The first note came at evening turndown, with just a quick line letting me know to “expect an adventure” the next day. The second arrived after breakfast the following morning and featured a clue that had me biking to a secluded cove to “look up for something that doesn’t grow here.” And so it went all day—from a riddle tied to a coconut delivered after my spa treatment, to a pirate-themed clue stuck to a bottle of rum and tucked into my villa’s hammock. The treasure hunt ultimately led to a private mixology class atop a lighthouse, where we put to use the ingredients that had been revealed along the way.
This is the kind of unique experience one can enjoy when you’ve got the run of an island—and the kind of personalized surprise-and-delight activity the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island prides itself on delivering. Opened this spring, the 71-room resort is set in the Seychelles’ less-developed Outer Amirantes group, just a 35-minute puddle-jumper flight from the international airport on main island Mahe. Mahe is also home to the sister Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (which is going into its 10th year), and together the two properties offer guests the chance to enjoy different sides of this increasingly popular destination—while, as Desroches resort manager Nick Solomon explains, helping to “make a private island experience more accessible” through their partnership.
Sanctuary with Style
With 8.7 miles of empty white sand beaches backed by piercing blue-green Indian Ocean waters, Desroches is a tropical paradise postcard come to life. It starts to become real upon landing on the island’s lone runway and seeing hotel staff lined up at the sidelines, waving their welcomes (they do the same for each departure, too.) Spread out on one side of the runway is the main resort, with the suites and villas clustered along two beaches, bookending the restaurants, spa and other public areas; on the other side lie a collection of multi-bedroom residence villas, ideal for groups and families. All accommodations have perks like supersized plunge pools, direct beach access, outdoor showers and lounging space, and a breezy-chic, residential-inspired décor, while touches like vintage-style guides to the island’s beaches and marine life and dedicated bicycles for each guest encourage exploration of both land and sea.
More to Explore
And there’s a lot to explore—particularly as the island isn’t technically private. While the Four Seasons is the only hotel here (and its guests certainly feel far away from the world), the 3.75-mile-long, 933-acre coral island is also home to some independent entities—which is different from similar destinations like the Maldives, where resorts tend to be marooned on their own islet.
Tucked among the dense foliage in the middle of the Desroches is the Island Conservation Society, which focuses on land restoration and wildlife protection and operates a sanctuary and breeding center for the indigenous Aldabra giant tortoise. Hotel guests can visit the sanctuary to learn about the unique species, help with feedings and roam the grounds in search of some of the legendary 100-year-old turtles.
Just past the sanctuary are two villages—one Indian, one Creole—with a population of about 100 between them. Some of the villagers work on staff at the Four Seasons, and the Indian village has a furniture making and woodworking facility, while the Creole villagers grow vegetables and tend chickens and goats. Hotel guests are welcome to visit the villages and mingle with locals (the activity team can make the arrangements), or even bike over with a picnic to watch the locals’ Sunday cricket match.
Then there’s the aquatic world. Operated by an outside party, the WiseOceans Discovery Center is staffed by marine educators and experts who can guide guests through what lies below. Snorkeling can easily be enjoyed just off the resort or around the island—keep a lookout for brightly-colored butterflyfish and angelfish, reef fish like grouper and marling, a variety of rays and sea turtles nestled into the seagrass—while diving (including into caves and tunnels), sunset cruises and world-class fishing (including fly fishing) can all be arranged.
The ability to experience such a pristine natural wonderland is, according to resort manager Solomon, one of the key selling points of the property. “The marriage between the unspoiled environment and the amenities of the hotel is what defines luxury here,” he notes. “It’s also rare for tourists to visit an outer island of the Seychelles, so we are able to offer that unique opportunity to complement a stay at our larger Mahe property.” As you’d expect with a Four Seasons, the intimate size of the resort translates to lots of personal attention and standout experiences, from outdoor family movie nights and impromptu beach picnics to—what’ surely a first—private yoga sessions on the airplane runway. But it’s the sense of freedom and away from it all sanctuary that makes a stay on Desroches truly special—and that’s the real treasure at the end of the hunt.