Now that the world of travel has largely recovered from the Covid pandemic, it is time for us to share our review of the last hotel we visited before the world went on lockdown. And it is definitely something special!
The Four Seasons Resort on Desroches Island in the Seychelles is a private island resort only accessible by plane or boat. Located 230 km of the main island of Mahe, Desroches is a true tropical paradise offering the ultimate in privacy and relaxation. Guests are housed in 71 villas and spread across the western tip of the island, the eastern part of the island is returned to nature and home to a large population of Giant Aldabra tortoise.
The island has a rich documented history dating back to 1503 when Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama discovered the Admirantes islands on his return journey from India. The island changes hands frequently between the French and the English. Coconut plantations are established, some of the remains still exist today. At a certain point in time nearly the entire island was in use as a plantation producing coconut oil, wood, maize and cotton. But in the second half of the 20th century Desroches is returned to the Seychelles by Great Britain and focus shifts from plantation to conservation and tourism. Large parts of the island are restored and an extensive program for the conservation of both land- and sea turtles is activated.
The island is only four kilometres long and between 300 and 1,000 metres width. But beside the resort and a small village with about 40 permanent inhabitants it feels largely deserted. The airstrip separates the resort area from the rest of the island and small tracks run all across the island. Desroches is part of an atoll and located on the outer ring. The south side of the island faces the edge of the atoll and generally has a bit rougher seas whereas the north side has many quiet beaches.
With the bicycles provided at each villa it is easy to discover the island and visit different beaches every day. At some beaches there is a little service point with a toilet, shower, clean towels, cold water and various types of watersports equipment. On request guests can also be shuttled by buggy. We particularly enjoyed the element of exploration. Discovering new beaches, bays and wildlife as we cycled to different parts of the island. The first time we stumbled upon a Giant Aldabra turtle just casually moving along the track is something we will not easily forget.
Desroches is also home to a great number of Hawksbill- and Green turtles who live in the turtle grass in the shallow waters surrounding the island. When snorkelling you will be to see several types of rays, sharks, turtles and a great range of fish. But the presence of the turtles grass makes the wildlife not as easy to spot as in some places in the Maldives and the coral reefs are not as extensive and easy to access either. For divers however there are some amazing caves and unspoiled dive sights around the island and the atoll.
The 71 villas range from 56 m2 one-bedroom villas to nearly 400 m2 residence villas with five bedrooms. All villas come with sea-views, private pools and outdoor showers. We stayed in an ocean-view pool villa located on the coral beach on the south side of the island. Sunset villas are located on the west side of the island near the main restaurant and the residences are located on the quiet north-west side of the island across the airstrip.
The villas are very well equipped with luxury bathrooms with indoor- and outdoor showers and a bathtub. The bedroom has a large double bed with a very comfortable soft mattress and a minibar. We spend most time at the private pool with adjacent covered lounge area. The styling is tropical chic and consistent across the board in true Four Seasons tradition. All villas offer private beach access and sea views. During our stay we were lucky enough to witness baby turtles hatching directly next to our villa. It was another very special moment that we will not forget.
The Restaurants & Bars
Four Seasons Desroches offers two restaurants and two bars. The main restaurant Claudine is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and occupies the centre location at what I would describe as the resort’s town square where you can also find the reception, main pool, the deli and the bar. Claudine offers international a la carte dining and regularly hosts themed nights like Creole, Lebanese and Indian.
The Lighthouse is the fine dining restaurant at Desroches and the small lighthouse bar is the best place for a pre-dinner cocktail or aperitif. Climb the winding steps to the top of the lighthouse and you are rewarded with stunning sunset views over the Indian Ocean. Here it becomes clear that Desroches is really in the middle of the ocean. No islands, boats or planes in sight as far as the eye can see. In fact the nearest inhabited island is 140 kilometres away. After drinks head down to the cozy terrace between the trees for the Lighthouse signature sushi and dry-aged meat.
Lunch and snacks are also served next to the main pool and there is an extensive in-room dining menu. We particularly enjoyed some poolside pizza on days we were too lazy to go out for dinner. There are plans to add a Lebanese restaurant to the the arrival lounge near the airstrip and create a pizza bar in the Castaway activity centre.
The Facilities & Activities
The island itself offers plenty for guests to see and do; from visiting the turtle sanctuary to just exploring all the beaches. In addition there is a fully equipped watersports and activity center called the Castaway Center. Here you can play beach volleyball, borrow snorkelling equipment or book diving-, boat- and sailing trips. Desroches also has a gym, tennis court and kids club. There is a weekly activity program which offers everything from playing soccer or yoga on the runway to star gazing, cooking classes and feeding the turtles in the sanctuary.
The Spa located next to the Lighthouse offers a range of treatments in five separate spa suites. Signature treatments include Sound of the Waves; a relaxing massage using a rolling technique with eggs filled with hot baobab seeds. The Spa features products from the sustainable and organic skincare line Terres d’Afrique.
The overall experience in any luxury resort relies heavily on the quality of the service. At Desroches the around 200 hotel employees and another 300 gardening and service employees do their utmost to keep you and the property in top condition. The staff in the restaurants and bars, like the fantastic Mary and Randy, quickly learn your tastes and desires. The service is friendly, professional and easy going – inline with the island.
Words don’t do justice to the unique experience the Four Seasons Desroches provides. From the natural beauty of the island and its beaches to the perfect mix of top-notch luxury facilities and ultimate relaxation. I recommend to stay more than just 2 or 3 nights as Desroches as it takes a few days to really adapt to island life and really discover and enjoy all it has to offer. Before getting back on the small plane that connects Desroches with the international airport in Mahe I felt so at home on this tiny island that I really didn’t want to leave.