Review: Four Seasons Desroches Island

Introduction: Birthday In The Seychelles
Review: The Club At SJC
Review: British Airways First Class 787 San Jose To London
Review: British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow Airport
Review: Park Hyatt Paris Vendome
Review: Etihad Lounge Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport
Review: Etihad Business Class A330 Paris To Seychelles
Review: Four Seasons Seychelles
Flying To Desroches Island
Review: Four Seasons Desroches Island
Review: Air Seychelles Lounge Mahe Airport Seychelles
Review: Turkish Business Class A330 Seychelles To Istanbul
Review: Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul Airport
Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class 777 Istanbul To Los Angeles


Hotel Reviews Art

Booking the Four Seasons Desroches Island

As I wrote about a couple of installments back, we were spending a total of eight nights in the Seychelles. We spent our first three nights on the island of Mahe at the Four Seasons Seychelles, while we spent our last five nights at the Four Seasons Desroches Island, which just opened earlier this year and is located on a private island.

This resort intrigued me, largely because I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would this be a private island experience in the same way you’d get in the Maldives?

We booked the Four Seasons Desroches Island last December under a pre-opening offer. The rate was 724EUR per night. That’s a lot of money, but in fairness all rooms at this resort are villas, so at least you’re getting a big room for this. Ford booked this for us through Four Seasons Preferred Partner (if anyone wants help with a Four Seasons Preferred Partner booking at this hotel or any other Four Seasons, you can email Ford at fordb@travelsociety.com), giving us the following additional benefits:

  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
  • Spa credit of USD100 once during stay (not applicable to products)
  • Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites, villas, and private residences)
  • Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms; complimentary premium Internet in all suites

This was a big splurge, but we were staying for my birthday, and thought this would be a special experience.

Desroches Island basics

Below is a picture I took of the display at the hotel of Desroches Island. The entire island is about four square kilometers — it’s about 5.5 kilometers long and up to 1km wide, though as you can see, the width varies significantly. The villas belonging to the Four Seasons are at the far left of the below display, to the left of the runway (which cuts across the island at the widest point).  Then just to the right of the runway and along the coast at the top you’ll see more villas, which are residential villas (some have been newly built as part of the Four Seasons, and some were already there, as part of the previous hotel). The rest of the island consists of staff quarters and all kinds of beaches and other areas you can bike around. Exploring every corner of the island was one of my favorite parts of visiting.


Four Seasons Desroches island map

The island first had a resort open back in 1972, though over the years the ownership of the resort has changed hands a few times. The resort was sold to Four Seasons in 2016, at which point they made all kinds of changes before reopening in 2018.

I’m told that most of the “bones” of the resort have stayed the same over the years, though Four Seasons made major changes to the furnishings, and also added some features, like the lighthouse (more on that below).

Four Seaons Desroches villa

As soon as we landed in Desroches from Mahe we were greeted by about a dozen staff members. It’s pretty unique to have a private island with a runway that’s right next to the hotel’s reception area.


Four Seasons Desroches welcome pavilion 


Desroches Island plane arrival

After being offered a cold towel and drink we were whisked off to our room on a golf cart.

The friendly lady who drove us to our room explained that we had been upgraded from a beach bungalow to a sunset beach suite. We had booked the base room, and she explained that this was a double upgrade. Ford had booked us through Four Seasons Preferred Partner which entitles you to a one category upgrade, though it’s not unusual to get a better upgrade than that. In this case we were staying at a brand new hotel that seemed to have low occupancy, and Ford also let them know it was my birthday, so I’m guessing it may have been a combination of those things that led to a good upgrade.

The hotel has a total of 71 villas, and our villa was right near the main pool and restaurant, which was convenient.


Four Seasons Desroches villa exterior


Four Seasons Desroches villa exterior

Outside the main door to the room was an area with two bikes, which can be used to explore the island. While you can also have them drive you anywhere in a golf cart, we went everywhere by bike.


