Last October, I enjoyed a terrific holiday in the Seychelles, the legendary island archipelago of exceptional tropical beauty in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Condor B767-300ER Business Class from Frankfurt to Mahe
- Review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon (published today)
- Review: Maia Luxury Resort
- Review: North Island
- Review: Constance Ephelia
- Review: Qantas A380 First Class from Dubai to London
Today (13 December, 2016): Review of Six Senses Zil Pasyon (Seychelles).
The new Six Senses Zil Pasyon is located on the island of Félicité, one of the most dramatically beautiful and unspoiled islands in the Seychelles. With massive granite boulders fringing the shoreline and picture perfect beaches, it is the island’s dramatic beauty that make it the perfect private island escape. True to Six Senses heritage of creating exceptional guest experiences in places of incredible beauty, the resort occupies just one-third of the island’s land total – the rest is left to the beauty of nature and wildlife. The resort includes 28 spectacular, one-bedroom pool villas and a couple of two-bedroom pool villas. Six Senses Zil Pasyon offers six dining and bar venues on the island, sport and leisure facilities, several pristine sandy beaches and an outdoor main pool.
In this review (more info below the slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The Six Senses Zil Pasyon is located on the 652-acre (263-hectare) private island of Félicité, one of the most dramatically beautiful and unspoiled islands of the 115-island nation that is the Seychelles. Félicité is the 6th largest island in the archipelago and is located approximately 30 nautical miles (55 kilometers) northeast of the main island Mahe. It showcases a dramatic, tropical beauty that is among the most spectacular in the world. Massive granite boulders and steep hills covered in lush greenery fringe the turquoise Indian Ocean and picture perfect beaches. The resort occupies just one-third of the island’s land total – the rest is left to the beauty of nature and wildlife.
- Despite its remote island location, it’s very easy to get to the resort by either helicopter or boat (transfers are organized by the resort). The Zil Air helicopter journey to Félicité departs from the Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) on the country’s main island of Mahé and the exhilarating 20-minute flight is over verdant islands, with arrival on the resort’s own jetty helipad. If you don’t like to fly (like me), you can also easily reach the resort by boat. Cat Cocos high-speed ferries to Praslin or La Digue Island leave from the Victoria jetty on Mahe, and the crossing takes around one hour. From Praslin or La Digue, a private speedboat transfer can take you to the resort although this is subject to weather conditions on the day of transfer (seas in the Seychelles can be rough).
- The resort, the only one on the magnificent island, is brand new and opened in September 2016. It was built on the place of a small and intimate lodge, that used to be a popular holiday spot for celebrities and dignitaries from around the world because of the beautiful beaches, water activities and complete privacy it offered. Some of the former lodge’s thatched chalets have been incorporated in the design and frame the resort’s entrance. It is for sure that the new Six Senses resort will attract the same clientele as its predecessor, with its wealthy guests being drawn to the shores of this mythic island to enjoy the spectacular natural surroundings, unique architecture and complete privacy and tranquility.
- The resort is set on the island’s north side facing the islands of La Digue, Praslin, Curieuse, Petit Soeur, Grande Soeur, Coco and Marianne. Its privileged yet coveted position makes the Six Senses Zil Pasyon the best resort in the Seychelles for island-hopping. The legendary island of La Digue, which is home to the world’s most magnificent beach (Anse Source d’Argent), is located only 10 minutes by boat from Felicité. Vallée de Mai one Praslin Island – one of only two places in the world where the rare Coco de Mer palm grows in its natural state – is only 20 minutes by boat. The famous Marine National Park of Coco Island can be reached by kayak. Experiencing more than one island is a must, as it will add a dimension to your Seychelles holiday experience that you will never forget.
- The resort’s main facilities (two restaurants, boutique, library, and pool) are clustered close together along Felicité’s oceanfront. The complex is somewhat reminiscent of a Seychellois plantation village that is true to the island setting. The resort lacks a formal lobby (since a butler is appointed for every villa, cf below), but there is a small relation guests office with counter in the back of the boutique. The eyecatcher of the village and pool deck is a huge Badamier tree, that is lighted at night by tens of bird’s nest latterns to create a very romantic, fairytale-like ambience.
- The resort’s main infinity swimming pool is set at the water’s edge where the ocean’s waves break over a rock wall. The pool is not very deep, and features an elongated section that curves along the shore and from where you can take in the panoramic views. The ocean in front of the pool is teeming with wildlife, with blacktipped reef sharks being frequently spotted.
