I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in one of my favorite destinations in the world, the Seychelles, an astonishingly beautiful island archipelago in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Qatar Airways A350 Qsuite from Frankfurt to Doha (world’s best Business Class)
- Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
- Review: Raffles Seychelles Resort (Praslin island)
- Review: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (today)
- Review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
- Review: Constance Ephelia Resort (Mahe island)
- Review: British Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Seychelles to London
Today (May 15, 2019): Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles).
Set on the secluded beach of Anse Louis overlooking the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, this magnificent all-inclusive property is lushly landscaped with hibiscus, lemongrass and cinnamon. The 30 ultra-luxurious villas are settled between gigantic granite boulders in gold-awarded flower and spice filled gardens, some of them coming with spectacular ocean views. Pampering and wellness are the focus at the Balinese-style spa, which offers instruction in Hatha yoga and Qigong, as well as restorative treatments performed in open-air pavilions. The resort is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.
Have you ever stayed at Maia Luxury Resort & Spa? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Reviews of other luxury hotels in the Seychelles
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The main reason why one would want to stay at Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, is because of its reputation as one of the most exclusive resorts in the Seychelles. The Seychelles are an archipelago of legendary beauty in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Equator and east of Kenya. Its 115 coral and granite islands, which are the peaks of a massive underwater plateau, star in countless tropical island fantasies and represent one of the world’s very last frontiers. The spectacular island group is often referred to as the Garden of Eden, and it still lives up to its blissfully exotic name with exquisite tropical landscapes, the world’s most magnificent beaches, and an amazing array of underwater wildlife.
- When the Gondwana supercontinent began to break up in the mid-Jurassic area, the Seychellois islands were excluded from the drift and remained untouched for the next 150 million years. Cut off from the rest of Africa by nearly a thousand miles of ocean, the isolated location of the Seychelles led to the creation of unique fauna and flora, such as giant tortoises. The islands first appeared on the map after the expedition of Vasco da Gama in 1503. He titled it the Seven Sisters archipelago after a star constellation of the same name, which was used by mariners to navigate the seas. The stars were named after the daughters of Atlas and Pleione from Greek mythology, the eldest and most beautiful known as Maia, The Great One, hence explaining the mysterious name of the resort.
- The property is located on the southwest coast of Mahe, the largest island and entry point to the Seychelles. Mahe is a place of awe-inspiring scenery, with granitic mountain ranges clad in virgin jungle cascading down to hauntingly beautiful, palm fringed, with sand beaches. Staying on Mahe is a great choice as the resort is an easy 25-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport, appealing to both Africa and Middle East-based couples and families seeking a short break to rejuvenate as well as long-haul guests looking for a comprehensive escape. The hotel offers chauffeur service to and from the airport (not included in the room rate). The glorious island of Praslin and La Digue (where most of the Seychelles’ famous sights are found) are a one hour boat ride away.
- The hotel enjoys a beautiful and secluded setting that ranks among the very best on Mahe Island. Its thatched roof villas and facilities are perched high on a hilly, palm filled, private peninsula in the Indian Ocean. One side of the peninsula overlooks the shallow waters of Anse Boileau and Mahe’s verdant peaks, while the other side of the promontory overlooks a beautiful stretch of golden sand (Anse Louis), which is washed by the timeless tides of the warm Indian Ocean and flanked by an enormous, jungle covered cliff made of dark brown granite. The sheltered bay of Anse Louis is one of the most beautiful on Mahe and it’s easy to understand why the owners choose this idyllic location for the construction of their hotel.
- Fitting well within the existing landscape, the property was designed by Bill Bensley and Lek Bunnag, two of the world’s most highly regarded luxury resort and hotel architects. By taking cues from nature and never complicating what was already perfect, Maia’s design exists as part of the peninsula, as if it has always been there. Featuring a striking combination of Aztec and Balinese design influences, the resort is somewhat reminiscent of a timeless native African village, with clusters of hut-like structures in a variety of shapes and sizes that peep through the canopy. Furnishings are deliberately scant, with mainly brown and beige colored interiors that are inspired by the African earth. There’s an interesting read in Architectural Digest about the creation of resort and the design by Bensley.
