From the secluded beaches of Silhouette Island to the boulder-studded shores of northern Mahé and the quiet, lush setting of the Anse Forbans Neighborhood, the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa, Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa and DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles Allamanda Resort and Spa welcome guests to their uniquely situated havens of hospitality where sustainability, sincerity and sentiment take center stage.
FOUR speaks to Daniele Fabbri and Andre Borg, the General Managers of the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa and Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa respectively, to find out how the Hilton resorts in Seychelles curate moments that last a lifetime while respecting the country’s heritage and preserving its natural beauty.
Give us a brief overview of the Hilton Seychelles properties…
Andre Borg (AB): All three properties reflect the true authenticity of Seychelles with a touch of Hilton Hospitality. Speaking for Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa, we are the only resort located on Silhouette Island which is the third largest island of Seychelles. 93% of the island is protected as Silhouette National Park, it is surrounded by Silhouette Marine Park and it boasts a rich biodiversity. The island is also home to endemic Coco de Mer trees and iconic giant tortoises, making it a great destination for nature lovers and divers.
The resort has 111 spacious villas, 72 of which are located only steps away from the beach, with the rest nestled amongst the lush jungles of Silhouette. There are 8 restaurants and 4 private dining offerings, so our guests are able to dine around without repetition and experience destination dining. We also offer a wide-variety of island activities and eco-friendly watersports with our 5-star PADI Diving Center to add an extra touch for an unforgettable Seychelles holiday.
Daniele Fabbri (DF): Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa is situated on one of the most northern points of the island and in one of the most beautiful bays and snorkelling spots on Mahé. The hotel was one of the first hotels on the island and when it originally opened as “The Northolme”, it was a very popular spot for the locals and tourists alike to relax and unwind. The resort has evolved over the years into the beautiful eco hideaway that it is today, with villas nestled on the sides of the famous Seychellean boulders and a picturesque 180-degree view of Beau Vallon Bay. Leveraging the legacy of Ian Fleming and his legendry 007 stories, and the fact that he got the inspiration to write “For Your Eyes Only” whilst visiting our beautiful property, is quite a steal.
What makes the Hilton brand so special, especially in this location, and how is its ethos showcased throughout the hotels?
AB & DF: Like Conrad Hilton said, “to fill the earth with light and warmth of hospitality”. We seek to serve with a sense of friendliness and urgency. Our specialty is exceeding expectations and creating heartfelt experiences for every guest, every time. Seychelles is a dream destination for most and we are responsible for making this dream come true when the guest arrives on the island. Our Guest Experience team gets in touch with each and every guest during the pre-arrival process to get to know them, find out about their preferences and start creating the itinerary for the stay. Our goal is to make the experience better and brighter so we follow our Make-It-Right policy to ensure we take the extra step to exceed expectations. We are fully available 24/7 at the Front Desk, Guest Experience and Concierge as well as via telephone and WhatsApp for convenience.
Can you describe the design and concept of the different hotels and what inspired these aesthetics?
AB: All three hotels are different from each other in terms of design and location, with a shared purpose of connecting with the destination and their individual locale. For Hilton Seychelles Labriz, it’s fair to say that there are three main inspiration elements: pristine Silhouette Island, sustainability and the history of the island with its prior owners the Dauban Family. The concept of the villas and the resort is natural, local and luxurious, representing the three-kilometer stretch of beach and lush jungle greenery we are nestled within. We have a commitment to blend in with the National Park and Marine Park that surround us and would rather build around a tree than knock it down, that’s why you won’t find a straight line of villas here.
DF: Much like the Hilton Labriz, the Hilton Northolmbe resort has been designed to harmonize with its environment. The villas follow the natural layout of the rocks and configuration of the island so as to disturb as little as possible – if at all – the natural beauty of the Seychelles. They are built in a mixture of traditional tropical Asian hardwood that presents itself authentically and comfortably to all that check in. Originally, the resort only had 40 rooms, but in 2016, an additional 16 Pool Villas were added to elevate the offering. All 56 villas have a quintessential Creole feel to them with tasteful decoration and original Creole art.
