From the Serengeti to the Seychelles: Honeymooning at 2 stunning Four Seasons resorts
Editor’s note: The Four Seasons hosted the author with a discounted rate package. The opinions expressed below are entirely his and weren’t subject to review by the Four Seasons or any other entity.
When family and friends heard that I was getting married, the first thing they said — often before congrats — was: "Where's the honeymoon?"
I don't blame them, naturally. Everyone wanted to hear where this seasoned world traveler and long-time TPG reporter would go for his trip of a lifetime.
I began to feel the pressure. I've been extremely fortunate to travel the world flying in award-winning airplane cabins and staying at five-star resorts, largely thanks to my job and a very healthy stash of points and miles. I didn't want to repeat a trip I've taken before, and I wanted to make the honeymoon extra special for both my wife and me — after all, neither of us had left the country this year because of the pandemic.
Of course, we were limited to destinations that were welcoming vaccinated Americans, and after some back-and-forth, we agreed that we wanted to do a safari. And once we came to that conclusion, we decided to tack on a beach vacation as well.
"If we're going to East Africa anyway, why not visit one of the nearby islands for a few nights in paradise," we thought. After all, safari can be quite adventurous, requiring a ton of flying, bumping around in Land Cruisers and navigating unfamiliar territory.
Once we picked our destinations, the next step was choosing where to stay. Though points and miles can unlock some incredible vacations, safari isn't one of them.
That's when we turned to Four Seasons. My wife and I have had some incredible stays at various Four Seasons properties worldwide (Koh Samui and The Nam Hai, to name a few), and we were confident that the brand's safari and islands collection in Africa would be ideal for this trip.
We've long dreamed of staying together at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in the center of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and we tacked on five nights at the brand's Seychelles resort on Mahe Island.
After months of anticipation, the day had finally come — it was time to get married and then embark on this trip of a lifetime. You can read more about the wedding in the New York Times. As for the honeymoon, well, keep scrolling for our experience at each property, along with our transit details between Tanzania and the Seychelles.
And if I've convinced you to plan a similar trip by the end, note that there are some additional perks included when staying at multiple properties in the safari and islands collection, such as airport transfers, space-available upgrades and more.
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Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti
Though I enjoy many different types of vacations, my all-time favorite is safari. There's something humbling about being in the middle of the bush, surrounded by animals, birds and miles of uninhabited plains.
And if you're looking to do that in five-star luxury with every convenience you could imagine, then look no further than the Four Seasons.
This safari lodge, comprised of 77 rooms and villas, is built directly into Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and blends perfectly within its surroundings. The lodge is spread across multiple buildings, with elevated walkways crisscrossing the property to help you safely get from place to place.
Our beautifully designed terrace suite was the perfect place to relax and recharge. The living room and second bathroom were split from the bedroom, closet and main bathroom by a sliding door.
As the name implies, the highlight of the suite was the terrace that spanned the entire length of the room. With an outdoor shower, couches, plunge pool and limitless views of the Serengeti plains, which included an elephant spotting one afternoon, we never wanted to leave.
When you're not in the room, odds are that you'll be exploring the lodge's main building, which houses two of the three restaurants on property, an outdoor deck, a discovery center, a game room and, my personal favorite, an infinity pool overlooking the lodge's watering hole.
When it's hot and dry in the Serengeti, the watering hole is the perfect place to spot elephants, zebras and other animals looking for a mid-day cool down. While we had many highlights on this trip, one of them was observing a family of elephants spend nearly half an hour drinking and playing in the watering hole — just steps away from the lodge's pool and outdoor deck.
For me, it's incredibly important to stay active on vacation, especially on safari, which is typically quite sedentary. I was particularly impressed with the fitness center, which was considerably better equipped than other safari lodges I've visited.
The same was true of the spa — there were six treatment villas with sliding doors that can be opened for a fully open-air treatment overlooking the plains.
In the Serengeti, you're stuck eating whatever the lodge provides. At the Four Seasons, that's a blessing.
Many room rates include three meals a day, including house liquor, and all of our meals were incredible. Highlights included a dinner at the Tanzania-themed Boma restaurant with a live performance by a local Masai tribe, as well as a candlelit poolside dinner on our last night.
Though you could spend all day at the lodge and still have a vacation of a lifetime, you're in one of the world's top national parks for spotting wildlife.
We arranged three half-day game drives through the lodge, and while the Four Seasons can't guarantee what you'll see, at least you'll be experience safari in (relative) luxury. Each Land Cruiser is equipped with blankets, power outlets, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a mini-fridge and an open-air roof for easier spotting.
In addition to game drives, we also did a "game flight," if you will. That's right: this aviation enthusiast made sure to arrange a hot air balloon safari for us.
Suffice to say, the experience was so worthwhile that we'd happily set another 3:45 a.m. wake-up call to do it again. If you thought that the Serengeti was humbling from the ground, it's simply breathtaking from the air.
And just like that, our four nights in the Serengeti flew by. Though we were excited about our next stop, we're already looking forward to returning.
