The Raffles Praslin in the Seychelles will quickly become a sought-after resort.
Hotel review: Raffles Praslin, Seychelles
Don't judge this book by its cover; the Raffles Praslin in the Seychelles, one of the island nation's newest five-star resorts, might not be the prettiest thing from afar, but once you arrive at its vaulted open-air reception and check into one of the stunning villas, you'll see that it works. Drivers collect guests from the island's pint-size airport and quickly deliver them to the south-coast resort, with check-in taking place in-room, so guests can make the most of the glorious sea views. More than 100,000 new plantings will better blend the resort with its tropical surroundings.
Located on the blissful north-west coast of Praslin Island, the second largest in the Seychelles and a long-time favourite with millionaire football players, the Raffles is a 15-minute plane ride from the main island of Mahé. Spread across 12 hectares, the resort is perched on a steep cliff overlooking Anse Takamaka, a serene strip of sand that slips into the Curieuse Marine National Park. The calm waters of the private beach are a major draw, while Anse Lazio, rightly acclaimed as one of the world's best beaches, and the Unesco-listed Vallée de Mai, home to the rare Coco de Mer palm, are just minutes away.
All 86 spacious villas follow a similar layout differentiated only by the number of rooms and position on the slope. Our villa is located on the top row and offers jaw-dropping sea vistas - the kind that has you dragging your mattress to the sun deck. Suites make the most of the villa's vertiginous location with king-size beds fronted by floor-to-ceiling French windows and bathtubs right next to picture windows. There is an outdoor shower as well as a private infinity plunge pool and a shaded, fan-cooled sala, ideal for escaping the daytime heat. The decor is modern and fresh for the Seychelles and, with a 24-hour butler service, it's easy to see why some guests rarely emerge from their villas.
With the private beach safe for swimming, the newest spa in the Seychelles, several restaurants and a host of excursions on offer, the Raffles caters to families and couples. Less mobile guests might have trouble on the steep slopes.
Service is often the bane of the Seychelles. However, the staff are charming and attentive. The slopes may slow staff down, but they always arrive - with a smile.
Breakfast, a great fusion of colour and flavours, is served in Losean Restaurant, which also features al fresco dining. At night, the restaurant does pan-Mediterranean and themed dinners. The Curieuse Seafood Restaurant next door specialises in locally-caught seafood dishes, laced with local Creole ingredients. Classic must-try dishes include octopus curry with tomato chutney and crushed hot chilies (Dh120); tuna ceviche with green papaya (Dh102); and an exotic soufflé (Dh61) with local passion fruit as a sweet finish. Upstairs, Takamaka Terrace serves innovative cocktails and shisha under the stars.
The villas are very well planned out, with double walk-in wardrobes for luggage and an expansive sun deck. The main pool is also blissfully unfrequented, while the intimacy of the beach makes you feel like you're on a private island.
The whole resort is on the side of a steep cliff, with the top villas hard to reach without a buggy, meaning a lot of time waiting for a lift.
Modern yet elegant, Raffles Praslin offers a different take on paradise in a destination dominated by "local-style" resorts. Give it a year and it will be a market leader.
The bottom line
Villas from €570 (Dh2,744) per night, including breakfast. Raffles Praslin, Anse Takamaka, Praslin, Seychelles (www.raffles.com/praslin; 00 248 4 296 000).
Follow us @TravelNational
Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.