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The Seychelles

O p e n , O p u l e n t & O r g a n i c

The Seychelles Isles has long held high esteem as one of the world’s best destinations for idyllic beach utopian scenes perfect for isolation, high-end accommodation & unique insta-profile fodder. Like most Indian ocean destinations the Seychelles isles are synonymous with giant granite stone formations, turquoise bays, exotic marine life & sprawling fauna. So the opportunity to explore, taste and capture the island's bounty through a lens has long been a life goal. Fortunate I’m now able to tick said box & hopefully convince you to embark on a similar pilgrimage, albeit with a guide & heads-up for what to expect and look for. My family’s excursion to tropical paradise was made that bit sweeter by pitching up at the opulent Constance Ephelia, one of the Constance chain's 7 luxurious high-end resorts spread across Indian Ocean locations Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles & the Maldives.

In this iteration of the travel guides/reviews I'll cover The Constance Ephelia, Dubai Airport, Childcare, Marine National Park Port Lanauy, 5x Resort Restaurants, 2x Islander Restaurants, Zee Bar, U spa, Transport, 3x Alternative Beaches, The Hotel Kempinski, Eden Island & Victoria's Botanical Gardens.

T h e C o n s t a n c e E p h e l i a

P o r t L a u n a y R d , M a h é , S e y c h e l l e s

The Mahe Island resort boasts the largest spa in the Indian Ocean, centennial tortoises, zip lines, decedent cuisine, water sports, an outstanding kids club, 2 private beaches, protected marine life & lagoon, as well as family, hillside & presidential villas. All explored via round the clock golf-carts that ferry you & your dearest across a breathtaking 120 hectares of manicured natural grounds. Not to mention bats & a complimentary room gecko.

This summary of my stay on the Island & resort will cover the journey to & from the UK or Europe, the island’s practical’s such as currency, transport tips, the reception from the people of Mahe, Kids provisions, the resort’s customer service and some things to see & do beyond the confines of the resort.

J o u r n e y

D u b a i A i r p o r t

A i r p o r t R o a d , 2 5 2 5 , D u b a i , U A E

Just a short detail on the small subject of the journey from the UK to the Seychelles. There are a number of routes to the Seychelles. You may have the option to fly straight there from wherever you are, but if possible I'd highly recommend travelling via Dubai. A Dubai stop-over sets the tone for arriving at one of the worlds foremost luxury destinations. The Dubai airport is unique in scale & amenities. This state of the art behemoth is a testament to Emirati style & flair, a benchmark for those renovating or designing future airports. The indoor waterfalls, the synchronicity of reflective metal lifts that double as contemporary works of art, the cylindrical pillars wrapped in LCD screens, and of course the expansive choice of flag-ship brands.

The opulence & class is something to behold, so be sure to reserve a substantial space in your hand luggage & wallet for all the duty free loot your likely to find en route to your terminal. Note to the wise. When booking your transfer, try not to have too quick an interconnecting flight. Emirate's handling of our transfer was somewhat chaotic due to a very small window between connecting flights. We really had to have our wits about us to ensure we didn’t miss our flight. The journey back on the other hand was a totally different experience. With plenty of time to spare, we were able to swan about the two huge shopping areas care-free.

Its also worth noting the A380 airbus is one of, if not the best flight experience available today. Seat pitch, food quality, in-flight entertainment & customer service were all excellent. Better than our prior experiences with Thai-Airways, Virgin , British Airways & American Airlines.

C h i l d c a r e

Ephelia Kids Club

The main reason for choosing the Ephelia was it’s outstanding effort to accommodate young families. Most resort's kid’s clubs cater for children 6 plus, sometimes older. Children of relatively low maintenance who can wipe their own rear-ends and regulate their own emotions (to an extent!). Leaving very young families like mine with a 4 year old at a loose end trying to find quality adult time to re-connect & unwind without the cacophony of pre-school toy's sound fx & Disney movie playlists on repeat for two weeks. Not to mention the emotional and physical drain that is entertaining a 4 year old with no siblings or playmates. Without doubt I can emphatically recommend & applaud this service & it's staff for what is the best Kid's club experience I've seen to date. With provisions for kids ranging 4-11 the club provides such all-day amenities as a swimming pool, indoor & outdoor-covered play areas with soft-play, computer games, imagination spaces with playhouses, kitchenettes & tool stations, Arts & crafts, interactive games, plus educational beach trips & adventures to learn about local plants & animals i.e crab spotting and tortoise feeding. Not to mention kiddy zip-lining. None of which is chargeable! The Club is well staffed at all times, highly organised and most importantly, Punctual! Which is paramount if you're trying to make a morning class or treatment. The vast indoor and outdoor areas are kept clean, modern & presented every bit as premium as the surrounding resort.

