The best hotel in the world? Just back from North Island in the Seychelles, haunt of A-listers and royal honeymooners. Now there's no point beating around the bush. North Island is expensive. Like 4,000 Euros expensive. Per night. Not including spa treatments. Or helicopter transfers from Mahe, the main island. Outrageous? Quite possibly, until you discover what the owners are trying to do with the island, and also what that money gets you in return.
First, the back story...
North is one of only three privately owned islands in the Seychelles, a chain of islands that are - genuinely - unique. Unique because all the other deep ocean islands (ie ones not just off from the mainland) on the planet are either volcanic or made of coral. The Seychelles are granitic, which accounts for the dramatic peaks and huge boulders along the shoreline that make the place so distinctive, and so beautiful. Back to North, which started life in its current guise in 1997 as the crazy but admirable vision of a group of investors who wanted to create a Noah's Ark; an island inhabited only by the endemic species that would once have been there before humans appeared on the scene. A big mission statement, I'm sure you'll agree, and an even bigger mission.
Some 14 years later there are Aldabra giant tortoises back in residence and alien species such as cattle, cats and, most importantly, rats have been eradicated. The team are constantly planting endemic flora, and the villas are built using alien trees that were cut down, and teak from Indonesia that was knocked down in a storm. And what villas they are. There are just 11 in total on as picture perfect a white-sand-lapped-by-turquoise-water-with-lush-jungle-covered-slopes-as-a-backdrop beach as you could dream for. There are three other beaches, of course, including one that's perfect for sunset cocktails, one that has wonderful snorkelling right off the shore and one - honeymoon beach - that can be reserved just for you for the afternoon. Not that there's exactly a stampede for deckchairs.
You'll be lucky if you see one other couple (or occasional family) each day, which explains why this is the perfect hangout for A-listers, our own royal honeymooners and also extremely discerning Green and Hawksbill turtles. Food and drink is on a 1980s 'any time, any place, anywhere' Martini ad basis and is all included, as is the diving, boat trips, deep sea fishing etc etc, so you don't get the feeling that you do on some other island paradises that you are a captive audience to be fleeced at every opportunity.
We at Original Travel are sometimes asked who North Island Seychelles competitors are, and the glib but true answer is there really aren't any. For sheer chutzpah of stated aim, to the quality of service and villas, to the beauty of the surroundings, flora and fauna, there really is no competition. So, in conclusion, make it your lifetime ambition to visit North Island, even if that means discovering a long lost and preposterously wealthy maiden great aunt or demanding an inflation busting pay increase from your boss. However you get there, we promise you won't be disappointed.