- The Seychelles have the most magnificent beaches in the word, and Félicité Island, one of its crown jewels, is no exception to that. The resort’s shores are fringed by no less than four beautiful beaches. Three beaches are located near the resort entrance and along the pool deck. However, it’s the fabulolus Grand’ Anse beach – located at the outskirts of the resort grounds – that is the most impressive one. It overlooks La Digue Island and features some massive granite boulders along its fine white sand that feels like powdered sugar between your toes.
- The resort has been brilliantly designed to embrace the untouched picturesque landscape of the island. Created by Six Senses Architecture and Design team and Richard Hywel Evans of Studio RHE in London, the resort features contemporary architecture and interiors that perfectly complement the island environment. An intentionally restrained base palette of stone, timber, tile and fabric was used to reflect the natural surroundings of weathered rock, petrified timber, vibrant vegetation and rare orchids. The lines of the interiors are clean and simple, creating a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor. The furniture and fittings have all been carefully selected to complement the vividly-colored flora and fauna.
- There are unsurpassed vistas of the ocean and surrounding islands from the higher points on the island. Into this setting nestle the 28 one-bedroom pool villas and two two-bedroom pool villas that range from 2,150 square feet (200 square meters) to 5,380 square feet (500 square meters) plus 17 private residences. The stunning villas are among the best in the Indian Ocean and offer great privacy, embraced by tropical vegetation and spacious grounds and most importantly unsurpassed vistas of the ocean and a private infinity pool. Some of the villas and residences are still in construction, although you don’t notice anything of that as a guest.
- During my holiday, I stayed in a Pasyon Pool Villa, which is the resort’s top category and signature villa. The villa exterior featured the subtle grains of balau timber with wooden shingle roofs. Bow windows expanded and immersed into raw nature or when closed, created a personal climate-controlled environment. The vaulted ceiling living area comprised a walk-in closet that connects to a spacious bathroom featuring a swing in front of a bathtub plus a separate rain shower and toilet. The locally inspired décor combined with advanced technologies to control air conditionning, lighting and TV.
- Dining at Six Senses Zil Pasyon is a terrific gastronomic affair and one of the resort’s many highlights. The village is the setting for Island Café, a destination-dining locale. Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner inspired by flavors from the Seychellois spice route, this is a melting pot of European, Asian and African fare. The Island Cafe is also the home of the Chef’s Kitchen, where just a handful of guests interact with the chef as dinner is prepared. Beside the water’s edge is the ‘no meat’ Ocean Kitchen, where the catch of the day is but one of the amazing seafood dishes on the menu.
- The resort features several atmospheric bars. The upper floor of the Island Café, Lakanbiz, presents a selection of flavored and aged rums while The Wine Cellar features an impressive collection of labels from the old and new worlds. It’s the perfect place for a private fine dining experience for two or as many as eight; the venue will also include regular wine tastings hosted by the master sommelier. Koko Bar is located next to the pool and offers classic, twisted, bespoke cocktails with a view to drink and die for.
- During my visit, a few weeks after the resort’s opening, the spa was still under construction, but it promises to be a stunning wellness facility once it opens in February 2016. Combined with the integration of sustainable processes and technologies, it is designed to become an integral part of the island’s ecosystem and to offer guests a symbiotic experience of Félicité’s environmental. The spa will include five individual villas for treatments, hammam, sauna, saltwater pool, steam, yoga platform and nail bar and will provide innovative ancient holistic treatments from in-house experts and regular visiting wellness practitioners.
- Félicité Island is a diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise. The crystal clear water surrounding the island offers excellent visibility, making Félicité – and thus the Six Senses Zil Pasyon – one of the unique and unspoiled diving destinations in the Seychelles. The presence of rare species, as well as more commonly found marine life is another major reason for the popularity of Félicité Island as a underewater destination.
- As with every Six Senses resort, each villa has its own Guest Experience Maker (GEM) or butler. This guarantees an exceptional level of service during your stay. Nhi, my GEM during my stay, did a terrific job.
- The resort is located on the northern tip of Félicité Island, and mainly faces the west, guaranteeing long, sunny days and fantastic sunsets. One of the most romantic spots in the resort to observe the sunset is the rocky outcrop behind the Ocean Kitchen restaurant, which feature a pair of loungers surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.
