Motti Verses

Castaway bliss on Silhouette Island, Seychelles

The powdery white sands and the endless jungles of Silhouette are clearly seen from the jetty surrounding the island. It was during a romantic sunset special intimate cruise with my beloved. Holding a glass of champagne in my hand, while the vessel was rocking fiercely, I was suddenly thinking about Samantha Bell’s book “How to Survive on a Deserted Island”. Silhouette is the closest piece of land that I have experienced that reminds me of venues for any deserted island TV Shows & Movies like “Cast Away”, “Life Of Pi”, or “Lost”. 

Luckily we were fortunate to enjoy both worlds. Challenging the idiom ‘having the cake and eating it too’ – Getting lost on Silhouette and enjoying pampering unique accommodations in a spacious villa in the only resort on the island, which is 93% a National Park. A tropical paradise nestled between white sand beaches and forested mountains. The Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort was our home during our stay on the isolated piece of land. No escape, except a jetty that departs twice a day.

Silhouette, a 93% breathless National Park (photo by Motti Verses)
Silhouette – venues for any deserted island TV Shows & Movies (photo by Motti Verses)

Silhouette Island lies 20 km northwest of Mahé and is the third largest granite island of the Seychelles. It has a population of 200, mostly workers. The main settlement is La Passe, where the hotel is located. From the mid-19th century until 1960, the island was owned by the Dauban family, who were originally from France. Their house was responsible for developing extensive plantations on the island. The Dauban era came to an end when they sold Silhouette to a private group till the Seychelles government took over in 1983. Only then tourism started and since 2011 it is one of the most unique Hilton resorts I have ever encountered.

Our arrival aboard the jetty from Mahé reminded us of the opening scenes of “The White Lotus”, my favorite hotel TV series. Smiling hotel team members waited for us on the deck, with a welcome wave and we were heart warmed. Its working! A buggy took us from the dock all the way to the central bar of the hotel. Looking around, the sight was breathtaking. On the one side endless empty sugary-soft sands, cerulean waters and leaning palm trees. On the other, a pleasant endless well taken care resort, guaranteeing that  privacy and peace of mind are well kept.

Hospitable Resort Manager, Thomas Porter: “111 villas, either beach facing looking or facing nature (photo by Motti Verses)
A pampering Villa with a private pool in the backyard (photo by Motti Verses)

“Hilton Seychelles Labriz is a very special place on Silhouette island. It really is a place where people can go back to their spirituality and get one with nature”, says Resort Manager, Thomas Porter. “Our 111 villas are unique, because you can either be beach facing looking out over the Indian Ocean, or if you prefer the nature you can really look out into pure jungle and see the bats and the bees and get back to feeling the world. It’s really a friendly place for families as well as couples, romance, as well as activities. So my recommendation is that you really get stuck-in and explore the island. See the history, see the culture, climb the mountains, go and see the sunsets”, he says.

Waking up to the sound of the ocean at our footsteps or walking on the endless tranquil beachfront was our daily paradise routine. The only time we met hotel guests was during breakfast at Café Dauban, a pleasant wooden structure, offering an option to enjoy an endless variety of food and beverages next to a table with your feet deep in the sand, on a wooden balcony or inside. Such a difficult choice to make.

A beachfront Villa, waking up to the sound of the ocean(photo by Motti Verses)

The hotel offers endless options for fine dining and we tried to explore as much as possible. The most authentic dinner was in Grann Kaz, located outside the hotel premises, in the restored home of the Dauban family. The pleasant Esaida Pierre, the veteran senior Sous Chef here, presented her Creole heritage cooking that was exceptional. The traditional Japanese cooking at the Teppanyaki lakeside restaurant guarantees an exciting central kitchen show. Artistic Kavindu Rathnakara prepares freshly grilled seafood and beef in a pleasant theatrical performance to be remembered. Great food. A romantic dinner at Portobello with a sophisticated Italian gastronomy is highly recommended as well.

A must is a visit to one of the most impressive wellness spas I have experienced. Eforea is located in the heart of the jungle at the very end of the resort. This ultimate escape was heaven on earth, not to be missed. Relaxing with a cup of tea at the lounge right after, gazing at the Indian Ocean and the granite boulders of this unique island, is a spiritual experience.

Artistic Kavindu Rathnakara at the Teppanyaki lakeside restaurant (right) and a Creole dish by Esaida Pierre at Grand Kaz (photo by Motti Verses)
Eforea Spa, located in the middle of the jungle (photo by Motti Verses)
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort, blending with the paradise nature (photo by Motti Verses)

Hilton Seychelles Labriz is definitely full of surprises. Even a day trip to Seychelles iconic  islands Praslin and La Digue was on the agenda. Captain Yuwan welcomed us aboard  the hotel’s jetty after sunrise for a day to be cherished. After almost two hours in the ocean we reached Praslin’s small port. A visit to one of a kind Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve palm forest, famous for its coco de mer, the largest and heaviest female flower of any palm,  is certainly a must. Lazio is reputed as the most beautiful beach in the world, thanks to its perfect crystal-clear water. The time we spent there was a true paradise experience.

Lazio of Praslin, the most beautiful beach in the world (photo by Motti Verses)
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve palm forest in Praslin with the famous coco de mer (photo by Motti Verses)

A short sail to La Digue, the most picturesque island, with the gigantic tortoises under the monumental granite rock is magnificent. Anse Source d’Argent is the most photographed beach in the world due to its imposing boulders reminiscent of prehistoric times. An ideal backdrop to endless films and commercials. We certainly joined the trend with an elaborated collection of our own images. What I felt deep inside is left to the end of my story.

La Digue Anse Source d’Argent – the most photographed beach in the world (photo by Motti Verses)
La Digue gigantic aging tortoises under the monumental granite rock (photo by Motti Verses)
The silhouette of Silhouette, Captains Yuwan and Vijitha take us back at sunset (photo by Motti Verses)

The saddest moment on Silhouette was the departure time. Surrounded by a dozen travelers with a grim look like us in the pampering jetty we were taken back to Mahé. We were envious of the smarter charming guests we met during breakfast , who planned in advance a longer trip. Our castaway bliss on Silhouette island turned into history. The hospitable left behind hotel team members from different parts of the world are fortunate. They do work hard to please guests, doing a wonderful job to say the list. If there is a place to work in the hospitality industry, Hilton Seychelles Labriz resort is the ultimate choice.

Joining numerous hospitable hotel team members from different parts of the world (photo by Motti Verses)

Seychelles’ Islands Development Company (IDC) is very active in promoting tourism, the top pillar of the country’s economy. Apparently a small luxury eco-tourism hotel project is taken in mind in an area located on the northwest coast of Silhouette Island. Foreign investors, not locals, have expressed interest for a concept development for the area of a small eco-hotel with a solar facility to produce electricity, as well as an environmentally friendly sewage and waste system in place. Will this “hungry” foreign initiative be the next step to take this isolated paradise island deeper into civilization? Can investors settle for a 25 room hotel?

In 1995 I visited La Digue island as part of a marketing promotion conducted with Air Seychelles in order to promote Seychelles for Israeli travelers. Its breathtaking Anse Source d’Argent beach was totally empty in those days. For viewers of the 1977 reputed French motion picture “Goodbye Emmanuelle”, which was filmed there, it was a scene from an unfamiliar world. La Digue became a dream destination ever since. This time the beach was packed with tourists and hundreds of bicycles at the entrance. I felt heartbroken. Is this what awaits Silhouette? I certainly hope not.

About the Author
The author is a hotel expert, traveler, writer, videographer and the former Head of Public Relations of Hilton Hotels and Resorts in Israel
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