Carly Glendinning visits Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa for a family holiday in paradise…
With its sugar sand beaches and crystalline waters, the Seychelles may strike you as more of a honeymooner’s destination, than a place to travel to with little ones. Our daughter was born last spring and feeling a little nervous about flying with a newborn during a pandemic, we resolved to spend last summer in London. This year, as we’d not been on holiday for a while, we found ourselves dreaming of a big adventure. And travelling to the Seychelles with a toddler in tow certainly fulfilled that criteria.
The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. We were headed to the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa – the only resort on Silhouette Island, which is a 30-40 minute boat ride from Mahé (the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago). Flying with Qatar Airways, from Gatwick we travelled to Doha and then onto Mahé. The journey is no mean feat with a toddler, but we booked an overnight flight and we were lucky that our little one did manage to get some sleep (even if we didn’t!).
Aside from the long journey, if you’re going to travel somewhere far-flung with a toddler the Seychelles is a good choice for several reasons. Firstly it’s only three hours ahead of the UK, so jet-lag isn’t a problem. Secondly, thanks to its equatorial location, the Seychelles doesn’t really experience much variation in weather. The temperature averages between 26 and 32 degrees year-round, meaning that it never gets really scorching hot. The humidity does make it a perfect climate for mosquitoes, but considering beach holidays are rarely bug-free, we didn’t let this deter us. We landed on Mahé in the midst of a tropical rain storm, a rainbow shooting through the sky. The Seychelles does experience rain from time-to-time, but despite this initial downpour, we were lucky to have amazing weather for the rest of our trip (we visited in June). The rain, however, is all forgiven when you see the flourishing flora and fauna on Silhouette Island. A private collection of villas, the Hilton Labriz is set in lush jungle, afoot the most magnificent mountainous landscape, and overlooking a postcard-perfect stretch of white sandy coastline. It’s paradise, even if you do spend most of your time chasing after a toddler!
We stayed in a King Sanctuary Pool Villa, which was very secluded and had a private pool with an outdoor rain shower area overlooking the tropical forest. With a large double bed and sofa area, there was ample space.
The highlight was definitely the bathroom, which had a large round bathtub surrounded by pebbles to make it feel like a spa. On our last night, the resort arranged a romantic bath for us with bubbles and tropical flowers so we could make the most of it.
Our villa was within easy walking distance of all of the restaurants, the main pool, and the beach. We had brought our buggy with us, but our one-year-old was able to walk everywhere we needed to go, so we didn’t use it much. As you’d expect with a five-star resort, the service was impeccable.
Hilton Labriz was excellent at providing everything we needed for our little one. They arranged a car seat for our airport transfers and had set a travel cot up in our villa.
Our toddler was a bit scared of the beach! But luckily there were plenty of other things for families to do, including two play areas. We had a private pool, but we also swam in the main pool, which had a shallower section – perfect for little kids to splash about in.
We visited the kids club as a family most days, as little ones under age 4 must be accompanied by an adult. We didn’t get to join in with any activities as unfortunately at the times we visited there wasn’t a big enough group of children. However, the new summer CampCation programme – including dance classes, arts and crafts, baking, and rides on the children’s train to feed the fish – looked fun. Even when the activities aren’t on, kids can play in the club.
For kids aged 4-12 there’s the opportunity to take part in tailored adventures with the year-round Island Academy. If we’d not been travelling with a baby, we would have loved to explore the island’s wildlife with a snorkelling expedition, boat trip, diving lesson, or a hike in the jungle. For the sporty, there’s tennis courts, table tennis, a giant trampoline, garden chess, golf, fishing and a fitness centre. You can also learn more about the island’s rich cultural heritage with Creole cooking classes and nature walks.
Hilton Labriz also offers a babysitting service. Our daughter isn’t used to having a babysitter yet, so instead the resort was more than happy to arrange private dining in our villa.
One thing to take note of is that although there is a boutique stocking essentials including sunscreen, there is nowhere to buy baby items such as nappies and wipes on the island so my advice would definitely be to overpack, just in case!
The resort has no less than eight restaurants offering a diverse range of cuisines from Japanese teppanyaki, to traditional Creole dishes, and family-friendly pizza.
A buffet-style breakfast is served every morning between 7am – 11am at Café Dauban, which has a beautiful view out onto the sea. There’s something to please everyone from waffles and pancakes to sausages and eggs and an abundance of fresh fruit.
Lunch is a laidback menu of wood-fired pizzas or burgers at Lo Brizan Bar or Aria, next to the main pool. The kids menu offers the usual favourites including nuggets, chips and pasta. We did find it a little bit limited for our one-year-old, but I don’t think she minded too much!
The evening restaurants are very impressive and we had some truly delicious meals prepared by the resort’s talented chefs during our stay. I am currently on a vegan and gluten free diet, and it was not a problem for the head chef to create a special menu for me. Although we dined in our villa most evenings, the resort also arranged a private beach BBQ for us. Even with a toddler (!), it was still very romantic eating in a cabana overlooking the beach.
Set within a protected national park, the hotel has ambitious yearly goals to reduce their environmental impact and we were impressed with the resort’s eco-minded initiatives. Filtered water in recycled glass bottles is delivered to your room several times a day thanks to the resort’s Vivreau filtration system. This system has eliminated the need for 16,000 plastic water bottles a month and the water is so pure, you could drink directly from the shower in your villa. The hotel also uses a salt water chlorinator in the pool to reduce the need for chemicals.
The island is 100% self-sustaining and although they import supplies, they also have an organic vegetable garden and use food waste to make compost. The resort is also rolling out a solar energy plan this year and already has a windmill which supplies hydro energy to the staff quarters.
Nestled in the natural granite boulders of Silhouette Island and overlooking a quiet stretch of coastline, the tranquil Eforea Spa is a must-visit for frazzled mamas.
Whilst my husband and daughter went for a swim, I snuck off for a bit of me-time. The Elemis spa boasts six private treatment rooms and also has a whirlpool, steam room and sauna, and plunge pool. My massage was so dreamy I nearly fell asleep. It certainly helped me relax into the holiday – which, let’s face it, can be hard when you’re still on-duty as a parent!
Five-star Hilton Seychelles Resort and Spa; prices for 2 adults in a King Garden Villa on Bed & Breakfast arrival 24th December 2022 for a 6 night stay start at £750 per night.
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