T h e G r o u n d s

Marine National Park Port Launay Cove Panoramic

The resort grounds are vast, featuring architecture that compliments the surrounding landscape. Single story earthy coloured huts with either thatched or stone tiled roofs sit low & unobtrusive to the landscape allowing you to survey the surrounding hills in all their majesty, as if you were ship wrecked on an island paradise with all the luxuries & conveniences of modern civilisation. This design principle is commonplace across the resort allowing nature to take center stage. During our stay the resort was at 80% capacity, but between beaches, restaurants, the gym & spa I couldn’t say I struggled for space or privacy. However, you'd be advised to arrive early at the more coveted parts of the North Beach to snag the day beds closest to the shore if a tan is your goal, This should ensure you catch adequate UV rays & sea-breeze. I personally can’t stand direct tropical sunlight. It’s just too intense for a lad accustomed to the London climate. In terms of navigation, The Ephelia provides modified golf carts that carry up to 8 people at a time to expedite your journey across the resort. However, once you’re familiar with the layout & discover a few shortcuts you're likely to prefer a walk from your room to the nearest beach depending on your proximity. If seawater & sand isn’t you’re thing then any one of the numerous swimming pools close to the apartment rooms is a perfect alternative. With water toys, a shower & shallow ends, these areas work better for families, so pitch up here with your young ones, as they’re likely to make friends they’ll see again at the kids club. If you don’t have kids then noise cancelling headphones is a good shout for obvious reasons. If you have the budget, a villa or hillside suite is the way to go if seclusion and privacy is your aim. This being the Seychelles, the hillside views over the bay are breathtaking!

Our 2nd floor apartment came with a 40inch flat screen with apple TV, access to a current blockbuster library & selection of channels. The bathrooms are very spacious with his & hers sinks in front of an oversized Jacuzzi bath tub large enough for two. The resort will provide a small single size bed for your little one and your room still won’t feel cramped. The interior decor features warm earthy neutral tones, plenty of wood and beige with art canvasses I'd assume inspired or supplied by local artists. Then of course there's that balcony! I'd suggest requesting a 2nd floor room at check-in. The balconies are huge, with sofas, armchairs and great views over the surrounding gardens facing the sea.

M a r i n e N a t i o n a l P a r k P o r t L a n a u y

S o u t h B e a c h

Marine National Park Port Launay South Beach Panoramic

This amazing sea horizon of the South Beach can be viewed through the trees from Corossal the main restaurant. Being the calmer option of the resorts two main beaches you won't find any day beds here as you will along the north beach shore. This is where the brides come for their photoshoots, & so will you if photo opportunities are a priority. At low tide you can wade out at least 100 meters, but be advised the further out you go the more jellyfish you'll find, so don't get caught out. The only seating here are a few scattered day beds set back beneath the tree canopy & the odd bench swing, beware the calling coconuts. This beach is perfect for a private picnic, reading a book or daily mindfulness.

Marine National Park Port Launay South Beach Low Tide Panoramic A

Walk through the trees pictured above and emerge to this view of the beach at low tide. A wonder along the South Beach alone or with loved ones is a humbling experience. The surrounding mountains meet the clouds, occasionally piercing them allowing sun rays to streak through at an angle. You're surrounded by a balmy haze that strips away the stresses of worldly concerns. This is the beach you paid for in my humble opinion.

To your far left you'll find the swimming pools closest to the apartment blocks, set back behind an elevated bank. Alternatively, look to the far right for a steep trail that leads uphill to the resort's helipad where you'll find awesome views over the bay area, and another trail back downhill to some secluded coves.

