Banyan Tree Seychelles

You bask in the sunlight on your veranda after a deliciously refreshing dip in your private pool. Laid out before you is a perfect view of the Indian Ocean, a powdery white sand beach and swaying takamaka and palm trees. Orchids, hibiscus, bougainvillea, colorful frangipani flowers and other fragrant foliage stir the senses. It's hard to find a resort where nature and luxury coexist in truly blissful harmony. But such a marriage exists at Banyan Tree Seychelles.

An archipelago of 115 islands encompassing a total land area of 176 square miles, (only 21 are inhabited), the Seychelles lie in the western Indian Ocean, near the coast of Africa. Banyan Tree is on Mahé, the nation's largest island. Imagine unspoiled beaches, blue lagoons, coral reefs, valleys sprinkled with giant fern and breadfruit trees dotting mountains.

With 60 colonial plantation house—inspired villas tucked into lush vegetation, Banyan Tree affords guests privacy. High sloping ceilings, cream-colored walls and white marble floors create a massive sense of expanse inside the structures. A white chaise lounge laden with giant silk pillows is built into the enormous window, plush rugs in earthy browns and taupes dot the floor and Thai silk runners adorn the enormous beds. A rainforest shower with glass panels opening sideways makes you feel as if you're bathing outside.

While the villas are made for idling, the islands offer many diversions. The resort can arrange a visit to the nearby nine-hole, par-3 golf course at Le Reef Golf Club or a 30-minute helicopter ride to Lémuria Golf Course on the isle of Praslin. The club's 18-hole championship oceanfront course affords golfers wide fairways and challenging water hazards. On La Digue, an island surrounded by gigantic pink granite rocks, you'll feel as if time has stopped. Pedestrians and bicycles outnumber cars and the taxi is an ox-drawn cart.

Banyan Tree's three restaurants are as delectable as the setting. There's Saffron for traditional Thai dishes and Chez Lamar for dishes influenced by West European, Indian and African cuisine. But it's Au Jardin D'Epices that is the culinary highlight for many. Locally grown cinnamon, clove and nutmeg are sprinkled onto dishes such as the black Angus beef fillet with caramelized shallots or pan-fried duck breast and porcini mushrooms. Pair your meal with one of the 140 varieties of wine such as a 1996 Château Mouton Rothschild or 1998 Cuvée Dom Pérignon as you gaze out to sea.

The ultimate dining experience is a private barbecue on your veranda. Feast on mouth-watering lobster and steak and then count the stars from your plunge pool. Top off the evening with a Partagas Lusitania or Cohiba Siglo II (or one of the five to eight brands regularly offered on the resort's cigar menu), sip some Hennessy XO and relax. You've found heaven.