The Seychelles, where William and Kate and a host of other celebs have escaped, has always been a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Not any more!
With the launch of British Airways’ new direct flight to Mahe, it is now in the reach of everyone.
With return fares from just £439 and a week’s B&B 3* hotel stay with flights from just £979, now we all get to explore this incredible slice of paradise.
It takes two hours to clear the giant Aldabra tortoises from the grass runway on Fregate Island.
Only after they have been coaxed to soak up the sunshine elsewhere can planes land on this private island paradise.
The ultimate tropical hideaway may have welcomed the likes of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Ronan Keating and Sir Paul McCartney, but it is the 3,000 giant tortoises who have free rein through verdant jungle and on pristine beaches.
And while you may need an A-lister’s bank balance to stay here, there is the chance you could leave even richer.
The island, one of 115 in this Indian Ocean archipelago, was first inhabited by 17th-century pirates who raided ships of the British East India Company.
Legendary French pirate La Buse is said to have buried treasure worth billions on the island before he was caught, allegedly throwing a coded map into the crowds as he faced the hangman’s noose.
So far only a few gold coins have surfaced but I can think of worse places to look for buried treasure.
You can hike around the island in four hours, following the seven miles of trails carved over hundreds of years by those gigantic tortoises — past ancient banyan trees and through dense jungle before emerging on to the soft white sands of one of the island’s seven beaches.
Nature abounds everywhere — wild, unique, lush and captivating.
More than 1,000 species of birds call Fregate home and the island’s remarkable conservation efforts have saved at least one from extinction.
The island grows 80 per cent of the food it serves to its guests.
Yet while the natural beauty and history of the island are obviously a draw, for those who can afford the £3,000-a-night price tag, it is the privacy away from the paparazzi in one of just 16 villas that appeals.
Each comes with a vast infinity pool, deck with daybeds, loungers, hot tub and jaw-dropping views over the sapphire- blue waters and palm-fringed beaches.
There’s your own dining and living rooms complete with wine cellar, four-poster beds and outside bathrooms where you can shower alongside giant millipedes and lively lizards.
Jump into your own golf buggy to visit the harbour with its dive school, boats and boards, relax by the pools, restaurant and beach bar at Fregate House, or explore the little museum in the original Plantation House.
A nature hike with the resident conservationists is a must — as is a massage at the Rock Spa with its dramatic coastal views and tranquil tropical gardens.
Peckish? Dine anywhere from a barbecue on your terrace to a linen-laid table right on the beach.
For the ultimate dining experience, though, it has to be the island’s tree house where you share a candlelit dinner 30ft up in the canopy.
All this incredible luxury may be out of the reach of most of us but the Seychelles DEFINITELY isn’t.
British Airways launched new direct flights in May — landing without tortoise trouble on the main island of Mahe.
Flights take just ten hours in BA’s swanky new Dreamliner planes and cost from just £439pp return in the latest sale.
And here you can enjoy the same gorgeous natural beauty for a fraction of the price.
The main island, with its tiny, historic capital Victoria, is a fertile, granite affair.
Coming into land, the dramatic cliffs and unique boulders with their other-wordly tropical fringes are just the start.
The colourful markets and pretty colonial-style streets are the place to enjoy the Creole-style cooking — a fish curry will set you back just £4 from a street stall.
There are 65 fabulous beaches to explore, from the picture-perfect Beau Vallon in the north to the rugged beauty of Anse Corail in the south. And staying here doesn’t have to cost a king’s ransom.
There are plenty of small guest houses and B&Bs, some with direct access to those fabulous beaches.
Prices start from just £80 a night.
For under £1,000, British Airways Holidays has a week’s B&B in a decent 3* hotel set on a fabulous Seychelles beach AND your flights plus transfers.
Neighbouring island Praslin is just a 45-minute catamaran ferry ride away and is home to the coco de mer tree, with its rather erotic male and female appendages, as well as some of the Seychelles’ most striking beaches including Anse Lazio — often voted the world’s most beautiful.
Also 45 minutes away are the rugged delights of La Digue, the fourth largest isle in the Seychelles and celebrated for its sculpted granite boulders and beaches like Anse Source D’Argent.
The pace is as slow as those giant tortoises, with ox-cart and bicycle the preferred transport.
The Seychelles IS as beautiful as the pictures promise — and even more amazingly, it is also utterly affordable.
GETTING THERE: British Airways flies year-round from Heathrow to Mahe twice a week.
Right now, there are fares from £439pp return in the carrier’s world sale. Book before September 25. See ba.com/seychelles.
STAYING THERE: British Airways Holidays has a week’s B&B at the 3H Coral Strand Hotel from £979pp, including flights from Heathrow on selected dates in May 2019. See ba.com/seychelles or call 0344 493 0778.
Fregate Island Private has rooms from £2,840 per person per night, based on two sharing a private pool villa on a full-board basis.
To get more information on accommodation, see oetkercollection.com.
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