A mere four degrees south of the equator, this tiny lump of granite seemingly floating in the Indian Ocean is a sensitively developed, verdant paradise, the likes of which you imagine when the theme tune to Desert Island Discs drifts from your radio speakers. Traditional-style villas made from native mahogany and topped with thatched roofs provide your base, while talcum-soft sand will fast become your foot exfoliator of choice. The whole island is taken up by Fregate Island Private, so absolutely everything is taken care of – all you have to do is turn up and flop out.
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If you and your partner want to make ‘intimate’ noises without being overheard, then ask for one of the villas furthest away from the main buildings. Villas One and Two are a good option for those with children, as they are set in gardens rather than on a clifftop. All villas come with a personal golf buggy, so you can zip around the resort in style.
Fregate has seven beaches to choose from – all with conveniently placed coolers stocked with refreshments – so you can happily while away days basking on the sands. If you prefer a more active approach to island life, take to the sea solo by sailboat, kayak or surfboard, or arrange waterskiing, windsurfing or Hobie Cat sailing. The island has its own yacht club and and a PADI dive centre offering certified scuba courses, day and night dives and deep-sea fishing expeditions with either its own crew or a bevy of local fisherman.
On land, you can take advantage of the resident conservationists to gen up on the hundreds of exotic bird species that make Fregate their home, or get involved in a spot of ecological fieldwork, spotting hawksbill turtle hatchings as they emerge from the sand and scoot down to the sea. Explore the nearby mountain trails by bike or on foot (the trek up Mont Segnal is particularly exhilerating) or, to venture even further afield, ask your butler to arrange a powerboat or helicopter trip to another island for the day. If you’re of a more romantic mien, arrange an afternoon’s high tea at the island’s highest point, or take advantage of a couple’s treatment at the Rock Spa.
if you’ve always wanted to be coated head to toe in Belgian chocolate, this is your chance!Rock Spa, Fregate Island
Food and Drinks
There are two restaurants and two bars. Creole and African cuisine is served up in the main Fregate House restaurant, while barbecues are held regularly in the colonial-style Plantation House. Work your way through the cocktail menu beneath the thatched roof of the open-air Pirates Bar or whilst idling your toes in the sand at the Anse Bambous Beach Bar. A private table for two, complete with flickering candles, can be set up anywhere in the resort: I recommend dining on Anse Bambous beach or in the hotel’s treehouse.
Things i Loved
- Two large communal palm-fringed infinity pools. Each villa has its own private infinity pool and Jacuzzi, reached via a wooden staircase.
- Bring binoculars so you can catch a glimpse of the acrobatic frégate bird, after which the island is named.
- For guests who would like to finally take the plunge and learn how to dive, Fregate Island Private offers a PADI certification scheme.
- Fregate Island operates a robust conservation programme to preserve the Seychelles’ rich flora and fauna. Where possible, all ingredients used in the restaurants and the Rock Spa are grown on site.The hotel’s on track for carbon neutrality too.
Things you should know
- A three-night minimum stay applies.
- Rates include all meals, soft drinks, beer and wine, a three-hour fishing trip, a massage, a yoga class, an introductory scuba session, use of a buggy, all non-motorised watersports, guided nature walks.
- Junior holidaymakers, who are encouraged to use the Castaway Clubhouse, are welcomed into all areas – bar the bars, of course. There is a charge of €115–€345 per child, per night, if they are staying in their parents’ villa.
Bobbing in the boat as we approach Fregate Island Private in the Seychelles, I smiled and felt as though I’m a celebrity – even though five minutes ago I was cursing myself for vetoing the helicopter ride we were offered as a means to reach the luxury tropical island. My forgiving attitude may, in part, be due to the dazzling scene that comes into view – pristine white-sand beaches, lush green forests and sea so blue it would make Frank Sinatra’s eyes green.
