And yes, Fregate Island Private IS a unique luxury resort. North Island, also off the Seychelles’ main island, Mahe, is eco-sensitive but somehow Fregate is the ultimate. For example, here there are over 2,000 tortoises, Aldabra variety, Aldabrachelys elephantine. Here, thanks to years of conservation, the magpie robin count is up from near-extinction to 140. Habitat restoration means any tree that was not originally native, say bamboo, has been removed, and replanting is bringing the island back to how it was before it was discovered 300 years ago. As the sun came up over villa 17 (there is no 13 in this 16-villa resort), the gal knew she needed to stay longer, to immerse herself more in the natural life that is here.
But breakfast was arriving, a rare treat for me to read The Economist and catch up with some serious stories. All the villas are the same. Two peak-topped, thatched cabins, one living-office and other bedroom and indoor-out bathroom, are joined by a foyer, all air conditioned. The big deck behind has a very-private pool, about 40 feet long so ample for swimming, and two salas, one for lounging and one for dining. Aha, I thought, breakfast outside. That was a mistake. When you are solo, when nosy birds and even a gecko arrive, you simply do not have enough hands to shoo away said wildlife, manage a magazine and eat the most gorgeous home-made yoghurt, fruit platter, banana and other breads, and just-right sunny-side-up-eggs (sorry, I forgot my berry smoothie, which one little bird eyed longingly). I look across to other Seychelles islands, from my left to right, Praslin, La Digue, Félicité (where Six Senses is going) and Marianne.
After that, I climbed up to Rock Spa, up 104 steps past several water features, to have the knots taken out of my back with a coconut massage. The spa’s villas are wooden slats, with plenty of air circulating. Back down in my villa, I made the most of excellent connectivity, and so much inspiration, to create words suitable for an environment that just typifies luxury of today. My outside deck is completely private, looking down to one of the resort’s seven beaches (one of which, Anse Macquereau, can be reserved for total privacy, with a ‘do not disturb’ sign at its approach path and, once there, you find a telephone and supplies of chilled drinks – this is the ultimate private beach).
The villas’ thatch all looks completely new but, surprise surprise, it is plastic, from South Africa, and is fire-proof, and lasts forever. It fooled me. I head inside, where the cathedral ceilings, under that thatch, are lined with real bamboo bound with real reeds. Fans whir silently. My bed has four posts, and white gauze mosquito nets: behind the bed is the ablution area, with local toiletries in ceramic pots and brown soaps in the (human rear) shape of the Seychelles’ unique coco de mer palm nuts. I have an indoor shower, and two outdoor showers, and a wine cabinet, Nespresso machine, and books galore. I could stay here for ages.
But I am being taken around the island, by buggy. We stop so I can attempt to get to know one of the 2,000 turtles but it moves quite fast. I pass what looks like a graveyard, with wooden markers. These are in fact signifying which guest has donated which seedling tree, as part of the reforestation programme – in the last two weeks, markers have been planted in the name of a couple from Kamchatka, a peninsula in Russia’s far east, and from Caracas. The whole world, or a discerning, aeshetic part of it, is finding out about this lovely place.
And all too soon it is time to move on, away from this idyllic luxury hotel that Oetker runs. Wayne Kafcsak is, of course, on hand to make sure that I really do leave! He is dispatching me to catch up with a couple of other Raffles Canouan alumni.