Luxury ecotourism: Seychelles opens doors for investment into high-end lodge on Silhouette Island
Silhouette Island is the third largest island of the Seychelles archipelago. (Seychelles News Agency)
The Seychelles Islands Development Company (IDC) has called for investors to put forth their expressions of interest in the development of a small luxury eco-tourism establishment at Grand Barbe on Silhouette Island, the third largest island of the Seychelles archipelago.
The investment could total up to $12.5 million, according to IDC.
The chief executive of the state-owned company, Glenny Savy, told reporters on Monday that the development should have no more than 25 rooms and that it should have a solar facility to produce electricity, as well as an excellent sewage and waste system in place.
"The developer is not obliged to build 25 rooms, it could be less. We are talking about an investment of $500,000 per room. With the experience that we have acquired with smaller establishments such as Cosmoledo and Astove, we have seen that it is feasible to run such small establishments. Their activities are specific and tap into a very narrow market. People wanting such a product are ready to pay $10,000 to $15,000 per week to visit such a place," said Savy.
The IDC's CEO said that one of the aims of the development is to have a presence on that side of the island, to deter currently-ongoing poaching from taking place and guarantee the protection of Grand Barbe.
Grand Barbe is located on the northwest coast of Silhouette and is seen as one of the most captivating parts of the island, benefiting from the grandiose backdrop of Mount Dauban, the second highest peak in Seychelles at 740m.
The area also has one of the largest wetlands in Seychelles which includes a sprawling mangrove forest that provides an important refuge for an abundance of aquatic life. A 1km stretch of sand extends along the shore and provides the most important turtle-nesting beach on Silhouette.
|The island has an exceptional biodiversity and is home to the Seychelles sheath-tailed bat. (Gerard Larose) Photo License: CC-BY
Silhouette has a rich biodiversity and is home to the endemic critically endangered Seychelles sheath-tailed bat.
Savy said that should the class one Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), to be carried out before construction starts, indicate that the development will severely affect an endangered species, the endangered species will get priority over the development.
The development of a smaller tourism establishment at Grand Barbe has always been in the plan of the IDC, which manages 13 outer islands and Silhouette - an inner island.
Some years ago, there were plans for the construction of a similar project in the same location. The investor at the time - Universal - returned the lease for the location to IDC after the government rejected their request for the construction of a road between La Passe and Grand Barbe. The requested road would have run through the Silhouette National Park, almost similar to the road that goes through the Vallee de Mai forest, located on Praslin.
"The developers came to realise that it would be too expensive, at the time, to carry out operations at Grand Barbe only via helicopter. Nevertheless, we have always wanted to see a small development take place on that side of the island. We have looked again at the viability of the project and realised that maybe today, with the revenue that a hotel can make with an ecotourism lodge, we can tap into such a project," explained Savy.
Once all the necessary processes are completed, IDC expects the establishment to be operational by the second half of 2024, all dependent on the number of rooms the investor will construct.