Before I went to the Seychelles, I was a stranger to golf. I’m sure TV sports bulletins and the back pages of newspapers all over the world are always full of reports about irons, bunkers and competitions in far-flung places, but I’m afraid to say they have failed to leave an impression on me.
But after a trip to the Raffles Resort on Praslin, I’ve been converted. Praslin is the second-largest island of the Seychelles, lying about 25 miles north-east of the capital Mahé. Praslin has some stunning resorts and at Raffles, golf is a major attraction.
It seemed that no sooner had I arrived at the resort with my good friend Robin Chaplin than we were heading off to the first tee with staff members Ollie and Titiana. The course, overlooking the sea, was absolutely stunning, and while we were thrashing a succession of balls into the rough, light aircraft buzzed overhead.
Meeting the locals: Rozina and Raffles staff member Ollie get up close with one of the giant tortoises at Curieuse Island
But of course there is much else to do in the Seychelles besides golf. On the nearby islands of La Digue and Curieuse,you can enjoy close encounters with giant tortoises. Until I saw them here, I imagined that these animals were unique to Ecuador, and I assumed it was impossible to get near them. I was wrong: up close they’re so gentle and so very beautiful, and the people who come to see them are equally gentle and beautiful.
Coming to the Seychelles was an unusual holiday experience for me. I find it difficult to relax, so when I go away I tend to go trekking in South America or the jungles of Malaysia – where I get covered in leeches – or I go climbing in the Blue Mountains in Australia. It’s fair to say that I am an intrepid sort. Friends call me Dora the Explorer! And although I have been known to succumb to the odd massage, I always make sure that it doesn’t last more than 60 minutes, otherwise I’m afraid I start getting a little restless.
I’ve been to five-star places in the past, but my trip to the Raffles Resort was my first real shot at super-luxury, and amazingly, I found I could relax for once. The complete feeling of wellbeing was generated by the absolute beauty of the Seychelles and the sheer luxury of the resort. And then there was the sublime service.
Breathtaking: Pad across the perfect white sand beach at La Digue
On Praslin, we just knew that staff were having as good a time being of service as we were having being served. When we wanted to go to the beach (rated one of the ten best in the world), staff would pack a beautiful picnic for us and take us there in a 4X4 – cold water, blankets, a picnic, a driver… what could be nicer?
As a plastic surgeon and the presenter of BBC’s The Truth About Looking Young, I see a lot of stressed-out people. I recently did a consultation with a woman where I told her she did not need surgery or expensive face creams. The patient was just tired, so I told her about the importance of eating well and looking after herself. Looking after yourself is not about being idle – it’s about doing things that enrich you and make you feel better, happier and relaxed.
With that in mind, I tried some yoga while I was in the Seychelles. Doing the various exercises while listening to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore and a breeze rustling the trees was truly magical.
The spa setting at the Raffles was also stunning – a real sensual idyll. As for the treatments, I cannot recommend the 60-minute Sea Shell Therapy highly enough. It must have been fantastic, because for the very first time in my spa life I fell asleep. I have no idea how staff did it, only that when I woke up I was soothed, smoothed and all my aches had mysteriously eased away.
Star treatment: Rozina loved her massage so much that she fell asleep and was inspired to book a caviar facial
Near the end of my stay, I tried the ultimate indulgence – a 90-minute Caviar Luxe Luminescence facial. I hadn’t known I’d needed it until I saw the improvement afterwards. And I broke my golden rule about not having a treatment lasting more than an hour, so it must have been really special.
I’m a huge fan of natural beauty and nature. So while I enjoyed picnics on world-class white-sand beaches, and playing golf on the planet’s most amazing course, my best experiences during the week were the excursions to Curieuse and La Digue to see giant tortoises. I also loved seeing the primeval rainforest and the giant coco de mer at Vallee de Mai, a Unesco Heritage Site in Praslin.
When you choose a holiday, I think you should plan something you can be sure will be rewarding. Don’t follow the example of my sister, who tends to go on holiday by leaving her house in the middle of the night (which means she’s travelling when tired), and she comes back at three in the morning before heading back to work six hours later.
I just think to myself: ‘Where’s the holiday?!’ All you’ve had is an experience – you’ve been somewhere and you’ve had your passport stamped – but you haven’t ended up in a different place physically, emotionally or spiritually. I think a good holiday should be therapeutic for the soul.
So now I find myself thinking the unthinkable. While I love new experiences and I like exciting things, for the first time in my life I may go back to the same holiday location because my trip to the Seychelles was so special. I would go back knowing that I could get myself together and be blissfully happy.
I think I would rather save up all my money and have one holiday like this every couple of years than have four, five or six mini-breaks which would involve just rattling through places.
ITC Luxury Travel (www.itcluxurytravel.co.uk, 01244 355 527) offers eight nights at Raffles Praslin from £2,635 per person, including B&B accommodation in a Bay View Pool villa, return flights with Etihad from Heathrow, internal flights and private car transfers.
Source: Daily Mail Travels