Tim Ecott, The Daily Telegraph, October 04, 2014
There are other luxuriant forested islands with white beaches lapped by warm shimmering waves. But the Seychelles is sexy. The humid air is filled with intoxicating scents and the sensuously shaped boulders free the visitor to indulge the senses like never before. Giant coco-de-mer palm trees have become a symbol of these 115 islands adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean almost exactly on the equator and 1,000 miles from the east coast of Africa. Discovered by the 1960’s 'jet-set’ the islands now host the modern equivalents: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, Salma Hayek and husband Francois-Henri Pinault and even, the Beckhams. If you’re that famous the Seychelles government will even help keep the paparazzi at bay. For mere mortals the islands offer truly glorious natural beauty, clear seas and a vibrant creole culture. Tim Ecott, a frequent visitor to the islands, picks his 10 most romantic places to stay:
1. Frégate Island
Frégate has just 16 large, very private villas each with its own pool. There are seven beaches – all of them gorgeous, and at least one can be reserved for private use each day with meals and drinks transported by the staff at the time of your choosing. The real charm of the island is its granite outcrops and resident turtles, tortoises, flying foxes and the feeling of being immersed in a tropical dream.
All-inclusive villa stays from £3,400 per night.
Frégate Island (00 49 7221 900 8071; fregate.com )
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2. North Island
Wills and Kate chose this one for their honeymoon – their second trip to Seychelles. The emphasis is on putting the guests in touch with the archipelago’s natural beauty – and the island has been restored to its pure ecological state. Just 11 villas (one presidential) have all been carefully styled to induce a sense of natural balance with nature. Fabulous views of nearby Silhouette Island and long, brilliant white beaches make it very much a place for people in love.
All-inclusive villa stays from £2,026 per night.
North Island (00 248 4 293 100; north-island.com )
Read more: Best Maldives islands
3. Denis Island
Unlike North or Frégate, Ile Denis (pronounced the French way – 'denee’) is a coral island, a flat palm-fringed lozenge of sand by a lagoon and located on the edge of the deepwater drop-off – making it a haven for fishing and diving. Uniquely, the island produces almost all of its own food – organically, and the Seychellois owners make everyone feel like a genuine guest. They call it 'the island at the end of the world’, and its one of the most peaceful spots on earth.
All-inclusive villa stays from £665 per night.
Denis Island (00 248 428 8963; denisisland.com )
4. The Sunset Beach Hotel, Mahé
This small locally run hotel is a delight. A memorable pool and bar built into the rocks overlooks the small but perfect 'Sunset Beach’. Not as ultra-luxurious as the private island resorts, it still has a friendly atmosphere and is perfect for exploring the main island of Mahé, yet retains a sense of peace and quiet. Swimming off the beach and watching the sun sink into the Indian Ocean at dusk is a magical experience.
Seven nights’ b& b in an Ocean View Room from £2,900 per couple.
The Sunset Beach Hotel (00 248 261111; thesunsethotelgroup.com )
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5. Desroches Island, Amirantes
Desroches is 280 kms south of Mahé in the Amirantes group. Exploring the island paths by bicycle is a favourite activity while snorkelling and kayaking are easy from the beach in front of the villas which have an elegant outdoor-indoor appeal. There’s a castaway feel to the island and although there are family sized villas on-site, the island is easily big enough to find a secluded spot to enjoy the endless vista of the ocean.
Seven nights’ from £3,659 per person, including flights from the UK and transfers.
Desroches Island (00 248 4229 003; desroches-island.com )
6. Cousine Island
Cousine covers more than 60 acres but takes a maximum of just eight guests. The owners have dedicated the island to nature and encouraged breeding populations of sooty and fairy terns, and critically endangered magpie robins as well as green and hawksbill turtle nests. Hiring the whole island for a combined wedding and honeymoon is popular, the villas are huge. Small doesn’t mean basic – there is a spa, a fabulous pool and panoramic views of distant islands all around.
All-inclusive villa stays from £1,178 per night.
Cousine Island (00 248 4321107; cousineisland.com )
Read more: things to do in the Maldives
7. Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Mahé
Perched precipitously on the lush slopes of Mahé, the resort overlooks one of the finest swimming beaches in all of Seychelles. Villas are designed to ensure privacy, with exquisite plunge pools and spectacular bathrooms. Everything is perfectly appointed and mingling with other guests is optional. Many guests simply never feel the need to leave the resort.
Villas from £765 per night, including breakfast.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (00 248 439 3000; fourseasons.com/seychelles )
8. Domaine de L’Orangeraie, La Digue
La Digue remains traffic free and has a distinctively romantic atmosphere, the overwhelming majority of the visitors being couples. Domaine de L’Orangeraie has a French ambience, and honeymooners should take the villas de charme (hillside rooms) in preference to the garden villas. Made of wood and snuggled into the boulders the villas look out to sea and have a unique tree house, albeit luxurious, feel. A short walk down to the elegant pool terrace takes you to a setting that wouldn’t be out of place on the Cote d’Azure.
'Villa de charme’ rooms from £326 per night, including breakfast.
Domaine de L’Orangeraie (00 248 429 9999; orangeraie.sc )
Read more: Top 10 guides to..
9. Chateau de Feuilles, Praslin
It’s not directly on the beach, but the views from the hillside at the Chateau de Feuilles make up for it. The hotel gives each room a free car for the short journey to the beach – though it’s easily walkable too. With just nine rooms there is never a feeling that you’re sharing the property with too many other travellers. The rooms are luxurious and the 'chateau’ has the special advantage of offering trips to its own private island – Grande Soeur, just offshore.
Double rooms from £326 per room per night, including breakfast.
Chateau de Feuilles (00 248 429 0000; chateaudefeuilles.com )
10. La Reserve, Praslin
La Reserve sits directly on Anse Petite Coeur on Seychelles second largest island. Praslin is home to the unique and erotic coco-de-mer forest and there are several offshore island excursions available that show off the best of the archipelago’s nature. With only 40 rooms the resort is designed for couples - 'colonial villas’ are the best.
Standard villas from £306 per room per night, half-board.
La Reserve (00 248 429 8000; domainedelareserve.sc )
Map compiled by Belinda Maude
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This article was written by Tim Ecott from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.