic plants found nowhere else in the world adorn Mahé’s mist forests in mountain strongholds, such as the Jellyfish Tree, the carnivorous Seychelles Pitcher Plant and the Seychelles Vanilla Orchid. If you fancy your plants and ticking off rare species, then Mahé is for you.

Mahé is also the transportation hub for island-hops and day excursions to neighbouring islands and all other islands within the Seychelles. All scheduled domestic flights by Air Seychelles originate from Mahé to the serviced islands.

A leisurely tour of the island by car will take two to two-and-a-half hours and reveal the lion’s share of Seychelles’ accommodation facilities, places of cultural interest and other attractions.

Airport Experience

It’s a quaint, yet highly functional airport with international check-in desks that open onto the street/drop-off zone. The security and immigration procedures are efficient and painless, after which you’ll find yourself in a comfortable departure lounge with a few retail options, providing that last opportunity to purchase a souvenir for a loved one.

The Air Seychelles Salon Vallee de Mai premium lounge is located on the upper level of international departures. It’s a fairly basic lounge with a limited food offering, but the Wi-Fi is speedy and the lounge also offers PCs, comfortable seating, international newspapers and magazines, and showers. Air Seychelles Pearl (Business) Class passengers and gold members of the airline’s frequent flyer programme may access the lounge at no charge. All other passengers must purchase access.

Recommended Activity

Take in the Saturday morning market in Victoria. It’s a trip that will expose you to what the city centre looks like, together with its old, historic buildings and notable sites such as the clock tower. Just a few hundred metres away is the Victoria market, where you can get just about anything in terms of local produce.

More importantly, it’s where you can pick up fish from the local traders. The Port of Victoria is home to the tuna fishing and canning industry, but the Red Snapper – or Bourgeois as the locals call it – comes highly recommended and is the fish dish you’ll find in most hotel restaurants. It has firm texture and a sweet, nutty flavour that lends itself very well to everything from hot chilies to subtle herbs. It’s also excellent for grilling, if you plan on cooking it yourself.

If your ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude extends to actually catching the fish itself, then you’re in the right place, according to Wesselhoefft.

“The fishing here is great, due to the recent changes in piracy,” he says. “It’s because of the strong international presence in our waters, and the fishing grounds are perfect, with plenty of fish – marlin, barracuda, tuna etc. We have planes controlling the waters from air. They’ve been in place for 18 months and we’ve noticed a big difference.”

Popular Mahé Snorkelling Sites

Anse Royale – south-east; accessible by car
Port Launay Marine Park – west coast; accessible by car
Anse Diri – located near Port Launay Marine Park; accessible only by sea
Sainte Anne Marine Park – Comprises six small islands (Cerf, Round, Moyenne, Long, Saint Anne and Ile Cachee); five kilometres off coast of Victoria; accessible by boat hire
Anse Major – north-west; accessible by sea or through paved walk trail
Baie Ternay Marine Park – north-west; visited by glass-bottom boat, dive excursions

Recommended Hotels

Banyan Tree Seychelles is located on the south-western coastline of Mahé, with the hotel’s accommodation made up of 60 exquisite Creole-style villas. These villas consist of your own private deck and plunge pool, with accompanying breathtaking views, just off a sumptuous master bedroom en-suite, with the all mod-cons. Spend time on the expansive verandah, enjoy the view, take a dip in the hotel pool or the sea, or take a walk along the pristine Intendance Bay. Alternatively, you don’t even have to leave your villa, as it has just about everything you need, including the perfect setting for private sundowners. If you fancy getting out, then make sure you dine at Chez Lamar, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant set in a beautiful colonial-style house overlooking a small dam. Gorge yourself on calamari, salmon, seared tuna and lobster.

Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove originally opened as a 10-room guesthouse in 1943 and was among the country’s first hotels. It became a Le Meridien property in 1985, underwent renovation in 2003, re-opened in 2004 and joined the Starwood Hotels & Resorts stable in 2005. It’s situated in the north-west of Mahé, approximately half an hour’s drive from the airport, and a little less from the capital Victoria. Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove is located in the Beau Vallon bay, and offers great snorkelling right in front of the hotel.

Praslin

Once you’re done with Mahé, Praslin should be your go-to option. Well, at least according to local Seychelles Tourism Board information officer Cindy Uzice.

“Praslin is special because it’s unique,” she says. “Also, the people are special and traditional, compared with the ‘fast life’ on Mahé. But it’s the beauty that makes it very special, from the beach to the sea, sand and the Vallee de Mai.

With a population of 6,500 people, Praslin is the Seychelles’ second-largest island. It lies 45 kilometres to the north-east of Mahé and measures 10 kilometres by 3.7 kilometres. A leisurely tour around the island by car will take approximately two hours.

Praslin stands at the forefront of the Seychelles’ tourism industry, with a strong tradition of hospitality and wide range of accommodation facilities. It also provides a base for excursions to neighbouring islands, some of which are important sanctuaries nurturing rare species of endemic flora and fauna. These islands include La Digue, Curieuse, Cousin, Cousine, St Pierre, Iles Cocos and Félicité.

