Amazing places to stay: Fregate Island

Whoever said it’s not the destination, but the journey that counts?

From the moment the helicopter lifts gently off and turns its nose towards the glinting blue of the Indian ocean, you know you’re going somewhere special. From above, Fregate Island looks almost uninhabited and, in terms of guests, that’s very nearly true—a mere 16 villas have been constructed overlooking the beaches and sea.

Each villa has its own pool and, in our case, private access to the beach. Our butler, Steven, was somehow always there when we needed him and never when we didn’t. As well as serving us at our shaded pavilion for breakfast, he organised dinners on the beach and at the old plantation house and, one morning, we had breakfast in a treehouse 60ft up.

Every day, we went off in search of the island’s 2,000 Aldabra tortoises, some of them as friendly as labradors. On one trek with the resident ecologist, we learnt that, at one point, there were only about 10 of Fregate’s indigenous magpie robins left in the world—they’re now off the critically endangered list and we noticed them all over the place, hopping cheerfully from branch to branch. Some have been transferred to other islands to ensure their survival.

We visited all the seven beaches. You can even reserve one exclusively for yourself with a subtle wooden ‘beach occupied’ sign at the top of the cliff, but that was hardly necessary as we rarely saw anyone else, even when we visited the Rock Spa for luxurious massages. If Prince William, Brad Pitt or Bill Gates had made a return visit, we probably wouldn’t have known about it.

One day, we went on a diving expedition and, on another, a deep-sea fishing trip, bringing back our catch for the kitchen. The food is fresh and delicious. Pineapples and other fruit, herbs of all kinds and vegetables all thrive in this tropical climate.

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This jewel in the Oetker Collection of extraordinary hotels and resorts must be the ultimate paradise desert island hideaway: luxurious, spoiling, tasteful, exotic, peaceful and restful. We did so much in a short time, but, thanks to Steven, we never had to worry about how.

Scott Dunn offers seven nights’ full board at Fregate Island from £12,060 per person, based on two people sharing a one-bedroom villa, including flights and helicopter transfers (020–8682 5020;