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Untamed paradise from Commercial Design Trends volume 2612
With a growing awareness of the fragility of our planet comes the need to create resorts that celebrate exotic settings without running roughshod over them.
Four Seasons Seychelles is a high-end resort undertaken by interior design firm HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates Singapore from conception to opening. Set in one of the most beautiful locations on Earth, it was designed to immerse guests in its pristine environment.
The design aimed to make guests feel that they are in an integral part of the island and its distinctive jungle – groves of giant bamboo, red-tipped cinnamon trees and fragrant frangipani, massive boulders and vibrant turquoise waters, says principal Connie Puar.
"The resort comprises 67 tree-house villas and 26 private residences perched on the dense hillside," says Puar. "Public spaces include the Beach Hutt restaurant by the swimming pool not far above beach level, the reception building halfway up the hill and the spa building perched on a granite ridge at the top.
The generous villas, set on stilts, offer a real sense of place with nods to the local architecture, including whitewashed timber walls and splashes of bright colour taken from the surrounding natural palette.
Interior design of the different public areas also reflect the location's varied terrain. The Beach Hutt has a rustic feel, with found objects, rough sun-bleached wood pieces, heavy furniture and coarse stones. The style of the reception building, which also houses banquet and retail facilities, a library, bar lounge and another of the four restaurants, is slightly more refined. Stone and timber pieces are more finished, with the rustic flavour provided by art works and select key furniture pieces.
Perched high on the ridge, the cantilevered spa building is the most refined space in the resort. Furnishings and joinery are clean lined and materials here have a finer aesthetic. However, custom reception desks in natural timber provide an important link to the overall tone of the design scheme.
"To be successful, the design of an island resort must enhance the experience of nature and nurture the environment at the same time," says Puar. "Green initiatives on this project include alternative cooling, energy-efficient lighting and the use of local materials.
"We took special care to preserve sensitive settings – for example, the tree-house villas were raised in part so as not to disturb tree roots."
The implementation of these initiatives at Four Seasons Seychelles is all the more remarkable because of the difficult terrain in which the resort is set.
"When the project started, the site was raw jungle negotiable only with machetes and a sturdy pair of boots," says Puar. "Massive granite boulders and the strict environmental guidelines in the Seychelles added to the challenges for the HBA design team.
"Site surveys for the resort were difficult to obtain and not always accurate. Original building designs sometimes had to be adjusted as work progressed, and customised to optimise and protect the site. To minimise disruption of the setting, the largest boulders were left in place and buildings constructed around them, and now provide many dramatic features."
Four Seasons Seychelles has already attracted a string of industry awards, with more likely to be on the way. The concept of holidaymakers experiencing the far-flung corners of the Earth in a resort that stands lightly on its diverse, unspoilt environment is clearly a winning one.
Four Seasons Seychelles offers an intimate connection to the tropical setting.
Four Seasons (Seychelles)
Architects AREA Architects; principal Cheong Yew Kuan; Locus Architecture (Seychelles)
HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates Singapore; design team, Connie Puar, Agnes Ng, Belinda Chia, Dulce Dillo, Joel Jimenez
Petite Anse Development
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Laxmanbhai & Co; Sunjin Engineering
Art concept by HBA SG; purchasing and execution by Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL)
In.tek Furnishing; Niche Interior; Artelier; Polybuilding
Story by Charles Moxham
Photography by Peter Mealin and courtesy of Four Seasons