2. Emirates Lounge at SFO
3. Emirates First Class San Francisco to Dubai
4. Conrad Dubai
5. Old Dubai, Ski Dubai, and At the Top
6. Emirates Terminal B First Class Lounge at DXB
7. Emirates First Class Dubai to Mahe, Seychelles
8. Four Seasons Seychelles
9. Air Seychelles Economy Class Mahe to Praslin
10. Raffles Praslin Seychelles
11. Island Hopping – La Digue
12. Island Hopping – Praslin, Cousine, Curieuse, St. Pierre
13. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa
14. Emirates Business Class Mahe, Seychelles to Dubai
15. 7-Star Luxury at the Burj Al Arab
16. British Airways Lounge at DXB
17. Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai to Los Angeles via Hong Kong
18. 2014 BAcon Conference in Las Vegas + Mandalay Bay Hotel
19. American Express Centurion Lounge at LAS
After nearly 24 hours of flying which took us halfway across the world, who would have guessed that the final hour would be the most eventful. Transportation in the Seychelles is ridiculously expensive and relatively complicated, enough that it warrants its own how-to guide which I plan to write shortly after this trip report.
The roads in the Seychelles were actually in better shape than I was expecting, and driving on the “wrong” side of the road wasn’t that difficult. I already had my first taste of left-side driving in Australia last year, and told my wife to shout out “stay on the left” every 15 seconds until I got the hang of things again.
But there were two other things that combined to provide some serious near-death terror.
First, while all of the main roads are paved, they only have one lane in each direction and each one is roughly 25% narrower than a typical lane in the US. On top of that, there are some really narrow stretches with all of the twists, turns, and blind corners that you can handle. A lot of these sections are along the coast where there are absolutely no guard rails. So while you have perfect, unobstructed views of the beautiful turquoise waters, you’re literally inches from taking your car for a swim.
Combine that with the second piece, which I’ll describe with just one word: TATA. That’s the sign on the front of the huge blue Tata Motors-branded buses that will be forever tattooed in my mind after watching several of those buses come flying toward us. In fact, I’m convinced that these buses do not have brakes, since I only saw them go at two speeds: really fast and super fast. They do not stop, they do not budge, and they will drive in the middle of the road with the expectation that you will swerve out of the way.
There were a few instances where they came around on blind corners like NASCAR drivers on those narrow coastal roads, and honestly scared the living daylight out of us. In total, we probably had 4-5 close calls throughout our three days of driving, with each one leaving us completely terrified.
Perhaps that’s why most of the other guests of the Four Seasons had opted for the hotel car service or taxi. We breathed a huge sigh of relief upon seeing the Four Seasons sign, drove past the security gate and into the parking lot. A buggy came by shortly to swoop us up and take us to the lobby for check-in.
First impressions? The hotel is absolutely gorgeous and oozes luxury, but in a subtle way, or basically the opposite of the Emirates ‘bling and gold” style.
The resort was literally carved out of the side of a granite mountain in a process that took over 5 years and is on the smaller side with just a total of just 67 villas. Other than the residences, all of the guest villas are all identical, with room categories differentiated solely based on the location and view.
We jumped out of the buggy and walked into the lobby where we got our first taste of the stunning views of Petite Anse down below. This is essentially a private beach for Four Seasons guests, as non-guests would need to access the beach via boat. I really enjoyed the lobby decor which was colorfully and elegantly decorated.
During check-in we received a brief overview of the resort, along with a listing of the daily activities throughout the week, and confirmation of the Virtuoso benefits we’d receive as part of our booking which included daily breakfast and a $100 food and beverage credit. The check-in process was very efficient and afterwards we jumped back in the buggy which took us to our room.
We had booked a Hilltop View Villa, which is the highest room category, and were assigned to Villa #112 which is along the “Cotton Walk” street. Since the resort is so big, the street names are used to help guests navigate their way around and provide frame of reference for where they are.
While all of the villa layouts are identical, each one had a slightly different entrance from the main road. Ours was just a short distance away across a relatively flat wooden walkway. Some villas literally had a 3-story staircase leading up to the room, which I’m sure provided some spectacular views, but could also prove tiresome. To the extent that a difficult climb to your villa could potentially be an issue, I’d make sure to send a note ahead of time.
