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Oct / Nov 2010
Secluded Retreat

WRITER: Maya Khoury PHOTOGRAPHERS: Mike Meyers, Simon Upton  and Andrew Howard

Located in an archipelago of tropical islands 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa, the Seychelles’ North Island is one of the most exclusive holiday spots in the world.


The Seychelles have a rich and varied past; first discovered by Arab traders in the 800s, the islands have played host to pirates and slave plantations and have been contested by European powers. Finally gaining independence in the latter half of the previous century, many of the islands had fallen into a state of neglect.

One particularly dire example was North Island, which – though you could never imagine it now – was abandoned and overrun with feral cats, rats and alien species of weeds. It wasn’t until 1998 that the property’s new owner, Johannesburg-based outfitter Wilderness Safaris, banished the pesky intruders and embarked on a restoration of this idyllic Indian Ocean retreat.

Phase one included reintroducing North Island’s original flora and fauna, including the endangered Seychelles magpie robin and native trees such as takamaka and coco-de-mer palms. Phase two was the building of an eco-touristic resort, which opened its doors in May 2003. Seven years on, the owners have just completed a total renovation and refurbishment. According to the manger the works have made North Island, “The ultimate honeymoon or romantic retreat.”

North Island’s focal point is the open-walled main lodge, or piazza as they choose to call it. It was seemingly designed to showcase the Seychelles’ rich mix of Asian, African, and Indian cultures. Volcanic rock walls and burnished floors hewn from African woods blend with vibrant orchids and frangipani, while overhead, a thatched roof rests on thick, gnarled takamaka trunks.    

The resort’s 11 villas are very spacious at 450-square-metres in size and amazingly secluded given that they’re well spaced apart and hidden within the tree line along the beach. The living quarters feature a mammoth bedroom with ultra-high ceilings and a massive teak bed in addition to a separate study that can be converted into a secondary bedroom if you wish to bring the kids. The walls open for a 180-degree view of the sea; a spiritually healthier distraction to the free satellite TV, DVD players and high-speed Internet connections. Also worth a mention is the bathroom as it’s a mini-spa with a sunken marble tub, outdoor shower, and massage table.

Overwhelmed by the space and amenities, some privacy-seeking guests never leave their villas but most will be inspired to dive the nearby reefs, walk the island trails, try out the Wellness Centre’s personalised holistic treatments or take a jaunt to the gazebo on West Beach for sunset drinks and a catered dinner. Speaking of which, there is a ‘no-menu’ philosophy on North Island. Instead the chef, Neil Wager, personally explains the resort’s cuisine concept to each guest, finds out what their food preferences are and then develops individualised menus daily around this information.

With its blend of adventurous pursuits, solitude and unabashed luxury, North Island Seychelles really is the perfect place for honeymooners, couples or even families looking to get away from it all.

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