Four Seasons Desroches bikes

Based on the villa’s exterior (which I thought seemed fitting for the location) I didn’t have high hopes of an impressive interior design, but boy was I wrong. The rooms at this resort are gorgeous.

Inside the entrance was the living room, which featured a dining table with four chairs, and then a couch along with a chair around a coffee table.


Four Seasons Desroches villa living room


Four Seasons Desroches villa living room


Four Seasons Desroches villa living room

Along one of the walls was a Nespresso machine, bottled water, and the minibar.


Four Seasons Desroches in-room Nespresso machine


Four Seasons Desroches minibar contents


Four Seasons Desroches minibar contents

There was also a hat rack with a few hats and a beach bag, which could be used around the resort (stupidly I didn’t bring a hat on this trip, and since I go from zero to lobster in 60 seconds, I ended up wearing one of these hats every day).


Four Seasons Desroches hats & bag

Then a sliding door led into the bedroom, which had a comfortable king size bed with netting around it. There was a “welcome” floral display on the bed, which was a thoughtful touch.


Four Seasons Desroches villa bedroom


Four Seasons Desroches villa bedroom

It’s not just that the suite was beautifully furnished, but the bones of the villa itself were impressive — check out how high those ceilings are!


Four Seasons Desroches villa bedroom ceiling

Then there was another sliding door leading into an office area of sorts, which also had a couch that could be converted into a pull-out.


Four Seasons Desroches villa office area


Four Seasons Desroches villa pull-out couch

I appreciated just how many outlets the room had, including USB and 110v outlets. There were always four of them in the same place, so charging electronics in the room was never an issue.


Four Seasons Desroches villa outlets

Speaking of technology, the room had free wifi, which was really slow. At first I was worried, because it would be a long five days of getting work done if I spent 30 seconds waiting for a page to load.

There was premium wifi available for 20EUR per day, and this made a world of difference, and was actually high speed. Best of all, the premium wifi was free since we booked through Four Seasons Preferred Partner and were in a suite.

The bathroom was behind all three rooms, and stretched the entire length of the villa, so was huge. There were two toilets, three showers, a bathtub, and more. As you can see below, in the center of the room was a soaking tub, as well as the entrance to the main shower, which was large.


Four Seasons Desroches villa bathroom


Four Seasons Desroches villa shower 

Then there was a door leading to the outdoor shower.


Four Seasons Desroches villa outdoor shower

There was a sink on each side of the main shower.


Four Seasons Desroches villa sink

The two toilets were at the far ends of the bathroom — the room at the far right had just a toilet, while the room at the far left had a toilet, sink, and another shower.


Four Seasons Desroches villa toilet

Just as cool as the indoor area was the villa’s outdoor area. There were several doors leading to the backyard.


Four Seasons Desroches villa exterior

Just outside the doors was a dining table with four seats, as well as two seats and an ottoman for lounging.


Four Seasons Desroches villa outdoor patio

Further out were two more chairs, and then a hammock hanging between two trees.


Four Seasons Desroches villa outdoor hammock

Then there was a fairly large pool, as well as a pagoda with some seating.


Four Seasons Desroches villa pool

The room had a direct path to the beach, and another outdoor shower where you could rinse off.


Four Seasons Desroches villa walkway to beach


Four Seasons Desroches villa outdoor shower

I also have to note how generous the hotel was with amenities. They delivered us a different amenity every day. Upon arrival there was a welcome gift of champagne, a huge fruit basket, and some chocolates.


Four Seasons Desroches welcome gift

One day they delivered sweets and fresh coconut juice, another day they delivered a bottle of local rum with some canapés, and on my birthday they delivered another bottle of champagne and a cake. The constant surprises were a nice touch.


Four Seasons Desroches treats


Four Seasons Desroches treats


Four Seasons Desroches birthday surprise

I have nothing but good things to say about our villa at the Four Seasons. It was spacious and thoughtfully decorated — it’s hard to believe that this is on a secluded island.

