The Hilton Seychelles Labriz Hotel and Spa on Silhouette island, a half an hour enclosed boat transfer from Mahe, must be one of the few luxury hotels in the world at which the arriving guests’ resort familiarisation tour involves a food waste grinder.
“We used to burn all food waste in an incinerator,” says chief engineer, Keralan Ravi Thundil. “Now we grind all food waste in a semi solid form, and then compost for use around the resort. We compost an average of 4,800 kg of food waste every month, representing total diesel savings for a year of approximately 48,000 litres.”
Conservation is important to the Seychelles and energy consumption is important to Hilton. The introductory eco-orientation electric buggy tour takes in the hotel’s organic nursery, in which 10 kilograms of produce is grown aquaponically each month; its energy-saving wind and hydro turbines; and solar heaters.
Ravi proudly sings the praises of his kitchen hood and fan speed regulators, guest villa occupancy sensors and A/C monitors as well Philips CorePro LED LL vanity mirror lighting. He added: “Our villas are automatically controlled. The lights and air-conditioning switch off when doors remain open for more than 30 minutes, saving 2,500 kilowatts per hour.”
The flagship Hilton ‘Travel With Purpose’ resort also makes the best, purest waterfall water in the world. Thundil also runs Labriz’s grey water and mountain spring water recycling plant on Mount Dauban, the highest peak of the five on Silhouette Island which was originally a French-run coconut and cinnamon plantation run by the Dauban family who were known as ‘The Rothschilds of the Indian Ocean.’
Ninety-three per cent of Labriz is a protected nature reserve, as are the waters that surround it. The five-star desert island family resort (it even has a cartoon cinema for children) has 117 villas. Some are on the edge of the east Somali sea of the west Indian Ocean on a 2.5km beach with easy access to hammocks and leaning coconut trees. Others face the jungle and granite boulders and come with Jacuzzis and private pool and, as you enjoy your sundowners, a daily display by local 3m flying fox fruit bats and blue pigeons.
Your chamber person will run a hibiscus petal bath for you, and all rooms have A/C regulated at 23 degrees. Paradise is available on a bed and breakfast, half or full board basis.
The oceanfront Four Degrees seafood barbecue and grill is one of five restaurant or ‘dining experiences’. A half lobster costs 1750 Seychellois rupees (£90). Nectar in Paradise doesn’t come cheap with a bottle of Oyster Bay at £61 and cheapest wine by glass a South African Chenin Blanc at £8.
The excellent lagoon-side Italian Portobello offers a traditional 115-island Indian Ocean archipelago dessert in the shape of Belle Provence traditional apricot cake. The menu at the Asian/Indian fusion Sakara (which also has a teppanyaki show kitchen area over a mangrove lake with a resident ray family) includes red snapper nigiri, tuna soba bowl, duck noodle and angry chicken (with red curry sauce) as well as blow-torched sea food.
Breakfast in the garden of the gods comprises smoked marlin omelette, octopus curry, mango and papaya jams, exotic pastries (you are hesitant to eat the lovingly made turtle-shaped bread), vanilla tea and limitless coconut milk.
Poolside lunch is anything from catch of the day to pizza or Mama Lydia’s spicy chicken popcorn. You can go offshore fishing or the lazier cheaper form – coastal trolling where the crew do most of the work for you and have your catch (in our case dorada and a yellowfin tuna) cooked on the beach in front of you by a private chef.
The multi-level Eforea Spa is ingeniously set amidst 63-million-year-old granite boulders and offers Hilton ‘Journey Enhancements’ like thermal deeper than hot stone massage (£107), Elemis 100 Flower Detox Wrap (£128), sweet orchid crown to soul and other emotionally-grounding, frangipani monoi oil spirit and body revivers.
Your body will need reviving if you go on one of Silhouette’s two walks – the gruelling seven mile-hour up and over, there and back to Grand Barbe where an elderly couple look after eight octogenarian giant tortoises. The resort has eight adolescents on site. The other walk is a challenging two-hour hike up through breadfruit, jackfruit, santol and cinnamon trees under white tailed tropic birds along the cliff through the silk wood canopy to Anse Mondon. Two other beaches are closer.
The old Grann Kaz plantation house by the jetty and harbour at La Passe is now a museum. The first hotel was built in 1983 and there is still a small community called Jamaica which has a store which one visitor once described as “making a Soviet-era supermarket look like Harrod’s food hall.”
The island is a rich biodiversity hot spot with many endemic and threatened plant and animal species, including the critically endangered Seychelles Sheathed-tailed bat which has two roosting caves in a coastal granite boulder field. One of the rarest plants is the white-flowered Impatiens gordonii. Between March and April, you can join local Island Conservation Society rangers on their hawksbill and green turtle nesting patrols.
In a nutshell
Labriz may be a family resort, but it is big enough and so designed with enough private places to forget that. It’s fun to watch the kids chase fiddler and ghost crabs by torchlight along the beach at night, but not hear much of them during the day. The beach is huge and small footprints are rare at either end. The castaway fantasy is easy to preserve.
Paradise is open again and bookable online, and entry formalities are relaxed. In the Seychelles, you can soak up as much sun and water was you like, but you only have seven litres for your shower. Labriz must also be one of the few hotels in the world which encourage guests to spend less time in the bathroom – you have to make the most of your time in earthly paradise.
Audley Travel offers tailor-made trips to the Seychelles. A 14-night trip with seven nights at Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa and seven nights at Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa, both on a bed and breakfast basis, costs from £3,490 per person (based on two sharing). The price includes flights with Qatar Airways and transfers.