Offering all the peace and privacy of a monastic cell, but thankfully none of its spartan nature, Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, overlooking Anse Louis beach on the southwest coast of Mahé in the Seychelles, is where thatched roofs sit like dots of corn-yellow in a palette of greens and blues. It’s the ideal place to drag your knotted back and furrowed brow for a spot of proper relaxation. All the Indian Ocean clichés – palms rippling in the warm breeze, white sand abutting turquoise waters – are made reality at this all-inclusive stay, and all you have to do is roll out your rattan sun mat in the midst of them.
10am, although this is flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £2078.76 (€2,290), including tax at 36.5 per cent.
Rates include all meals, soft and select premium alcoholic drinks, welcome champagne, introduction and exploration scuba dives, non-motorised watersports and exercise classes.
While staying at the hotel you'll have a personal butler on hand day and night to handle your wildest whims.
At the hotel
Spa, fitness centre, free non-motorised watersports, excursions to neighbouring islands. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, iPod docking station. Villas all have private infinity pools and sunken outdoor double baths.
Our favourite rooms
With its stunning views over two different sections of the bay, Signature Villa 221 is the one to ask for. The Ocean Panoramic Villas have wonderful 180-degree vistas of waves and wiggling palm fronds.
Made from black lava stone, the main communal infinity pool offers an ideal vantage point over the hotel’s long, white-sand beach.
A range of Omorovicza spa treatments are offered in three thatched-roof, open-air pavilions. Choose from three styles of massage and five facial treatments, including the ultra-luxe Gold Après Soleil Facial. Free morning yoga and qi gong sessions are offered, and there's a range of kids' treatments too.
Bring a snorkel. There’s a reef, teeming with the sort of primary-coloured sealife that you would normally only see in an aquarium, right in front of the hotel. Maia can also arrange scuba-diving excursions for an extra cost.
Stays in Maia Signature VIllas also include champagne, in-villa barbecues, early check-in and late check-out, daily private yoga classes and one in-villa mani-pedi.
Little ones are welcome in the Maia Signature Villa, where 24-hour babysitting is available for €30 an hour. All-inclusive rates are from €265 a child (5–15) a day. Maia’s free kids' programme includes excursions, spa treatments and swimming lessons.
Kids of all ages.
Little ones are welcome in the Maia Signature Villa; all-inclusive rates are from €265 a child (5–15) a day.
Maia’s free kids' programme includes cooking classes, sand castle building, painting, and crafting with the resort’s recreation team and local artists. Parents can join in creatives classes, or leave littles to exercise their artistic liberty in peace.
Waterbabies rejoice: every villa has a private pool. Kids can take part in parent-supervised swimming and snorkelling lessons in the main infinity pool too.
There’s a dining menu specifically designed for fussy-eaters; meals can be adapted on request too.
Intimate tables are beneath a high ceiling dominated by an enormous hanging light. Or ask your private butler to set up a candlelit table for you on the beach, where you can feed each other foie gras by the light of the silvery moon.
Linen trousers for the men; floaty, Jade Jagger-esque dresses for the ladies.
Whatever, whenever, wherever is the motto at Maia, so whether you find yourself feeling snackish at midnight, or you want to mark a special occasion with a private meal on the beach at sunset, you'll never go hungry here. Five chefs knock up exquisite Indian, Asian, Oriental and Creole cuisine – think stuffed baby squid with ratatouille and lobster, or porcini mushrooms with duck liver and black truffle terrine – in the open-sided Tec-Tec. Candle-lit private dinners can be arranged on the beach, in your villa, and up on the hilltop; after dark the hotel's helipad is transformed into a romantic dining area with views across to Anse Boileau and Anse Louis from one of the highest points on the peninsula. Guests staying in the Signature Villa must make use of their exclusive Maia barbecue with fresh fish and grilled meats prepped by a personal chef – all you need do is speak to your butler.
