Alphonse is a private island resort so remote that it can only be reached by tiny 16-seater propeller plane from Mahe airport - the views coming into land are just the beginning of a week of ‘pinch-me-am-I-really--here?’ moments.
Situated in the heart of the Indian Ocean, on the Seychelles’ outer islands, guests have the entire island and surrounding reef to themselves – Alphonse is the one and only accommodation-provider on the island making it feel extremely exclusive.
Despite the high price tag, the whole resort is utterly unpretentious and charming, with thatched wooden buildings dotted across the sand, and a central bar facing the sea.
Guests pootle around on push bikes, swerving falling coconuts and 100-year-old gigantic tortoises as they go, while activities centre around the sea with diving, snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and fishing on offer. Stay on the resort and you can laze by the pool, enjoy a locally-inspired spa treatment, play tennis or go and feed the baby tortoises.
You won’t find a television anywhere on the resort and wi-fi is patchy at best - the perfect excuse to relax and unwind.
The main hotel area houses the reception (with pool table and movie theatre); the dining area and bar are wooden and thatched. Each is open to the elements and made using local materials.
Beside the bar is a large pool with loungers and four-poster beds for shade – drag a large beanbag into the water and wallow the afternoon away, ordering cold drinks from the waiters as they pass, and watching herons as they come to take a drink. We took our book to a hammock slung between two coconut trees and enjoyed a blissful two hours.
Accommodation is in 22 raised wooden beach bungalows and five beach suites which are situated on the eastern shore of the island; the latter boasting large lounges and private plunge pools facing the sea. Our beach bungalow was decorated in natural, earthy hues and had a raised Veranda, a sunken bath and an outdoor shower with L’Occitane products, perfect for freshening up after a day in the tropical heat. Each bungalow comes with its own bicycle – ours was adorned with flowers and had a black basket at the front; pop your sun-cream, beach towel and book into the basket and off you go.
As all of the activities on the island are based around the sea, the resort also has a fishing centre, a dive centre and a small shop. A tennis court and small spa completes the list of facilities.
We tried the Bespoke Massage (1 hour, £85).
My therapist, Lucy, met me in the spa’s white and azure blue reception area and led me through to a spacious treatment room with twin beds and a large shower. Decorative sea shells adorn the room, while bright turquoise towels add a pop of colour.
Lucy began by asking me my birthdate so that she could tailor the massage to my personality type, ‘Thunder’. Choosing an oil from Yi-King, a local brand using 100% organic products, Lucy selected lavender and eucalyptus to calm my busy mind.
Lucy began the treatment by spraying the air above me and washing my feet using a hot towel – this felt extremely grounding.
She then concentrated the massage on my head and heart, the areas in which I apparently hold tension, gently using her elbows, forearms and fingertips to relax my muscles.
She spent longer than usual massaging my scalp, pulling my hair at the roots and using her fingers to comb my hair – I found this utterly relaxing and struggled to keep my eyes open.
I then lazily turned over so that Lucy could concentrate on the cellulite at the top of my thighs, using an abrasive action to get the blood flowing.
Another Spritz in the air marked the end of this very thorough and deeply relaxing treatment. After a refreshing shower using L’Occitane products, and a glass of iced water, I was ready to face the day.
Over half of all the food served on Alphonse either comes from the sea or the island’s own vegetable garden, where aubergines, pumpkins, lettuces, bananas, figs, papaya, chilli’s and herbs are grown. After a morning of cycling, we stopped at the make-shift smoothie bar (created using a recycled boat) and ordered a juice using produce from the garden opposite – you can’t get more local (or natural).
Guests choose their two-course lunch at breakfast time (which is a buffet with eggs made to order) – selecting either fish and salad, chicken and noodles or burgers and chips. The homemade ice-cream is to die for. Water on the island also goes through a purification, filtration and ultra-violet treatment, meaning it’s safe (and delicious) to drink.
Evenings are a sociable time with all 54 guests eating together, beginning with a drink at the bar. Once a week, that drink takes place on a private stretch of beach, with tables laid out in the sand and a dedicated bar serving cocktails to drink as the sun goes down.
When it’s time to eat, guests meander to the beach where tables and chairs are set out – glass jars containing solar lights are placed on the sand, while local flowers adorn the tables. Dinner is either a buffet, a BBQ or an a la carte menu. Take off your shoes and pad across the sand to select incredible Indian dishes or barbecued fish caught fresh that day. There’s a dessert bar at the end for those with a sweet tooth, too. We loved our Indian buffet with creole spices and our freshly-barbecued fish. Remember to look up at the stars – on a clear night you can see both hemispheres.
Head to the bar afterwards for a digestif – it doesn’t close until the last person leaves.
Having the pool to ourselves: If you aren’t out snorkelling, fishing or diving, you’re likely to have the pool entirely to yourself – make yourself comfortable on a lounger and somebody will serve you drinks.
Our fishing trip: Catching a 15 kilo Yellowfin Tuna was a real highlight; that night our efforts were rewarded in the bar with a celebratory shot and a badge to wear with pride.
The staff: Everybody that works at Alphonse is passionate about the environment, working hard to protect the island’s marine life and educate guests about conservation.
We didn’t love
Having to leave…
Who you think would like it?
Couples: It’s simply made for romance! If you are planning to get married, why not hold it here?
Nature-lovers: Whether its feeding baby tortoises, watching hermit crabs scurry across the sand or planting trees, nature-lovers will be in their element.
Eco-warriors: Alphonse Island is the only resort in The Seychelles that’s completely off the grid, with 1,200 solar panels providing electricity for the whole island.
Fans of fly fishing: People come from all over the world to fish on Alphonse; so many in fact that there’s a two-year waiting to give it a try.
Snorkelling with Manta Rays: These elegant creatures aren’t visible everywhere; snorkel with them and you’ll be one of just 2% of the population to have experienced this magical activity.
Feeding the tortoises: Don't miss a trip to the feeding centre each day to feed the babies – certain to melt even the hardest of hearts.
Walking on the reef flats: Stand still and let baby lemon sharks, eels and a variety of fish dash in between your ankles.
A week in a beach bungalow costs from £5,198 per person including all meals and scheduled charter flights to and from Mahe airport. International flights and activities cost extra. Find out more.
Images: Anthony Grote
4th December 2018
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes