There are travel experiences and then there are travel experiences that touch your soul. One of these happened several years ago when I was part of a FAM trip to the Seychelles, home of the Coco De Mer.
There were so many amazing experiences on this trip including a business class experience on one of the world’s finest airlines, an incredible stopover to take in the sights and sounds of Dubai (my take of Vegas on steroids), and then ultimately experiencing what private butler service feels like in an uber-luxury resort, MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa. Having stayed at some very fine resorts around the world, MAIA was something beyond my wildest imagination. Here was 250m-squared of unadulterated villa space, which had previously housed Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher and industrialist Sir Ratan Tata (owner of brands like Range Rover and Jaguar) with a private infinity pool, gardens, and a top-class private butler service, which defined luxury. But that is not what my soul-stirring experience was about.
It all happened one evening as our group sat down to feast a gourmet dinner in their outdoor beach front restaurant. As the group conversed with the hotel management, I could feel the earth moving and saw heavy movement under my feet. My instant reaction was to lift my feet and dash for the nearest exit as I couldn’t see what was under the table due to the dim lighting. The GM of the hotel saw the panic-stricken reactions on our faces and instantly calmed us all by telling us that we were about to experience an annual event. For us all, it was much more than some annual experience: it was a memory of a lifetime.
Things became clearer as the GM explained that it was turtle-hatching season and on that night, they were all making their way into the ocean. But as luck would have it, it was a moonless night and turtles are guided by the natural light of the moon to make their way into the waters. So, instead of making their way into the sea, they made a beeline for the lights of the restaurant. There were literally hundreds of them all over the sandy floor of the restaurant and within no time, all the restaurant guests were handed plastic boxes and buckets to gently lift these turtles and place them on the beach so that they could make their way into the waters.
This was easier said than done as they kept retreating back to the restaurant, drawn by the lights in the absence of the moon light. Another plan was quickly hatched (no pun intended). We were asked to stand facing each other a few feet from the water to make a pathway, turning on the hotel-provided torches, our cellphones and iPad flashlights to illuminate the beach area so that the turtles could find their way to the water.
That experience was very surreal as I had previously only seen this on National Geographic videos. It was great teamwork and mission accomplished as we all happily saw the turtles make their way slowly, but surely into the waters.
This indelible memory is forever etched in my heart and soul.