Encircled by preternaturally beautiful beaches and azure coves, the private island of Sainte Anne – which sits a 15-minute boat hop from the main island of Mahé – appears like a picture-perfect postcard from the shoreline, its emerald canopy of palms and endemic lodoicea trees shimmering above a ribbon of turquoise like a scene from White Lotus. So far, so Seychelles.
Yet Club Med’s latest Exclusive Collection outpost is slicker than your average all-inclusive, and firmly targets the new breed of zenventure travellers who – post-lockdown, mid-news-infused-meltdown – are coveting more than coconut-encased piña coladas and sunrise yoga classes.
Indeed, responding to the increasing popularity of adventure-filled excursions at its sister resorts (bookings are up 27% since 2019), Club Med Seychelles has laid on a veritable feast of activities that go well beyond token tennis and snorkelling sessions. Think guided jungle treks to hidden coves, followed by meditation in a shaded beachside shala, or salt-soaked sailing regattas to neighbouring islets that rise like coral outcrops across the archipelago.
“At Club Med, we wanted to ensure we create the perfect blend of holistic and adventure activities, in a holiday where you can unwind and relax on the one hand, while having the opportunity to partake in thrilling adventures on the other,” explains Estelle Giraudeau, the Club Med UK and Northern Europe Managing Director. “From reconnecting with nature on a mindful yoga hike to swinging from a flying trapeze, our new resort in the Seychelles [achieves a rejuvenating balance] – and we’ve seen a big increase in the amount of people signing up to enjoy our activities.”
Take sunset kayaking as a case in point. A guided affair, it offers the ideal vantage point from which to soak up the Seychelles’ kaleidoscopic skyline with likeminded travellers – the synchronised swoosh of your paddles as you carve through the surf serving as a quiet reminder that you’re here, in the moment, and the only overthinking to be had is what sundowner to order at the beach shack back at base.
But the eco-conscious design, calming tropical palette and all-inclusive mentality plays its part here, too. Suites are beyond spacious, and my sea-facing balcony, with its window to anchoring yachts and a tree-cloaked bay below, proves the perfect spot to unwind in after an active afternoon spent sailing/freediving/attempting tai chi on the verdant lawns.
Experiences here almost exclusively revolve around the expansive resort’s stunning setting – Club Med cleverly tapping into our desire to reconnect while still lapping up the everyday luxuries we’ve come to expect from premium travel. So, yes, rooms come with gigantic monsoon showers, Egyptian-cotton-cloaked beds and state-of-the-art espresso machines, but you’re also encouraged to trek through the forest to enjoy them.
Meanwhile, the resort’s light-filled lounges, contemporary dining spots (head for exceptional à la carte creole dishes at the stylish Reef Beach Lounge) and day-bed-encircled pools have been made with socialising in mind, guests swapping stories from their day over G&Ts before the guest DJs arrive and the dancing begins.
For those in need of a restorative morning-after-the-night-before, there is, of course, a wellness-focussed spa to indulge in, too – a cocoon-like haven from the heat serving up heavenly north African or Ayurvedic massages alongside energy rituals, aromatic scrubs and bespoke, botanical facials.
Yet, despite the luxuries and abundance of global cuisine on offer, it’s the resort’s private setting, wedged deep in the raw beauty of Sainte Anne Marine National Park, that strikes me its biggest draw as we sail an Insta-friendly catamaran to neighbouring Moyenne Island.
Stopping off for salty swims with plumes of parrot fish and graceful manta rays, we excitedly spot unbleached brain coral in between the kelp forests before seeking shade under Moyenne’s wild tangle of lush vegetation. Once a neglected wasteland, this eco-reserve and haven for Aldabra giant tortoises is now the world’s smallest national park and presents a miniature version of the Galápagos or Madagascar – a world suspended in time and untainted by human habitation.
Gifted to the national park by former owner Brendan Grimshaw – a journalist from Yorkshire who bought the island in the early 1960s for £8,000 – Moyenne rises from the ocean like a tower of green, a mirage-like rainforest untouched by development or tourism that’s filled to the brim with native flora and fauna, and crowned with breathtaking vistas from its granite peak.
Laid to rest on the island in 2012, alongside his father and two unknown men presumed to be pirates, Grimshaw’s tombstone reads: ‘Moyenne taught him to open his eyes to the beauty around him’ – and perhaps, in its own, more conspicuously commercial way, that’s exactly what Club Med Seychelles is continuing to offer up today.
Rooms at Club Med Seychelles start from £1,815 per person for a 7-night stay; clubmed.co.uk