Reported by Loren Thomas
The Seychelles is unlike any other place on earth; such invigorating energy resonates through the crash of the waves, the onslaught of the short, sharp tropical showers and the fierceness of the African sunshine – it’s a place that consumes you whole.
This may not have been my first visit to the Seychelles Archipelago and I can be certain when I say it won’t be my last, but this time I wanted to experience the main island of Mahe as opposed to the neighboring, smaller islands.
You can arrive by MAIA one of three ways; boat if you’re coming from another island, car if from the airport or helicopter. I opted for the latter, wanting to really get a bird’s eye view of this mountainous terrain. For those that get the chance, you must witness MAIA Luxury Resort & Spa from above. Nothing quite prepares you for hovering above the famed ocean panoramic villas that are dramatically perched on the hilltops that make up this boutique hotel, their seemingly miniscule thatched roofs popping out between the lush, green vegetation that surrounds them.
MAIA enjoys the sort of secluded location normally reserved for the private islands of North and Fregate in the Seychelles, perched on a private peninsula on the main land, a stone’s throw from neighboring villages. With only 30 villas and one restaurant, it can be described as boutique but as you meander up and down the winding landscape, you feel anything but enclosed. The Seychelles is a country that evokes a sense of freedom and this is something that MAIA prides itself on.
The villas are split into two distinct categories and being the inquisitive journalist that I am, I made sure I experienced both during my stay. It’s hard to rate them both in terms of tier for each villa is strategically positioned to ensure ultimate privacy and both boast those all-important breathtaking vistas – this is what you come to MAIA for.
If we look at things based solely on price then the MAIA Signature Villas come out on top. Dotted along the small beachfront, these villas are the same size as the Ocean Panoramic Villas at 250m2 but offer direct walking access to the sandy shore. They do however, offer slightly less privacy then those Ocean Panoramic Villas which are completely secluded among the throng of palm trees. I couldn’t pick a favourite, it completely depends on preference.
The verdant tropical surroundings are ever more apparent in the Ocean Panoramic Villas with your infinity pool (and this is a swimming pool not a plunge pool) seemingly spilling over into the greenery below, leading out towards the vivacious Indian Ocean. The view from this villa as you pull back your thick curtains in the morning is surreal; the sun beating against the water, streaming into where you lay your head on a comfortable king size bed. That’s what you go on holiday for.
Each villa features not only a spacious bedroom complete with LCD TV (why you’d watch TV here is beyond me) and a long immaculate bathroom complete with a rain shower the size of a walk-in-closet and not forgetting those luxurious Hermes toiletries. My favourite part however, must be the large sunken bath that is immersed into the blue of your swimming pool – quite possibly the best views from a bathtub I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. A decked area featuring a small kitchen, sofa and dining table is nestled outside where you can enjoy the best of MAIA’s in-villa dining.
If we could suggest anything, it would be to request a hilltop villa perched right on the edge of the peninsula so you dangle precariously over the sea but get to experience the legendary Seychellois sunsets that peer around here come evening.
MAIA is a resort that is all about being in your villa and in that respect its perfect for honeymooners. Anse Louis beach is undoubtedly beautiful, yet quite small in its size, especially when the tide comes in during the afternoon. Sun loungers are sparse on the beach itself, with guests preferring to relax on their sunken sunbeds in their own in-villa pool which are perfect for cooling off on those balmy days.
The pool area is impeccably designed and is dotted with plush, upholstered sun loungers for those that do wish to venture for a change of scenery – during our trip, we did not see another soul on either the beach or around the pool, playing on the magic of MAIA’s private haven. Yes, it’s all-inclusive, but not as you’ve ever known it before.
Each villa comes with your very own butler, on call to anticipate your needs and wishes on a daily basis, most notably when it comes to dining. MAIA believes that excellence in taste is not only reserved for aesthetics but that your stay should be a gastronomical journey when and wherever you choose. Representing a new wave of hotels that are offering a completely bespoke and flexible approach to dining, MAIA doesn’t believe in restaurant hours or regular menus – it believes in the beauty of choice.
Whilst the main restaurant Tec-Tec offers a comprehensive menu selection of international cuisine, you can also opt to eat in your villa, on the beach or even up on the helipad should you so wish. The in-room dining menu which is available around the clock reflects many of the choices on the Tec-Tec menu placing a focus on Mediterranean cuisine with an Asian-Creole accent. Dishes tend to be of the light haute cuisine variety where the art of fusion cooking really comes into its own.
Dining on your garden terrace by the poolside under the gentle flicker of candlelight is an excellent choice for those seeking intimacy and paying homage to the resort’s policy of flexibility, the chefs have the freedom to cater to your individual requests should you have any.
We enjoyed not only the delicacies of Tec-Tec but private in villa dining as well as a romantic meal for two up on the helipad at sunset, where you can savor views down to the bay below.
If you’re staying on the ‘Beyond All Inclusive’ basis, you can enjoy unlimited meals, light snacks and soft drinks alongside selected alcoholic beverages throughout the day and night – where the resort might be light on its snack offering, it’s pre-dinner fresh canapes are really quite sublime.
MAIA is a place that forces you to pause your frenetic day-to-day life and immerse yourself into the island. It invites you to rediscover senses that have been dulled by the incessant demands of life and to sink into the best slumber of your life. It’s a place of restoration and renewal, somewhere that invites you to access yourself from a spiritual perspective and forget time – to simply live in the moment of each day, distinguished only by the rise and setting of the scorching sun.
As you would expect in such a place, MAIA’s spa is one of the most notable on the island. Set al fresco, deep in the heart of the nature it knows a tranquility that it’s impossible to imagine elsewhere. As you recline on the treatment table in one of three individual open-air pavilions, you’re softened by the gentle melodies of bird song, the trickle of water cascading down the granite rock formations and the gentle breeze rustling the leaves. Although I didn’t experience it first hand, it’s easy to see how the morning Yoga and Qi Gong sessions here would be utterly rebalancing. There’s a range of treatments on offer including an extensive menu of massage. The MAIA signature massage is a unique fusion of consistent pressure, long strokes and gentle stretching, blended with a soothing rhythmical flow of delivery designed to ease muscle tension – something we highly recommend.
MAIA is an extraordinary place. It’s managed to redefine the luxury, 5-star hotel into a place where you can truly be yourself and surely that’s the greatest luxury in the world.