Airport Experience

You can get to Praslin via either a 45-minute ferry ride or a 15-minute flight from Mahé. Air Seychelles operates these flights and they take off from the Seychelles International Airport domestic terminal. Air Seychelles uses a 20-seater for these flights, and the views of the islands from the air are spectacular. Praslin’s airport is even smaller and even more quaint than the airport on Mahé, but it works, is efficient and easy to get in and out of.

Vallee de Mai

The jewel in the Praslin crown is undoubtedly the Vallee de Mai – one of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Seychelles. It’s a 19.5-hectare area of palm forest that remains largely unchanged since prehistoric times. The flagship species consist of the island-endemic Coco de Mer, as well as five other endemic palms. The Coco de Mer, a monocot tree in the Arecaceae (palm family), has the largest seeds (double-nut seed) of any plant in the world. Also unique to the park is its wildlife, including birds such as the rare Seychelles Black Parrot, mammals, crustaceans, snails, and reptiles.

“A lot of visitors like to see the Vallee de Mai, where you’ll find many endemic palm trees, including the Coco de Mer, which resembles the human form,” says Uzice. “The grain can weigh up to 25 kilograms and is in the shape of a woman (the female plant), whilst the male plant is in the shape of a human’s manhood.”

“The Black Parrot comes out when it’s cloudy and gloomy, but it’s pretty rare. It depends on how lucky you are, because the last I heard, only 84 exist here. It likes to fly way over the canopy when it’s sunny, or it comes down and sits on the branches of the fruit trees.”

Beaches

The island features truly exquisite beaches such as Anse Lazio and Anse Georgette, which have both appeared on the top-10 list of the world’s best beaches in recent years. Anse Lazio comes highly recommended, particularly if you take some time to spend an afternoon on the beach, following a big lunch at Bonbon Plume restaurant, which is located on the fringes of the beach, but still offers the option of sitting at a restaurant table with your feet in the sand. Try the prawns.

Popular Praslin Snorkelling Sites

Cote D’or beach – east coast; popular beach accessible by foot or car
Chauve Souris Island – accessible via swimming from Cote D’or beach
Curieuse Marine Park – island to the north-east; accessible only by boat
St. Pierre Marine Park – accessible only by boat

Golf

Praslin is home to the only 18-hole championship golf course in the Seychelles. It’s located at the Constance Lemuria Resort & Spa, in close proximity to the airport. In fact, when you fly into Praslin, the flight path takes you over the golf course, just before landing. The course was designed by Rodney Wright and former European Tour winner Marc Farry, and opened in October 2001. There have been a lot of changes over the years, including sand bunkers being converted to grass bunkers, ponds being filled and fairways widened. But perhaps the biggest change has been the move from Bermuda grass to Seashore Paspalum grass.

Recommended Hotels

The 5-star Raffles hotels is part of the international group, and offers a luxury island experience second to none. It’s on the north-east tip of the island and enjoys stunning views of its neighbour, Curieuse. The hotel has 86 one and two-bedroom villas and suites, with no expense spared in offering up the ultimate luxury beach resort accommodation, including a private deck and plunge pool with sea views. The hotel’s pool is apparently the largest in the Seychelles, whilst its spa has picked up numerous awards.

If you don’t fancy a brand name, yet still want a luxury experience, try L’Archipel, a family-run hotel to the south-east of the island. It’s fronted by a stunning bay, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a room close to the beach, which is nothing more than five metres away. The hotel is in the process of renovating all of its rooms, with half of them (16) completed by early October. Lounge under the palm trees just off the beach, go for a dip in the hotel pool, or enjoy an early evening cocktail, whilst looking onto the water and one of the more beautiful bays you’ll ever see.

La Digue

La Digue is the fourth-largest island in the Seychelles and is in close proximity to Praslin and its satellite islands, Félicité, Marianne and the Sisters Islands. Apart from hosting the Seychelles’ Black Paradise Flycatcher, one of the rarest birds on earth, La Digue’s biodiversity features such stars as the Chinese Bittern, the Cave Swiftlet, Waxbill and two rare species of terrapin.

La Digue’s forests also contain a wealth of flora in the form of delicate orchids and tumbling vines of vanilla, as well as trees such as Indian almond and takamaka. Gardens blaze with hibiscus and nepenthes against a backdrop of swaying coconut palms.

Perhaps the most appealing feature of La Digue is the preferred mode of transport – bicycle and ox-cart. Traditional methods of boat building and refining of coconut products (copra) are still practised, whilst the friendly atmosphere of this intimate island with its languid pace of life, traditional architecture and breathtaking beaches, such as legendary Anse Source d’Argent, make it an absolute must for visitors.

“Praslin and La Digue are considered erotic islands, because of the atmosphere and the islands themselves,” says Uzice.

If that isn’t enough to get you fired up, then perhaps the idea of taking a leisurely 20-minute ferry ride from Praslin to an island with some of the world’s most stunning beaches will.

Once you’ve disembarked, either pop into the Seychelles Tourism Board office 50 metres away, or continue round the corner to the right to get your hands on a bicycle for hire. You can ask for directions, or you can just head off down the road and take your chances.

