All-villa beachside stay Six Senses Zil Pasyon sits on lesser-known private-island Félicité in the Seychelles. Its name rings true: a gasp-inspiring setting of white-sand beaches, soaring rocky outcrops and swaying palm trees does indeed bring on feelings of intense happiness. This boutique stay has an ocean-front pool, an eco-conscious ethic and a handful of eateries who plunder the sea for the freshest seafood. Dip into your private pool, snorkel in the island’s crystal-clear waters, and have your shoulder knots worked loose in the beach-side Six Senses Spa. In the evening, sip from a jar of house-made rum and watch as the sun melts into colours everywhere along the horizon. Like what you see? You can stay here while on our twin-centre South African adventures…
Get this when you book through us:
Your choice of a 30-minute foot massage for two or a body scrub for two
2pm. Earliest check-in, noon. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £1358.51 (€1,625), including tax at 26.5 per cent.
Rates usually include a buffet or à la carte breakfast, and some scheduled activities, such as daily morning yoga, kayaking, snorkelling and paddle boarding. A shuttle boat to La Digue Island, cinema screenings and ice-cream treats are also included.
This private island has three pristine natural beaches; you’ll find one in front of the pool and restaurant; two more are a three-minute walk or buggy ride from the hotel’s main drag. Each is a mix of white sands and rock, and all are suitable for swimming.
At the hotel
Beaches, spa, gym, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, iPod dock and Bluetooth-enabled Marshall speaker, gaming console, Lavazza coffee-maker, the Organic Pharmacy bath products, a yoga mat, ice machine, minibar and free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
For a private plunge pool that appears to float over the serene teal waters lapping at the island, book an Oceanfront Villa. Hideaway Villas are flanked by tropical vegetation, for a little extra provided-by-nature privacy.
Just a stone wall separates the main infinity pool from the sea; it’s so close that ocean spray and gentle waves often break over the edge. The long pool is family-friendly, unheated and surrounded by a pool terrace with sunloungers and cargo-net hammocks. Poolside bar Koko slakes guests’ thirst. Views from the pool and surrounding terrace extend all the way to Coco Island, Sister Islands and Praslin Island. There's a small pool in the spa, too.
We admit, we're not au fait with Terres d'Afriques' lymph wands, but on Six Senses Spa Zil Pasyon's menu of highly indulgent facial treatments it sounds rather enticing… The spa's African-inspired treatments (fig- and green coffee-infused body wraps; rose-crystal masks) are carried out in five private, beach-y pavilions, set between the hotel's rocky outcrops. There's also a yoga pavilion and a saltwater soaking pool with a sundeck.
Bring big, glamorous sunglasses, an even bigger bottle of suncream, and a fill your suitcase with tropical swimwear.
The terrain, which includes many sets of stairs, may not be suitable for guests with mobility issues.
All ages are welcome, but this stay’s best for over-sixes. Baby cots, children’s beds, and big-ticket baby swag, including highchairs and buggies, can be provided, as can playthings and art materials.
The hotel is extremely Earth-loving: food is organic and grown on site or sourced locally. Eco-friendly cleaning products, bath products and light bulbs are used throughout the hotel, and grey water is re-used to water the hotel’s plants. The hotel has solar panels and a desalination plant, and also supports a habitat-restoration project on Félicité Island.
Snag two spots at the long, wooden communal table for the best ocean views, or sit by the open chef’s kitchen for some foodie footnotes from the well-versed kitchen team.
Wear your breezy beach best during the day and don your dry, smart-casual look in the evening.
Chef Christian Pederson helms seafood restaurant Ocean Kitchen, an alfresco eatery on a wooden deck by the shore. Punters can watch the chefs fillet and fry in the open kitchen; fish are served straight off the barbecue grill and a bread oven fills the space with an intoxicating scent as fresh-baked loaves emerge. Hardcore carnivores take note: you’ll find protein only of the pescetarian-approved variety here; you won’t miss getting your chops around a Chateaubriand though – all sea-foraged fare is delicious. Ingredients are organic and grown on the island, or they're locally sourced from the surrounding waters and islands. Start with the freshly-made focaccia bread, then carry on to the catch of the day. In the mornings, you’ll find a dainty buffet breakfast of fruits and pastries at Island Café, as well as an à la carte selection of made-to-order eggs and more; drinks and snacks are served there throughout the day too, and both the lunch and dinner menus are spice-filled affairs with a mix of European, Asian and African fare.
