Looking through travel brochures or weekend newspaper articles, and from television programmes that highlight exotic vacations, Seychelles appears to offer high cost holidays. Indeed, Seychelles promotes itself as a high end tourism destination, with a profusion of modern 5* plus hotels backing some of the archipelago’s best beaches.
But you don’t have to be super-rich to holiday on the islands. Recent years have seen an expansion of smaller self-cater accommodation. Many of these are owned and run by Seychellois, so that the money you pay supports the local community rather than going into the bank accounts of foreign owners of many of the larger hotels, most of which have been constructed and are staffed largely by foreign workers.
Christine’s family runs two self-catering houses, jointly called Villa Kordia (“Kordia” is derived from the Cordia trees in the entrance to the garden) at Pointe au Sel, on the south-east coast of Mahe. One house has three bedrooms (two with double beds, one twin), the other has two (one double and one twin). Each house has a fully appointed kitchen/dining room/lounge and extensive outdoor seating. The two houses are set in a well-maintained and secluded garden with lawns, decorative trees and bushes (Cordia, frangipani, bougainvillea and others) and fruiting trees (coconut, golden apple, mango, avocado, breadfruit, banana, local apple, papaya). The properties are only about 50 metres from the normally quiet beach at Pointe au Sel and a short walk from the attractive Fairylands peninsula, where Seychelles Fruit Bats roost during the day in the tops of tall Casuarina trees. There are three shops nearby and Mahe’s second town, Anse Royale, with markets, shops, restaurants, banks (and ATMs), a hospital and Seychelles University, is about two kilometres to the south.
For travelling around Mahe the owners can arrange car hire at discount prices and can also arrange boat trips for fishing or visits to local islands.
For those like me with wildlife interests, three of Seychelles’ endemic birds frequently visit the gardens: Seychelles Sunbird, Seychelles Bulbul and Seychelles Blue Pigeon. Two other endemic birds, the Seychelles Kestrel and Seychelles Swiftlet, can occasionally be seen there and at night Seychelles Fruit Bats feed noisily on ripening fruit. Birds that have been introduced to Seychelles by man, such as the Common Myna, Madagascar Fody, Barred Ground Dove and Madagascar Turtle Dove, are also commonly seen in the garden.
Self-cater holidays open up Seychelles to a much broader range of people than large hotels alone. Furthermore, small self-cater establishments can be found in many parts of Mahe, and also on the other main islands of Praslin and La Digue, enabling tourists to island-hop and experience more of Seychelles, especially local cuisine in smaller restaurants. This type of holiday also allows the tourist to interact more closely with Seychellois and to get a better feel for the pulse of life in Seychelles.