- Guests enter the resort via a small, open-sided welcome pavilion, which floats over a water pond and is set among palms and other native plantings. From here, a chauffeured golf buggy can take you straight to your room (where check-in is done) or drop you at the resort’s public areas if you prefer so. The latter all cluster close together on a steep hill, cascading down to the beach of Anse Louis. A bar with a fringed conical roof and columns clad in woven copper strips is set on the hilltop. A majestic staircase descends from this bar to the pool deck, main restaurant, sunset bar, and a boutique shop. Made from black lava stone and surrounded by cushioned loungers and umbrellas, the main pool overlooks the garden and is flanked by impressive fire pillars (which are lit after sunset).
- The resort offers 30 phenomenal villas, each strategically positioned in different locations for ultimate privacy and reached through individual gated gardens. All have at least one infinity-edged pool – most have two – and expansive terraces that seem to be suspended above the earth. Eleven of the villas have direct beach access, while the other 19 villas are set on the hillside. During my holiday, I stayed in a Maia Signature Villa which offered a fabulous panoramic view of Anse Louis Bay. The enormous villa featured an outdoor living area, equipped with a dining table, a well stocked bar, and an oversized day bed. It also offered direct access to a massive private pool. The main pavilion housed an air-conditioned bedroom with king-size bed and a bathroom with a walk-in shower, dual vanity, and a glorious outdoor sunken bath tub.
- Bathrooms are stocked with extravagant and oversized Hermès toiletries, which are by far the most impressive bathroom amenities that I ever encountered in a luxury hotel. And yes, you can take them home with you.
- Compared to other resorts in the Seychelles, Maia Luxury Resort & Spa – which opened in 2006 – occupies a relatively small plot of land (only 30 acres), further adding to the private and intimate nature of the resort. The resort grounds represent a lushly landscaped garden bursting with life and color and delighting senses of sight and scent with beautiful trees and herbs, fruit trees and greenery bearing exotic spices such as cinnamon, and extra-ordinary flowers such as orchids, blossoming hibiscus and heliconias. The green-fingers paradise is home to over 300 different species of exotic and endemic plants tended to by 18 passionate full-time gardeners.
- The property’s all-inclusive service includes all-day snacks and select alcoholic beverages, and goes above and beyond by allowing you to curate your meals and to dine anywhere, anytime. From your villa to the beach, the resort will serve your meals wherever it pleases you. Otherwise, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the property’s sole restaurant, called Tec-Tec. Open sided and high-ceilinged, this Bill Bensley designed space mixes elegance with raw nature. Positioned beside the ocean and beach,, Tec-Tec draws inspiration from a number of cultures, and you can choose from five menus during dinner (Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Thai and Creole). The cuisine is complemented by an impressive collection of top international wines.
- Dedicated to the rejuvenation and restoration of the body, mind and soul, Maia’s boutique spa is set in the lush gardens near the resort’s entrance. Snaking through papayas and palms, a wooden pathway leads from the small spa reception pavilion to three luxurious open-air treatment rooms. Spa treatments are terrific (I highly recommend booking your massages in advance), mixing Balinese traditional massage styles with modern treatment methods. Skin therapies utilize healing minerals from the largest thermal lake in the world while delicate floating petal baths follow deep muscle restoring massages. There is also a small gym and a meditation pavilion on site, offering complimentary and private classes in yoga and qi gong.
