For the busy executive looking to wind down a few gears, Raffles Praslin in the Seychelles – and its animal inhabitants – can show the way to a truly relaxing state of being
The 500-or-so giant tortoises that crawl over Curieuse Island in the Indian Ocean have, no mistaking it, an easy life. Some may have been here since Queen Victoria was on the throne (meaning they’ve been of pensionable age since the mid-1960s) with the centennial creatures spending their 100-year-odd existence doing nothing more than plodding around the granite island, chewing stray bits of grass and gazing at the beautiful, no-Instagram-filter-necessary views.
After racking up a near-zero mileage during our stay at Raffles Praslin Seychelles on Praslin island (Curieuse is a 20-minute ride away on the resort’s Sunseeker speedboat, seen in the Bond film Quantum of Solace) it’s easy to feel like you’re morphing into a tortoise too. Which is hardly surprising given that the resort actively encourages guests to be as lazy as possible.
Holidaying at Raffles Praslin usually entails little more than a triathlon of sunbathing, lounging in your villa’s infinity plunge pool or being ferried around in golf carts all day. There’s even a 24-hour butler, ready to accommodate your every whim, whether it’s preparing an in-villa breakfast or helping with last-minute packing woes. He’ll pop up where you least expect him. Go to one of the island’s beaches and your personal valet might be waiting when you arrive, serving canapés and champagne on ice.
Then there’s the Raffles Spa. Director sampled a stone therapy-like treatment using polished seashells at one of the spa’s 13 ‘treatment pavilions’, all with dream-like Indian Ocean views. There are ‘spa suites’ with steam showers, Japanese soaking tubs and observation decks. Pearls, which are native to Seychellois waters, are a central motif of many of the spa’s treatments, such as Pure Pearl, whereby pearl powder is used for exfoliation. Guests can have their tendons kneaded aboard a yacht or in their villa as part of a massage package.
Of course, such slothfulness is greatly enhanced by the archipelago’s natural beauty. The Tracy Island-like rock formations and soft pink sands of Anse Source d’Argent beach on La Digue island (a 20-minute ride away from the resort – the aforementioned speedboat can be used for a suitably 007-esque arrival at the Bond villain-like lair) are frequently bestowed with all manner of ‘World’s Best Beach’ plaudits, by everybody from the Daily Telegraph to National Geographic. Readers may recognise its glacial boulders and jade waters from the 1980s Bounty ads or Oliver Reed film Castaway.
On Praslin itself, there’s Anse Lazio, recently voted one of the world’s top 10 beaches in a TripAdvisor poll, where our faithful butler helpfully set up a relaxing picnic one afternoon. But the more actively inclined have plenty to distract them too. Guests at Raffles Praslin can fish for marlin, yellowfin tuna and kingfish on one of the resort’s half-day deep-sea fishing trips.
You can cycle or travel by ox cart around sleepy La Digue, taking in its cinnamon and vanilla plantations. Meanwhile, on Praslin, you can trek the prehistoric rainforests of Vallée de Mai, a Unesco world heritage site, and home to the endemic coco de mer palm (the world’s heaviest nut that can live up to 400 years). The rainforest is also home to the Seychelles Black Parrot, which responds when you whistle.
Ever since the Raffles hotel opened in Singapore in 1887, its name has been a byword for luxury. The Seychelles outlet pays homage to its colonial forebear via the gin-and-coconut-milk-laced Praslin Sling cocktail, a tribute to the Singapore Sling invented in Raffles Singapore. Guests can request private beach BBQs, sunset cruises or the chance to spend a night ‘glamping’ in a four-bedroom lodge on the birdwatcher’s paradise of Aride Island, which was once owned by the Cadbury family.
Director spent a morning on Aride channelling our inner Attenborough, watching a turtle give birth, admiring great frigatebirds soaring overhead and trying to spot the elusive Seychelles magpie-robin. Our non-existent ornithological knowledge was aided by the Praslin Raffles concierge, a local cove called Bernard Lucas, who was a like a walking Wikipedia on his homeland.
Meanwhile, the resort’s 86 villas are so voluminous, an entire football XI (along with around 20 giant tortoises) could lodge there. Most of our time was spent on the villa’s sun deck, using its 10sqm plunge pool and outdoor shower. Mooch around the villa and you could unearth other hidden gems, such as yoga mats, easel sketchpads and a butler’s pantry.
Twenty-four-hour in-room dining is also available, but it’s worth heading to the Raffles Praslin’s restaurants, such as the Mediterranean-flavoured Losean, which can be hired privately for a chef’s table dinner, or the pan-Asian fare of Curieuse restaurant. Roam around the resort and you’ll also find a pool restaurant serving fresh seafood, plus a sushi bar.
Given the stress-busting ambience of Raffles Praslin and its surrounding archipelago, it’s no surprise guests are enveloped with a fresh sense of calm and rejuvenation. No wonder those giant tortoises over on Curieuse island live so long.
Getting there – Return flights to the Seychelles with Emirates start at £651.17 (from Heathrow via Dubai). To book visit emirates.com.
Or book through WEXAS Travel (iod.com/ traveloffers or call 020 7838 5976).
Accommodation – Stay at Raffles Praslin Seychelles from €600 (£469, including taxes) per villa per night, based on single/double occupancy in a hillside pool villa on a B&B basis. All experiences are extra.