Despite increased competition from celebrity-luring islets in the Caribbean and design-driven atolls in the Maldives, the world’s original lavish eco-retreat, the Seychelles’ Frégate Island Private, still champions an unparalleled recipe of natural grandeur and bespoke luxury.
One of Earth’s only high-rising, mid-oceanic granite islands, 750-acre Frégate retains the ecology and topography of its genesis, a splintered sliver of the 75 million-year-old supercontinent of Gondwana in the heart of the Indian Ocean. And it’s yours to explore. Part of the allure is getting there: Nearly as far off the coasts of East Africa and Madagascar, once you land in Mahé, the capital of the archipelago that composes the French-inflected Seychelles, a 20-minute flight whisks you off to the Darwinian dreamland. The cerulean surf, delicate coral reefs and luscious sands surrounding this fantasy of a waterfront paradise and the extravagant amenities within and among Frégate’s 16 luxury villas represent an intense love affair between nature and exclusivity.
While a staff of 150 stands at the ready for guests, one particular staff member truly shapes the Frégate experience—your personal butler, who greets you upon arrival at the helipad and navigates through the labyrinthine trails over gargantuan granite slabs and into modern luxury. He whisks you to your private hideaway, an expansive Creole-inspired wooden villa, a nod to the local culture, appointed with elegant yet muted furnishings, and ensures that everything from the temperature of the sexy infinity-edge pool to the supplies in the mini-bar is pure perfection. This dedicated gentleman offers “insider” knowledge to help develop a tailored itinerary for exploring the island to the fullest. He also can arrange for indulgences like private breakfasts on the beach and sunset cocktails on the island’s apex or in the forest tree house. No matter which of the island’s seven stunning anses (bays) you choose, he’ll make sure towels, loungers and favorite chilled drinks are waiting for you on arrival and continuously replenished.
Dining surfaces as a major theme on Frégate. Each meal is its own experience, often presented in a unique location and consisting of a vast assortment of farm-to-table and sea-to-table delights. All fruits, vegetables and spices are grown on-island and fish sourced from surrounding waters.
My first fabulous culinary day began at breakfast high in the forest canopy in an enchanting tree-house, with homemade pastries, banana and fig preserves and a seafood frittata washed down with fresh star fruit juice. Next was a lunchtime beachfront Champagne picnic followed by the finale: a private seafood barbecue under the stars. The next morning, eating festivities commenced with breakfast on the beach and finished with a divine Creole dinner at the historic plantation house, featuring seven types of fresh breads with eggplant, pumpkin and papaya dips, lobster and breadfruit curry, and coconut rum sorbet for dessert. I quickly learned a valuable lesson: Don’t expect to shed any pounds here.
Frégate’s multifaceted endowments appeal to all types of jet-setters. Hardcore sybarites and privacy seekers hardly break away from the view-heavy hilltop balé (an Indonesian daybed pavilion) and poolside chaises on the secluded villa terraces. When they do, it’s to soak in the scene from the rock-hewn outdoor shower, greet the butler for the next room service extravaganza or ascend to the cliff-top Rock Spa for a decadent organic treatment using products formulated on-island. When beach time beckons, unapologetic R&R awaits along Anse Macquereau, a private-use bay with a large wooden “Do Not Disturb” plaque warding off unwanted company. More gregarious patrons spend time in the Frégate House, where the principal restaurant, bar and common swimming pools serve as a central meeting point.
Nature enthusiasts have a field day combing the boulder-strewn beaches and hiking to remote, ethereal crannies, stumbling upon such prehistoric creatures as century-old giant tortoises, 101 different bird species and arguably the largest millipedes in the world. Daily nature walks and lectures, helmed by resident conservation biologists, elevate the ecology theme. For those eager to explore the Seychelles’ mystical underwater world—what draws most people to the reef-rimmed island nation—snorkeling and diving opportunities abound, as the resort has its own yacht club and PADI center.
Beach sophisticates revel in the stunning swaths of sand enveloping Frégate. The combinations of velvety sand, aquamarine water and lush landscaping are simply breathtaking. Suffice to say, the dreamy, palm tree-lined Anse Victorin is consistently awarded the title “most beautiful beach in the world” in travel polls. Yet Frégate’s six other beaches are hardly inferior, each with its own personality and edge, from Grand Anse, frequented by nesting hawksbill turtles, to Anse La Cour, strewn with gorgeous seashells.
One hundred countries deep in my travels, I am often asked to pinpoint the most magnificent place in the world. While I’ll never be able to single out one location, Frégate Island Private indeed reigns in my mind as one of the world’s most coveted addresses, harmonizing natural beauty and man-made luxury, and providing the ingredients for one of life’s most epic and pampering journeys. fregate.com