- The personalized service at Maia is excellent, starting with a champagne welcome ritual in your villa where your butler is waiting to unpack your bags. Each villa benefits from the resort’s butler service to cater to your every need. Butlers are there to accompany you on day excursions if you require another pair of hands to help with the kids or help with the bags. The MAIA butler is not only a villa caretaker, but also an assistant and concierge, ensuring that you are looked after right up until your goodbye. The butler can also prepare light dishes, meals and refreshments throughout the day; this includes off menu items such as barbecues and freshly caught fish.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Maia Luxury Resort & Spa is one of the Seychelles’ most exclusive resorts, and my favorite one on Mahe island. Because of its secluded beachfront setting, massive villas (the best on Mahe) and superb service, Maia Resort represents a little slice of perfection and paradise. Nevertheless, you need to know the following when considering a stay here:
- Although the Anse Louis beach is absolutely beautiful and idyllic, it’s not the best stretch of sand in the Seychelles, a destination known for having the most magnificent beaches in the world. The sand is very soft but it has a light brown color (it’s not sugar white). The sea can be rough as well with high waves, and the section of the beach in front of the hotel features a partly rocky underground.
- It’s important to keep in mind that Anse Louis is not a private beach but open to the public (like all beaches in the Seychelles). In fact, the beach is conveniently located right off the main coastal road, and is therefore easy to get to for non-guests, either by car, taxi, or local bus. However, it never gets crowded, and visitors tend to stay at the far end of the beach (near the parking lot), away from the resort’s beach section.
- Depending on the season, and its corresponding wind direction, seaweed can often plague the beach, sometimes making it almost impossible to swim. Generally speaking, from May to September, the cooler, drier, south-east trade winds bring lively seas to southwest Mahé and this results in seaweed being washed up onto beaches in this corner of the island. However, the staff does a remarkable job in cleaning the beach, and there are always seaweed-free beaches on the other coasts if you happen to visit at this time of year.
- Although families are welcome, the resort mainly caters to adults since child-friendly facilities are limited. That said, Maia’s policy on children is extremely generous: children up to four years old stay free of charge, while a single child from five to 18 years old can be accommodated in each villa with a meal supplement. If you are traveling with children, you can only stay at one of Maia’s ocean front villas, which are situated right on Anse Louis beach, near the main pool.
- The hotel has only one restaurant, with separate Thai, Creole, Indian, Japanese and Mediterranean menus, plus a daily changing menu. But even given all these options, you may get a little bored by the food if you stay longer than a few days. In addition, while the food is excellent, I was not blown away by what I was served. I do belief that Maia Luxury Resort & Spa would benefit from the addition of a (second) fine dining venue, lead by a star chef, in addition to its all day dining restaurant.
- While beautifully designed, the resort’s public area with the restaurant, bar and main pool is much smaller compared to most other resorts at this level. However, this won’t be an issue for most guests since the villa experience is central at Maia and most guests will spend their leisure time by their private pool or on the beautiful beach.
- While most accommodations feature glorious vistas, some of the beach villas’ ocean views are blocked by vegetation.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 8/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: book your room via The Leading Hotels of the World website (and not the official hotel website). The added benefit is that the stay will count toward a free night in the LHW loyalty program (read more about that here) and that you will also get a spa credit, in addition to the full board hotel package.
- The hillside, panoramic ocean villas offer magnificent views over surrounding jungle and ocean. The oceanfront, Maia signature villas offer direct access to the beach and are more suitable to families with children. For a map of the resort, click here.
- The villas with the best ocean, beach and sunset views are villas 221 and 220, so make sure to request one of these villas during the booking proces.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE SEYCHELLES
- Hotel review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles
- Review: PHENOMENAL North Island Seychelles
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
- Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel
- Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles)
- Review of Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort
- Review of Constance Ephelia Resort (Seychelles)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The Seychelles is often sold as a year round destination and it is. However there is more chance of bad weather, that is to say rain, from November to March. The transitional months of October and April are excellent for a visit as the oceans are very calm and the weather balmy. During the dry seasons (May to September), it can be windy (causing seaweed on the south or south-easterly side of the islands) with rough seas.
HOW TO GET THERE
The resort is located a 40-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport (SEZ). Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to the Seychelles.