Sleepless at Raffles

Sharon van Wyk
Sharon Gilbert-Rivett

Sharon Gilbert-Rivett battles insomnia at Raffles on the island of Praslin, Seychelles

There’s something to be said for the plumpest bed in the world when you’ve flown overnight without sleep. But thanks to the view from my hilltop room at Raffles on the idyllic island of Praslin, I cannot sleep.

The word panorama does not quite do it justice. To the right of my private infinity pool a step away from the sliding door is an outside lounge, with stacks of cushions and its own bar-fridge stocked with cold brewskies.

The view from my hilltop room at Raffles on the idyllic island of Praslin in the Seychelles. Picture: Sharon van Wyk
The view from my hilltop room at Raffles on the idyllic island of Praslin in the Seychelles. Picture: Sharon van Wyk

Add to the mix ubiquitous palm trees swaying in the breeze and the call of powder-soft, white beaches that draws millions of tourists to the Seychelles every year. But it’s the drama of the mountains, towering over the picture-perfect bay with the sun dappling an ocean so blue it hurts to look at it without polarised lenses, that has me beating back the persistent call to dreamland.

Raffles Praslin, which opened its doors in February 2011, marked the hotel group’s first foray into the Indian Ocean market since it began trading in 1887 with its legendary Singapore landmark.

It’s an old name steeped in history and legend. There’s nothing to beat dropping peanut shells on the floor of the Long Bar at Raffles Singapore, while sipping a Singapore Sling. It’s the only place where you can litter in the Asian state without fear of a hefty fine or worse!

My gorgeous room at Raffles in Praslin, Seychelles
My gorgeous room at Raffles in Praslin, Seychelles

Two years down the line and Raffles Praslin is living up to its famous name. Apart from that view, and the bed, which is now begging me to snuggle down and grab some sleep, the generous 125m of space in my hillside villa is opulent, to say the least. But it’s an understated brand of barefoot luxury that allows you to put your feet up and be yourself.

As I finally drift off to la-la land I make a mental note to enjoy the view from the bathtub when I wake up. Which I do, a couple of hours later, determined to get to the beach before the sun begins to set.

It’s a long and winding path down to the ocean, but worth the journey through the property, which impresses at every turn. Finally, I am immersed in that beguiling sea on a short snorkelling expedition around Praslin’s trademark rocks.

I get out some 30 minutes later to find a beach lounger spread with towels, a plump cushion, an ice bucket with water and a chilled glass with my beach bag next to it. Amazed, I look around for the thoughtful person responsible for this little miracle, but there’s nobody in sight.

I settle back on the lounger and chug back the water. As if by magic a man appears to refill my glass. He had been waiting in the lush greenery bordering the beach where Raffles beach attendants run a tight ship ensuring that every guest on the beach gets personal attention. It’s this level of professionalism that sets Raffles apart from the competition.

The food, like everything else at this stunning resort, is out of this world. With flavours inspired by the melting pot of cultures that makes up the Seychelles, a delightful dinner is merely a prelude to the smorgasbord of style that is breakfast the following morning. Champagne on ice and oysters, smoked salmon, omelettes, cream cheese, bangers, bacon, croissants and  scones laid out against the backdrop of the sun-kissed sea and an impossibly clear sky.

It’s hard to leave Raffles after only one night, but at least I  got to savour its legendary hospitality. The only problem is that it’s spoilt me for life!