How to Use Hotel Points to Visit the Seychelles
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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) after Air Seychelles discontinued its longhaul service to Paris (CDG). There are also only a small number of hotels where you can redeem points for a free tropical vacation.
Today we’ll take a look at your best options from each hotel loyalty program and highlight a few alternatives that may make more sense.
One of the world’s largest hotel chains currently only has one property in the Seychelles: Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove. This is a Category 6 hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy program, requiring 50,000 points per night for a standard award redemption. You can also redeem your annual free night certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card here.
The hotel is on the small side, with 37 suites and only 68 total rooms. All guest rooms feature an open plan design and balconies overlooking the ocean or the privacy of the hotel garden if you’re staying in a family suite. While you won’t get the same overwater experience you might find in the Maldives or French Polynesia, the hotel has a large stretch of private, pristine beach and an onsite water sports center to help you make the most of your stay.
However, it’s worth noting that this property is on the main island of Mahé and has other hotels around it, so if you’re looking for the solitude of a dream beach vacation, this isn’t it.
Another on the way?
While Marriott has a number of high-end hotels in its portfolio, it just announced this week that North Island Resort, one of the most expensive and exclusive hotels in the world, will be joining Marriott’s Luxury Collection brand later this year. This 11 “room” private island is only accessible by helicopter, and with room rates starting at around $7,300 a night for “standard” villas that span 5,000 square feet each, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see this property available for award redemptions. You’ll be able to rack up a multi-year supply of Marriott points if you stay here on a cash rate, but if this property were to become bookable at Marriott’s top-tier Category 8 rate, it would instantly become the best value hotel redemption in the history of the points and miles world.
Hilton has three properties in the Seychelles currently: the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, the DoubleTree Resort & Spa Seychelles and the Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa.
While none of these fall under Hilton’s true luxury brands (like Conrad and Waldorf Astoria), you can still expect to pay a premium to stay here in both cash and points.
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 are worth $150. In return, you upgrade from a standard king room at the DoubleTree to a garden villa at the Hilton Labriz or a sunset villa perched high up in the forest at the Hilton Northolme.
TPG Editor Nick Ewen spent his fifth anniversary at the Hilton Labriz back in 2013 and had a phenomenal stay, but if you’re considering using Hilton points for one of these properties, it again makes sense to consider their respective locations. Like the Le Méridien above, both the DoubleTree and the Hilton Northolme 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 an additional 145€ per person to your stay.
95,000 points is the most expensive price tier for any Hilton property (except for the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives), but 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 cardmembership, a haul that will leave you just shy of two free award nights in the Seychelles.
Given the limited conventional points options available, you may want to look at other avenues for your stay in the island oasis of the Seychelles. While these aren’t necessarily redemption options, they can make your stay more rewarding and enjoyable.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
The first option applies to holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express. This card gives 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 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.
Venture Card and Hotels.com
Another alternative option for booking a stay in the Seychelles involves the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Since January 2018, you’ve been able to earn 10x miles for hotel stays booked and paid for at Hotels.com through Jan. 31, 2020. When you combine those earnings with the Hotels.com Rewards program, you’re effectively earning 20% back on your paid stays, and the Hotels.com booking platform gives you access to a much wider collection of properties from which to choose.
You can also use the Venture Card’s purchase eraser to cover the cost of the room, though you may get a higher redemption value by transferring your Capital One miles to the issuer’s new airline transfer partners.
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 also doesn’t operate hotels in the Seychelles, meaning that award travelers are limited to Marriott and Hilton when it comes to redeeming free nights. While the Hilton properties aren’t cheap, thankfully it’s relatively easy 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. You may be better off booking the property you want rather than limiting yourself to those available using points.
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