Upon crossing the walkway, on the left-hand side there was a roofed day bed equipped with lighting as well as a ceiling fan. On the right-hand side was the outdoor deck which spanned two levels. The first level had a patio with table and chairs and direct access to the plunge pool. Down below on the second level there were two sun beds which we actually didn’t use at all, since they were directly under the sun during the day with no cover.
We were having such a fun time hanging out in the outdoor space that we didn’t even get around to entering the room for the next half hour. We finally made our way through the colorful blue door and into the villa.
The decor is again subtlety stylish and elegant, with the entire focus of the room aimed toward the views. Between the indoor and outdoor space, the villa really is quite large which was important since each day we probably spent about half the day at the villa.
In the living room there was a nice chocolate amenity welcome gift waiting for us along with a welcome note from the GM. Throughout the stay the GM was very visible as he welcomed us during check-in, hosted a cocktail hour one of the nights, and would routinely see him walking around during the day to make sure everything was in order.
There was plenty of bottled water provided, along with complimentary tea and Nespresso coffee.
The living room flows into the bedroom where there is a large king bed as well as a sitting/reading area and workspace that both face out toward the ocean. The bed was equipped with mosquito nets which were setup for us each night as part of turn down service. We didn’t find them to be necessary as mosquitoes were not an issue at all during our visit.
The bathroom featured double vanities, indoor and outdoor showers, and the most amazing bathtub I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. The tub is huge and outfitted in gray marble that is just plain sexy. And the views from the tub are simply breathtaking. The only thing between you and the ocean are floor-to-ceiling windows providing unobstructed views, and was the best place on the entire resort to enjoy the sunset each night.
The resort is huge and very hilly, so even though we are generally more than happy to walk, we relied on the buggy service which was always prompt and reliable. I’ll get to the beach in a bit, but in general the primary resort facilities are the pool and the spa.
The pool is located right next to the beach, and features a huge saltwater pool. Compared to the beach, the pool was always less crowded and it was always easy to find a sun bed. Next to the pool, there is also a children’s play center and in general we found the resort to be very kid-friendly for those that are looking for a family getaway.
At the very top of the resort is the spa which had the best views that we came across in the entire resort. We had booked a couples massage one afternoon, and after hanging out in the reception area, we were led downstairs to the treatment rooms. I believe they have 6 treatments rooms, each of which is a standalone building with massage room and shower facilities. Our massage was very nice and relaxing, but not necessarily one of the best we’ve ever had.
There are a couple other facilities right next to the spa, including the yoga pavilion. On most days there are at least 1-2 complimentary yoga and Pilates classes, along with another featured class in which a 10 Euro fee per person is charged.
Unlike other resorts where there is typically just one type of yoga (usually Hatha) offered to all guests, there truly is some variety here with at least 4-5 different types of yoga classes. We only had time for 1 during our stay which ended up being the Power Yoga class and was a legitimate workout that had me sweating like crazy. As an added bonus, my wife and I were the only people in the class which meant that we essentially had a private class. Only downside of that was getting a lot of personal attention from the instructor, which meant that he corrected every pose I was doing incorrectly, which happened to be all of them.
Lastly, since the spa is located at the top of the resort, they have built a rooftop deck which features the very best views. While it was really hot up there during the day, the spa was actually advertising special “twilight” massages on the rooftop deck at night when it cooled down.
There was intermittent rain throughout the days, which provided a good opportunity to head indoors and utilize the fitness center located near the lobby. There are four treadmills in one room which overlooked the ocean, along with another larger room with good modern equipment including weight machines and dumbbells. Along with water and towels, there was a beetroot energy drink and homemade granola bars available to snack on.
Given that this is a beach resort, as you can imagine the beach was the main activity. While beautiful to look at, there was actually only a small section in the middle of the beach marked off by buoys that was deemed swimmable. It’s a pretty long stretch of beach, but the majority of the sun beds are located on one end closer to the pool. During the middle of the day, it definitely gets quite crowded here.
There was a beach equipment hut which provided complimentary rentals of kayaks, pedal boats, snorkeling gear, and boogie boards for guests to use. Stand-up paddle boards and surfboards were available to rent for an additional cost, and there was also a dive center on-site which we unfortunately weren’t able to find time to visit.
We grabbed some snorkeling gear and headed over toward the rocks and coral which was the best area for snorkeling. Overall, we just didn’t find that much to see here, and it certainly wasn’t a calm and relaxing experience due to the waviness of the beach.
