Travel: Fregate Island – The Indian Ocean’s Eden
The award-winning Frégate Island Private resort is a Monaco-sized slice of paradise in the Seychelles.
Exclusive, private and beautiful is the best way to sum up Frégate Island Private. With only 16 villas and a maximum number of guests around 40, it’s easy to play Robinson Crusoe. You even get your own ‘Man Friday’ in the form of a personal butler who looks after your every need.
Frégate Island is just one tip of the submerged granite mountain range that forms the Seychelles archipelago. In fact, Seychelles is one of the world’s few places to boast granite islands. Being mountain tips, these islands are not flat, sandy atolls like in the Maldives, but rise majestically above the ocean.
The way to arrive on Frégate is by helicopter or plane charter. The 53-kilometre flight from Mahe, the main island, is worth every dollar for the view alone as you fly over an azure ocean and ridiculously beautiful islands until the 125-metre peak of Frégate’s Mount Signal indicates your imminent arrival.
The reception committee had a warm welcome for us and we were introduced to Curtis, the personal butler in charge of pampering us. He flashed a warm, welcoming smile and offered us some chilled towels before whisking us off to reception in the golf cart that was ours for the duration of the stay.
Our villa was something to behold. At 400 square metres it’s more like a small house that includes an entrance hall, large living room, separate bedroom, two bathrooms, two outside showers, a wooden terrace, infinity pool, jacuzzi and a dining pavilion. A large TV, numerous satellite channels and internet take care of technological needs. All of this is nestled in lush tropical vegetation that ensures your privacy.
Privacy is taken seriously on Frégate. The owner is German, he lives in Switzerland for tax reasons, but that’s as much as you’ll find out about him. The staff, if quizzed, will admit that there have been some high-profile guests. But that’s it. When you’re paying $1,800 a night you expect anonymity while being treated like royalty.
Staying anonymous on Frégate is ridiculously easy, and it has absolutely nothing to do with hiding. This island paradise is approximately three-square kilometres in size, which is bigger than Monaco as Managing Director Paul van Frank pointed out to me. During my four days on Frégate I only saw other guests twice.
Apparently some guests choose to spend their whole holiday next to the pool, with their personal butler being the only contact with the outside world. And why not? But that does mean missing out on Frégate’s many charms, such as its seven beaches for example. Anse Victorin is stunning and has the awards to prove it. We had breakfast there on our last morning, with Curtis carrying the food and utensils down the 80 steep steps to serve up a five-star farewell meal. Anse Maquereau and Anse Bambous are another two beaches to write home about.
Eating in style at exotic locations is something of a Frégate specialty. One evening we had a beach barbecue on Anse Bambous. No roughing it here, it’s all white tablecloth, butler and personal chef. My lobster tail was huge, while my wife rated her steak as the best she’d ever had.
And so it went on the food front, in four days there was only one place where we ate twice, and that was Frégate House. Other venues were the Plantation House, the Yacht Club and the Treehouse.
Pampering of another kind is found at the Rock Spa, where we had a 30-minute couples massage. My wife liked it so much that she came back for more the following day.
One of the highlights of Frégate Island Private is that it is a serious nature reserve with some major success stories. Large amounts of money have been spent to make the island rat, cat and dog free. By 1970, there were only 21 Seychelles Magpie Robins left in the world, all on Frégate. Today, there are populations on five islands, with Frégate having the most with 244 to 248 birds.
The Seychelles Whiteye, which is also critically endangered, has grown from 31 birds in 1995 to over 100 today. Numbers for the Seychelles Terrapin have risen from eight individuals in 1995 to over 100 today, the biggest surviving population in the archipelago.
Last, but not least, is the Aldabra giant tortoise. These 250-kilogram monsters fulfil the role of elephants by smashing paths through the undergrowth and dispersing seeds. Even Frégate resident naturalists were amazed when the last census counted 2,000 of them.
All of these factors converge to make Frégate Island Private a wonderful experience. Everybody is extremely friendly and service impeccable. Curtis, our personal butler, was discrete but always only a phone call away. It also felt good to stay in a resort that has won awards and is five-star rated for its environmental efforts. On Frégate I felt I was contributing to restoring this little Eden to its natural state, and that is a unique and worthwhile experience.