As discerning travellers look further afield for new, uncharted destinations and unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences NINE's CEO, Timmy Coles-Liddle, shares his trio of the Indian Ocean’s sleekest and dreamiest private islands.
Better known for its giant, gnarly boulders, aquamarine waters and luxury resorts, the Seychelles is made up of 115 islands and are home to some of the world’s most diverse flora and fauna, including giant tortoises, ground-nesting birds and vivid green lizards. Like many of our planet’s most extraordinary locations, the threat of over-development by humans has been and remains a constant concern, however, resorts such as the infamous North Island and Fregate Island Private have introduced strict conservation programs, which are proving hugely successful. Threatened species including sea turtles, Seychellois blue pigeons, Magpie Robins and land tortoises are now thriving. Breeding populations of wedge-tailed shearwaters and white-tailed tropicbirds have retuned of their own accord. This is testament to the hard work and dedication of the resorts’ staff, locals and conservations specialists’ continued efforts.
A number of years in the making, and hot on the heals of Portugal’s Douro Valley launch, luxury hospitality group Six Senses has just unviled the long awaited Zil Pasyon, located on a astoundingly lush, flora and fauna-abundant private island called Felicite, just a short transfer by helicopter or speed boat from Mahe international airport. In tune with the current appetite for minimal human footprint, the resort will occupy less than one third of the total land area and will undoubtedly attract eco-conscious travellers seeking utter relaxation and tranquility.
Thirty one- and two-bedroom villas and seventeen private residences are being cleverly designed by architect hotshots, Studio RHE, and, once complete, will each feature expansive, sleek interiors hand-crafted out of local wood, floor-to-ceiling glass panels and luxurious bathrooms – each with jaw-droppingly beautiful ocean views. The juxtaposition of the island’s giant granite boulders offset by the serenity of the pearl-white sandy beaches give a magical, high-drama suspense.
Having just undergone an extensive three-year refurbishment program, and now offering even more privacy and seclusion, Cousine Island is an achingly elegant, laid-back retreat for guests seeking a more refined, old world holiday glamour. The resort is very boutique and accommodation consists of just four luxury villas and a presidential villa. Each of the villas have been given a total makeover – think individually hand-crafted French furniture heavily influenced by the colonial island settlers of the 1700s and elegant creamy furnishings. The grand pavilion – the beating heart of the island - now offers a library, outdoor bar, boutique and open dining area with unbeatable views to Praslin Island. A new presidential villa boasting a whopping 625 sq-m floor space incorporates two master bedrooms, both with en-suite bathrooms, is available for small groups and families.
Last summer saw the launch of Villa Deckenia on Praslin Island, an effortlessly cool five-bedroom holiday house with direct access to a creamy white beach overlooking the azure waters. Boasting three pristine infinity pools, numerous terraces and patios scattered with oversized rattan furniture, the villa is an oasis of peace and serenity. Sleeping up to ten adults and two children, holidays at Deckenia are offered on a full-board basis. A dedicated chef is on-hand each day ready to whizz up a culinary masterpiece of your choosing.
Over 2,200 free-roaming Giant Aldabra tortoises alone are enough to entice visitors to the recently revamped Fregate Island Private. This mystical desert island getaway is a lush wilderness of wildlife and dramatic scenery, and boasts seven pristine, pearl-white sand beaches. The seventeen traditional hand-crafted villas are made out of African hardwood and each is accompanied by a private pool, expansive pool deck and sleek en-suite bathroom. The social hub of the island is the trendy marina and this now features an all-new Yacht Club and the popular Anse Bamboo Beach Bar – the ideal hangout at which to enjoy light bights and cocktails. For those seeking even more privacy and an unrivalled holiday experience, a stay at the uber-luxe Banyan Hill Estate on Fregate is an absolute must. Six guests can enjoy the world-class facilities and gastronomy of the island resort, but will be cocooned in a secluded ocean-side retreat with a team of personal chefs, a butler and a maid to ensure your stay is totally harmonic. Three villas, a grand, sumptuous living and dining cabin, and hi-tech entertainment wing will ensure the whole family is utterly spoilt. Don’t forget to utilise the estate’s private buggy to make whizzing around the hilly island a doddle.
Coles-Liddle, chairman and CEO of NINE, commented: “we personally meet up with many of our concierge members and their representatives about twice a year to touch base and update them on new travel destinations, luxury hotel and resort openings, and restaurant and event news - and to learn how we can assist them better in the future. This enables us to tailor each recommendation – whether it be a unique, action-packed travel experience or a romantic weekend away – to the member and their family.
As we are a small team, we have the ability to travel the world and discover uncharted destinations and find out what’s new in the world’s most extraordinary locations. We visited Barbados, Morocco, Ibiza, Mallorca, Mykonos, Tinos and too many awesome islands surrounding Zanzibar to mention, and are positively brimming with travel inspiration.
We noticed a sharp increase in female members looking for solo adventure and wellness experiences in 2016 without wanting to compromise on luxury and service. Costa Rica, St. Lucia and the Indonesian island of Sumba were all popular, where the unique ability to join other guests for dining, activities and classes, without losing the option to slope off to the beach and zone out is actively encouraged.
We also reported an increase in visits to the Balearic island of Mallorca from our European and Middle Eastern members. This sun-drenched haven has been hot on the heels of smaller neighbour Ibiza for many years thanks to its year-round tourism, influx in new luxury boutique hotel openings, burgeoning gastronomy scene and expansive picture-perfect sandy beaches”.
1 & 2 - Six Senses Zil Pasyon
3 - Cousine Island
4 & 5 - Fregate Island Private
NINE is a private concierge club, providing tailored travel and lifestyle solutions to individuals and families across the globe.