Two minor roads circle the interior of the west coast and an extension of one crosses to three of the island’s most splendid beaches on the south-east coast – Grande Anse, Petite Anse and Anse Coco. From there, a footpath skirts the headland to Anse Caiman. It’s worth noting that STB urges caution when swimming in the months between May and October, as it can be dangerous.

Restaurants

According to STB, these are the restaurants worth trying:

1. Zerof Restaurant
2. Loutier Coco (Grande Anse)
3. Lanboursir Restaurant (Anse Source d’Argent)
4. Tarosa Restaurant & Cafeteria
5. Au Clair de Lune
6. Gregoire’s Pizzeria

Popular La Digue Snorkelling Sites

Anse Source d’Argent – accessible by bicycle; shallow waters
Anse La Reunion – accessible by bicycle; immediate proximity to La Digue Island Lodge

Alternatively, get yourself on a glass-bottom boat and head off for one of the Marine Parks already listed.

Accommodation

La Digue has a variety of accommodation, from large hotels to small hotels, guesthouses, self-catering units and apartments. The two large hotels are La Digue Island Lodge and Domaine De L’Orangeraie, but the island lends itself to more rustic accommodation. So, consult STB for a recommendation for a smaller place, or if you fancy yourself with a fishing rod, go for a self-catering unit, get yourself kitted out with gear and go and grab your own Red Snapper!

Contact

Marsha Parcou – Regional Manager: Africa
Address: Seychelles High Commission, The Village Unit D02/01, Cnr Glennwood & Oberon Avenue, Faerie Glenn, Pretoria, South Africa
Tel: +27 12 361 5767
Fax: +27 12 348 0069
Cell: +27 79 437 5693
Email: marsha@seychelleshc.co.za
Email: info@seychelles.travel
Web: www.seychelles.travel

Why the Seychelles?

All year round destination
No cyclones
Rich in flora and fauna – over 50% of landmass dedicated to conservation & preservation
Malaria-free
No visa required for any nationality
Two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Vallee de Mai & Aldabra Atoll
Low crime rate
Voted to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world
Rich in culture and cuisine
Only island-hopping destination in the Indian Ocean
Rich marine life
Excellent diving sites
Fishing all year round
For further information, visit www.seychelles.travel.

Seychelles Way of Life

Neville Wiig is a New Zealander who met a Seychellois woman in Australia 25 years ago, married her and moved to Mahé five years ago. He runs the well-known Kaz Kreol Beach Restaurant on Anse Royale, a beach on the south-east of the island, about 25 minutes from the airport. It’s an establishment where you can sit with your feet in the sand and watch the ocean, whilst wolfing down large plates of prawns, lobster, octopus curry, Red Snapper, pizza or even Chinese food. It doesn’t look like Wiig’s heart rate gets much above 50, except when he gets his South African friends over to watch rugby on the big screen in his restaurant bar. He looks to have adjusted nicely to Seychelles life, and provides an interesting perspective, from an ex-pat who has been around long enough to form a fair opinion.

“The people are very relaxed and casual,” he says. “They’re very family-orientated. You’ll notice that on a Sunday on the beaches – they come down in groups, and they love to celebrate, have a party and really enjoy themselves.”

“Looking at the past five years, things have improved so much, in terms of the availability of products. I remember my stepson telling me to make sure I brought some toilet paper with me! But now, you can pick up a whole range of products. The government has been very active and we’ve also had assistance from other countries, whilst the rupee holds its own.”

Big Hotel Brands in Seychelles

Banyan Tree (Mahé)
Beachcomber (Saint Anne)
Constance (Mahé & Praslin)
Four Seasons (Mahé)
Hilton (Mahé & Silhouette)
Kempinski (Mahé)
Le Meridien (Mahé x2)
Raffles (Mahé)
Tsogo Sun (Mahé & Praslin)

All of these hotels are in the 5-star range. So, if you’re looking for something further down the star range or more within your budget, your best bet is to consult Seychelles Tourism or www.seychelles.travel.

Air Travel

Air Seychelles flies between Johannesburg and Mahé three times a week, departing Johannesburg at 12h25 and arriving in Mahé at 19h20 on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. From 14 December until 11 January 2014, Air Seychelles will operate an extra flight on Saturdays.

Kenya Airways also flies between Nairobi and Mahé three times a week. The flights are on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, departing Nairobi at 09h05. The return flights leave Mahé at 14h05 on the same days.

The frequency for Ethiopian Airlines is also three times a week between Addis Ababa and Mahé. The flights depart Addis at 10h10 on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The return flights leave at 16h25 from Mahé.

The Seychelles Bucket List

1. Take a half-day or day sailing cruise around the islands
2. Visit a Seychelles beach
3. Snorkel the turquoise shallows of the islands
4. Take a guided tour into the mountains
5. Visit Praslin’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vallee de Mai
6. Visit a Seychelles coral island
7. Indulge in Creole cuisine
8. Visit La Digue, where bicycle and ox-cart are the modes of transport
9. Take a fishing expedition
10. Sip a cocktail, whilst you watch the sun go down on a sunset cruise