Tales of treasure hunting have always been part of the Seychellois culture. First sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama in 1602, the remote archipelago was frequently visited by sailing ships and pirates, who reputedly used the jungle-cloaked islands to hide their hauls.
To date, no-one has successfully located any valuable goods – although along Mahe’s southwest coast, some of the finest treasures are on full view.
Described by go-to luxury architect and designer Bill Bensley as his favourite work, the Maia resort and spa has gained legendary status in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Under new ownership and management, it relaunched this year as an Anantara property, promising ever greater riches. Here’s what to expect from the top address in the Seychelles.
Where can I find paradise?
Although conveniently located on Mahe, the gateway island to the Seychelles, Maia feels as remote and exclusive as further flung resorts in the 115-island archipelago. Spread along a peninsula in the rugged southwest, the property enjoys a privileged position above Anse Louis beach, where it’s possible to snorkel or swim metres from the main restaurant. Some of the best sunsets on Mahe can be observed from this spot, as hot days melt into a watery horizon.
Where do I sleep?
Hidden within 30 acres of tropical gardens, where tiny hedgehogs snuffle between cinnamon trees, 30 villas are set along the beachfront or rising up a granite hillside.
Along with a generous bathroom and sleeping area, an outdoor lounge, kitchen and private pool tempt most guests to spend a longer-than-average time in their rooms.
Fine linens, delicate wooden furnishings and a retractable glass wall make it easy to feel immersed in nature. Inspired by flora and fauna found in the archipelago, design details include curtain holds moulded to resemble chameleons, towel rails shaped like fish, and bathroom taps in the form of a coco de mer seed.
How does the butler service work?
Aside from the superb setting and interiors, it’s high-quality service that sets Maia apart from other resorts in the Seychelles. Every guest is assigned their own butler, available 24 hours a day with the tap of a WhatsApp message.
On hand every morning to prepare coffee, escort you to the gym or share a run-down of the day’s activities, they quickly become an indispensable holiday PA. The list of possible requests is inexhaustible: order favourite snacks, plan special excursions or even get pieces of clothing repaired.
Every detail is caringly thought through and carefully considered. Appropriate items like forgotten sunscreen magically appear at just the right moment, and foam baths strewn with rose petals greet guests after long days out.
What about the food?
Flexibility is the key to achieving true relaxation – especially when it comes to eating whatever and whenever you want. Shifting away from restrictive meal timings, a Beyond All Inclusive concept offers dishes at any time of day. To make choices simple, menus are divided into cuisines influencing Seychellois cooking – including Creole, Asian, Indian, Japanese and Mediterranean.
Maia’s ocean-side Tec-Tec Restaurant is the main eating area, although it’s also possible to arrange private dinners in a secluded spot along the sands or delivered to your villa.
What’s the spa like?
The obvious choice would have been a coastal cliff setting, but designer Bill Bensley was adamant his spa should be tucked into the jungle. It became the focal point for his plans, dictating the layout of everything else in the resort.
Walking into the open-air pavilion, with massage tables framed by a wall of greenery and the spiralling tendrils of a Banyan tree, it’s immediately obvious he made a good choice. Fragrant essential oils mingle with the scent of fresh vegetation, and birdsong provides a soothing soundtrack.
What else can you do?
Direct from the beach, guided snorkelling sessions reveal an underwater maze of rocky fingers extending from the land. Diving trips can be arranged further afield, while a helicopter pad at the top of the resort facilitates both transfers and sightseeing tours.
Three more activities to enjoy on Mahe…
Enjoy a local tipple at Takamaka Rum Distillery
Descendants of early French settlers in the Seychelles, Richard and Bernard d’Offay are responsible for distilling the only rum truly hailing from these Indian Ocean islands. Named after the native takamaka tree, their brand is stocked in most bars and stores. Come to the visitor centre to learn about the history of the product and taste several blends. Visit takamakarum.com.
Kayak through pristine wetlands at Grand Police
Young adventurer Franky Baccus eagerly shares his love of the outdoors with a collection of innovative trips sold through his company White Sands. Drive to off-road viewpoints in a vintage Santana 4×4 and explore waterways in a flatpack canoe.
Sample the local art scene
Inspired by bucolic scenes of Aldabra giant tortoises and women carrying bundles of fish from the market, paintings by Seychellois artist George Camille give a colourful insight into local life. Visit his gallery in Mahe’s capital Victoria.