When we booked this trip, we were super thrilled to go and see the Seychelles, especially after hearing about its beautiful blue water beaches and scenic views.
We arrived at SEZ airport after a 10h flight and didn’t meet anybody from the JA team at the airport, even though pick up times were discussed via Expedia. We ended up waiting in the humidity and decided to call after 15 minutes. We were told that they didn’t have any information about our arrival on file but will organize the pick up right away. Also made us wonder why nobody proactively reached out to us for the transfer knowing that we were going to check in that day and the only way to get to the island is via a 10min boat ride. Found out at check out that despite the website saying free arrival and departure transfers during given times, they charged us for the taxi that was not even there to pick us up at first.
After arrival on the island, we found out that there’s no snorkeling gear available due to coronavirus. Ended up going back to the main island and spent $90 (the cheapest) on two sets of snorkeling gears. This is something you should tell guests ahead of time given that the Seychelles are known for snorkeling. We received a friendly greeting by one of the staff members with a glass of cold peach tea. After a little while we were transferred to our villas. It was a bit disappointing as we didn’t get any input on how the island was set up, such as good snorkeling spots. Traveling to the Maldives a few times a year, we are used to receiving a small map or at least some input on things to do and how the resort is set up.
In the Villa
Received a fruit basket along with a bottle of wine. Great gesture but might consider replacing fruits every day to maintain freshness and also check with guests on wine preference (red/white). Villas in colonial style, very dark and “rustic”. Rustic works sometimes but they were not well maintained. The ladder in our pool almost came out of its stand when getting out of the pool, the wood was cracking, and our villa smelled like Pee. We tried to overlook the latter issue but after a night with no AC the urine smell was unbearable. Shower, bathtub and restroom outside. Very cute, but toilet outside at night not convenient when it’s windy and rainy. Private pool and sun chairs on the deck. Some have better views and positions than others. Villas have ‘private’ access to the beach, which is great but beaches are not private. Locals/charter boats come to the area and people get cozy on the beach with coolers and loud music and stay for the whole day. Only an issue on the weekends currently. On the side where we stayed, the water was very shallow (during low and high tide) and not much marine life besides crabs. Also, there were no sun chairs on the beach. The pool water in your private pool doesn’t seem clean/filtered. It didn’t seem like they are using chemicals to clean the pool, which is great but then they need somebody to clean it prior to the water turning milky.
The views from the villas are fantastic! It definitely allows you to forget about some minor issues. While being surrounded by the fauna, be prepared that mosquitoes, cockroaches and many centipedes find their way inside the villa. Staff not trained to look for these and as a result we found dead bugs all over underneath the desk, sink, etc.
As mentioned earlier, we noticed a urine smell in the bedroom that seemed to be coming from below the bed. Rang up the front desk and they came in for a deep clean. In the middle of that same night, AC broke down and with the heat the urine smell came back. We moved rooms the next day and were told that they ‘found’ the cause of the smell. A fruit tree outside the garden was to blame but the smell did not exist outside, or even in the front of the bedroom, just near the bed so definitely was not from the tree. Finally the hotel ordered a villa change after a sleepless night with no AC and urine smell. They apologized with a bottle of lower cost champagne at sunset.
Due to covid, staff is required to take your temperature every time you enter the restaurant. This only happened the first two days we were at the resort (total stay 6 nights). Staff didnt come off very professional - I think they were trying but it was awkward. First night, we sat down for dinner without getting the menu and were asked to say what we would like to eat. Then when asking what we should eat, it did seem like they were trying to oversell.
The restaurant handed out disposable menus that didn’t look like they were disposed after every use. During breakfast, every table gets a bread basket which has some slices of toast, two very thin slices of cake, one croissant and one danish puff pastry. There are a lot of pigeons and other birds in the breakfast area waiting to take over tables that have not been cleaned yet and also land on your table while eating. The staff doesn’t really care about the birds walking on the table and snacking on the leftovers, which sometimes can turn into quite a battlefield.
The overall atmosphere in the restaurant is very weird. It’s quiet / no music and puts you asleep early. The food is good but there is no variety on the menu. Chef Pankkaj was very nice and prepared a special lobster and steak dinner on one of our last nights. It was great and we appreciated his approach to prepare something off the menu.
We enjoyed talking to the local staff a lot. Especially the housekeeping team was very nice and attempting. One morning we spoke to the waitress and she recommended places to see in Mahe, which we really appreciated. While we were talking, her male colleague approached and just talked over her. Also, she was only able to take beverage orders but not food - I’m sure you can train your whole team to take both orders as the menus are quite small and not extraordinary.
Service and offerings
Insincere service. Someone commented on TripAdvisor before that the atmosphere was ‘weird’ and ‘awkward’. Hard to pinpoint exactly why but fully agree. No one truly interested in making sure your vacation goes well. More apologies when you raise issues that should have been proactively dealt with. And being busy cannot be an excuse - we were the only people on the island for two nights!
Located in one of the best snorkeling areas in Mahe yet no snorkeling tours (paid or otherwise). Limited other activities despite a lot of staff being around.
Everthing is an extra charge. We had to take a COVID Test prior to departure and they seemingly arranged a great transfer for us. Only to find out later that they were charging us for the transfer without even asking us. When we found out, we ended up getting a local taxi for half the price. They then volunteered to pick up the test - again not mentioning an extra price.
Forgot to pick up our COVID test on the day they were supposed to (good thing we got it done a day early even though they tried to tell us we were taking it too early despite us checking the Dubai entry requirements and knowing we were within the requirements)
They have a boat that goes back and forth all day to pick up guests, supplies and employees, yet only one of the times is it included (leave at 9:30am and come back at 4:30pm). During the week there were times where we were the only guests, or one of three couples, on the island. If the boat is going back and forth anyways, there is no reason why the other times couldn’t be included as well.
We had to check out at 10:00am as they last minute sold villas. 10am is the earliest checkout time I have ever experienced at a hotel. The hotel does not have ample amenities to hang out at after check out so we had to get a hotel on the mainisland for our last day to wait for our flight. They did not help arrange and that morning seemed like they were entirely focused on new guests and no longer thought service for us was necessary. In fact, even though we were forced to check out at 10am, our boat transfer to the main island which we had arranged the night before was 45 minutes late for us as they waited for arriving guests.
Overall: has the right ingredients for a 5* hotel (private island in a nice area, with private villas all with private pools), but service and upkeep is lackluster making this an extremely expensive 4* hotel at best. If you are spending 600+ per night and looking for a private island experience, go elsewhere. For example, we have been to plenty of resorts at the Maldives where you will have incredibly attentive staff and a brand new villa for the same price or less.