by Glynn Burridge
Descending the lower reaches of the La Misère road as it meanders towards the capital, Victoria, the narrow view through the roadside trees suddenly swells to the horizon and, soon, the shimmering red roofs, turquoise lagoons and pastel hues of Eden Island ghost into my field of vision like a tropical daydream.
The development of Eden Island as a residential and commercial marina dates back to 2005, with the first homes completed in 2008, the year when the marina also welcomed its first vessels. Since that time, it has become Mahé island’s most dominant landmark and ground-breaking development, showing the way forward to an exciting new business model and fresh concept of island living.
Eden Island occupies 56 hectares of reclaimed land just off Mahé’s east coast. Connected to the mainland by bridge, today this prestigious development features a total of 501 residences divided between apartments, maisons and villas, out of a final target of 576 and with a mere 45 units unsold. All nestle within an island cocoon of tidy gardens with hotel, gym, clubhouse, swimming pools, tennis court, four private beaches, 300-berth marina and commercial centre containing Seychelles’ only shopping mall, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and myriad retail outlets.
Surrendering my car to the multi-storey car park in favour of an electric buggy which every resident of the island is given, I pass through one of the 24-hour security stations and into the web of pathways that circle and traverse the island. Navigating these takes a bit of getting used to, especially at night, but my overall impression is one of tidiness and order with the odd roadside map positioned to guide you to the beaches and various island amenities. I pass a family strolling the path, heading towards the beach at Anse Bernik, a glorious, shimmering strand fringing a protected bay and offering the perfect venue for a family picnic, afternoon’s relaxation or even a spot of kite-surfing. It is here that I catch my first sight of one of Eden’s majestic $3,500,000 villas, crowning the entrance to an azure waterway in splendid solitude as the undisputed master of all it surveys. The crisp, flowing lines of its Creole vernacular architecture are arresting, its proportions voluptuous.
My residence for the weekend is a spacious 3-bedroom maison complete with swimming pool, close to the water’s edge with private garden and BBQ area. All Eden homes come with their own mooring and in the fully air-conditioned interior, the stylishly-furnished living room flows into a fully-equipped Miele kitchen. Again, I am impressed by the tidiness of the design and the maison’s unassuming ambiance of comfort which quickly has me settling in and feeling at home.
My brief tells me that Eden Island boasts a full range of freehold title homes: 3-6 bedroom villas;$1300000 to $1800000 3-4 bedroom, duplex maisons and $500,000 to $995 000, 1-3 bedroom apartments to accommodate all tastes, with the one-bedroom units specifically targeting the rental market. Neatly avoiding the hassle of buying furniture and decorating, Eden even gives you a choice of different styles for furniture and interior decor. All you need to do is turn the door key and step into your new island life. An additional advantage is that as an owner, you and your family can apply for Seychelles residency and you can also place your home in the Eden Island Luxury Accommodation portfolio and rent it out on short or long term. Buyers also have access to the attractive resale market which has already shown some impressive capital growth.
Eden has attracted a lot of attention for the ambitious nature and scale of its development, earning accolades at the International Property Awards, Arabia and Africa 2013/14 and 2015/2016 events but perhaps the most eloquent statement of confidence comes from customers themselves, over 25% of the homes on Eden Island are owned by people who have two or more homes on the island. Nothing, after all, succeeds like success.
I decide to take my buggy for an evening spin just as the sun is setting against Eden’s spectacular mountain backdrop in a riotous splash of colour, the island deeply tranquil as its inhabitants prepare for their evening. A lone fishing boat drifts languidly back into its mooring after a day’s fishing out on the banks, the occupants jubilantly planning the evening’s BBQ as they drag off the day’s catch. A French-speaking couple set off to explore Eden Plaza and, on the tennis court, a couple contest final, heated points in the encroaching twilight.
One thing that’s particularly noticeable is the number of different languages I am hearing spoken. When I ask about this, I learn that no less than 43 nationalities have already bought property on Eden Island which is totally in keeping with Seychelles’ age-old tradition of being a melting pot for nationalities from all across the globe. I can’t help but smile to myself as I recall a friend’s mantra: “What Seychelles is today, the world will become tomorrow.” Over the years, it is precisely this grand diversity which has bestowed on our islands their unique sense of social and political harmony – an oasis of calm in a world of turmoil – and it’s heart-warming to see Eden maintaining the tradition of this welcoming, gentle way of island living.
The phone rings and I’m off to join friends for a drink at the Eden Bleu hotel, one of the recent additions to Eden’s expanding portfolio. Ideally located, just minutes from both the airport and the capital, Victoria, this chic hotel offers a comprehensive suite of facilities to the discerning vacationer or business traveller including a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and even conference facilities. Its deck overlooks the Eden marina, where a vast flotilla of yachts and pleasure craft, some local, others visiting, take advantage of state-of-the-art facilities. That, and the fact that the Seychelles seascape with its many islands, all within easy sailing distance, is not only visually stunning, but also safe.
From here, it’s only a short walk to the Eden Plaza with its many boutiques, services, SPAR supermarket, coffee shops, bars and rich choice of restaurants. I find myself considering what else a resident of Eden Island might need by way of amenities and sheer convenience.
After another night spent in the cool vibe of my maison and a poolside BBQ with friends, it’s time to leave. When I think back on my stay, several impressions linger: one is that Eden, and the various experiences it offers, comes across as being well-integrated. Secondly, as a foreigner looking to set down roots in Seychelles, it’s hard to beat Eden for the security and the convenience of living it provides. Last, but by no means least, is the breadth of vision of the Eden Island project which definitely builds on the uniqueness of the Seychelles brand to bring the dream of refined island living with all its trappings within reach of a fortunate few.
About the writer
Born in Wellington in Somerset, England, Glynn Burridge grew up in in Iran during the halcyon days of the Shah, where he would become English tutor to the Pahlavi Royal Household and interpreter/translator in the Farsi language before leaving his adopted home at the onset of the Islamic Revolution.
Escaping to the Seychelles, where the Pahlavi family owned a private island estate, the author was based in the Amirantes Islands for twenty years, acquiring extensive knowledge and experience of the Seychelles’ Outer Islands. He is the author of the novel “Kolony” and “ Voices: Short stories from the Seychelles Islands” and has written extensively on Seychelles tourism experiences for a wide range of publications including National Geographic.