When it comes to far-flung tropical island destinations, places like the Maldives and French Polynesia may draw the bulk of the attention, but we’ve always had a soft spot for the Seychelles, the archipelago nation that’s set just off the coast of East Africa. Like the Maldives, the 115 islands of the Seychelles are surrounded by the dazzling waters of the Indian Ocean, and many feature idyllic, uncrowded white-sand beaches that often rank among the best in the world. The country also offers a unique culture that’s a mix of Creole, African, French, British and Indian influences, and has natural wonders such as Aldabra giant tortoises, dense rainforests and ancient indigenous flora like the coco de mer palm, which has become the official symbol of the nation. Another plus: Unlike in some other archipelago destinations where each resort sits on its own islet accessible only by seaplane, the Seychelles boasts several larger islands connected by ferry or speedboat, making it easier to try out more than one resort or island-hop for the day.
Though current travel restrictions have halted many activities in the Seychelles for now, those looking to relax and recharge in one of the most beautiful destinations around can still travel there—even, with a little extra work, if you’re from the US. As of this writing, the country has divided approved countries into two categories, each with slightly different requirements. The US is not on either list for now, but US residents traveling by private jet will be allowed entry as long as they receive authorization in advance and stay at a certified hotel or resort. All visitors must also show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival, and must follow on-island health and safety protocols; depending on the length of stay or how many resorts you visit, a second on-island PCR test may also be required. Details on whom to contact for private jet approval and other requirements can be found here.
Once you have made it through all those hoops, it will be smooth sailing—especially if you’re holed up at one of these five luxury resorts, which range from options located on their own islands (including one with a private runway) to a recently rebranded pick on the main island of Mahé. Note that while each of these resorts is approved to host US private jet travelers, a couple have additional requirements, such as a short in-villa quarantine, a minimum night stay or a second PCR test; contact each directly to confirm the latest regulations.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles Desroches Island
Located on its own island in the Seychelles’ Outer Amirantes region, this Four Seasons—the brand’s second in the country—has always been a favorite of the private jet crowd, thanks to fact that it has its own runway (which, when not in use, is a popular spot for guest yoga sessions and bike rides.) While the main part of the resort has not yet re-opened following its Covid-imposed closure (it’s poised to do so mid-March), guests can currently check in to the seven-bedroom Presidential Villa or one of the three-, four- or five-bedroom Private Retreats to enjoy what will basically be near-exclusive use of the island. A private chef will help design your meus, which can be enjoyed in-residence or pretty much anywhere on the island—including its 8.7-miles of white-sand beaches—while a dedicated concierge will help plan activities such as diving, tennis, treasure hunts and visits to the on-island giant tortoise sanctuary. Packages that include private charter flights from the main island are available, but those arriving from the US should be able to land their own jets directly on the island, subject to fees and local authority approval; contact the resort directly for details. Private Retreats start at about $4,559 per night, including all meals; fourseasons.com/seychellesdesroches.
Six Senses Zil Payson
Hop a helicopter from Mahé to reach this resort on the north coast of Félicité Island. (In normal times, you can also reach it via speedboat from islands including Praslin and La Digue.) Once there, find a collection of one- and two-bedroom villas and three- and four-bedroom residences, some set among lush vegetation, others overlooking the Indian Ocean and all with private pools. Wellness treatments draw from local and African traditions and include native ingredients, while the culinary program also highlights the Seychelles’ varied cultural influences and local Creole specialties. You can enjoy organic garden tours, jungle hikes, watersports and al fresco movie nights on the island, as well as day trips for snorkeling and diving. If this is your only stop, no minimum stay is required; those planning to visit more than one resort or island may need to remain in one place for 10 days and take a second PCR test on the 11th day. Rates start at about $1,684 per night; sixsenses.com.
Fregate Island Private
Accessible by helicopter from the international airport, this 720-acre island resort is home to just 16 villas, ensuring that guests will enjoy the utmost privacy—and that you’re likely to have one of the seven stunning beaches all to yourself. In addition to being a luxurious retreat, Fregate is also dedicated to conservation both on land and in the water, so you’ll find excellent snorkeling around a protected coral reef, jungle trails frequented by giant tortoises and fruit bats soaring above your private plunge pools. The resort’s own organic plantation provides about 80 percent of the ingredients for the delicious meals, which can be enjoyed anywhere on the island—including on a platform tucked among the branches of a banyan tree.
In terms of logistics, the resort is requiring a 10-night minimum stay on Fregate (or at another resort in the Seychelles, if this is your second stop), and that a second PCR test be performed on the fifth day; the test will be done by a nurse on the island, then helicoptered to Mahé for processing (there may be an additional charge of about $1,117 each way for the helicopter, depending on whether any flights have been scheduled for that day.) Villa rates start at about $4,960 per night; island buy-outs, including the use of nine villas and all meals, start at about $69,887 per night. fregate.com.
Anantara Maia Seychelles Villas
Bangkok-based Anantara took over this beachfront Bill Bensley-designed resort on the main island of Mahé in the middle of 2020, and while it has not yet had a grand re-opening, it has been welcoming guests—including some from the US—since December. Made up of 30 villas, each of which is attended to by a villa host (aka butler), the resort operates with a luxury all-inclusive program that includes unlimited meals (which can be enjoyed throughout the property), premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and activities like yoga, qigong, scuba trips and non-motorized watersports. US private jet guests landing at the international airport will enjoy lounge access at the airport, followed by a private transfer to the resort, which is set on a peninsula about 35 minutes away. Currently, the resort is requiring a 10-night minimum stay, with a second PCR test taken after five nights (until then, guests are required to stay around their villas and enjoy private meals in outdoor locations). Note that the main swimming pool, gym and spa are currently closed. Rates starting at $2,371 per night; anantara.com.
North Island, a Luxury Collection Resort, Seychelles
It’s just a 15-minute helicopter ride from the international airport to this private island resort that prides itself on its dedication to conservation, sustainability and creating a “Noah’s Ark” setting for indigenous flora, fauna and wildlife to thrive. Local materials were used in the creation of the 11 villas, each of which features lots of indoor and outdoor space (the latter can even be turned into your own private movie theater under the stars at night.) Island-grown ingredients also fuel the gourmet menus, which can be enjoyed in the multiple restaurants and during a picnic (each villa comes with a picnic basket, as well as bikes and a dedicated buggy to explore the island.) Other activities include scuba and snorkeling trips, sea kayaking, yoga, fishing and treatments at the aromatherapy-based spa, as well as guided talks and experiences highlighting the environmental efforts. Privacy is the main focus though, from the dedicated villa butlers to the multiple hidden-away powder-soft beaches. Rates start at about $6,683 per night on a bed-and-breakfast basis; half- and full-board options are also available. north-island.com.