- Detailed Review
- Facts & Amenities
There are few exceptional private island resorts in the world, but two of the very best happen to be in the Seychelles. One of them is, simply named, North Island, and it’s the only simple thing about this island.
The island does indeed have laudable ‘eco-cred’; their history and ongoing programmes are quite remarkable. Better yet, visitors can tap into it during their stay with organised adventures and tailor-made activities of all kinds. Not to mention watersports and diving excursions.
But, frankly, it’s not the finite reason to come here, because the real lure is that this is, without a doubt, the ultimate, most private and discrete, indulgent beach holiday you can possibly have anywhere in the world. As the saying goes, you have to see it to believe it.
And at a daily rate of a few Ks per person, such heavenly surrounds are at the very sharpest end of the price scale and therefore only available to the privileged few. So it raises the obvious question: is it worth it?
Without a moment’s hesitation I say yes, absolutely. Sell the heirlooms and mortgage the house. And don’t even consider leaving until you breathe your last breath or the money runs out, whichever happens first.
Arriving by helicopter anywhere always makes me feel like James Bond, embarking on an exciting mission. Well, I’m no Bond, but I was very excited to be coming here, I admit. And as I was headed to one of most exclusive private island resorts in the world, I thought I should look the part. As it turned out, I need not have bothered as one of the things that is so wonderful about North Island is its a completely laid back, albeit ‘beach-chic’, environment. As long as you are comfortable and happy, that’s all that really matters and you can safely leave your label-laden togs and corresponding savoir faire at home and just be you.
So after a 25-minute journey in brilliant sunshine across a glittering patch of the Indian Ocean, I landed at North Island to be met by a host of smiling faces and welcoming staff. As is the drill on private islands, one is whisked away immediately to the confines of your ultra-luxury abode, where the shortest of check-in formalities were dealt with. En-route, my ‘guest experience assistant’ pointed out things of interest, as well as some useful buggy driving tips; I would need those later.
Rooms and suites
I am not quite sure how to describe the incredible villas here other than as luxury-seeped barefoot glam at its finest.
Villa 11, also known as Villa North Island, was my home. Located at the end of East Beach, this villa is the premiere offering on the island and it’s nothing short of spectacular. At 800 m² (8611 ft²) and spread over three levels, this is castaway luxury in the extreme.
Consisting of three distinct areas married together with an enormous ocean-facing deck, the villa features an open-air living pavilion and several bathroom pavilions. Located in between are the air-conditioned study and bedroom suites. Beyond my mammoth bathroom was yet another wonderful, very private outdoor seating area with views over the beach.
The décor throughout is stunning. A combination of weathered timbers, tree trunks and distressed woodwork complimented the polished mahogany flooring and the beautifully carved, rosewood tables.
Fabrics are in shades of beige, sand, light blue and teal, with cushions (lots of them) adding colour and contrast. Wonderful light fixtures made of blown glass and large crystals hang from pavilion ceilings and add a further contemporary touch to the overall beach-house feel.
The study area consists of a large seating area with an L-shaped lounge complete with a pop-up 55” LED TV featuring a myriad of satellite channels. A large, suspended white cloth makes a great rustic room divider but is in fact a projection screen and divides the area. The study features a full cinema-quality projection unit. Big screen movies watched here really are big screen.
The other half of the room is set up as an office with a panoramic ocean-facing desk (very distracting for those unfortunates who need to work) and a comfortable seating area. The study is furnished beautifully with book-filled shelves, perfectly crafted pieces of furniture, gorgeous rugs and ultra-stylish bric-a-brac.
The bedroom here really is a lesson in sophisticated interior design and offers an incredibly rustic-chic feeling to the whole villa. This significant space features a large king-size bed, a TV, a dressing area, a chaise lounge and a full lounge area to relax within. Quite simply, it’s gorgeous with beautifully polished wooden floors, huge teal and silver rugs, perfectly chosen furniture, decorative items, and acres of sheer curtains wafting in the breeze. Dreams are made here, quite literally.
WiFi throughout was excellent and even extended down to the villa’s pool deck and beach.
Speaking of decks, the villa has no less than three, all huge with stunning views. The pool deck (as with all villas) features a large, private pool with views over the beach, a perfect place for a late afternoon dip, a glass or two of champagne, or an afternoon siesta.
A dedicated butler discreetly appeared and disappeared from time to time at various intervals throughout the day, ensuring the large and small details in life relating to my stay were taken care of.
Bathrooms within all the villas are such that they warrant their very own pavilion. My villa featured multiple showers, the largest of which was so large it required deck space of its own and, again, had gorgeous ocean views.
It’s worth noting however that, whilst stunning, bathrooms here are not designed for the shy at heart. They are all open-air and whilst shower areas are surrounded by beautiful, hanging shell creations that provide some privacy, you really won’t find that your ablutions are all that private. The same applies to the WC. For ladies, there is a make-up table in the bedroom suite where they can spread out all their essentials in terms of cosmetics and hair accessories.
At every turn there are full-sized bottles of toiletries from the wonderful Africology brand.
“Anything, anytime, anywhere,” seems to be the mantra of all luxury private island resorts, and North Island is no exception. But North’s approach to dining is rather different. There is the beach side restaurant with a menu that changes daily. I dined here one evening and the food (a shrimp starter along with a truly excellent curry for main course) was utterly delicious. I was, however, surprised that there was such a small choice: three starters and three or four main courses from which to choose; a less than generous offering.
The argument of course is that guests can have whatever they want as long as the chef has the goods and while true to a certain extent, it’s a timing thing and you may need to give the staff anything from 3-24 hours notice.
Of particular delight are the pizzas served over at the West Beach Bar, which are beyond delicious and among the best I have ever eaten. I could have opted for a special evening with a private, in-villa BBQ or dinner. A personal chef and my butler would have taken care of it all from the food and wine choices, service and candles all around to create a romantic mood. If only I had not been alone…
Spa and wellness
It seems that I am a beacon for spa problems whenever I travel and this was no exception. Because of a temporary noise problem, it was decided that my massage would be far more enjoyable if I had it in my villa, and indeed it was.
My therapist arrived, threw open the huge glass doors of my study and voila, an oceanfront spa. With the exception of a slightly uncomfortable massage table, my treatment was excellent.
Pool and beach
The beaches on North Island are sublime with crystal-clear water and talcum-powder sand. West Beach in particular rivals those of the Caribbean, and now that really is saying something.
Should you feel the need to abandon your own private pool, the main pool is a tranquil, palm-shaded oasis with faultless pool service so at least try it once during your stay.
Staff and service
There are eleven villas on North Island and 150 staff to care for the resident guests. Without a single exception, service is top-notch and friendly. I couldn’t find fault at any level and this is no easy feat to achieve at the best of times, let alone on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
A collection of charming, laid back Americans and French visitors.
My departure was somewhat erratic, which was a little surprising given the near perfection of everything else here.
Essentially, I was to meet my guest experience assistant at the allotted time (my instructions were not to be late due to helicopter operations) at the boutique and then to zip over to the helipad. But when I arrived, he was not to be found. Another staff member greeted me and she seemed a little unsure of what was happening. Eventually, I suggested we head to the helipad and managed to arrive ahead of the ‘farewell gang’. None of this was a problem but it just seemed a tad disorganised.
How to get here
25 minutes by helicopter from Seychelles International Airport