Banyan Tree Seychelles...a slice of island paradise
Natasha Hennings entered our Condé Nast Traveller competition and won a five-night holiday to the Seychelles, including flights. Here she shares details of her idyllic stay at the Banyan Tree hotel on Mahé, the largest island in this Indian Ocean archipelago.
Who did you fly with and how long was the journey?
We flew with Emirates. We had no delays and everything went very smoothly. The outgoing flight from Heathrow to Dubai was seven hours, with a two-hour wait in Dubai before catching the connecting flight to the Seychelles, which was four and a half hours. The stopover in Dubai went very quickly. We didn’t have time to shop there until the return journey when we had an extra hour between the connections.
The transfer to the hotel took half an hour and then a short wait before we could collapse in our villa. We were very tired by this stage but as soon as we were shown our accommodation we were taking photos of everything! We then went to check out the beach and the pool. We couldn't have been happier with our villa and the peaceful location.
Infinity pool, Banyan Tree Seychelles
You stayed in a beachfront pool villa, which sounds very luxurious. Did it live up to expectations?
The villa was very spacious, private and plush. It had everything we needed and we loved having our own pool and jacuzzi. Just a few steps and we were on the most beautiful beach, like something straight out of a magazine: turquoise seas, white sand, unusual granite rocks, palm trees everywhere and a lush, mountainous backdrop. It was truly stunning, like being in paradise! It wasn’t a private beach but it always felt quite empty. It was a little rough for swimming but it didn’t matter when we had our own private pool as well as the hotel’s stunning infinity pool to choose from. Our villa was right at the far end of the beach so it was very secluded.
Intendance Beach, Banyan Tree Seychelles
What facilities at the hotel would you particularly recommend?
I would highly recommend a visit to the spa, which is a short walk up through the hotel gardens to a peaceful area with beautiful views out over the treetops. Part of our prize was a complimentary massage; we sipped on fresh pineapple juice while we chose which massage to have. I chose the Balinese, which started with a soothing foot soak and scrub. We then lay on massage beds in the open air with just the sound of birds in the background. It was the best massage I’ve ever had. We finished with a rose tea and fruit.
Spa, Banyan Tree Seychelles
What were the dining options at the hotel?
There were three different restaurants to choose from as well as snacks by the pool and room service. Our breakfast was included and we had a huge amount of choice. It was always very tasty. We ate so much that it often felt more like lunch!
Restaurant Au Jardin d'Epices, Banyan Tree Seychelles
Did you try any tasty local dishes?
I’m vegetarian so I’m afraid I didn’t feel brave enough to try the local delicacy, which is fruit bat curry! Eating seaweed and noodles at breakfast was strange but the local banana jam, papaya jam and pineapple jam went down very well. The fruit was so fresh and delicious. I tried dragon fruit for the first time but didn’t find it very flavoursome. The oranges and mangoes were the best. Cool lemongrass tea was very sweet and deliciously refreshing. I also had a delicious guava dressing on a salad which I hadn’t had before.
Part of our prize was a private, in-villa barbecue. A chef came and set it all up and cooked for us. There were tea lights scattered around and petals…it looked incredibly pretty and romantic. We were served fresh salads and bread followed by barbecued fish and chicken (veggie burgers for me) alongside sides of grilled veg, rice, potatoes and chips. For dessert there was a platter of fresh tropical fruit, ice cream and chocolate mousse. All in all, it was probably enough to feed four rather than two!
Did you explore the rest of the island at all?
We took a tour of the island by booking a driver at reception. We visited the main town of Victoria, the botanical gardens and Eden Plaza marina in Roche Caiman. Along the way we drove through the mountains of Morne National Park with stops at a waterfall, various viewpoints and then a couple of beautiful beaches for a quick dip and snorkelling. It was a great way to see the rest of the island going about its daily life.
A highlight was the Sir Selwyn Clarke Market in Victoria, selling fresh fish, fruit and vegetables as well as spices and an array of more touristy items on the upper floor. The entrance was full of locals shouting out their wares and there was a very strong smell of fish! We also saw the Hindu temple, but only from the outside in case we weren’t suitably covered up.
Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, Victoria
We didn’t stay too long as we were keen to get to the botanical gardens in Mont Fleuri. These were very green and tropical, almost jungle-like in places, with lots of unusual trees including the legendary Coco de Mer, a rare species of palm tree with huge seeds that is native to the Seychelles.
I’m glad we made the decision to take a tour with a driver rather than hire a car as the traffic in Victoria was quite daunting and the roads into Morne National Park were so steep and winding, often with no barriers and quite a drop to the side.
What was the most inspirational moment of your holiday?
The highlight for us was watching a Hawksbill turtle come ashore just below our beachfront villa to lay her eggs. I have never seen turtle tracks in the sand before! The next day we helped the conservation team move all 167 eggs to a safer location. It was wonderful to be involved in this and we learnt so much from Rebecca, a member of the conservation team. They liked us to get involved and this was something we didn’t expect at all.
Hawksbill turtle eggs
And how would you rate our service at Cox & Kings?
It has been quite some time since I last travelled abroad so my questions must have been a bit annoying at times! Everyone at Cox & Kings was so friendly and helpful though…always very quick to reply to my questions, which was most reassuring. Everything went so smoothly with all the arrangements taken care of. Thank you so much for organising a real trip of a lifetime.
Cox & Kings can arrange private, tailor-made travel to numerous islands within the Seychelles, or combine it with a private tour to Kenya's top widlife spots. To find out more, please either call one of our specialist Africa travel consultants or complete our tailor-made request form and one of our experts will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.