Luxury And Adventure In The Seychelles: Constance Ephelia & Constance Lemuria – Hotel Review

By Mimi Spencer

6 months ago

From spas to scuba diving, these hotels have it all


If you’re the kind of person who likes to lie on a strand of white sand in the shade of a coconut palm, aqua waves lapping gently at the shore, it goes without saying that the Seychelles is the holiday destination for you, says Mimi Spencer. She checks in to Constance Ephelia, a 112-hectare luxury resort with an equally luxurious sister property, Lemuria, on Praslin Island.

Hotel Review: Constance Ephelia & Constance Lemuria, Seychelles

Infinity pool in the Seychelles

This archipelago of 115 islands, flung out like glitter upon the Indian Ocean, has long been a go-to destination for honeymooners and holidaymakers with a taste for the sybaritic. It’s the kind of place that bores my husband to bits, getting him unreasonably uptight before the pool guy has even strolled over to offer him an iced towel. He needs action and adventure on holiday. He needs, it turns out, a place like Ephelia, a 112-hectare luxury resort on the Seychelles’ Mahé Island that is so buzzy with ideas and activities that you could, should you wish, be on-the-go from sunrise till way past your bedtime.

My trip here is, however, solo – and it’s joyful at the end of each day to WhatsApp home with reports of the day’s adventures, some of which even include mild peril. Zip-lining through the vivid green of the forest canopy, legs akimbo and shrieking like a gibbon? Check. Kayaking the mangrove forest? Yes, the hotel estate includes the largest mangrove reserve in the Seychelles, protected, patrolled, and home to a hive of silvery bees, producers of mangrove honey for your morning pancakes. Perhaps madam would like a guided nature hike before those pancakes? Well, of course! So I spend a happy hour clambering over the rounded granitic boulders so particular to the islands, alongside little green geckos, turtledoves and red crabs the size of a shoe – followed by a session of snorkelling at the nearby marine reserve in the company of gusts of bat fish and an enormous, frilled porcupine ray. 

The resort is expansive, allowing the 750 guests at full occupancy – and their attendant 750 staff, plus resident peacock – to disperse among its five beaches, five bars, five restaurants and eight saltwater pools. One of these is reserved exclusively for families, another is a ‘quiet pool’ for anyone who might possibly want to turn their phone off on holiday. And for those moments when your thumbs start to twiddle and your book begins to bore, there’s always Paddel tennis, or a trampoline workout in the gym, or even SubSoccer, a curious beach game which involves sitting at a table and playing football using just your legs, leaving your hands free to nurse a passionfruit mojito. 

For my part, I am drawn like a moth to Ephelia’s spectacular spa – a village of treatment huts, hydro pools, yoga pavilions and a ‘Kneipp path’ of therapeutic pebbles, all of which adds up to the largest spa in the Indian Ocean. Everything here, as elsewhere, is manicured and cherished – there’s even a man sweeping the beach with a palm-frond broom, Walrus and Carpenter style. As I watch him one afternoon, I hear the strumming of guitars and stroll along the sand to discover a perfect little wedding taking place beneath an arbour of frangipani. I do hope it remained romantic for the happy couple as a middle-aged British woman in her bikini wandered past eating a watermelon ice-lolly.

Food is a big deal at Constance Ephelia. Much of the time when you’re not Scuba diving, paddleboarding, visiting the resort’s giant aldabra tortoises or spotting fuzz-faced fruit bats as they swoop over the cinnamon trees, is spent grazing. It’s almost impossible not to eat constantly, like a Friesian cow, kicking off with the thrill of buffet breakfast with its egg station, patisserie cart, fruit cornucopia, dumpling pots and juice bar, a bit like a Harrods Food Hall stationed on a desert island. 

At Ephelia’s sister resort, a short hop on a Twin Otter plane across to Praslin Island, the food is, if anything, even more spectacular, thanks to the attentions of renowned Catalan chef Jordi Vila. Guests at Lemuria can, should they please, dine nightly at Diva, his Michelin-starred restaurant, and sample some of the 22,000 bottles of wine in the hotel’s cellar (the largest in the Seychelles… naturally). The meal I have here is without doubt one of the best I can remember – it’s all a bit of blur, as tasting menus often are, but I do recall drinking warm lobster bisque through a straw from a glass shaped like a puffer fish, which is something you don’t do every day. 

Even entering Lemuria is an exercise in theatre and indulgence. You arrive at a pair of huge wooden doors. A gong sounds. The doors sweep open to reveal a triple-level pool tumbling over volcanic rocks towards a crescent of brilliant white sand and a startling blue lagoon beyond. Again, every whim or fancy is catered for, this time including an impeccable 18-hole golf course where you tee-off from a cliff top at the 15th with the (in my case vain) hope of reaching the green 50-metres below.

Sybaritic indeed. And then, just when you’re lulled into luxey submission, something unexpected happens, the kind of event that only occurs on holiday if you’re very lucky – like seeing the Northern Lights or glimpsing a silverback gorilla. One morning, en route to the usual breakfast bonanza, there’s a shuffle in the undergrowth that lines the beach. And there, flippers sweeping, is a hawksbill turtle preparing to lay her eggs. This beach is one of the few in the world where guests can live alongside nesting turtles, and up to 5,000 hatchlings emerge here each year, supported by Robert Matombe, the resort’s very own ‘Turtle Manager’. I watch as this incredible creature performs her age-old task. For a moment, time is suspended. The glories of honey pancakes and zip-lining evaporate. There’s luxury… and then there’s privilege. This place manages to provide both.

BOOK IT

Stay 3 nights at Constance Ephelia on a half board basis in a Junior Suite, followed by 3 nights at Constance Lemuria on a half board basis in a Junior Suite from £2,749 per person. Including return private transfers, internal flights and international flights. Based on travel in June 2024.

For more information about Turquoise Holidays, call 01494 678 400 or visit turquoiseholidays.co.uk

For more information about Constance Ephelia and Constance Lemuria, visit constancehotels.com


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