Four Seasons Desroches dining

The hotel has three main dining venues — Claudine Restaurant (the all day dining option), the Deli & Bar (if you just want a snack or drink), and The Lighthouse (the hotel’s signature restaurant, which is only open for dinner).

Let’s start with breakfast, which was served daily from 7AM until 10:30AM at Claudine Restaurant (or could be had via room service, though we never took advantage of that).

Claudine almost exclusively has outdoor seating, with tables overlooking the pool.


Four Seasons Desroches Claudine Restaurant


Four Seasons Desroches Island pool & restaurant area

There are also some really cool tables that are further out.


Four Seasons Desroches Claudine Restaurant

The interior of the restaurant only has a few tables, and I never actually saw anyone sitting there.


Four Seasons Desroches Claudine Restaurant

There’s a breakfast buffet, and then on top of that you can order something off the menu. I’d say the buffet was pretty good — the quality was good, but the selection wasn’t very big. I’ll let the pictures of the buffet speak for themselves.


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast buffet

On top of that there was a card you were given that you could order off of, which read as follows:

Over the course of our stay we tried quite a few of the options.


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast — omelet


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast — Claudine’s morning toast


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast — scrambled eggs


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast — oatmeal


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast — crepes


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast — bagel with salmon

Service at breakfast was excellent. On the first day they noticed I liked avocado, and on every subsequent day they brought me a plate of avocado without asking.


Four Seasons Desroches breakfast — avocado

Aside from in-villa dining, Claudine (and the adjacent bar and deli) was the only option for lunch, so we had lunch there a couple of days. The Claundine lunch menu read as follows:

For reference, the currency conversion between USD and SCR is 1:13.5, and then there’s a 25% service charge and VAT.

Prices at the Four Seasons are very high, though not outrageously so. The prices were similar to those at the Four Seasons Mahe, and personally I think this kind of pricing is much more justified on a secluded island where everyone has to live on-property, rather than on a larger island.

One day I had the yellow fin tuna steak (~48USD including tax and VAT), which was excellent.


Four Seasons Desroches lunch — yellow fin tuna steak

Ford had the beef tartare, which was the same price.


Four Seasons Desroches lunch — beef tartare

For dessert we shared the pistachio delight.


Four Seasons Desroches lunch — pistachio delight

Right next to Claudia are the deli and bar, which are open all day as well.

The deli is a great place to grab a coffee or a light snack, or even to order something you can take with you on a picnic, if you want to go to one of the beaches on the other side of the island.


Four Seasons Seychelles deli


Four Seasons Seychelles deli

We had lunch at the bar a couple of days, and also had sunset drinks there one night. There was lots of comfortable seating overlooking the ocean.


Four Seasons Seychelles bar


Four Seasons Seychelles bar


Desroches Island sunset


Desroches Island sunset

The bar menu read as follows:

We had a caprese salad, quinoa salad with chicken, and vegetable kreol curry, which was probably my favorite dish on the island.


Four Seasons Desroches lunch — caprese salad


Four Seasons Desroches lunch — quinoa salad with chicken


Four Seasons Desroches lunch — creole curry

The cocktails here were also excellent.


Four Seasons Desroches drinks

One day we had in-villa dining for lunch, since the weather was awful.


Four Seasons Desroches room service lunch


Bad weather on Desroches Island

By far my favorite dining venue at the hotel is The Lighthouse. This is something they only recently built, and it’s such a cool space. Who wouldn’t want to eat in a lighthouse?


Four Seasons Desroches lighthouse

There are a few different parts to this lighthouse. First of all, you can go to the very top and enjoy the views.


Four Seasons Desroches lighthouse view


Four Seasons Desroches lighthouse view

Then halfway up the lighthouse is an outdoor bar, which was such a cool space. We had a drink there almost every night (even when we weren’t eating there).


Four Seasons Desroches lighthouse bar


Four Seasons Desroches Lighthouse Bar


Four Seasons Desroches Lighthouse Bar

Then the main part of the restaurant was on the ground floor. There was a semi-indoor area with plenty of lighting, though that wouldn’t be my preferred place to sit.


