Those in search of exotic idylls will find one at Constance Lemuria, a Seychelles stay on an island so lush and green it’s spawned biblical legends. On the ocean side, the resort is bordered by some of the country’s most beautiful white-sand beaches, a favourite nesting ground for endangered hawksbill turtles. On the other, it’s fringed by forest that leads into the Vallée de Mai, a nature reserve so full of life that a British explorer was once led to believe he’d found the Garden of Eden. His verdict may have been swayed by the sight of the curvaceous coco de mer (a forbidden-looking fruit if ever we saw one), but there’s no denying this hotel’s power to bring on pre-fall states of bliss. Everything here is in communion with nature, with the thatch-roofed suites, infinity pools and restaurants slotted between swaying palms, lush scrub and towering boulders.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine, a fruit basket, one private yoga session and early check-in/check-out (subject to availability)
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from $911.71 (€817), excluding tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include a decadent buffet breakfast heaped with tropical fruit and freshly-squeezed juices, fresh bread and pastries, pancakes, cereals and more.
For stays over 24 December, there’s an extra charge for Christmas dinner (€155 an adult; €95 a child). For stays over 31 December, there’s a supplement for the New Year’s Eve gala (€315 an adult; €95 a child).
At the hotel
Beach; spa; golf course; tennis courts; state-of-the-art gym; boutique; kids’ club; free WiFi throughout; laundry. In rooms: flatscreen TV; minibar; Nespresso coffee machine with free capsules; tea and a kettle; free bottled water; U by Constance bath products.
Our favourite rooms
With large, ocean-facing gardens and sprawling living areas, the Pool Villas offer serious breathing space for couples and families alike. Steps from the beach, each one has a private pool and massage area, an alfresco dining pavilion and a kitchen manned by a villa master and service staff.
The three-tiered infinity pool is tiled in dark stone and built around vast granite boulders, making it seem like an extension of the landscape. Each level is surrounded by decking strewn with sunloungers, most of them looking over the tops of palm trees to the ocean beyond. A swim-up bar ensures top ups are a breeze.
The sprawling spa is laid out like a miniature village, with the thatch-roofed treatment huts grouped around a courtyard planted with tropical greenery and ringed by swaying palms. There are three single and three couples’ treatment rooms; a Thai massage hut; a pedicure hut; a Jacuzzi and cold plunge pool; a hammam; and a sauna. Many of the treatments make use of natural products found up and down the coasts of the Indian Ocean – the high-tech facials, on the other hand, were designed by Swiss cellular cosmetic experts.There’s also a hairdresser and a state of the art gym with views of the surrounding gardens. The plunge pool, Jacuzzi and wellbeing area are open to all guests from 10am to 2pm (you get an hour’s free spa time a day). Outside of those times, you’ll need an appointment.
Bring a pair of water shoes, as urchins like to lurk between the rocks.
All of the common areas are wheelchair accessible as are most suites, though they aren’t specially-adapted. Extra beds for over-12s can be added for €125 a day (includes breakfast) or €210 a day (for half board).
Welcome; some rooms can fit an extra bed for an extra charge (€100 a day B&B or €140 a day half board for kids from seven to 12, free for under-sevens). A kids’ club runs from 8am to 8pm daily, with all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities on offer.
At the Nest, you can book a private dinner on a lantern-lit deck built onto the rocks.
Shorts and t-shirts are fine during the day, but you’ll need something to cover your swimwear. In the evening, Mr Smith will need trousers, a collared shirt and proper shoes (no flip flops).
The hotel has four restaurants, each with its own character and cuisine. Our favourite would have to be the Nest, built on the rocky peninsula between the two Anse Kerlan beaches. The circular hut sits on stilts and is open to the elements, letting diners take in the green hills, petit Anse beach and the Indian Ocean in one sweeping glance. The menu is full of authentic Creole dishes, with plenty grilled seafood, juicy vegetables and vibrant spice thrown into the mix; their signature coconut sherbet is not to be missed. Open for dinner, Diva is a chic, modern restaurant with Indian Ocean-inspired decor by French interior designer Marc Hertrich, who’s dressed the space with shell-shaped seats, urchin-like lamps and fabrics in coral colours. The menu has a mod-Mediterranean lean and the wine list is one of the most extensive in the Seychelles. Legend is the largest of the restaurants, and has a lavish buffet and show-cooking stations, where the chefs showcase a different cuisine every night of the week. Barefoot lunch spot Takamaka is on Petite Anse beach, with tables arranged beneath low hanging palm fronds. A dedicated sushi chef prepares Seychelles-style dishes each day, which go perfectly with the ceviche or seafood salads.