Poolside Koko bar is right on the water’s edge and open all day; refreshing drinks of both shaken and stirred varieties are crafted using local, organic ingredients. Order an icy Kokolada and make a beeline for one of the seaside hammocks or catamaran nets to lie on. If you work up an appetite in the pool, samosas, spring rolls and other snacks are available throughout the day, too. Rum-soaked Lakanbiz bar opens in the evenings; with its low leather seats, antique furnishing and moody lighting, it channels the types of hangouts where local Kalu – a strong rum drink – was once consumed. Order a jar of house-made rum and sip until you sway to the bossa-nova beats.
Breakfast from 7.30am until you’ve had your fill. Lunch and dinner hours are flexible at the Island Café and Ocean Kitchen; private dining in the Wine Vault can be arranged on request. Koko bar is open all day, and Lakanbiz is open from 5pm to midnight.
Order from a slightly pared-down restaurant menu at any time of day or night; we’re especially partial to in-villa breakfasts.
Six Senses Zil Pasyon is on Félicité Island, where white-sand beaches and dramatic granite rock formations are sun-kissed all year round. Transfers are mandatory; guests will be contacted directly by the hotel to arrange their preferred method of travel.
The transfer time from Seychelles International Airport is 90 minutes if you take a domestic Air Seychelles flight to neighbouring island Praslin then a boat to the hotel. The hotel can ferry you by car between Praslin’s airport and the jetty, and then transfer you by speedboat to Félicité Island for €225 each way (up to four passengers). Private-jet transfers, operated by Zil Air, are available from Mahé Airport to Praslin; guests will then be transferred to a private boat that will whisk them away to Félicité’s jetty; all this is €655 each way.
Direct helicopter transfers, also operated by Zil Air and booked via the hotel, from Mahé Airport are €919 a person each way; the 20-minute flight soars over lush islands and lands at the resort’s helipad. There’s a maximum weight of 325kg (up to four passengers and luggage). A private six-seater helicopter can be booked for €1,980 each way (maximum weight of 700kg includes passengers and luggage). Helicopter transfers operate between sunrise and sunset only.
The Cat Cocos ferry operates between Mahé and Praslin; you’ll need to arrange a taxi from the airport to the pier. The ferry journey over to Praslin takes an hour. The hotel’s speedboat will fetch you from the Baie St Anne jetty on Praslin for €180 (maximum four passengers). Speedboat transfers from La Passe pier on La Digue cost €180 for up to four guests. Private speedboat transfers are available on request.
Worth getting out of bed for
If soaking up the sun by the crystal-clear waters that surround Six Senses Zil Pasyon isn’t quite enough, on-island activities include snorkelling, hiking, kayaking, cooking classes, outdoor cinema nights, petanque and croquet. You can also hop on a boat to explore one of the neighbouring islands of La Digue, Praslin, Aride, or the Curieuse Sister Islands; each one is no more than 30 minutes away. Aride is best for bird lovers, there’s a coastal cycle tour on La Digue Island, and Praslin Island’s big draw is white-sand Anse Lazio Beach.
Open for lunch only, Bonbon Plume restaurant on Anse Lazio Beach (Praslin Island) is an alfresco eatery serving grilled seafood and Creole specialties. Sit ocean-side under a thatched umbrella and order grilled lobster, scallops and more from the à la carte menu. Under the thatched roof of Chez Jules on La Digue Island, you’ll find classic Creole fare, freshly blended fruit smoothies, coconut water and more. Set right on the edge of Anse Banane beach, this is the perfect spot to stop when you’ve worked up an appetite cycling around the diminutive island. Try the octopus curry, a house favourite, and wash it down with a cold beer while playing spot the giant turtle.