- The new Six Senses resort features an open air cinema. You can relax on a sun lounger under the stars and listen to the palms rustling in the breeze, with a blockbuster movie illuminating the large cinema screen over the Indian Ocean. Scheduled screenings take place two times a week, but should you wish to have a more private experience, screenings can also be arranged for couples, families or groups.
- Félicité Island has an intriguing history. Up until the 1970s it was a coconut plantation that had a population of about 50. In the late 19th century, Félicité was home to Sultan Abdullah of Perak, who was exiled here by the British after an uprising in the Perak region of Malaysia.
- The resort is operated by Six Senses, a hotel and spa management company that currently comprises 10 resorts and 28 spas under the brand names Six Senses, Evason and Six Senses Spas. Six Senses, one of my favorite luxury hotel brands in the world, operates resorts in far-flung locations of incredible natural beauty known for their distinctive and diverse design personalities. Each of the Six Senses properties is supported by a leadership commitment to community, sustainability and wellness.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The new Six Senses Zil Pasyon will become in no time one of the hottest and most beloved luxury resorts in the Seychelles. Its truly amazing hillside villas, private island setting, commanding ocean views, fantastic gastronomy, and wide range of activities on offer will be a magnet for discerning travelers. The resort is perfect, but you may want to know to following when considering a stay here:
- Félicité Island’s is surrounded by a reef – close to its shores – that houses spectacular underwater life. This is good news of course for guests that like to snorkel and dive. However, it also means that the waters around the island are very popular and several tour boats from neighbouring islands visit the reef during the day and anchor quite close to the shores of the island. Although it did not bother me, these boats and their sometimes loud guests can somewhat disrupt your castaway experience.
- The spectacular spa will only open in February 2017. Until then, a selection of spa treatments is offered in a dedicated villa with full spa facilities.
- If you don’t want to travel by helicopter but by boat, you need to realize that this includes a public, one hour ferry crossing between Mahe and Praslin island, which only runs 3 to 4 times a day. Depending on the time of arrival of your flight at the airport on Mahe, you may well have to wait several hours on the Victoria jetty before the ferry departs. The ferry schedule can be found here.
- The resort grounds are spread out and quite hilly, with 4 miles or 6 km of paved roads. Because of the layout of the place you really need a buggy to get around, especially when it is getting dark outside. The buggy service is excellent though and you never have to wait longer than 5 minutes.
- Paths to the villas are poorly lit at night, and could use some extra lights.
- Location: 10/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Resort grounds: 10/10
- Rooms (villas): 10/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: not applicable
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,4/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury resort like the Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles (and receive many free perks).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Seychelles is often sold as a year round destination and it is. However there is more chance of bad weather, that is to say rain, from November to March. The transitional months of October and April are excellent for a visit as the oceans are very calm and the weather balmy. During the dry seasons (May to September), it can be windy (causing seaweed on the south or south-easterly side of the islands) with rough seas.
HOW TO GET THERE
Most guests will reach the Six Senses resort by helicopter. The Zil Air helicopter journey to Félicité is approximately 30 nautical miles (55 kilometers) northeast of the Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) on the country’s main island of Mahé. The exhilarating 20-minute flight is over verdant islands, with arrival on the resort’s own jetty helipad. Helicopter transfer available at EUR 919 per way (inclusive of taxes and service charge) up to a maximum charge of 325 kg (including 4 passengers maximum and luggage). The helicopter operates after sunrise and before sunset only.
If you don’t like to fly, you can also easily reach the resort by boat. Cat Cocos high-speed ferries to Praslin or La Digue Island leave from the Victoria jetty on Mahe, and the crossing takes around one hour. From Praslin or La Digue, private speedboat transfers are available upon request and subject to weather conditions on the day of transfer.
Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) is served by many airlines (click here for a direct link to their websites):
- From/via Asia : Air Seychelles (via Hong Kong, Mumbai), Mihin Lanka (via Colombo).
- From/via Middle East: Emirates (via Dubai), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi), Air Seychelles (via Abu Dhabi), Qatar Airways (via Doha).
- From/via Europe: Condor (via Frankfurt), Air Seychelles (via Paris, Dusseldorf), Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul).
- From/via Africa: Kenya Airways (via Nairobi), Ethiopian Airlines (via Addis Ababa), Air Austral (via La Reunion), Air Seychelles (via Johannesburg, Durban and Mauritius).