From family resorts to private islands: Where to stay in the Seychelles on points
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The Indian Ocean is dotted with thousands of small islands, including the 115 that make up the Seychelles. While some countries, like the Maldives, continue to experience explosive growth in tourism and have seen many new properties open, the Seychelles remains much more exclusive.
Not only are there are only a handful of international flights to the Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) — most Americans need to connect in either Abu Dhabi (AUH), Doha (DOH), Dubai (DXB) or Istanbul (IST). But there are also only a small number of hotels where you can redeem points for a free tropical vacation, one of which is located on a private island.
Today we’ll look at your best options from each hotel loyalty program and highlight a few alternatives that may make more sense. As long as you’re vaccinated, you’re able to visit the archipelago without having to quarantine.
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Hilton currently has three properties in the Seychelles: The Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, the DoubleTree Resort & Spa Seychelles and the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa. That number will grow come July when the Mango House Seychelles opens, joining Hilton’s high-end LXR brand.
TPG values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each, so the premium to upgrade from the DoubleTree to either of the other hotels is pretty manageable. The extra 10,000 points per night to stay at the Hilton Labriz are worth $60, and the extra 25,000 points per night to stay at the Hilton Northolme or Mango House are worth $150.
In return, you upgrade from a standard king room at the DoubleTree to a garden villa at the Hilton Labriz, a sunset villa perched high up in the forest at the Hilton Northolme or an oceanview room at the luxurious Mango House.
TPG Editor Nick Ewen spent his fifth anniversary at the Hilton Labriz back in 2013 and had a phenomenal stay. If you’re considering using Hilton points for one of these properties, it again makes sense to consider their respective locations.
The DoubleTree, Hilton Northolme and Mango House are on the main island of Mahé. Though more convenient to the airport, you’ll likely find less seclusion than the Hilton Labriz, located on Silhouette Island, a 45-minute boat ride from Mahé. Just note that this round-trip ride will add 145 euros per person to your stay.
While 95,000 points is the most expensive price tier for any Hilton property (except for the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives), there are a few things you can do to mitigate this cost. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express offers one free weekend night certificate on account opening and then one each year on account renewal (you can also earn another each year by spending $60,000 on the card in a calendar year). These certificates are valid at just about any property in the Hilton portfolio, so using them at one of these high-priced resorts would be a terrific redemption.
The Hilton Aspire Card is also currently offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership, a haul that will leave you just shy of two free award nights in the Seychelles.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Alternatively, you can pick up the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and get 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. The card confers automatic Gold elite status and the ability to upgrade to Diamond status by spending $40,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year. It also awards a weekend night certificate when you spend $15,000 on the card in a calendar year.
The world’s largest hotel chain now has just one property in the Seychelles: the North Island Resort. And this is not your ordinary Marriott. This Luxury Collection property is on an exclusive private island accessible only by helicopter from Mahe. It also happens to be where Prince William and Kate Middleton and the Clooneys honeymooned.
As you might expect, stays here don’t come cheap. There are just 11 rooms on the private island and rates start at around $6,000 a night. That doesn’t include the 21% in VAT, service charges or mandatory helicopter transfers. You can even opt for more expensive package rates that include half or full board, drinks and water activities.
Or, you can book with points.
The North Island Resort is considered a Category 8 property, which usually caps at 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for peak dates. However, because it’s an all-villa resort, “exception” pricing applies. Based on our searches, the cheapest room — a nearly 5,000 square-foot two-bedroom beachfront villa — starts at 387,000 points per night. As is usually the case with Marriott awards, fifth-night free is an option, but even with one night free, the entire stay would still cost over 1.5 million Bonvoy points.
Award bookings include complimentary breakfast, use of an island buggy, morning yoga, kids activities and non-motorized activities.
There are many ways to earn Marriott points towards this stay, though the astronomical award rates likely put it out of reach for most travelers. You’ll need to redeem your annual free night certificate (worth up to 50,000 points) from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card elsewhere.
The Category 6 Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove used to be a more affordable option, but it left the Marriott Bonvoy program in November 2020.
Given the limited conventional points options available, you may want to look at other avenues for your stay in this island oasis. You can find discounts and added perks when booking a non-chain hotel through an Online Travel Agency (OTA). You can even redeem miles by using a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, at a rate of one cent per mile. Considering the card earns 2 miles per dollar spent, saving up for a free hotel stay could be easier than you might expect.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is available to cardmembers of The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Business Platinum Card® from American Express. These cards give you an array of valuable perks, but if you’re planning a trip to the Seychelles, you may want to investigate the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program. You’ll have three properties from which to choose:
The Four Seasons Resorts Seychelles is the only one on the main island, but it’s in a secluded bay along a picture-perfect beach. The other two options are on Praslin Island (Raffles) or Desroches Island (the other Four Seasons), giving you the chance to escape to a true luxury hideaway.
Rates are not cheap at these luxurious properties, but each comes with a unique amenity such as a $100 spa credit or a free meal for two during the stay. You can redeem Membership Rewards points at a fixed rate of 1 cent each towards the cost of your room at these resorts, but you’ll need hundreds of thousands of points to string together a trip.
You’ll also be locking in a low redemption value, especially since TPG pegs Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each when redeemed for flights.
Perhaps the most striking part of this list is who’s missing from it. Hyatt is known for having a relatively small global footprint, so it’s not surprising that there are no Hyatt properties in the Seychelles. IHG has one property, the Six Senses Zil Pasyon, but it’s not bookable with points yet. So award travelers are limited to Marriott and Hilton when it comes to redeeming free nights.
While none of the properties are cheap, the Hilton properties should be within reach for most people, given how easy it is to earn thousands of Hilton points and even free night certificates by taking advantage of the right Hilton credit card welcome offer.
Just be sure to investigate other lodging options when planning your trip to the Seychelles. With so many discounts available through sites like Travelzoo and Sherman’s Travel, you may be better off booking the property you want rather than limiting yourself to those available with points.
Ethan Steinberg contributed to this story.
Featured image of North Island Resort, Seychelles courtesy of the resort.
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