The Canouan ‘reunion continues’, back on the main Mahe Island, with 70 beaches on its total 150 sq km. The gal is overnighting at Kempinski Seychelles Resort – Baie Lazare, the luxury Baie Lazare resort, quite close to Four Seasons, that started life as the Plantation Club. Much beloved by the government, this is still used a lot by important people, and it is also ideal for families, and for rock climbers. This photo is taken at the top of a 40-minute hike up from the 150-room resort, to its granite boulders above. Below is a panorama of some of the 30-ha resort.
As always at a Kempinski I was greeted by a Lady In Red, but here the welcoming hostess is in a scarlet overskirt, white pants and the big creole hat that many of the guys and girls working here wear, at amusingly jaunty angles. I meet up quickly with Jean-Marc Michel – yes, he worked at Raffles Canouan – and we arrange a programme, to include a hike up ‘that rock’, with yoga included (the whole programme, as sold to guests, takes two hours, plus breakfast). Someone shows me to my room, blissfully quiet in the Bougainvillea wing.
Here I have a book on the Antwerp Stadsmussen and, perhaps more suitable, 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die, which is somewhat akin to British Airways giving me gold status for life – do they expect me to die tomorrow? Talking of paintings, this resort has one of the friendliest and nicest kids’ clubs I have seen. They have all the usual playthings, plus a very-shallow outside pool. There are lots of challenges for them during their stay and, if they complete them all, they are invited to add their hand-print to an art wall when they leave. Why don’t hotels do something like that for long stay or repeat guests?
All the 280 people who run this place are amazingly jolly and I too end up smiling the entire time, especially when I made it up that rock and down again in way under the allotted time. Many of the people who stay here, frankly, come to crash, recovering from getting married, or going on safari, or simply from their everyday lives. Fortunately the hotel, and the island, have lots to waken them from the reveries. The Seychelles Minister of Tourism, Alain St Ange, himself a former hotelier, is trying to liven things up, with an annual carnival that this year attracted entrants from Brazil, understandably, and, surprisingly, Sweden.
Any form of dancing would be admirable, frankly, because I have been eatin’ and drinkin’ ever since I arrived. My welcome, in my room, included named juices, carrot and orange; passion fruit, yoghurt, honey; orange, mint, honey. At dinner in IndoChine, I look through the iPad menu, in a bright orange leather cover, to see a local specialty, a fruit bat dish (yes, really, this is the fruit-eating Pteropus seychellensis, with a wingspan of well over a metre – it is sometimes called the flying fox). Sorry, I chose instead an Omani meal, starting with Arabic mezze and going on to an oriental fish and seafood grill with lemon butter sauce, and sommelier insisted we try Billecart-Salmon Ch Brut Sous Bois.
Jean-Marc Michel is very much a food person – at Kempinski’s hoteliers’ cook- off in Munich earlier this year he did a guinea fowl curry for his colleagues. He came by to join me at the splendid breakfast buffet before I left and merely nibbled a croissant (why is it that those who run luxury hotels never eat a quarter of what I do at breakfast?). And, having been there to welcome me to this lovely family hotel, there he was to see me go. Where next for the gal?