The Ocean View Bar and Lower Deck offers an authentic and relaxing setting with unmatched views of Silhouette, North Island and the Indian Ocean. The hotel has also started a refurbishment of the arrival pavilion, F&B outlets (WAVE) and Lobby, introducing a chic new look and feel. Views from every room offer amazing sunset panoramas and when in a Pool Villa, be sure to indulge in the Floating Apperitivo for the full Hilton Northolme experience.
What does luxury mean to each of you and how is this incorporated into the experience at each of the hotels?
AB: We define luxury as anything that makes you feel special and everything you need at your fingertips, while being able to fully connect with nature on your private island and disconnect with everything else. On Silhouette Island, luxury is not just the service or the product itself, it becomes the experience that you will never forget.
DF: Our positioning statement revolves around the weaving of a journey of a lifetime inspired by all we do and with dedication to real and genuine service ensuring that we offer a blend of relaxation, adventure and local flavour. Doing all this with genuine authenticity and pride, and adding the personal touch to every touchpoint of the guests’ journey, ensures that we deliver nothing but true luxury.
Can you tell us about your favourite highlights of the hotels…
AB: My favourite aspects of Silhouette Island are its five different nature trails, the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and the picturesque white-sand beaches with the iconic boulders. Private dining experiences are a must as well – I am sure many would enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach under the pink skies or a beach barbeque with your family in front of your beachfront villa. My personal favourite for accommodation is the Deluxe Beachfront Villas – private beach access with a large patio and infinity pool and outdoor shower has a very special Seychelles feeling to it. Friendly and personalized service is what brings together all that we have to offer.
DF: My favourite spot of Hilton Northolme is the beautiful bay just below the Ocean View Bar. No matter the time of year, the water is the most amazing turquoise colour and the fish that can be seen at all hours are just so beautiful. This is the best snorkelling spot in Mahé offering our guests privacy, peace and tranquility. Additional highlights are the beautiful Pool Villas that we have. There are 16 of these rooms, including one with two large bedrooms, ideal for multigenerational travellers as well as couples travelling as friends (important to note is that the resort is an adults-only resort and does not accept children under the age of 13). The space, privacy and sheer opulence that it offers is unparalleled to any other in Seychelles. The hotel also boasts a world-class and award-winning spa as well as first-class gym facilities fully equipped to manage the “new normal”.
What are the main aspects of the hotels that make them stand out against others in Seychelles?
AB: Delivering exceptional experiences for every guest, every time and our commitment to sustainability is what makes Hilton Labriz stand out. We are responsible for protecting the rich environment and the culture of Seychelles and involving guests in our sustainability practices is an important part of how we bring our commitment to life. Our organic garden that produces over 150kg of fresh produce weekly is open to our guests for tours and planting activities. We also filter and bottle our own water in reusable glass bottles with a filter system that harvests water from Mount Dauban’s waterfall and our hotel uses renewable energy sources including wind turbines, solar water heaters, solar lighting and hydro-engines.
DF: Sustainability and the carbon footprint we have on this earth is our focus in everything we do, so from removing all plastic from our hotel to introducing energy-saving techniques such as sensor-controlled air conditioning units and water-from-air water dispensers, we are actively promoting a positive change. Procurement and the buying of local and organic produce as well as incorporating local into majority of our cooking aids in making much of what Hilton Northolme does unique and individual. The hotel is also a Green Globe Certified Hotel and the only one that has developed an artificial reef promoting the regrowth and restoration of local corals.
Do you think it is important to champion local cuisine and products? How is this reflected in the dining offerings?
AB and DF: Local sourcing is one of our Travel with Purpose (Hilton’s corporate responsibility program) commitments. We import as little as possible and when we do buy, we endeavour to buy locally as much as possible. Both hotels have their own vegetable and herb gardens and use a lot of these items in their gastronomic processes. At Hilton Labriz, around 150kg of produce including more than 200 varieties of herbs, fruits, and vegetables is grown through aquaponics and our organic, pesticide-free garden each week. We also compost all organic waste and 95% of our seafood comes from local fishermen.
