For island chic with an elegantly laid-back atmosphere and eco-friendly cottages woven into the surreal setting.
Couples seeking out the raw beauty of the Seychelles. Cast adrift in its own Old World time capsule, the lavish-yet-low-key family-owned hotel occupies one of the outer coral islands and serves up a thrilling dose of seclusion.
Set the scene:
Sandy, flower-lined paths link the 23 cottages on the island, hidden away in the lush vegetation, each with their own surreal (and private) stretch of beach. At the tip of the island is the central lodge, the focal point of the island, with the restaurant, bar and pool area fanning out around it. Architecture and interiors blend seamlessly into the surrounding paradise and reflect the island’s rich history. From bowls filled with bleached shells to sculptures crafted from large pieces of coral, the design draws on the island itself.
Exotic photographs of trophy fish caught over the years line the pool table where guests are offered cocktails by a friendly team. They really lean into the game here (and the cocktails) with a refreshing absence of phone signal, wifi (except for the bar or library), or even TVs in the room. The message is clear: switch off and embrace the stunning location and its go-slow rhythms. The dress code may demand a degree of formality in the evenings, with men asked to wear long trousers, but the tradition here is to leave shoes in the rooms.
Each cottage is tucked away off one of romantically-lit sandy paths, with heaps of privacy. And with their own daybeds, seating area and stretch of flawless beach, honeymooners could easily spend the whole day here. The open air bathroom is pure delight – a pampering assault course featuring an enormous bathtub, shower and natural spring to rinse any stubborn salt or sand. As the cottages are either on the North or West side of the island (one side is always much calmer depending on the season and direction of tradewinds), make sure to request the calmer when you book. If a no expenses spared honeymoon is on the cards, book into the Villa. This cottage is the last in the row, offering bootstrapped privacy, with its own pool, outdoor dining area and cavernous bedroom and bathroom (a great option for honeymooning with children in tow).
Food and drink:
Given its isolation, Denis Island takes farm-to-fork to new levels. The hotel’s chef changes the menu daily, depending on the fresh produce that is plucked from the island’s own farm and placed on his chopping board. There’s no gimmick involved, just the simple fact that the food you eat is deliciously seasonal, organic and creatively whipped up that day. Photogenic buffet breakfasts here typically overlook the otherworldly sea views, with anything from pancakes to eggs benedict easily whipped up by a friendly team. Lunch is a fixed, seasonal menu which typically features red snapper tacos and grilled job fish with delicious salads. A biweekly shift in dinner location keeps guests on their bare toes, while making the most of the island’s assets. Guests can be whisked off to the Creole kitchen on the East side of the island, where they are treated to a cocktail on the beach, with their own firepit before chefs cook up a Creole storm of octopus curry and a full suckling pig. Another night might see the whole restaurant moved onto the beach for a candlelit barbecue. Typically though, evenings tend to roll out in the main restaurant which recalls the layout of a safari lodge, and while menus are set, they can be tweaked according to dietary requirements or whims. Vast wood beamed ceilings, white tablecloths and twinkling candles set a romantic tone. Honeymooners can float over to the pool-side bar, where local rum Takamaka cocktails can be sipped on daybeds during sunset, or after dinner over a game of backgammon.
Unusually for a far-flung hotel, Denis Island has been owned by the Mason family for decades. Alongside the luxurious elements, they have worked hard to preserve the intimacy of a family home with old world touches throughout. As you land on the grass airstrip that cuts across the width of the island, there’s a thrilling sense that you’ve arrived somewhere truly extraordinary, a secret that few are willing to share.
Children will love greeting the ancient giant tortoises which roam the reserve and can spot the exotic fish on the reef offshore. One cottage can serve as a family villa, with its own private pool (ideal for deserving parents to relax alongside during those sacred nap times). And while there is a daily in-house programme of activities for children, the hotel is cleverly choreographed to guarantee honeymooners plenty of privacy and grown-up spaces.
There is no separate spa building, all Sens spa treatments are in the comfort of your room. This is not only incredibly convenient, but it allows a more personalised approach. Therapists can set up spa beds on front decks of the ocean-facing rooms, where the rolling waves and exotic birdsong leave little need for music. The spa is stocked with Beautice products – a new local organic brand harnessing island plants and minerals. For example, the soothing Detoxifying Facial uses papaya seed exfoliator, an avocado mask and calming cucumber and aloe vera moisturiser. The accompanying neck and scalp massage from a therapist’s nimble fingers is the ultimate post-flight treat. For an indulgent couples pamper, opt for the Sens Spa Signature Package, which features exfoliating coconut scrub, a detoxifying seaweed wrap and heavenly full-body and hair treatment.
Conservation and sustainability lie at the very heart of Denis Island, which goes out of its way to ensure the island’s raw beauty is preserved for years to come. Denis filters all their own water on the island (you won’t find any plastic bottles), and has embarked on an extensive solar power shift, which has already reduced the island’s diesel consumption by 100 litres per day. Impressively, most of the furniture for the hotel is made on the island.
Denis Island is one of the outer islands and the second most northerly island in the Seychelles. Despite feeling miles away from it all, you are only a 30 minute flight from bustling Mahe island, the largest on the Seychelles.
Rates start from £785 per night, based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Beach Cottage, inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (domestic flights to Denis Island at £383 per person return are not included in the room price)
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