Residence on the Rocks (Paradise Regained)
Our two days of air travels from Canada to reach the faraway islands of Seychelles and our rented holiday villa ‘Residence on the Rocks’ began on a shocking day in history—the day the Paris attacks reviled the western world.
But thankfully we were changing planes, not in Europe at all, but in Ethiopia, Africa: Home of King Hallie Selassie, home of Rastafarianism.
I looked around in the teeming business class lounge of Ethiad Airlines where we wait and yes, I could be in my true second home, Jamaica. Friendly faces and colourful people smile at me as I pass. Thank goodness for this human reminder (I said to myself) that the world is beautiful and the people for the most part too.
Soon after we board again and then after landing: we forget all about the world. We have entered what could be Paradise; the islands of Seychelles and then the villa on Mahe owned and built by famous Swiss photographer, author and intrepid African wildlife activist Karl Ammann. Ammann had devoted his talent to stopping the slaughter of endangered bush meat, sometimes at the risk of his own life.
His Residence on the Rocks sits fabulously and secretively on top of a mountain that tumbles through jade green tropical forests and down down down to the crashing blue sea at Intendance Bay.
The three bedroom villa is definitely a residence of culture. And one of a kind. We are charmed by the Creole style furnishings and décor nostalgic of the French and British colonial period of the 20s and 30s, acquired over a 30 year search in Central Africa and South East Asia. We are impressed by the huge teak palace style French doors rescued from India. The doors are odd size and the house (450 sq metres of covered living area) is built for them and to showcase the huge natural rock formations. The burnished wood floors under our bare feet are recycled Burmese teak. The hand woven carpets that provide color and pattern on the dark floors are commissioned from traditional Indian tribal cooperatives.
The metal windows in colonial style were sourced in Kenya. The cast iron window rail supports purchased in Myanmar (previously Burma). Some items were saved from old Colonial buildings that, sadly, were being demolished in the interests of more modern times.
The hardwood and sea grass loungers from South India with paddle arms are perfect to set our bowl of warm cashews and a ubiquitous colonial style gin and tonic. We sip our cocktails and watch the orange ball of the sun sink in the Indian Ocean and dip in the pale pool that is as warm as the sea that waits below. The pool is guarded by elephants crafted in Thailand and who symbolize luck.
We swim mornings long in the rainwater infinity pool fed by a 50,000 litre water tank. The water feels like silk. The rainwater for the house has been filtered through three systems including an infrared filter.
Each afternoon, we return to the villa that thrives on past colonial times from our island car jaunts and daily dips in boulder strewn powder sand lagoons.
At the villa, the sunset turns to star light and sweet breezes flutter through the India palace-style French doors to refresh us. We eat late dinners of fresh caught red tuna, straight from the sea, grilled or fashioned into Indian curry by the butler/caretaker/ nice man who takes care of us. We do nothing but enjoy …
The days and nights of our stay melt together and when we finally take our leave, too soon, I contemplate how many long hours the trip will be to return to faraway cold Canada and that we may never travel this way again. And then I think: it doesn’t matter: at least we have experienced paradise in the guise of ‘Residence on the Rocks’ once before that other Paradise calls us...
Suitable for families, friends or a single honeymoon couple the two bedroom plus two guest suite ‘Residence on the Rocks’ in Mahe, Seychelles can be booked through Julie at Villas de Maitra.