Indian Ocean: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Mahe
Seychelles is a group of 115 granite and coral -- and spectacularly beautiful -- islands in the Indian Ocean. The soft sandy beaches and warm sea make the destination perfect for families, but the islands are popular for weddings and honeymoons, too. In fact, if you’re looking for a tropical paradise for any reason at all, you’ve found it.
What's on offer?
The resort itself has a dreamy setting next to the white sands and blue ocean of Petite Anse bay; in the granite hills above the beach are secluded villas, shielded from one another by treetops, each with a sense of complete privacy. Every villa is a little lap of luxury, from the marble bathroom to the plunge pool, from the four-poster bed to the peaceful verandah, from which you can gaze through the green jungle to the turquoise waves below, or to the pink-and-purple sunset skies above.
The spectacularly light and bright spa itself reigns at the height of the resort, 80 metres above sea level, with treetop views of the Indian Ocean through every window. I particularly loved my shower in the amazingly large treatment pavilion; it's as if nature itself reaches in to calm you before your treatment even begins.
The therapies at the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles are inspired by Indian and Asian traditions and include shirodhara, chakra well-being, treatments for couples and teenagers, as well as, practically, jet-lag recovery and, given the climate, treatments for sunburn and soothing. The treatments use all-natural products by Ila, Sodashi and the Seychelles-own brand Yi-King. There are complimentary yoga classes, as well as beach meditation and a range of more vigorous activities throughout the resort, including paddle-boarding, surfing, snorkelling and kayaking.
It was particularly interesting to note how the spa combines local treatments and ingredients yet beds them into the standards of excellence you would expect from the global Four Seasons brand. For example, I also recently visited the Four Seasons Hampshire. Hampshire is five thousand miles from Petite Anse, and the spas are very different, but in each the design, cleanliness and attention to detail are first-rate. You'll enjoy the same standard of expert treatments, impressive customer service and friendly ambience. In both, your therapist will check the room temperature, that the music is to your liking, that you have a bowl of flowers to look at underneath your treatment table rather than the floor, that the massage pressure is perfect... It's just that one experience is likely to take place amongst the mists of the English countryside, the other in equatorial sunshine.
If you need to balance spa and family; Four Seasons Resort Seychelles is a good choice as the complimentary Kids for All Seasons club runs from 9am to 9pm with an hour's break for tea.
Tell us about the treatments
In treatments at both spas, therapists use local herbs and spices. In Hampshire, these might include chamomile, sage, lavender, rosemary and mint hand-picked from the hotel's walled herb garden. In Seychelles, my foot wash contained cinnamon leaves plucked from just outside the spa door, and other treatment oils contain patchouli, which grows wild on the island, as does vanilla and lemongrass. You can also try a Coco de Mer body scrub and a heart of palm body wrap, or a bath containing cinnamon, honey and coconut milk.
If spa is an essential part of your lifestyle or you want it to be a focus of your stay at the resort, visit the hilltop spa on arrival. Nathalie Delcos, the spa director, says: "Come and see us. We can design a spa journey for you, whether it's over three, five or seven days, to help you get the most out of all we have to offer. A full-moon massage on the rooftop terrace of the spa, or a detoxifying wrap... we can personalise your way to serenity."
Don't get so entranced by your villa with its luxury amenities and private plunge pool that you forget to visit the beach. There's a lot going on down on the white sand from introductions to the coral reef to "green golfing", where the golf balls dissolve in the sea into fish food.
Don't, whatever you do, miss the chocolate room, where the lowered temperature in the tropical heat allows the pastry chef to display filigree creations of white, milk and dark, with pistachios, strawberries, and gold. (Yes, I said gold.)
Escaping to a true island sanctuary: I feel profoundly lucky to have been invited to stay at this elegant resort, and to have enjoyed a fun time with some friendly journalists. We whizzed from one experience to the next via golf buggies captained by the politest of drivers; we experienced a guided snorkel in the morning waves to the coral reef; we climbed a mountain (okay, it may have been technically a hill) to enjoy some guided meditation; we worked out in the air-conditioned gym; we enjoyed a variety of spa delights including the Vaishaly Experience and an ila Kundalini Devi treatment, and had a pretty perfect pedicure; and we sampled some of the freshest local food the Seychelles has to offer.
We also took a little island hop to neighbouring Praslin where we hiked through the Vallee de Mai -- a primaeval forest full of Coco de Mer trees and one of two UNESCO World heritage sites in the Seychelles -- and admired Anse Lazio, often listed as one of the world's top ten beaches -- not surprisingly given its soft, white sands and blue/purple clear waters. From our first view of the resort on the spa rooftop on the day we arrived, to the final dinner on the white sands of beach, our visit to the Four Seasons Seychelles was a taste of Paradise.
Want to go?
The Good Spa Guide travelled to Seychelles courtesy of Air Seychelles and Four Seasons.
Air Seychelles flights to the island of Mahé depart from London Heathrow. No airline flies direct to the Seychelles – flights include a stop at Abu Dhabi airport. Visit airseychelles.com for current prices.