Serenity by the sea
Gary Allen and family discover a secluded seaside nirvana on a luxurious private island in the Indian Ocean.
By Gary Allen | Published #63, Winter 2015
There’s a sign at the top of the path to the beach reading: “in use” on one side, “free” on the other. I flip it to display “in use”. The beach with its crystal-clear waters and lush green vegetation is now exclusively ours for as long as we would like. A white tablecloth with all the trimmings is set up on the white sand, drinks and fresh juices we ordered are there as well. After eating, we go for a swim. Then Bonnie suggests a sunset dinner on one of the other beaches – there are seven on beautiful Fregate Island here in the Seychelles. During our stay, we will also be encouraged to have a candlelit dinner in the Treehouse in one of the island’s largest banyan trees, and even on the helipad.
It’s easy to see the appeal of Fregate Island to its A-List regulars such as actress Elizabeth Hurley, here with her son just before we arrived. This private island offers award-winning beaches, an abundance of fresh seafood and incredible wildlife. The secluded luxury resort has only 16 villas with personal butlers and a beautiful spa.
Guests arrive by helicopter or seaplane - 20 minutes from the Seychelles main island of Mahé, 60 kilometres away – or, if the weather permits, a 90-minute boat ride. At the island, we are greeted by staff members, introduced to our personal butlers Amos and Bonnie, and transported to our villas by golf carts. Each villa has an infinity pool and outdoor spa, a large patio with day bed and lounge chairs – all tastefully decorated in island style. They feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows, elegant dark wood decor, and spacious bathrooms.
Once settled, we drive our personal golf cart to the main dining area. Local bounty takes centre stage in all of the delicious meals prepared at the resort. The catch of the day is brought back from the morning fishing trip, and more than 50 types of organic fruit and vegetables are grown – sustainably – in the plantation garden and hydroponics house. There is an abundance of fresh juices, crepes, cheeses and freshly baked bread for breakfast; sashimi, grilled lobster and fish and fresh vegetables for lunch and dinner. Every meal is specially prepared by executive chef Alan Larch, who has a passion for the island and loves to create superb dishes with its produce.
The Fregate Island spa is a wonderful way to relax. In keeping with the island’s sustainability theme, the spa uses local herbs and all of the products are natural, with a focus on aromatherapy and herbal healing. Positioned on a more elevated part of the island, the spa has incredible views.
One of the most enchanting features of Fregate Island is its delicate ecosystem, and staff go to great lengths to educate guests about the resort’s conservation program. The island can feel a bit like Jurassic Park with more than 2,000 Aldabra giant tortoise, geckos, lizards, golden orb spiders and thousands of harmless giant African millipedes - our kids love these. There are more than 140 species of tropical birds, including fairy terns. One of the high points of our stay is a nature walk with conservationist Erin. Guests have the option of an early morning or night walk through the dense island forest to learn about and interact safely with the island critters. Erin tells us how fragile the island habitat is and details rehabilitation measures the resort has taken to make sure the native flora and fauna continue to thrive. We are lucky enough to see a nest of sea turtles hatching and making their way into the water.
Deep sea fishing is another highlight for our family – and the tuna we catch is served up as sashimi for us just an hour later at lunch. Later, we relax in solitude at Anse Victorin, a beach so picturesque it takes your breath away with its fine white sand and water so blue it’s almost unreal.
This must be a tropical heaven on Earth.
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