From 400 ft below the surface of the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles president Danny Faure spoke to the world. Joining a British-led expedition exploring the ocean’s depths in April this year, the president made a plea on a live broadcast for better protection of the world’s seas – or, as he called them, “the beating blue heart of our planet”.
Seychelles has much to lose from climate change. Already, the water surrounding the nation’s 115 islands is rising and its coral being bleached. Like other small island nations, it is in danger of sinking. Last year, Faure and his team protected 210,000 sq km of ocean in exchange for having some of the nation’s debt paid off, and they have since pledged to protect 30 per cent of its surrounding waters by 2020.
To look at the Seychelles, you would certainly think it worth saving. Reaping the best of what Mother Nature has to offer, this collection of islands looks like it’s been plucked from a screensaver, with the saturation bumped up to the max. Ribbons of white sand snake around the edge of the islands, which are peppered with palm trees and surrounded by waves of paintchart blues. Here, colour is cosmic.
Once considered a five-star destination with three-star amenities, the Seychelles has since become a honeymoon hotspot with luxury hotels in abundance. On Mahé, the largest of all the islands and home to the capital Victoria – and around 90 per cent of Seychelles’ population – a familyrun bolthole bridges the gap between luxury and local, with a design that is distinctly Seychellois and sensitive to its surrounding area.
Carana Beach Hotel, named after the picturesque beach it overlooks, was reopened by hoteliers Alan and Sam Mason in 2016, after it was closed nearly two decades previously. The secluded bay on which it sits dictates the character of the boutique hotel, which was designed with its location in mind – a Seychellois experience envisioned by Seychellois people.
The hotel’s 40 chalets, 28 of which have ocean views and 12 of which have private plunge pools, have distinctive modern Creole architecture that blends in with the local buildings. Inside, neutral colours and natural fabrics allow the shades of the Seychelles to shine, with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open out onto the beach.
Located 11 miles north of the airport and five miles from the capital, Carana Beach Hotel is wellplaced for those looking for seclusion. But it’s not all cocktails and sun loungers – excursions such as hiking, diving and sunset picnics are on offer, while the hotel’s bijou Sens spa, named after the Creole word for senses, offers a range of treatments using locally-sourced products.
The all-day dining beach bar serves Creole tapas, fresh fish and local favourites such as grilled octopus, crab salad and chicken Creole empanadas. Breakfast and dinner are both served at the resident restaurant Lorizon, which overlooks the beach and provides à la carte meals with local infusions.
The hotel’s food offering is supplied by an organic farm on Denis Private Island, another of the Mason family’s properties. It’s one of the many sustainable initiatives they have deployed across its three hotels, and its tour operator business Mason’s Travel.
As one of the leading travel companies in the Seychelles, the team is keen to ensure its hotels are as sustainable as possible. In a recent interview, Alan Mason outlined the lengths he is going to in order to achieve this. In addition to home-grown food, Carana Beach has a recycled water system, as well as a rain water collection system. Elsewhere, at Mason’s Travel, the team is investing in hybrid vehicles.
It’s a small price to pay to save one of the world’s most beautiful locations – or, as Alan aptly describes his home, a place of “genuine escapism”.
From €424 per night for an Ocean View Villa, caranabeach.com