A warm smile and cold drink greet us as we step onto the talcum-soft sand. Matthews, a young Kenyan man, introduces himself as our personal assistant. In no time, he’s whisking us off in a buggy through the dense forest, past the plantation house, the agricultural area and the protected sanctuary for juvenile giant tortoises. First stop: reception. This is set high above the beach and has a restaurant with wraparound views of the Indian Ocean. Dining here is definitely on my to-do list. The ever-helpful Matthews leads us to our villa – one of just 16 on the island – leaving us with the buggy, a map and enormous grins on our faces as we spy the private Jacuzzi overlooking the sea.
There will never be more than 40 guests at one time on the intimate island of Fregate, so you won’t have to fight for a sunbed on any of the seven beaches. And if total privacy is what you desire (perhaps you want to imagine how Tom Hanks felt in Castaway?), two of the beaches can be exclusively yours by turning a sign to read ‘beach occupied’. But you won’t have to forage for food or survive on coconut milk as any meal can be served on any beach. Better than talking to a volleyball 😉
After an amazing afternoon lazing on the beach, listening only to the soft lapping of the water and the odd crab scurrying past, it was time to explore. Not wanting to burn myself out, my ‘expedition’ takes me only as far as the Rock Spa. Walking past grand granite boulders, giant banyan trees and freshwater pools, I arrive at the spa, set high on a clifftop. As dusk approaches and I sit waiting for my massage, I’m mesmerised by the flying foxes criss-crossing, showing off for their one-woman audience. Already completely chilled out, I wonder if a massage could possibly make me any more relaxed. ‘There’s only one way to find out,’ I think as my masseuse enters and starts working her Fregate Paradise Massage magic. Blissed out doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I float back to the villa on a cloud of aaaahh. Sitting on the sun deck, champagne in hand, I am lost in tranquility. At dinner, we feast on a delicious spread of fresh job fish and organic, island-grown fruit and vegetables – all the while drinking in the aforementioned stunning view. Tummies full, we turn in at a reasonable hour in preparation for an active day ahead.
Bleary eyed, we meet Fregate’s conservation manager, Steve Hill, at 7am, vowing we’ll walk for no longer than an hour. But, three hours later, hot and sweaty, we are still being taken on a show-and-tell tour of this 300-acre haven. Steve’s passion for the island is infectious – he is, without doubt, the soul of Fregate. He enthuses about its colourful history, showing us ruins of a wall built by pirates and regaling us with tales of buried treasure. At every turn, I expect David Attenborough’s voice to trickle through the trees… ‘And here we have the magpie robin, saved from extinction… Marvel at the Aldabra giant tortoises, wandering ponderously along… This wild plant is famed for its aphrodisiac qualities…’
As if on cue, David – I mean Steve – is interrupted by the most incredible noise, unlike anything I’ve ever heard. With a knowing smile, he leads us in the direction of the racket. We gingerly approach a clearing – and all is revealed. Two giant tortoises had clearly had a chomp of that wild plant because here they were, mating. A reptile romp – there’s something you don’t see every day. After ogling a little, we sense their embarrassment and back away.
The end of the tour comes all too quickly but, alas, an underwater adventure awaits. But not before Matthews greets us with fresh coconuts and water. The spectacular flora and fauna has impressed me more than I could have imagined and, as I approach the marina, I wonder if Fregate’s water world will provide the same wow factor. It does. And then some. I couldn’t wait to get back and tell my friends that I fulfilled my dream of swimming with a fully grown manta ray.
A sunset champagne cruise and Creole buffet is the ideal finale to our idyllic break at Fregate Island Private. We clink glasses and ponder on the paradise that’s been our home for the past two nights, and agree that we have been utterly spoilt. On the cruise, the friendly dolphins even come out to play around our boat, as if to wave us off. I’m sure the tortoises would have come to say goodbye too but they are probably still otherwise engaged. Young love, you see.
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Post Credits: Mr & Mrs Smith
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