Four Seasons Desroches Lighthouse Restaurant

Sorry for the quality of the picture, but by far the best place to sit was at the tables they set up outside. We had dinner here on my birthday, and we were the only people there (the below picture was taken when we ate there for a second time). There was a breeze, the temperature was perfect, and we could hear the waves crashing just a few feet away. It was magical.


Four Seasons Desroches Lighthouse Restaurant

This restaurant mostly has seafood and sushi, and the quality was excellent (and by comparison the prices weren’t much worse than the other restaurant).


Four Seasons Desroches Lighthouse Restaurant dinner


Four Seasons Desroches Lighthouse Restaurant dinner


Four Seasons Desroches Lighthouse Restaurant dinner

There was one interesting thing to note regarding tipping at the resort. At the Four Seasons Seychelles on Mahe Island, there was a 10% service charge but no option to tip when signing for any purchase. Meanwhile at the Four Seasons Seychelles on Desroches Island, there was a 10% service charge and an additional line to add a further tip at all venues.

I liked that the other property didn’t give the option of tipping, because I found this a bit odd. Prices are already very high, so do they really expect people to tip on top of that, or is this purely because they assume some Americans want to tip?

Four Seasons Desroches activities

What does one do on Desroches Island? Not a whole lot, and that’s part of the magic. Let’s look at this in two parts — first the hotel amenities, and then what the island itself has to offer.

The hotel has one main pool. I was surprised they didn’t have any additional pools, especially since this one is quite small, and it’s also right in front of the restaurant and bar, so you feel like you’re on display. However, I guess that makes sense, since the draw of Desroches Island is mostly the ocean, and villas have private pools anyway.


Four Seasons Desroches Island pool


Four Seasons Desroches Island pool

There were some lounge chairs and other types of seating near the pool, though I don’t think I ever saw anyone sit there.


Four Seasons Desroches Island pool seating

The hotel has a rec area with ping pong and foosball tables (which I’m a big fan of — bocci and ping pong are the two sports I’m best at, which says a lot about my athleticism). Next to that was a tennis court.


Four Seasons Desroches Island recreation area


Four Seasons Desroches Island recreation area

Then there were kayaks as well that you could use to go around the island.


Four Seasons Desroches Island kayaks

The hotel also has a gym, which is fairly basic.


Four Seasons Desroches Island gym


Four Seasons Desroches Island gym

Then there’s the spa. For my birthday Ford surprised me by booking us 90 minute massages. It’s a good thing he didn’t tell me about it, because I typically have limits to what I’m willing to pay for a spa treatment, because at some point I’m thinking to myself “this is costing me how many dollars per minute?”

Here’s the spa menu:

These prices don’t include the 25% tax and service charge, meaning a 90 minute massage costs 256EUR (~300USD). Ouch.

On the plus side, the treatment was among the best I’ve ever had. Not only was the spa room itself nice, but the therapists were great.


Four Seasons Desroches Island spa 


Four Seasons Desroches Island spa 

On our last night on Desroches Island we also did a private sunset cruise. This isn’t something we booked, but rather something the hotel offered us due to some problems with the resort, which I covered in a previous post. This was probably the most memorable part of our stay. Not only was the crew great, but we got treated to an unforgettable sunset, and even spotted dolphins a couple of times.


Sunset cruise on Desroches Island


Sunset cruise on Desroches Island


Sunset cruise on Desroches Island


Sunset cruise on Desroches Island

For the most part that’s it for the hotel, though Desroches Island has a lot to offer as well. As an aviation geek my favorite thing on the island was probably the runway. It’s not often you can bike or walk down a runway just for fun, but this runway was wide open, aside from two short periods every day when the flights from Mahe arrived.


Desroches Island runway


Desroches Island runway


Desroches Island runway

While the plane that serves the airport is a prop, there was a private jet parked at the resort for several days — swanky!


