20 Mar 2023 By AWAY IN STYLE

01-20 Turns Seychelles Resort “laila” into a Theatre of Sensory Experiences

A desire to tailor even the smallest of details and sensory experiences to their unique setting is what underpins global hospitality brand creators and strategists, 01-20’s work for Laïla, a stunning new resort in the Seychelles which opens this Spring. A paean to this Indian Ocean archipelago, guests experience a sensorially-heightened, authentic Seychellois experience, immersed in the islands and their culture. Laïla is the antidote to the spirit-stifling compound-feel of so many of the all inclusive resorts in the area thanks to the theatricality of 01-20’s design.

The word ‘laïla’ means ‘here it is’. Translated from the native Seychellois Creole, it expresses the “momentaneous” of island lifestyle — the relaxed informality with which locals address each other, and the realisation of the extraordinary in the present moment. It is this feeling  of  luxury through rejuvenation that 01-20 captures at the essence of the resort.

From the interiors inspired by and interwoven with the surrounding rich flora and fauna, to the repeated motif of the outlines of the 115 islands that make up the archipelago and whose contours are echoed throughout the resort, and the small easily overlooked touches specific to the local culture included in the rooms, each one of which is unique. Comprising 76 rooms and 8 suites with plunge pools/connecting rooms, Laïla is set against a backdrop of stunning mountain, jungle and ocean views. Situated in Anse Royale, the King’s Bay, on the South-eastern part of  Mahé island, it was constructed by its local Seychelles-born owner as a hotel for himself, Laïla is a way of offering a place to live and breathe the place he loves creating a real sense of community.

Softness, balance, warmth, vibrancy, diversity, authenticity, nature, history, curiosity – are some of the keywords that have informed the visual identity of Laïla and underpin 01-20’s tribute to the true Seychelles, marrying the studio’s values with those of Laïla’s. Small personal touches like the inclusion of the iconic blue glass bottles that local women carry wherever they go, the contents of which are rumoured to be the cure for every malady, can be found  at multiple sites around the hotel. A locally inspired welcome drink on arrival and a traditional Creole sweet on departure add to the sensory experience. Pillow patterns, rugs, and wall art reflect the flora and throughout, local materials and designs as well as collaborations with local artists and artisans and much loved island anecdotes are on show to present the authentic Seychellois identity.

01-20’s visual elements pay homage to the historic connection of the Seychelles to explorers, recalling how they have discovered, settled, rediscovered, and resettled on these islands, taking hundreds of years to finally commit the Seychelles location, contours and naming. The resort is a place which celebrates the diversity of the islands and their visitors and encourages guests to open their hearts to the island spirit: a calm, present, and vibrant way of life. 01-20 incorporate historical items, cultural references, and adventurous details inspired by famous explorers of the islands to enrich guests’ knowledge of the Seychelles. Each of the spaces at Laïla tells a unique story. Using diverse local stories, customs and produce, 01-20 guides guests through the island’s new and old traditions, using all five of their senses.

01-20 takes their inspiration for this exploration from cartography and calendars, in particular moon phases.  The presentation of a moon calendar on arrival is key reflecting how it is one of the best spots of the archipelago to catch the moonrise and a key part of the daily activities at Laïla. Moonrise cocktails rather than sundowners are on offer and guests mingle with locals on the beach to tell stories, and to eat, drink and dance. Iconography from old maps and the island coordinates are another particularly important element with some coordinates used to point guests toward special places on the island. Throughout the hotel refined shapes are taken directly from contours of reefs across the Seychelles, evoking a sense of softness and faint familiarity. The most notable focal point for this is the striking ceiling frieze contoured with the 115 islands’ silhouettes carved from local mahogany wood. Outlines of these islands are repeated again in the printed material, including cut out sections to elaborate on how all of the islands are linked together in everyday life .

The selection of a natural and vibrant colour palette by 01-20 is a direct reflection of Laïla’s surroundings and the personality of Seychellois people. Sandy beaches, turquoise oceans, the pale moon against the night sky, the famous blue bottle, the vibrant pink flowers of the bougainvillaea plant and lush greenery feature throughout. Light fabrics and handcrafted furniture evoke the comfort of laid back luxury. These selected colours, shapes and textures are also used by locals in their homes to achieve peace and calmness. By incorporating them at Laïla, 01-20 recalls the diversity of people, flora and fauna woven into the rich tapestry of the island and hotel.

Working closely with the hotel staff, local experts and guides and in continued celebration of the Seychellois culture, 01-20 has devised expeditions that blur the boundaries between hotel and village, visitor and local, offering the chance for unforgettable exploration and authentic immersion. The qualities that make Laïla so special cannot be contained in a ‘gated resort’, so there are no gates or fences separating it from its local village; its jungle; its oceanside. All guests are encouraged to venture out into the island, be it for shorter half-day jaunts or longer expeditions over one or two days, each no less immersive. Picnics come complete with local Takamara rum bottles or a freshly cracked coconut water. At the hotel itself, 01-20 has decided a programme of activities drawing on the Seychellois spirit to conjure something captivating for all ages. Ranging from weekly ‘Community dinners’ to bring together the guests and staff; sunrise yoga or night time stargazing, Creole cooking classes, traditional weaving demonstrations, making jewellery from foraged shells or cooking fish caught that day on a boat trip with locals over an open fire to evenings spent around the bonfire dancing to Moutya music: 01-20 ensures that the experiences are as authentic as they are enjoyable.

In creating the saying ‘Everything you need. Anytime you need it.’ 01-20 rebukes the associations of 24/7 availability instead deeply rooting the hotel and its guests in the surroundings and history of the Seychelles, with a new adventure around each corner and a peaceful spot in every cove, Laïla holds the balance — ‘giving you everything you need, anytime you need it.’ ) The blend of subtlety and theatricality seen in 01-20’s designs for Laïla means that every sense is attuned to the essence of the Seychelles.