The biggest selling point of Seychelles for American travelers (four hours by air off the coast of eastern Africa) is the fact it is still a best-kept secret among European and South African travelers who have made it a go-to, year-round beach destination. While traveling to the Seychelles can be challenging on its own (averaging about 24 hours from most major U.S. cities), it becomes a lot more desirable and accessible when it is integrated into an extended vacation with another African continental or Southern European destination.
The rewards for getting to this far-flung paradise are numerous. Its beaches, such as Beau Vallon, are among the cleanest in the world. There are currently fewer tourists traveling to Seychelles than its other archipelago counterparts (such as Maldives and Mauritius). As a nation culturally and geographically aligned with the African continent, its guaranteed to be a different experience from favorite South Pacific destinations such as Hawai’i, Fiji and Tahiti.
Some of the poshest international hotel companies (Le Meridien, Kempinski, Four Seasons) have outposts on Mahé, the hub of the archipelago. Many of those have some impressively well-appointed kids’ clubs (some with on-property tortoises and other island critters). In contrast, the Savoy Resort & Spa, even with its 5-star designation, is, on the whole, slightly more rough-hewn than the others. However, this is part of why it will appeal to families with slightly older kids and teens wanting to have a truly authentic local experience and enjoy time off the property. The hotel’s staff is helpful, friendly and always quick to offer suggestions on hidden highlights as worthwhile as the islands’ national parks and UNESCO sites.
Savoy’s location is one of its biggest assets, given it is a 10- to 20-minute cab ride from Victoria, the Seychelles capital, which boasts a wonderful morning produce market, several cultural points of interest and proximity to docks where many top inter-island tours originate. The back of the Savoy lets right out into Beau Vallon, noted for its beach as well as several “neighborhood” restaurants within walking distance. These include La Perle Noire for Italian fare, Baobab Pizzeria and Mahek restaurant, serving a variety of regional Indian dishes, some not commonly found in stateside Indian restaurants. The highlight of the week is the Bazar Labrin market, staged on the beach every Wednesday and on the last Saturday of each month. In addition to interesting souvenir shopping and live entertainment, the market is also the best place to sample Seychelles Creole dishes right off the grill and at reasonable prices.
While the resort’s top restaurant, Pescado, and beach bar/lounge, Gecko, are also popular with residents, the main dining room is a mixed bag. The breakfast buffet items are mostly good, while some of the dinner theme nights (particularly the Middle Eastern spread) are better in quality than others, offering foodie types another excuse to explore the surrounding neighborhood. On the plus side, many of the “resort” necessities one would want are there, including its own kids’ club. The private rooms and suites are cool in that “modern luxury” 5-star hotel category way. Soft blue, brown and ivory add brightness to the comfortable contemporary furnishings, and the nicely organized closet area. The pool (the largest in the area) is impeccably maintained and the spa/fitness room is clean and cute.