Nestled among the trees that fringe the beach, Huna Bar has elegant, old-world furnishings, a patterned ceiling and East African artwork displayed on ebony shelves. The expert mixologist, CJ, will whip up pretty much anything you please, and there’s an ever changing programme of music and entertainment to keep things atmospheric in the evenings. There’s a second bar in a circular hut by the pool, with a swim-up counter so you don’t have to leave the water.
Legends is open for breakfast from 7am to 10.30am; lunch from noon to 6pm; dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm. The Nest opens for lunch from noon to 3.30pm; dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm. Takamaka is open from noon to 4pm. Diva opens for dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm.
Constance Lemuria is on the northwestern tip of Praslin, the second largest island in the Seychelles.
International flights touch down at Mahé International Airport on Mahé, the largest island in the country. From there, you can hop on a 15-minute Air Seychelles flight to Praslin Island Airport, a 15-minute drive from the hotel.
You’ll take a plane or ferry to the island, so you won’t be able to bring a car. Golf carts can ferry you about within the resort, and the hotel can book local taxis.
Ferries run between Mahé and Praslin several times a day; the crossing takes about an hour.
Worth getting out of bed for
As one of the first hotels on Praslin, Constance Lemuria certainly got the pick of the land. Backed by mossy hills, the hotel sits between a lush green interior and three sugar-white beaches – which aren’t only favoured by guests. Hawksbill turtles have taken such a liking to the beaches that they've become a turtle hotspot, with around 8,000 babies hatching each year. In season (October to March), join the hotel's turtle manager for a chance to see the babies burrowing out of the sand; at other times of year, you’ll still be able to see all sorts of rare wildlife – like giant aldabra tortoises – and native flora like the coco de mer and fruit-laden mango trees. If you strap on a snorkel and take to the water, you’ll come face to face with an underwater world populated by vibrant parrot fish, red snapper and stately manta ray. The watersports centre offers kayaking, windsurfing and waterskiing, and you can also hire boats to go deep sea fishing or scuba dive with the PADI-certified instructors. Golf fans will be pleased to know that the country’s only 18-hole course is on the grounds. For more natural thrills, head to the Unesco-protected Vallée de Mai, a thickly-forested nature reserve filled with indigenous palms, coco de mer and black Seychelles parrots. Evidently impressed by the abundance of life (and the forbidden-fruit looks of the indigenous coco de mer), General Charles George Gordon claimed the valley was the Garden of Eden when he landed there in the 19th century.
You’ll be hard pushed to find places that rival the hotel’s offerings, but if you do feel like eating out one night, beachfront restaurant Café des Arts is the place to go. It’s pricier than many of the other independent restaurants on the island, but their seafood, steaks and delicate desserts make it worth the spend.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this tropical island hotel in the Seychelles and unpacked their camera film filled with shots of baby hawksbill turtles, a full account of their coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Constance Lemuria in the Seychelles…
Many hotels that would have you think they’re built in a pocket of paradise, but very few can actually claim to be somewhere that’s been genuinely mistaken for one. Seychelles stay Constance Lemuria can count itself among that hallowed minority, built near the edge of Praslin Island’s Valée de Mai, a nature reserve brimming with all sorts of indigenous species, many of them unchanged for millenia because of the island’s remoteness. So ancient and otherworldly was the landscape, in fact, that when decorated British general Charles Gordon arrived there in the 1880s, he looked at the verdant palms and bright-liveried birds and was convinced he had read about the place before – in the Book of Genesis. Not everyone agreed that the smitten general had really found the Garden of Eden, but his revelation certainly proves this island’s beguiling power. Down on the coast, the hotel is equally connected to this natural splendour. The suites, infinity pool and restaurants are tucked between patches of thick greenery and boulders that have been worn smooth by time. Everything seems to lead down to the nigh-perfect white beaches, which aren’t only highly ‘grammable, they’re also one of the few places where endangered hawksbill turtles come ashore in the light of day to lay their eggs – an all-natural performance that’s all too rare these days.
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