It was the summer of 2015. We were bored, tired and desperately in need of a break. Our passports had just got renewed. It was a perfect time for a holiday. However, most countries require us to apply for a visa prior to travel and submit tonnes of supporting documents to prove our identity, intention of travel and return etc. Hence, we prefer to go to a destination that offers visa on arrival to Indians.
We thought of the options. Seychelles had been on our minds for quite some time, particularly on my mind since I had seen the Hindi movie Papa Kahte Hain (1996). We agreed that it would be an ideal spot to relax at a beach resort. All we had to do was book flight tickets and a hotel.
Seychelles is made up of more than 100 islands. It was difficult to decide which island to visit. There are the Inner Islands and Outer Islands. Only one island among the Outer Islands offered accommodation. It was expensive and far from Mahe, our point of entry and exit into the country. Amongst the Inner Islands, many offered accommodation. However, after looking at the time and money it takes to reach other islands, we decided to stay on the main island, Mahe.
The view of Seychelles from the flight looked amazing. It was exactly as how we had imagined it. We couldn’t wait to land! The airport had a narrow strip of runway. It looked like we were landing on water. After we exited from the airport, we picked up our rented car, a hatchback and drove for 20 kilometres through the windings that run parallel to the blue beaches to Chez Batista Villas in Takamaka, the southern area of Mahe.
Snapshots of Chez Batista Villas…
I was happy to see the thatched entrance and wooden signboard that had first attracted me to this resort. We parked our car and headed to the reception. It was in a separate hut-type room; its doors were partially closed. The staff was friendly, but unprofessional. It looked like a family setup. We got no help either with taking our luggage to our cottage.
Our cottage had a spacious room with a big verandah. Apparently, we had got a free upgrade because the cottage we had booked was under renovation. We decided to spend the afternoons lazily in the verandah. After resting for a while, we started exploring the property.
The resort had a rustic feel. It had clusters of cottages spread across the plot; some clusters faced the sea, while some were set against granite mountains. Actually, 41 of Seychelles’ 115 islands are made up of granite. Interestingly, most of the granite in Seychelles exists above the ground and does not require to be mined.
Beside the reception, there was a small enclosure for the famed giant tortoises. Further down, was a long, private beach. It was quiet and clean. There was some plantation along the beach on the other side of the sea and several granite boulders by the sea.
We decided to have lunch. We headed to the only in-house restaurant. It was a nice open-air restaurant by the beach, with a floor of sand giving the impression of eating and lounging on the beach. However, it had closed for the noon break. This is the odd thing about this international tourist destination.
How can they have only one restaurant and keep it closed (even if for a short time) during the peak tourist season? In fact, the restaurant didn’t operate at all on Mondays except for breakfast. Even the spread for breakfast was modest. I agree that one can only eat as per one’s capacity, yet for the rate they charged, we expected better service! We were warned about the lackadaisical attitude of Seychelles, but we hadn’t paid much heed. However, to be fair, the chef was happy to dish up some delectable vegetable curry for dinner off the menu just for us.
We had carried some ready-to-eat, heat-and-eat type of food, but the in-room kettle didn’t look clean. In fact, overall, our room was not invitingly clean and I reported this on TripAdvisor later. There was no other restaurant nearby. On the advice of the hotel staff, we drove back a few kilometres along the same route we had taken earlier and arrived at Surfers Beach.
Me on the private beach of Chez Batista
Surfers Beach served a variety of cuisines. They even had self-catering chalets across the road. It is typical in Seychelles to find lodges, home-stays etc. that enables people to visit this exotic place on budget.
We received friendly and professional service from a young lady who turned out to be the cousin of the staff at Chez Batista who had sent us there! Apparently, she too had worked at Chez Batista. We sat on the benches by the beach and ate while listening to the sounds of the waves.
As the sun started setting, crabs began to emerge from their hideouts. It was scary, but when we were sure that we were not on their agenda, we felt relaxed. We finished eating and continued to enjoy the views. It was so refreshing. Had it not been for Seychelles we would have been in the UAE getting bored and baked at 49.99 degrees celsius!
I will continue my story in the following days. Meanwhile, enjoy my favourite song from Papa Kahte Hain…