Rarely will you find such openess & opportunity for privacy at a single resort, these options cator for restless souls not concerned with sunbathing allowing exploration for days at a time. I could have spent a week alone exploring the mountain trails, fitness challenges & ruins. Just be advised these areas are not patrolled by resort personnel. So you explore at your own peril.

N o r t h B e a c h

Marine National Park Port Launay North Beach Panoramic

The North Beach is where all the action is during the day. You’ll find two beach side restaurants, a mini bar, water-sports, kids climbing frame, life size chess, a gift shop & library all overlooked by a hillside canopy from Jurassic Park.

This is also where the majority of beach side day-beds can be found, with some set back under the cover of trees for those less keen on melting. The aforementioned amenities are all within a minute or so by foot, in view of family villas set back from the interlinking walkway. The North Beach is essentially the ying to the South Beach's yang. This is where you'll see stewardesses from emirates or virgin hanging out during their layovers. This is also were you tend to see paddle boards and snorkels owing to the variety of sea life found beneath the waves of this protected marine park.

Port Launay North Beach Sundown Panoramic

S e s e l w y n

Seselwyn Restaurant Panoramic

One of the three A La Carte Restaurants, Seselwyn has a bar, a sit-down dining area. Or If you don't want to sit within the immediate restaurant area you have the option of large lounge arm chairs with coffee tables amongst the sand. Seselwyn is a Creole themed affair offering delicious grilled seafood. ‘Catch of the Day’ dishes must be tried at least once during your stay. Seselwyn also runs a breakfast spread in tandem with Corrosol (the more popular breakfast destination), & as this is 1 of 2 restaurants situated on the busy North Beach strip it's an ideal destination for brunch & lunch. During the day I’d almost always opt for a burger or fish & chips out of habit, but I'd advise being more adventurous than me.

Seselwyn Bar

Seselwyn's bar isn’t huge but it stocks the essentials. Despite coming alive at lunch, we never found ourselves waiting for a table at Seselwyn. The only annoyance to mention is the flies, they’re notoriously fast & persistent! be sure to lather your extremities in repellent, or ensure your kung-fu is strong.

Seselwyn Restaurant Approach

Of an evening Seselwyn entertains with live creole musicians providing a taste of Seychellelois culture. If you’re based on the other side of the island as we were, you may not want to make the trip. With a four-year old child we chose to enjoy most evenings in our room. Putting the little one to bed reasonably early so my partner & I could "reconnect". But, if you'd prefer to be out late socialising or just hanging out, there are always babysitters available?

C y a n n

At the furthest end of the north beach tucked away in a little corner is Cyann, the most expensive restaurant at The Ephelia. With it's walk-in wine library & in-house sommelier, an evening at Cyann is where you pull out the ring & savoir-faire. The Ephelia also does well to encourage social mingling of guests by hosting evening soirees where you'll meet the management team and other key resort personnel accompanied by champagne & entrees. Some guests show up in their day wear, most uncouth, but we kept it suave and made the effort to dressed up (little man included). Standards people!

Cyan Restaurant Outdoor Seating Area

Cyann also features a rustic outdoor seating area with wild foliage backdrop overlooking the paradisaical Port Launay Marine Park Bay (North Beach). Intermittent rays of sunlight penetrate the tree canopy that overhangs these outdoor dining tables, offering respite from the Indian ocean sun. This end of the beach is probably the best area for a snooze, read or laptop admin. It's quiet, not far from a WC, close to sand showers, & a stone’s throw from a towel hut, plus it's close to the Cabana for cocktails, milkshakes & ice cream. You tend to find very few younger children here too, they're drawn to the climbing frame at the opposite end of the strip.

For lunch you must try the sushi with orange caviar & squid ink burger. I’m a self confessed burger fiend with a love for seafood, so the novelty of trying a dyed squid-ink bun with subtle hints of sea-food paired with melted cheese, steak burger & salad couldn't be turned down. The burger was pretty good. It needs to be tried rather than described as different palettes are sure to interpret the subtleties differently. The restaurant’s evening dining experience also lives up to the hype. I spoke earlier of good form, so during our Cyann meal I left the camera & savored the moment. Expect pan-asian cuisine prepared to very high culinary standards, paired with world-class wines.

H e l i o s