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By Niki Gower

Hilton Labriz and the island of Silhouette

Ever sat on Beau Vallon Beach and stared off in to the distance, wondering about that prominent silhouette that looms from the horizon like a sentinel emerging from the sea? Close enough to feel as though it is the companion it has always been to Mahé’s inhabitants, yet far enough to retain a otherworldly mystique that stirs feelings of isolation and romantic curiosities.

97% of Silhouette Island is classified as a National Nature Reserve and the island itself is in fact located within a Marine National Park – making Silhouette an oasis of pristine natural heritage. With its host of endemic and rare animals, lush tropical forests, unspoilt beaches, scenic mountain hikes and wetlands teaming with an array of life – Silhouette is a paradise for nature lovers or anyone looking for Eden on Earth. Silhouette is also a time capsule – a living museum of sorts –offering visitors a glimpse into the Seychellois ways of yesteryear.

Seychelles Livin’ recently accompanied a delegation from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture on a familiarisation visit to Silhouette Island. 

Organic herb and vegetable farming on Silhouette
The delegation was hosted by with representatives from the Hilton Labriz Resort and Spa’s (the only hotel on the island), the Island Development Company (IDC – responsible for the management of the island,) as well as the Island Conservation Society (ICS – responsible for conservation on Silhouette). 

The ICS presentation included an introduction to some of the flora, fauna and geology that make Silhouette a unique ecosystem – endemic and rare species that, in the view of ICS’s Benjamin Thompson, are “just as brand-able as the more famous Coco De Mer and Giant Tortoises that are traditionally associated with Seychelles”. The island does boast specimens of these two iconic species; however it is the unique species that present themselves as unique selling points for Silhouette and leave potential for the development of niche tourism attractions on the island – such as opportunities for nature lovers to view the Sheath Tailed Bat, hailed as the world’s rarest mammal.

The IDC presented the challenges and triumphs of its management of the island and its 150 local residents and 350 Hilton staff. Working closely with Hilton and ICS, the IDC has managed to maintain Silhouette as a pristine natural ecosystem as well as preserve its historical heritage.

The delegation was then treated to a tour of the Hilton Labriz Resort and Spa. The resort boasts 110 spacious villas divided into three categories. The Garden Villas are set among lush vegetation and offer spectacular views of Mount Dauban. The Beachfront Villas are tucked into the jungle and open onto pristine beach, offering unparalleled views of the Indian Ocean. The Deluxe Pool Side Villas – both hillside and beachfront – offer the same luxurious setting as the others, but come complete with their own private swimming pool and a separate thatched pavilion. The feather in the cap – the 111th villa on offer – is the Presidential Villa. Spread out with the convenience of two stylish bedrooms and boasting its own private swimming pool, a spacious living room and exclusive access to the beach!

The resort also offers guests the opportunity to visit their mountainside spa. Set amidst massive boulders in the fringes of the forest and offering a full suite of beauty treatments and revitalising rituals. Also on offer are seven international restaurants and a bar, a fitness centre, tennis court, diving and fishing adventures, guided nature walks, sunset cruises and a host of other activities to keep guests occupied. For the little ones, the Jungle Kids Club will keep the children occupied and entertained for hours.

But Silhouette is not just reserved for tourists with the funds and means to enjoy the full Hilton Labriz experience. The IDC also runs a small guest house on the island. Simple and clean with options for full board and housekeeping, the IDC guesthouse is the ideal opportunity for residents and tourists staying on other islands to get to experience Silhouette and all it has to offer.

Day trips are also available – a cooperative between Hilton, IDC and ICS – that incorporates ferry transportation to the island, guided nature walks and a visit to Hilton Labriz to enjoy some of its offerings.

So next time you’re gazing across at Silhouette as the sun goes down on another perfect Seychelles day, why not stop wondering what lies beyond that shadowy outline of an island and plan a trip to discover it for yourself – Silhouette is more accessible than you think!

{ This article, by Niki Gower, was originally published  in the TODAY in Seychelles Newspaper on the 04.05.2013 (www.today.sc), and also appears on the travel blog www.newworldnomad.blogspot.com. All photos copyright www.nikigowerphoto.com    email: niki@silverspoonmedia.biz }


ICS: www.islandconservationseychelles.com
IDC: : +248 4 38 46 40 
HILTON LABRIZ: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/seychelles/hilton-seychelles-labriz-resort-and-spa-SEZLBHI/index.html

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