By John O’Ceallaigh
With resort openings in the Maldives so rampant that it’s difficult to keep up (or, often, to distinguish one from the other), the Seychelles tends to take these things much more slowly. So a major new opening is a big deal, and the forthcoming Waldorf Astoria Seychelles Platte Island looks set to make a big impression.
It’s so called because it occupies the entirety of that eponymous island, about 130km – 25 minutes or so by private plane – from the Seychellois capital Mahé. This really is a castaway hideaway, seemingly completely removed from the rest of the world out in the Indian Ocean.
Expected to open in November, the resort will feature 50 villas, and despite the country’s reputation as a honeymoon haven families will be welcome – some of those villas incorporate up to five bedrooms. Wherever guests reside, they’ll have their own private pool and garden space. None of the villas will be directly on the beach – hawksbill turtles lay eggs there and the set-back placement is one of a number of provisions designed to protect their habitats. The villas will still be just a few steps from the sea, though, and the waters here teem with life. Eagle rays and reef sharks congregate in the adjoining lagoon, and whales can be seen here occasionally. The island is also in the path of routes for migrating birds; in season, guests might see dense flocks darkening the sky overhead as they sunbathe.
While the resort’s activity offering is still being finalised, it’s a given that guests will be able to explore the surrounding ocean – alongside the expected snorkelling, diving and stand-up paddle-boarding, fishing here is excellent. Within the resort itself, there’ll be six restaurants and bars, aiming as much as possible to utilise produce grown on the island. An on-site solar field will provide a substantial proportion of the energy required to keep things going.
The resort’s Swedish-born manager Elias Pertoft should know all about operating sustainably from out-of-the-way islands following his stint overseeing things at Richard Branson’s Necker Island (in fact, he personally showed me that resort’s huge solar fields and mammoth wind turbines when I stayed there a few years back), and given that property’s pedigree it’s interesting to see how highly he rates Platte Island’s prospects: “In the two decades I have called remote tropical islands a home, I have never witnessed an island as pristine as Platte Island, nor one so teeming with wildlife.”
That sounds very promising. And, in my own opinion more generally, when it comes to choosing between a luxury holiday in the Seychelles and the Maldives I’ve found that the former is much more convincing in showing a sincere interest in sustainability and in taking a long-term approach to protecting the environment from which its tourism industry derives its wealth. And while the Maldives’ marine world is typically more beautiful and interesting, when you’re on dry land it’s the Seychelles that offers a more intriguing topography and more diverse natural-world experiences.
Of course, the resort will also aim to get all the basic luxury accoutrements right. The spa will feature a beauty salon and hammam alongside its six treatment rooms and ‘spa suite’, presumably aimed at couples. Predictably, they’re providing assurances of superb service too, and they’ll also have partnerships in place so that guests can easily complement their private-island stay with stops at other Hilton Seychelles properties. Most relevantly, the brand’s relatively new LXR property, Mango House Seychelles is on Mahé Island itself so will be a handy overnight option for travellers landing in the country late at night or returning home on an early-morning flight.
The timing of this winter’s opening also works well in terms of reasserting the Seychelles’ standing as a luxury-travel destination more generally. Cheval Blanc is due to open a new resort in the country at some point thereafter and the Edenic Fregate Island Private is due to reopen after a major refurbishment in 2025. As for Waldorf Astoria, the brand is also due to open its long-awaited Admiralty Arch property in London next year or, perhaps, the year after. That building will occupy a grand landmark set directly between Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.
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