Desroches Island jet

One of the main things to do at the resort was to just enjoy the beach. Desroches Island has several beaches, and having all of them completely to ourselves was incredible. Not once did we see another person on any of these beaches.


Desroches Island beach


Desroches Island beach


Desroches Island beach


Desroches Island beach

The landscape on the island was quite diverse. While there were pristine beaches around the entire island, the interior of the island had paths with palm trees and also some areas that looked more like forests. Taking every path in every direction was fun.


Desroches Island palm trees


Biking around Desroches Island


Biking around Desroches Island

The far end of the island also has some housing, where I imagine the people working on the island live.


Desroches Island palm trees

Overall I loved the natural beauty of the island, though I do have one critique. I’m not sure if parts of the island are still under construction or what, but parts just didn’t feel well maintained. For example, the beach on the island that came most highly recommended was Bombay Beach, but when we biked there we found out the only way to get there was to leave our bikes on the main road and jump across a big ditch. This level of construction was happening on many parts of the island, and at a minimum I feel like that’s something they should have warned us about.


Desroches Island construction

Four Seasons Desroches service

This review is already very long, but I wanted to briefly touch on the service at the hotel. The service at the other Four Seasons was disappointing, in my opinion, as there were so many minor service lapses. However, service at the Four Seasons Desroches Island was spectacular.

Everyone was polished, friendly, and genuinely seemed to want to make our stay great. In many ways the service level reminded me of what I’d expect from an Aman Resort, which is the ultimate compliment from me.

The staff at this hotel were pretty international. Some were from the Seychelles, some were from nearby African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, etc.), and then you had a mix of people from all over the rest of the world, from India to Ukraine.

I’m not sure if service was so good because the hotel just recently opened or what, but seriously, they got the service right.

Bottom line

I didn’t know what to expect going into our stay at the Four Seasons Desroches Island. I’ve been to the Maldives before, and wasn’t sure how this “private island” experience would compare.

All-in-all I was impressed by the new Four Seasons — the villas are beautiful, the service was great, and the food mostly excellent. Being able to explore a secluded island like this and have our choice of several beaches all to ourselves is pretty unforgettable. As an aviation geek I also got a real thrill out of being able to ride my bike up and down the runway.

A stay here won’t be cheap, though, between the cost of the flights to Desroches Island, the villa itself, and then the food, drinks, and activities.

I have to say we had a really great time here. By the end of the five days I was so relaxed, and felt like I was able to unwind in a way I haven’t done many other places. I also loved that I felt this was more active than most islands in the Maldives, given that it was larger. We could spend a couple of hours per day biking and could walk on the beach endlessly, which is something you often can’t do in the Maldives.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the review and happy birthday! How was the air conditioning in the villa?

    Also, is there a PADI dive center? Did anyone you met mention the dive quality by any chance?

  2. My wife and I have been exploring a stay at Desroches Island and are seeking an island were we can truly RELAX and erase the daily bruises of life… your review was extremely helpful! Thank you.
    -James & Donna

  3. Great review. I am surprised there are no big granite rocks that define Seychelles.
    While some may prefer the exclusiveness of Four Seasons and the deserted island, the islands of Praslin and La Digue with some of the best beaches in the world should not be missed. Biking on La Digue is fantastic. Anse Lazio beach on Praslin is really really gorgeous and one can snorkel right off of the beach.

  4. Interesting review. Clearly beautiful scenery. Personally, I think $20++ for a potato somosa is outrageous. But then, I also think €724/night for a hotel is outrageous.

    On a totally different topic, is there any chance you could possibly screen IPs and only make readers from the EU check off that ridiculous consent box every. single. time. This just seems a bit ridiculous.

  5. Looks wonderful, although they really went overboard with the number of fries with the Tartar – that’s 3 times the number of fries most people eat.

    Love these types of posts; I’ll never be able to afford a vacation like this, but reading about it allows me to take a little break during the day through your eyes.

  6. The prices are outrageous but….

    “On the first day they noticed I liked avocado, and on every subsequent day they brought me a plate of avocado without asking.”