Getting from the Serengeti to the Seychelles
As the crow flies, it's about 1,500 miles between the Serengeti and the Seychelles, meaning that a nonstop flight would take roughly four hours.
But, between the pandemic and the associated reduction in flight schedules, along with the physical constraints at the nearby airstrip, the journey took us nearly a day spanning three flights — and I promise that's not because I wanted to add more flight segments to our honeymoon.
The closest airport to the Four Seasons, the Seronera airstrip in the Serengeti, only handles domestic flights on small propellor planes. (Despite the small size, it has a three-letter IATA airport code, SEU.)
Our first adventure was getting from the Seronera airstrip to a nearby airport on one of the local carriers. (The lodge can help you book these internal flights, or you can book directly.)
To figure out which domestic flight to book, I evaluated the best options for getting to the Seychelles (SEZ) from either Kilimanjaro (JRO), Zanzibar (ZNZ) and Dar es Salaam (DAR) — three of the largest airports with service from Seronera.
There used to be nonstop flights from Dar es Salaam to SEZ, but those have since been canceled. In an ideal world, we would've found a short one-stop connection through Nairobi or Addis Ababa, but the timing didn't line up for us.
So, we instead flew from Seronera to Zanzibar and connected onwards to a Qatar Airways flight to Doha and finally to the Seychelles.
We flew with Coastal Aviation for the 90-minute nonstop to Zanzibar, aboard a 24-year-old Embraer 120 that last flew for Skywest in the U.S.
One note about traveling during the pandemic: if you need a PCR test while you're in the Serengeti, you're in luck. The Tanzanian authorities recently opened a testing center just minutes from the Seronera airstrip, which we visited during one of our game drives. Results were delivered via email two days later, but they were timestamped with the date the results were processed, so we easily satisfied the Seychelles' 72-hour testing requirement.
Altogether, getting from the Serengeti to the Seychelles was a trek, but once we landed on Mahe Island and drove 35 minutes to our next Four Seasons resort, the long journey quickly faded into our memories.
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
We couldn't have asked for a better grand finale. The Four Seasons Resort Seychelles was the most idyllic setting for a few nights of R&R before heading back to New York.
The resort itself is built directly into a hill rising from Petite Anse beach on the western coast of Mahe Island, giving nearly each of the 77 free-standing villas and residences a five-star ocean view.
Our ocean-view villa, Room 411, was no exception.
Though it was supremely comfortable with a plush king bed and oversized bathroom with a deep soaking tub, the highlight was definitely the outdoor deck.
There was a large plunge pool, two chaise loungers, a daybed, a three-person dining room table and an outdoor shower. Thanks to its size and warm temperature, this was the best plunge pool I've ever seen in my travels.
Like the Serengeti, you could easily spend all day relaxing in your villa at this resort. Trust us, we tried and succeeded.
But you'd be remiss if you didn't adventure around the property since it has a ton to offer.
The resort is home to one of the best beaches on the entire island.
With aqua blue water, soft white sand and legendary Four Seasons beach-side service, we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoons reading and relaxing here.
If you're more of a pool person, don't worry — the resort's 90-foot infinity pool was perfect for a mid-day dip.
You'll also find two of the resort's four restaurants here in the beach area. There's the Creole-themed restaurant, Kannel, as well as Steak Shack, which serves premium meat and seafood in a picnic-style setting.
As you ascend the hill on one of the resort's nearly 100 golf carts that are always available to shuttle you around, you'll pass by Zez, which is also where you'll start your morning with a hearty — and delectable — breakfast buffet. (The resort's Asian Izakaya restaurant, Koi, is temporarily closed due to the pandemic.)
The fitness center is located nearby as well, with a plethora of top-notch Technogym machines, as well as a pilates reformer.
Just steps from the fitness center is the resort's open-air lobby. We only visited during check-in and checkout, but this is definitely one of the most picturesque lobbies I've seen.
At the resort's highest point is where you'll find Le Syel Spa.
There's a jaw-dropping relaxation area that extends over the cliff, offering expansive panoramic views of the entire resort.
We didn't just take in the view from the spa — we also enjoyed a 60-minute couples' massage in one of the bespoke treatment villas. Like Serengeti, the windows open completely, offering an open-air experience for those looking for some more peace of mind during the pandemic.
Both the spa's rooftop and the beach itself offer two of the best spots for capturing the Seychelles' dramatic sunsets.
Though we spent four of our five days in the Seychelles relaxing at the Four Seasons, we did a full-day excursion around Mahe Island to learn more about the local culture, see the capital of Victoria and taste some rum from the country's only commercial rum producer and exporter, Takamaka.
Before we knew it, our time in the Seychelles — and our honeymoon — had come to an end.
Though we had the experience of a lifetime at two incredible Four Seasons resorts, we left excited about all the additional properties we'll hopefully visit in our married life. Bali, Taormina, Maldives, just to name a few.
Until then, though, we'll be reminiscing about all the memories we created in the Serengeti and the Seychelles, combining two wildly different adventures into the best trip of our lives.