Tell us more about Seychelles through your eyes – it is already a popular tourist destination, but what are the truly special (possibly undiscovered) aspects of the archipelago that make it a must-visit destination?
AB: Seychelles is where your holiday dreams with crystal-clear waters and white powdery beaches meet with being one with nature and the culture. I have to say as the third-largest island of Seychelles, Silhouette remains pristine with its protected landmass and low population. There are about 30 residents on the island that live in the village called La Passe. The beauty of the nature of Silhouette with its flora and fauna is still to be discovered by many.
DF: Seychelles is a dream destination and for many, a once in a lifetime, bucket-list vacation. What makes Seychelles so special to me is the fact that me and my family have the pleasure of being together in one of the most idyllic places on earth. The fact that the population is so small and close-knit allows the beauty and diversity of Seychelles to thrive.
COVID-19 has had a big impact on everyone’s lives, and is sure to effect the way travellers select their destination and accommodation. What steps have the hotels taken to ensure the utmost safety for guests?
AB and DF: We have been through a very thorough audit by Public Health Authorities and were among the first certified properties allowed to welcome guests here in Seychelles after lockdown. Hilton launched the Hilton CleanStay program that builds on our already rigorous cleaning standards to provide complete peace of mind when you stay with any of Hilton’s 18 brands. With Hilton CleanStay, we focus on the 10 high touch point areas in the guest rooms and public areas. We have also decluttered the rooms to reduce the number of contact areas and introduced QRT codes and other virtual elements to the guests’ journey. Buffet services have been discontinued too, so we are fully a la carte at the moment. From contactless room service to social distancing and providing additional masks and hand sanitisers throughout the resorts, we work exceptionally hard to make your stay safe and enjoyable.
Above health and safety measures, what else do you think is the most important to guests when they book accommodation and how do you factor this into the Hilton Seychelles experience?
AB: Definitely a little look-up on activities and experiences offered before guests arrive is really helpful for making the most of the getaway. This can be done either online or by contacting us. There are many things to do and it becomes much easier to schedule and experience to the fullest by planning the trip in advance.
DF: For our guests the promise of a quiet and uncomplicated vacation is what most of them are looking for and having guests (couples) pick Hilton Northolme for this very reason, it is only fair that we deliver on this when they are in the hotel. We strive to ensure the authentic Creole experience along with the expectation of peace and tranquility in everything we do and with the little touches – from the genuine Creole greeting with a Gumnji welcome cocktail to the bed decorations, each small detail makes a difference. Our main objective is to keep our guests safe and secure while we are still delivering a luxury experience.
Do you have many returning guests and if so, what do you think it is about hotels that makes guests come back time after time?
AB: We have many loyal guests coming back every year or a few times a year, I think it’s the uniqueness of the experience that brings them back. Silhouette offers something that is difficult to find all together with nature, service and luxury elements. Sustainability is also another reason why guests choose to come back to Silhouette Island, I think when they see how it’s all possible with a positive impact on our environment, it creates a memory.
DF: We do have a number of guests that come back to the hotel and quite a few also tell us stories of the resort before it was a Hilton. The Brand and the trust that comes with that plays a large part in what we are able to achieve, however, it is definitely the team and the people that make Hilton Northolme such a warm and welcoming place that makes people want to keep coming back. In reviews by guests, our team care is always the strongest point of compliment.
Any special offers or events coming up that we should know about?
AB and DF: Currently there are very flexible and holistic offers on Hilton.com and we are preparing for an exceptional festive season this year in Seychelles, stay tuned!
To book and keep up to date with the latest happenings at the Hilton resorts in Seychelles, visit their websites and follow them on Instagram and Facebook using the details below:
Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa
Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa
DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles Allamanda Resort and Spa