Paradise found? A Visit to the Seychelles (part 4 of 4)

- Erik Haugen, Erik Haugen, CEO of Kiwi Collection, has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding merger and acquisition specialists, a leader and a premier long-range business development strategist. In addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics magna cum laude from Cornell University he has a Master’s degree in both Marketing and Finance from one of the most celebrated academic institutions in America – the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As an Executive in a handful of high-powered consulting firms, Erik has developed long-range strategic plans for several Fortune 100 clients. He has also found success as a Senior Sales and Marketing Executive in the pharmaceutical and resources industries of Europe and the United States. His extensive professional experience has led Erik all over the globe and he has been a guest at many of the world’s finest hotels. And, while traveling with his beloved wife, Erik has developed a passion for fine cuisine, fine hotels, and exotic locations. His success in the world of high-finance has allowed Erik to fuse his passion and professionalism into his current role at the helm of Kiwi Collection.

Seychelles: Banyan Tree

The third property we stayed in was the Banyan Tree. Like Maia, the Banyan Tree is located on Mahé, so there are a wide range of local cultural activities to participate in within driving distance. Again like Maia, it is the property itself that is the star at the Banyan Tree.

Nestled on the hill and along one of the world’s most charming beaches, the Banyan Tree really feels far from civilisation. The property consists of 53 private villas with plunge pools, a main building (housing lobby, bar, two restaurants, and the main pool complex), and the spa. The buildings are designed in a colonial style that seems very practical.

Our experience started at the entry to the Maia Luxury Resort and Spa, where the Banyan Tree limo (or rather, 4×4) picked us up. The “de rigeur” cold towels and water were offered by the driver once we had entered the comfortable, leather clad interior of the car. The driver, who had been with the Banyan Tree since it opened, was extremely professional and a treasure trove of information regarding the Seychelles (and Mahé in particular). He started the engine, turned on a soothing CD, and we were off on the third leg of our adventure in paradise. I’m not sure that it would be possible to be more relaxed than we already were after our two previous experiences, but I can assure you that if it were possible, it would have happened.

The welcome was fantastic. Drinks on the veranda of the main building, a brief check-in procedure, and then we were given the choice of having a tour of the resort or to be taken to our villa. We chose the latter, with a view to taking the tour at a later time.

Our villa was lovely. It consisted of four main areas: the lounging/dining pavilion and deck, incorporating the plunge pool; the bedroom/bathroom; the sun lounging deck (with a two person Jacuzzi); and the spa pavilion. Each area had fabulous, picture postcard views. The beach, the ocean, and the surrounding hillside consisted of vibrant greens, blues and whites framing the hotel villas and main building.

We were in one of the highest placed hillside pool villas, and the drive from the main building took a few minutes. But it was well worth it, and certainly did not affect the levels of service we received in any way. All meals were delivered rapidly and the food was excellent. One evening we had the pleasure of dining in the Thai restaurant and the food there was also excellent.

At the Banyan Tree we discovered that there was a lot more to do in the Seychelles than we had originally expected. From trips to local artists’ studios, to helicopter tours of the island (from the Banyan Tree’s own helipad), there is no excuse to ever feel bored.

More than anything, the Banyan Tree made us feel comfortable. With views to stimulate the senses, excellent food, and service levels at the top of their league, we felt truly pampered.

Unfortunately, due to our schedule we were only able to stay at the Banyan Tree for two nights, but we still had a fantastic experience. The first day we relaxed in our hillside villa and had dinner in the Thai restaurant. The second day we stayed in our villa and took a trip down to the beach, sat on towels provided by the pool staff, and watched the ebb and flow of the tides. We stayed there until it was time for dinner, which we had in our own private villa. On the last day, we stayed in our villa – there really was no reason to leave and as we were hoping time would forget us and we could stay forever.

When we did leave the Banyan Tree, it was again in one of their private cars. Again the driver was professional, relaxed, and shared interesting anecdotes about the local environment. When we got to the airport, the driver even found a trolley for our bags and escorted us to the correct check-in counter. I have rarely been so sad to leave somewhere at the end of a holiday.

How do we define paradise? We all have our own definition, however, I cannot think of a better one than a place that stimulates all your senses with its beauty, level of service, and generosity of spirit; a place that provides memories you treasure in your heart, and that you vow to return to. For me personally, the Seychelles represents this type of paradise.

When my wife and I left after our 12 day stay we felt completely rested, both mentally and physically, and ready to take on the mantle of our regular lives – until our next visit…

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