Enjoy cocktails on the bleached decking of the informal Sunset Pool Bar, while looking out over both the hotel's main pool and the Indian Ocean. Their cocktail list includes tipples for all times of day and occasions; the resident mixologists are always happy to guide you through their favourites. A refreshing poolside mojito is our cocktail of choice during the day, then at sundown swap to a Starlight Collin which is made with aged rum, lightly sweetened lemon juice and ginger soda. Maia also has an impressive wine collection, and the resident sommelier will be happy to introduce you to new favourites. Private tastings in the hotel’s wine cellar can be arranged.
Tec-Tec and the Sunset Pool Bar are open from 7am to 11pm.
Room and all over the resort service is available throughout the day.
Located at Anse Louis on the island's south-west coast, the resort is a 25-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport. The hotel offers a chauffeur service to and from the airport.
The resort is 30 minutes by car from the capital city of Victoria.
Worth getting out of bed for
Home to a kaleidoscope of corals and tropical fish, the waters surrounding the Maia peninsula are ideal for diving. If you’re new to it, Maia’s a great place to learn; there’s a handful of dive centres nearby – your butler can arrange it all. If you prefer to stick closer to the surface, peaceful Anse Louis bay is ideal for snorkelling. Feeling like a fish supper? Ask your butler to organise a deep-sea fishing trip for tuna, marlin, swordsfish or other oceangoing game, and bring back your catch for your personal chef to prepare for you in your villa or on the beach. In the north of Mahé, Beau Vallon bay is your first port of call for windsurfing, waterskiing, parasailing and other sea-bound thrills. On land, explore the local landscape by horse or on foot, trekking through forests to waterfalls, up mountains and across beaches. Or, for an insight into Seychellois life, visit one of Mahé’s vibrant markets in the centre of town. Back at the hotel, Maia Resort’s spa has an huge range of luxurious treatments; try the ‘twenty dancing fingers’ massage or banana leaf wrap to the soporific sound of waterfalls and birdsong. The spa also runs free alfresco group classes in Hatha yoga and Qi Gong (private sessions can be arranged).Your butler can also organise tours of the other islands by boat or helicopter.
For a taste of authentic Creole cuisine, Chez Plume is a few minutes’ drive away in Grand Anse. Specialities include bat paté, fish fillet in passion fruit sauce, ginger infused crab and slipper lobster. It’s closed on Sundays and is only open for dinner. Set in an old plantation house, Marie Antoinette on Serret Road is another great option for authentic Creole fare in a rustic setting. Its walls are adorned with memorabilia and there is a playpen for the resident giant tortoises outside.
For an entertaining and very hands-on meal, check out Maria’s Rock Café in Baie Lazare. This cavernous and decidedly quirky joint may have a potentially off-putting pirate theme but there’s no denying the quality of the food – you can barbecue fresh fish, giant shrimps or local meats on a hot stone. Anchor Café, in Anse a la Mouche, is run by a friendly Seychellois woman and her American husband. Their specialities include blackened fish, tuna in tequila and eggplant fritters. Closed on Sundays. Kaz Zanana is a good bet for a quiet lunch or coffee. It’s a restored Creole townhouse in Victoria where you can sit back and relish a feast of savoury and sweet treats.
Mr Smith and I are definitely in need of a romantic holiday. The day after our wedding, we leave our two small children behind with the grandparents, along with a stressful wedding-planning few months. I can feel myself relax as the irritation of my mother’s oft-repeated sentence, ‘You should have got married before you had kids’ starts to become a distant memory.
As the plane descends from a 12-hour flight to the Seychelles, we gawp at the beautiful series of white sandy bays that fringe the isle of Mahe. Our driver glides along a winding coastal road weaving through tiny villages backdropped by lush green mountains. The island is Creole- and French-speaking but since 19th-century British colonisation there’s been left-hand drive and English road signs. After 25 minutes we approach Anse Louis on the southwest; we spy the delicate thatched roofed villas of Maia, perched high on a hill, peeping through the trees.
Tropical gardens give way to a refuge of pure tranquility. Greeted at the gates by our own butler she bypasses any mundane check-in and whisks us onto a posh golf buggy to climb the narrow lanes through fronds and flowers. A pair of large carved native wooden doors open to a stone-and-pebble pathway to our villa almost hidden in the jungle on this isolated peninsula.
