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Natalie Stewart, in-house Yogini at Banyan Tree Seychelles tells us that there’s a lot more to the islands than just white sand, sparkling waters and blue skies (although those things are nice too).
SUITCASE Magazine: What is something most people don’t know about the Seychelles?
Natalie Stewart: Aride Island in the northern part of the Seychelles is a nature reserve managed by the Island Conservation Society. It is considered to be the finest seabird island in the western Indian Ocean with over one million breeding seabirds, but you can also find land birds such as blue pigeons and the Seychelles fody. The fact that only a handful of people reside on the island means that the ecosystem is kept in perfect balance.
SM: Where would you go for an early morning walk?
NS: Walking the stretch of Intendance Bay, where Banyan Tree Seychelles is located, is an amazing experience. It is so peaceful; I am usually the only one on the beach except for the occasional turtle. If you are feeling a little more adventurous and want to venture further out, visit North East Point, which is famous for surfing.
SM: For a refreshing juice?
NS: La Pause on Revolution Avenue in our capital Victoria is a quaint little restaurant that serves healthy juices and smoothies – perfect for that much-needed boost of energy on a hot day.
SM: If you wanted to spend all day by the sea where would you go?
NS: I’d be at Intendance Bay at Banyan Tree Seychelles, where simply catching the sun on a lounger is a fantastic way to spend the day. Apart from the amazing view of the ocean, you can try a cocktail from the local Rum Shack or stay past sunset for Saturday night bonfire and local music. If you’re lucky and staying in one of the Beachfront Villas, you could even arrange for a massage in your villa.
SM: The best place to learn how to dive?
NS: Baie Ternay Marine Park, treasured for its astounding vistas and calm turquoise waters, is one of the best-loved spots for divers. The marine park does not have direct access to the coastal road which allows it to maintain a rich habitat which includes a teeming coral reef with hawksbill turtles and moray eels. Whale sharks and dolphins are frequent visitors and provide awe-inspiring moments for divers.
SM: Or if you’re more into snorkelling?
NS: Depending on the winds, locals go to Anse Royale or Anse Soleil for a day of underwater fun.
SM: The most interesting local market?
NS: Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market in Victoria in Mahé is a busy and colourful market that was built in the 1840s. A visit here will allow you to experience a little bit of the Seychellois way of life and is the best place to buy fresh produce, as well as local handicrafts to take back home.
SM: Where would the perfect boat trip take you?
NS: I’d sail to La Digue Island, a romantic spot famous for the dramatic rock formations that cascade into sandy coves. This is the perfect spot for photographs.
SM: The best place for a fresh fish lunch?
NS: The freshest fish comes straight from the ocean. If you have the chance, hire a catamaran for the day, and fish off the back. BBQ the fish yourself, or stop at Anse Major (only accessible by boat) and set up a grill on the beach.
SM: Where would you go for a dose of culture?
NS: Mark Wednesday evening for a visit to Bazaar Labrin at the famous Beau Vallon beach. Here, local vendors set-up stalls to sell everything from street food to trinkets. Local musicians provide lively entertainment that will definitely get you into the groove.
SM: Where’s the best place to buy presents to take home?
NS: The Chez Lamar Art Gallery at the resort is an absolute gem. With local paintings and prints, you’ll get a taste of Creole art to take home with you and share with friends and family. The gallery is on the top floor of Chez Lamar and hosts a weekly soiree where guests can meet the artists themselves, enjoy live music and cocktails. This gift of art is unique and supports the local community in Seychelles.
SM: The most luxurious spa?
NS: With a team of massage therapists trained in Phuket, you can’t go wrong with a Thai Massage – it’s like doing yoga without the work!
SM: What about the best rum cocktail?
NS: Porto Cervo on Eden Island shakes up the best rum cocktail. This restaurant also serves an impressive menu prepared by its Russian and Italian chefs.
SM: The best place to watch the sun go down?
NS: Intendance Bay offers unparalleled views of the Seychelles sunset. This view can be enjoyed even in the privacy of some of the villas in Banyan Tree Seychelles.
SM: The Seychelles’ best-kept secret?
NS: A hike to Morne Blanc is a unique experience. It’s an uphill climb from Morne Seychellois National Park overlooking a historic old tea plantation and misty forests arriving at the apex of Morne Blanc where sweeping views of Mahé’s western seaboard awaits.
Reader offer at Banyan Tree Seychelles Stay seven nights from £2,435 pp (saving up to £1,000 pp)* *For bookings made by 31st March 2016 with Abercrombie & Kent. Price includes accommodation in a pool villa, daily breakfast, international flights, airport transfers and a complimentary upgrade to an Ocean View Pool Villa. Valid for new bookings and stays up to 31st December 2016, subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.
To enquire or book, please contact Abercrombie & Kent on 01242 547 702.
This article was published in collaboration with Abercrombie & Kent and Banyan Tree
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