Getting married is a wonderful if chaotic time. If you’re Indian, it’s also a time notoriously marked by very little concern for a couple’s privacy. So, before I’d given any thought to what dress I was going to wear (‘dresses’ in the end as it so happened), or which band to book from the awful litany of semi-professional crooners advertising their wares online, my top priority for my own Indian nuptials was to jet off to a secluded (and private) honeymoon destination as soon as the confetti had settled.
Unsurprisingly, potential candidates for unadulterated post-wedding R&R are not in short supply. Six Senses’ new outpost on Félicité Island deserves, however, to be at the top of every honeymooners’ list. Exclusively inhabiting all 652 acres of one of the most dramatically beautiful and unspoiled islands in the Seychelles, Six Senses Zil Payson is a wondrous, serene retreat lovingly constructed in harmony with the towering granite rocks and diverse flora that surround the resort on all sides.
The island itself (the fifth largest in the archipelago) is a short hop and a skip from Praslin – a journey that can be undertaken either via (a sometimes) bumpy speedboat trip, or (for the more adventurous) via helicopter. Having opted for the less glamourous mode of arrival, we were met on disembarkation by Marvin, our Guest Experience Manager (or ‘GEM’ in Zil Payson patois). Over the course of the next week, Marvin loyally attended to our every need. Whether it was an early morning hike with the island’s conservation expert Anna, a private film screening at the picturesque outdoor cinema, or champagne at sunset on one of the island’s summits, Marvin handled even our most demanding of requests with good humour and grace.
The accommodation on the island is organised into a series of stunning, self-contained villas, each replete with its own private infinity pool. Our own Panorama Pool Villa came with the added benefit of an external sun deck, and scintillating views of the ocean. The aesthetic is minimal but elegant (clean lines, calming colours) and, above all, these spacious rooms feel intensely private. In other words, a pitch-perfect setting for those looking to decompress.
For our own part, Mr Smith and I managed the transition from manic wedding planners to supine sun-worshippers with remarkable ease. This conversion was no doubt facilitated by the delicious and varied fare on offer at the four on-site restaurants, and the no-room-service-charge policy which ensured the delivery of a steady trail of gastronomic delights to our doorstep daily. The food offerings include the Island Café, which offered breakfast and dinner inspired by flavours from the Seychellois spice route, and the ‘no meat’ Ocean Kitchen serving up fresh seafood and hosting a number of international nights (including Japanese and Arabic evenings).
Although the menus at each are extensive, the chefs on site had no hesitation in acceding to some of our more esoteric culinary demands (including preparing a wood-fired pizza, and a traditional Indian thali on request, both of which were firmly ‘off-menu’).
Zil Payson’s new centrepiece spa, placed strikingly amongst towering rocks and boulders in a vertiginous location, provided yet further incentive (and opportunity) to unwind. Launched in April 2017, and accessed through a labyrinthine network of granite pathways and Indiana Jones-style rope bridges, the spa is composed of five uniquely constructed villas offering a wide variety of ‘experiences’ (from facials to massages), all complimented by products from the Organic Pharmacy and Terre D’Afrique, as well as an Insta-worthy infinity pool. For those in need of a more scientifically-driven treatment, on-site therapists can also provide an integrated wellness screening – a health MOT to determine your fat mass, oxygen saturation and general wellbeing – to suggest small lifestyle changes.
As a coda, I should add that the resort caters for thrill-seekers almost as well as those determined to do nothing. There are countless activities on offer carefully curated by the on-site ‘Experience Centre’, including diving, snorkelling, kayaking and standing paddleboard to name but a few. Six Senses can also arrange private fishing trips and visits to neighbouring islands that taken in hikes in the Coco de Mer Valley or cycling on La Digue (the smallest of the three main inhabited islands). Needless to say, the combination of sun, spa and sleep were enough to keep us occupied on this trip, but we’ll be sure to sample the rest when we return.
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