However, the waviness of the beach made it absolutely perfect for boogie boarding. Surprisingly, we were the only ones who did this, and must have made quite the spectacles of ourselves as we washed up on shore over and over. This was by far the most fun activity and we must have done it for hours on end, day after day. In general, the crowd here was on the lazier side, opting to just lay out and catch rays while reading.
All along the beach there as beach service provided which included complimentary ice water along with an assortment of small treats throughout the day such as chocolate smoothies or frozen grapes.
And of course, one of the main activities while on a beach resort is watching the sun set each night. It happens every single day, but yet the only time I seem to think about it is while on holiday. For the most part we would head back to our room to catch the sunset while relaxing in the pool or hot tub. Sunset usually coincided with the time of day when the rain would really start to pick up.
Unlike the Maldives where you are typically confined to the resort, the Seychelles is all about exploration. There are a ton of beaches along the coast in Mahe Island, as well as a huge national park in the middle of the island.
As much as we were enjoying the resort, we got a little stir crazy at times and took our car out for a spin around the island. It was fun to beach-hop and explore some of the other areas. We also wanted to take a hike through Morne Seychellois National Park, and everyone we talked to and everything we read came back with the recommendation of the Morne Blanc trail.
Trust me, if you do one hike in Mahe, do this one. It’s a pretty grueling 30 minute uphill climb to the top, and is constantly wet due to the rain which can make it slippery. After finally making it all the way to the top, I was completely soaked with sweat, at which point the skies completely opened up with a huge torrential downpour. It was a complete white-wash and we couldn’t see anything in front of us.
Luckily, and as we had grown accustomed to at this point, these are just passing rain showers in the Seychelles and weather can change in an instant. After just 5 minutes, we were back to beautiful blue skies, and we could soak in the spectacular views from Morne Blanc.
Food and Beverage
The Four Seasons has two restaurant options, ZEZ and Kannel, but each also has a separate annex or bar area, which effectively turns them into four restaurants.
Kannel restaurant is located near the pool and is where we had our first dinner. The focus here is on fresh seafood, especially the fresh fish or catch of the day. We opted for the steamed catch of the day but make the mistake of not pre-ordering, which meant that it was about a 1.5 hour wait before our food was ready. We had gotten up at 4AM that day due to jet lag and having traveled from Dubai were pretty tired at this point. So by the time we finally received our food we just wolfed it down and let. That explains the lack of pictures which is just shameful for someone who’s blog is focused on food!
From what I recall, it was pretty unremarkable meal. While extremely fresh, the fish was pretty bland and was served with rice and a tomato-based Creole sauce. Perhaps we were still getting accustomed to “island time” but the service felt slow at times, and wasn’t very polished. For example, we were just halfway through our fish but had finished the bowl of tomato sauce. Instead of asking us if we’d like more sauce, the waitress simply took the bowl away, leaving us sauce-less for the last half of the fish.
The third night we ate at the Kannel Bar which is next door to the restaurant and open throughout the day. It’s a much more laid-back vibe and a perfect place to chill out and grab a bite. After a long day of hiking and boogie boarding we ordered up a feast which included a seafood pizza and fish and chips. This was probably the best meal we had at the resort, as the fish and chips in particular were just amazing. But once again, shamefully I have no pictures from the meal.
ZEZ restaurant is the more formal dining option, but nothing on the menu really jumped out to us and we opted not to eat here during our stay. However, on the 2nd night we decided to eat at ZEZ Bar next door for the sushi dinner.
During check-in, one of the staff members hinted that the sushi in the Seychelles is 2nd only to Japan as best in the world. So we were really looking forward to validating that claim, which as it turns out was just completely false. Overall, while the fish was clearly super fresh, it was pretty average sushi meal, and certainly not as good as the places we have locally in the SF Bay Area.
ZEZ restaurant is also the site for breakfast buffet each morning. The breakfast buffet here was pretty solid, and each day had a mix of western choices and Asian choices, along with a large selection of pastries, fresh fruits, cheeses, and salads. It’s not quite as indulgent as some of the other breakfast buffets we’ve had, but perhaps that was a good thing as we didn’t find ourselves over-eating.
We made the mistake of selecting the outdoor patio seating on the 1st day, and quickly realize why nobody else was out there. We were swarmed by the birds who were relentless in their pursuit of our food, even coming over and literally sticking their beaks in our faces.