Designed by American landscape artist and architect Bill Bensley, the villas echo each other in design, size and floorplan, all intended to have a Balinese air. 12 acres of coconut and mango groves and rare plant species ensconce the 30 villas and most of the luxury abodes have Indian Ocean view. The shorefront villas are beloved by families who want direct access to the beach; the rest nestle into the hillside with heart-fluttering ocean views and maximum privacy thanks to their higher location. Ahem, did you hear that Mr Smith?
When a resort requires that the people who bring you drinks do yoga each morning, and it chooses its butlers according to their ‘emotional intelligence’, you know you’re a long way from Butlins. Over just-squeezed juices and a divine tropical fruit platter, Sopa invites us to take full advantage of always having her at our beck and call. Coconuts left hanging on the outside of the wooden doors will mean ‘do not disturb’, and we have her direct line should we need her assistance at any time. Cooking our breakfast, helping plan our days, discreet housekeeping, luggage duty (I especially love the unpacking service as there’s no drearier task on arrival), all fall to an eager Sopa. Even dinner reservations, changing the iPod soundtrack (our music preferences were pre-requested) and running our bath (she needs an hour’s notice it is so deep) are our butler’s domain.
At first it seems hard to get used to. But it isn’t long before I have our trustworthy Sopa sewing a marabou feather back onto my white cocktail dress. Nothing is too much trouble. Previous guests even requested the outside bath be filled with seawater, which had to be carried up in containers from the beach.
A ballroom of a bedroom hosts a superking bed with the softest Egyptian cotton sheets; giant doors slide away to reveal the view over a vast infinity pool that seemingly merges with the Indian Ocean. Three showers (all stocked with queen of luxury cosmetics, La Prairie) include two palm-flanked alfresco numbers that have you bathing as though in the depths of the jungle.
Padding past fat daybeds, an outside bathtub, sunloungers semi-submerged in a shallow pool and a lower deck for nabbing the late-afternoon sun, we skip down wooden steps down the hill to our own private swathe of white sand. ‘It’s like having our own desert island,’ smiles Mr Smith with a familiar glint in his eye.
Fishing, snorkelling and cookery lessons can be arranged by your butler, sure. But are you surprised to hear some Maia guests aren’t seen for a week after arrival? As Maia prides itself on its gardens I prise myself from Mr Smith and our private paradise to trail the head gardener on a tour of the hundreds species of flora. Cinnamon and lemongrass is among the vegetation tenderly planted and lovingly cared for, amid an abundance of the double coconuts, or Coco de Mer. Native to the Seychelles, story has it when sailors spotted the shells floating in the sea they believed them to be mermaid derrières. (When I relate this to Mr Smith, he tells me with another twinkle, he thought it was a posh erotic boutique in Covent Garden.)
Somewhere that is certain to coax out of your villa: Maia’s spa. Following the dainty lanes through red hibiscus blooms, helinconia, bread fruit trees, elephant ears and poinciana plants that make Maia so enchanting, we reach the spa’s imposing hand-carved wooden doors. Behind these open-air massage beds on low, teak platforms are surrounded by rainforest: all we can hear is birdsong and water trickling among the rocks. Treatments are a mix of Californian and Indonesian inspirations carried out by technicians who have trained for six months in Bali. Tensions, however pent-up, melt away – as this recent bride and fashion-stylist mum can attest.
Sopa runs our fragrant bubble bath on our last night and sprinkles it with frangipani petals plucked from surrounding trees. She leaves us to watch the sun disappear behind the rocks from our tub. Tealights lure us from our ablutions down the steps to our lower deck where she has set out nibbles and a bottle of champagne on ice. Magical. Then, while we sip our aperitifs, the restaurant chef prepares a private barbecue of lobster, scallops and fresh fish with mango and spices. Beat that for a memory in the honeymoon archive.
On our departure, Sopa presents me with a basket of hand-tied bundles of fresh lemongrass. They are ready to steep in hot water when I get home, a reminder of what I sipped during our special stay at what can only be described as the closest thing on earth to heaven. Relaxation is the order of the day – and night – at Maia, everything is done to ensure guests are pampered into a long-lasting state of complete serenity. We feel not only thoroughly spoiled, but enriched and nurtured, having been treated to time in our very own private dreamworld.