Well, I think I’ve found it. Paradise I mean. A place so improbably perfect that you’d rather not leave. Ever. A place where the palms rustle as gently as the sand squeaking beneath your feet, where granite boulders soak up the amber light from the setting sun as a cobalt sea smiles back at you. Paradise, I tell you.
Its name is Anse Georgette and you’ll find it on the island of Praslin, one of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles. Having lazed on tropical sands everywhere from the Maldives to Malaysia, Kenya to Kuta, I consider myself something of an aficionado. And let me tell you, the lovely Georgette will not disappoint.
And not being disappointed was something I became rather used to during my stay at Constance Lemuria resort, one of two resorts the Mauritius-based group runs in the Seychelles. Lemuria is the more upmarket of the two – we’ll get to the lovely Ephelia later – and from the moment we arrived one humid drizzly night the resort showed why it’s one of the finest in the Seychelles.
Take my round of golf the next morning, for instance. Most travellers come to the Seychelles to laze on the sand, but I flew to the islands seeking sand of a different sort.
Constance Lemuria is home to the only 18-hole golf course in the Seychelles and although the track is a fairly short 5341-metres, the narrow fairways and intimidating rough make it a challenge for any handicap. If you want to come anywhere near the par of 70 you’ll need to keep out of the trees and drive some rather impressive carries to reach the tricky fairways.
The front 12 holes are laid out on the flat peninsula where the resort is situated, offering a tropical variation on a traditional parkland course. Just swap the pine trees for palms, and the water hazards for mangrove forests. Although the tropical weather occasionally takes its toll on the conditioning of the course – particularly the greens – it’s in remarkably good shape. Holes like the par-5 dog-leg sixth, with plenty of water to challenge you, and the scenic par-3 8th that flies over mangrove, make it hard for any golfer to concentrate on their swing.
“The course is a ball-eater!” laughed Golf Manager Garry Pouponneau, as he showed me around the club’s practice and teaching facilities later that afternoon.
And the course only gets better on the last six holes, which climb and dive over the jungle-clad hills so synonymous with the Seychelles. Unsurprisingly, golf carts are mandatory, and even without walking the course on a warm day you’ll be exhausted by the 18th.
A steep fairway on the 13th had me juggling club selection, while the high-flying 14th requires a long carry to reach a devilishly terraced fairway. Both of which pale in comparison to the jaw-dropping signature hole; the 15th. From a mountainside eyrie with views over the Indian Ocean and Anse Georgette, you simply tee off into fresh air and watch the ball fall over 50-metres to the green below. Unforgettable.
The final three holes fly by in an all-too-quick blur of tight fairways and gargantuan drives, before I’m met just off the 18th green by a valet from the golf club bearing fresh fruit and a cold towel. Nothing like a little luxury after a hot morning on the course.
And there’s plenty of luxury to be had here at Lemuria.
Lush landscaped gardens separate the 105 suites and villas, all of which are discreetly set back from the sweep of white sand at Anse Grand Kerlan. The suites are decorated in a comfortable island style of rich woods with splashes of colour, and come with plenty of mod-cons that include in-room Wi-Fi and a state-of-the-art media centre.
Not that you’ll be spending that much time in your room, of course. Aside from the golf and the seafront restaurants – expect plenty of fresh seafood and a stellar winelist – and the gourmet beach picnics and the body treatments in the Spa de Constance, the ocean is a major draw card here.
Anse Petite Kerlan has good swimming, while the granite boulders on the shoreline offer some decent snorkelling. The boathouse provides free gear rental, along with pedalos, kayaks and sailing dinghies.
The Seychelles is also famous as a scuba diving destination, and while the reefs have suffered due to coral bleaching over the past decade the dramatic underwater topography of granite boulders makes diving well worthwhile.
The topography above the surface is just as impressive, with the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve just a short drive from the resort. This prehistoric forest, a World Heritage Site, is home to over 6000 Coco-de-Mer palms, the provocatively shaped seeds of which have become the emblem of the islands.
The Vallée de Mai is often visited as part of a day tour taking in the quiet neighbouring island of La Digue, as well as the famous Praslin beach of Anse Lazio, and companies likes Mason’s Travel offer a host of tour options throughout the Seychelles.
It was Mason’s that greeted us with a smile as the Cat Cocos catamaran cruised into Mahe the following day. This high-speed ferry is the best way to get between the three main islands, making island-hopping a breeze.
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Published courtesy of Travelideas magazine