Imagine living in your own private hotel. That is the reality for the guests of Karl Ammann’s secluded luxury villa Residence on the Rocks.


Such is the power of that statement that this writer is almost tempted to end the review here and now. The Seychelles – the tropical haven that has come to embody the term ‘island paradise’ like nowhere else – plays host to the Residence, a private accommodation that is fully serviced by the nearby Banyan Tree Hotel and its own full time caretakers (a couple from Sri Lanka), with the latter offering inclusive butlering, housekeeping, gardening and pool cleaning services from their on-site staff quarters . It is, without exaggerating, the perfect scenario for most holiday-makers: the independence and tranquillity of a private villa combined with the full scale service offered by a top quality hotel.


Hidden away from the main hotel to such a degree that it appears shrouded in stunningly mysterious green jungle from afar, the Residence is actually perched just 100 yards (as the crow flies) up a hill from the nearest Banyan Tree villa. The Creole designed buildings comprise a main house, set over two storeys with two large bedrooms, and two separate guesthouses (with one king bedroom in each) positioned some thirty yards off a stunning central pool. The latter – an infinity pool – is built up on concrete to overlook the drop down the hill through the shading branches of a swathe of palm trees. The property has been designed in such a way, however, that as well as their immediate surroundings on the hill, guests can also marvel at a heartbreakingly beautiful view of two of the country’s most highly prized beaches – Intendance Bay and Takamaka.


One of the overriding differences between hotel and residential accommodation can be in the character of the space itself. In the case of Residence on the Rocks, this could hardly be more pronounced. Every aspect of this place reveals the love with which it was crafted. From the walls which were painstakingly built around idiosyncratic and individually sized custom Indian Haveli doors (similar to French doors in shape and application) to the recycled Burmese teak parquet throughout to the colonial metal windows, imported from Kenya – everything at the Residence screams esoteric, unique character put together by someone with a highly refined personal taste. Intriguingly, the personal touch that gives this place such a magical feel has a fantastically down to earth explanation: owner Karl Amman has his primary, personal residence on the slopes of Mount Kenya. In the course of his travels, he found himself bringing back collector’s items with such regularity that his wife eventually imposed a rule that for every new item he brought back to Kenya, two other items would have to be sent away. Unable to simply abandon his horde of treasures, Karl moved the most appropriate pieces to the Residence on the Rocks.


The objective, we are told, was to recreate the colonial splendour of the 1920s and 30s. The result is something far, far more than that.


Remarkably for a place which seems to have been built purely for its aesthetic qualities (not ignoring all levels of creature comforts expected in such a setting), the Residence on the Rocks is also praiseworthy for its commitment to the environment. The immediate surroundings were not changed or damaged in the construction of the property. The plot was chosen so as to avoid levelling ground or cutting down large trees. Any large rocks that featured on the land have, incredibly, been incorporated into the overall structure of the property. Rain water is collected on the roof before being filtered for use by an amazingly sophisticated three filter system (including an infrared one). Only if the 50,000 gallon rain water tank runs out will the system switch to the Banyan Tree hotel’s designated water supplies. In short, the overall design incorporates maximum energy efficiency measures without impacting in any way on the expected comfort level.res1

Guest comfort is taken to almost impossible levels at the Residence on the Rocks. While the emphasis on privacy and independence is one of the main draws to this place, it is hard not to resist the temptation to take full advantage of the various services offered by the owner and the Banyan Tree management service. For starters, the on-site caretakers are on hand to take care of any matters at the Residence every day. Pick up requests for guests to be taken to the main hotel’s facilities – gym, tennis court, bar, world famous spa etc – by electromobile are dealt with almost instantaneously. Alternatively, guests have the option to rent their own vehicle for the ultimate flexibility during their stay. Standard services such as room service, housekeeping and general maintenance are handled with aplomb, and the addition of the on-hand caretaking couple ensures that the hospitality and level of service offered by the Residence far exceeds that offered by all but the most attentive of establishments.

Add all this to the spectacular natural beauty of the Seychelles – particularly poignant in the immediate area surrounding the Residence and the result, unmistakeably, is the complete package.

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Originally published in the 2014 publication, Beyond Indulgence:

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