    This certainly helps. Should be standard at all hotels.

  7. That looks awesome! I was going through some old trip reports yesterday and found out that you published your Etihad Residence flight almost exactly a year ago (it was on June 2). It sure seems like you’ve gotten over the Etihad Residence Blues 😉

  8. You get what you pay for. A stay at most Four Seasons or Amans is worth the cash even if it seems crazy. It’s amazing how service elevates any experience. Not only did Lucky get avocado every day but if he goes back in four years avocado will magically show up. That’s what you are paying for.

  9. This is a great, in-depth review and the photographs are lovely. Glad you had a wonderful holiday.

  10. great review ben! regarding the weather- when it rained, did it rain for 20 min then the sun came out, or was it an all day thing? that can really put a burn on vacation plans

  11. While I like to read reviews also of places I will or would not go to, and while I’m not exactly a backpacker, for me this one just crossed the border towards a pampered entitlement where I start feeling viscerally uncomfortable. What saved it for me was actually the on-going construction, as a reality check within this Truman Show; like the purposefully left incomplete details in some architecture or art.

    That said, I think restaurants picking up on preferences after one orders the same thing twice in a row is quite common, especially in India (but I recently had it at a Belgravia club for breakfast as well), and half an avocado is a non-expense after all. But sometimes I want to change what I eat, and getting softly locked into one’s preferences (as decline would be food waste and one is lazy after all) is also as it is.

  12. Great review. I’m considering going here, but torn between here and the Six Senses Zil Payson (which seems closer to Praslin and La Digue, and being able to check out their beaches).

  13. Please exclude the references to ‘Ford’ and things related to your companion, I find them to detract from what is otherwise a good read. Thanks

  14. Sorry reading this late but it says “Four Seaons Desroches villa” in on of your titles it’s missing an S. I know how much you care about your grammar so I wanted to alert you! Thanks again Lucky and I absolutely love reading what you have to say!!

  15. Just stayed here for 5 nights. Overall it was a great experience, but a few things to note. First, construction was still ongoing, certain touches in our villa seemed incomplete still (missing light fixtures, etc.), and one day there was a bulldozer on the beach in front of the main pool moving sand around. It seems like they still haven’t come up with a permanent solution to the problems that arose during Lucky’s stay here. The beach in front of the main pool and bar has a lot of sandbags and a steep drop off, and during high tide all but disappears. It seems to me that they built the pool far too close to the ocean, and the only real solution at this point would be to build the beach out ~50 feet or so to prevent future flooding and have a proper beach in front if the pool.

    As for service, it was great at first but somewhat inconsistent later on in our stay. A few times at breakfast nobody came by to take our orders, didn’t fill our water glasses, etc. We noticed several other small annoyances as well. Also, our flight home from Mahe left at 6pm, which meant we had to take the 11:30am flight back to Mahe from Desroches, and the hotel arranged transfer to/from the Four Seasons on Mahe to spend 3 hours on the beach there. This was an excellent way to fill the time, but it was something we had to ask for–I’m surprised that the resort doesn’t proactively offer this option given that a lot flights leave around that time every day.

    The resort seems great for families due to the number of large villas and the ability to bike around the island, which seems great for kids. It didn’t bother us, but it’s something to note if you’re planning a more romantic/couples type vacation. If you’re looking for a place to take a family and have the money, it seems like an excellent place.

    Last thing I’ll note is the weather seems like it might have a big impact on your enjoyment here, depending on what you want to do. May-September is the “dry monsoon” in the Seychelles, which means little rain but it was VERY windy during our stay. This made snorkeling more difficult due to more waves/lower visibility, swimming in certain areas was more difficult, and at some times even sitting outside at the Lighthouse bar was not very pleasant because the wind was so intense. Also, there were extremely large deposits of seaweed at certain beaches during our stay, which I believe is seasonal as well but I’m not entirely sure. In any event, it made it basically impossible to swim at some of the marked beaches, as they were literally covered with a foot of seaweed that was built up.

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