Paradise is a word that gets bounded about a little too easily in my humble opinion, but if paradise does indeed exist, the Seychelles has to come pretty close.
After our epic year of 40th birthdays, we had always planned on finding a beach someplace to kick back and relax with a Kindle and some cocktails.
Long renowned for its powder white beaches and turquoise waters, the Seychelles has always carried an almost mystical air of exclusivity about it and has long been a destination we dreamed of visiting.
Given Mahe is also only a five-hour flight from Johannesburg, the decision was easy, and we went ahead and booked ten nights in the Constance Ephelia on Mahe Island to follow on from our South African adventure and finish the holiday in style.
Holidays don’t always go perfectly to plan, and even the best hotels can make mistakes. It’s how the hotels react to these mistakes that separate the average ones from the best.
We had originally booked a junior suite with twin beds as we are both bad sleepers, but on arrival, we discovered our allocated room only had a double. We are willing to compromise on many things but a good nights sleep is not one of them.
After complaining, we were moved to a room which had two mattresses on a single frame. This was still far from ideal, but we decided to try and get our heads down and speak to the management the next day.
The following morning I met up with Ehad, the sales manager, and explained our bed situation. From this moment until the end of our stay, Ehad was an absolute superstar. It’s rare you meet people that just excel at their job, and Ehad is one of these people.
With a bit of manoeuvring, Ehad managed to get us into a hillside bungalow which not only came with two double beds; it had two separate suites, an infinity pool and its own golf buggy! From here on in our stay at the Constance Ephelia could not have been more perfect.
After a blissful nights sleep, we headed down for breakfast at Seselwa, which is reserved for guests staying on the north side of the resort in beach villas or hillside bungalows. We dined here daily in the mornings and never got bored with the wide array of options available. Most mornings I had fresh eggs (I’m mildly addicted to eggs for breakfast) and Gemma attacked the pastry stand. The coffee was also very good. But the best thing on the menu is the view, and what a view it is.
Our daily routine generally consisted of: breakfast at Seselwa, before heading back to the bungalow to sunbath in between dips in the infinity pool; lunch accompanied by a bottle (or two) of Chenin Blanc; followed by more sunbathing on the beach and a dip in the sea; followed by dinner in one of the Ephelia’s five restaurants. It’s a hard life…
The dining options on offer were one of the main reasons we opted for the Constance Ephelia. When you are staying somewhere for ten nights or more you don’t want to get bored with the food options.
Our favourite spot by far was Cyann for lunch. The sushi chef, from Cambodia, is quite simply a culinary genius. The sushi is up there with any we have experienced in London, which given the quality on offer in our home town, with the likes of Nobu and Zuma, is high praise indeed.
It wasn’t only the food that kept us coming back to Cyann (we literally ate pretty much all our lunches there), the staff were amazing too. Rose, from the Philippines, was one of the friendliest waitresses we have ever had, she really is a credit to her profession. The restaurant was run superbly, and you could tell the staff genuinely enjoyed working there.
Helios was the only other restaurant we visited for lunch and while it didn’t quite match the heady heights of Cyann, the setting is very pleasant, and the buffet on offer makes for a nice change of scenery and food.
Our two favourite dining choices in the evenings were Seselwa, on the north of the resort, and Corossol on the south. Both served up buffet style options, changing theme each night. The local Creole cuisine in Seselwa was excellent and the Indian night in Corossol was a real winner.
Tip: Head to Zee Bar around seven o’clock for a pre-dinner cocktail while you watch the sun go down to a backing track of chilled house music.
Cyann is the resort’s marquee Michelin star restaurant, and we dined here once in the evening during our stay. The food was good but didn’t quite reach the level we are used to in London, plus we generally prefer rustic dishes to those of a foamy nature, so it just wasn’t our cup of tea. That said the cheese board was certainly of the highest quality.
We would love to see Cyann extend the sushi menu into the evening as this would take it to the next level.
I booked a dive halfway through the holiday, and while I didn’t see an awful lot of big marine life (I think I had been spoiled by the Great Whites in South Africa), the dive was very well run, with the equipment in excellent condition and the dive instructors really looking after us.
There are many other activities on offer at the hotel including day excursions to La Digue and Praslin, rock climbing, big game fishing and much more.
Having had such a busy year the only other activity, we indulged ourselves in was a trip to the excellent onsite U Spa. The facilities here are superb, and the spa is the biggest in the Indian Ocean.
Le Bonners should definitely pay the extra for either a Beach Villa or a Hillside Bungalow when staying at the Constance Ephelia.
The Junior Suites are dated and just don’t feel like value for money (and it’s a lot of money!). The beach on the south side is windier and the restaurants are busier (this is a big resort).
In contrast, the beach on the north of the resort, although public, is far more chilled out, more picturesque and less windy / calmer. The general vibe on the north is more relaxed as its less busy and more exclusive.
The Beach Villas and Hillside Bungalows are far more modern, huge, and come with either their own bicycles or golf buggy, which are essential in such a vast resort. Trust me; you don’t want to be waiting forty minutes for a resort bus (large buggy) every time you want to eat or head to the beach.
Our time at the Constance Ephelia was magical. The staff were incredibly friendly, the food was good, the beach was stunning, and the accommodation was among the best we have ever stayed.
Take my advice on accommodation and you are guaranteed the holiday of a lifetime…