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A Luxurious Visit To The Seychelles

A stay at the Maia Resort and Spa is hospitality made in heaven

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Feb 08, 2010

The Seychelles were always known for their clientele, ranging between the up market to the very top end of travelers, for some of whom cost appears to be of no concern and certainly is no objective when deciding where to travel to, often in their own jets or else in the front cabins of their airline of choice.

In recent years, a few properties emerged across the archipelago, which can truly claim the attributes “luxurious” and that correctly states the true extent of hospitality at its peak across the entire spectrum and criteria applied to say so – not like back home in Uganda where the word “luxurious” is often misleading and generally broadly misunderstood by those trying their hand and where many of them have no concept nor the comparative experience to really offering luxury.

Here, however, the top resorts like North Island, Round Island, Fregate Island Private, Banyan Tree, and last but not least, the Maia Luxury Resort and Spa, have broken into the global domain of generally similar settings and concepts previously found only in the far or south east and the Pacific, give or take a few others elsewhere. Vying for the same very top end of the market - the so called rich and famous - the very best resorts in the Seychelles had to not just match what was found elsewhere around the globe but had to put that uniquely Seychellois feel to it, while adding a few extra bits and pieces,this being an added challenge - having to go beyond the 100 percent mark.

In the past, I have seen the sheer opulence of the Burj al Arab, which is fit to be in a story of a “thousand and one nights,” the finesse of the Fairmont in Dubai, and also the very top end safari properties in Eastern Africa and can, therefore, at least attempt to deliver some judgment on the location, the setting of the villas, the layout of the rooms, the service, the food, the attention to even the smallest detail, and the surrounding facilities exclusively dedicated to making a guest’s stay perfect.

On arrival at the resort, the guest/s are met by a member of the senior management, among other staff, and while greetings are being exchanged, the baggage is transferred from the car into the back of a buggy, which will then transport the guest through the extensive 30 plus acres of forest and garden estate to the allocated – or chosen – villa. There a butler or butleresse greets the arriving visitor/s, without having to pass a reception as there simply is none to be found at the Maia. The already pre-filed registration details are on a printed form, and what is needed is a signature to fulfill Seychellois regulations for the registration of hotel and resort guests and then formalities end there.

I had given classical music as my first choice on the extensive questionnaire sent to me by the hotel when confirming my booking, and the sound system indeed delivered exactly that, and a perfect selection of it, in fact. The Frankfurter Allgemeine web edition of the day was also printed out for me, as I had asked for a German newspaper, and early the next morning the next daily edition again was delivered to me. Little did I know on arrival that the last thing on my mind was to read papers or switch on any of the 200+ TV channels, which I thought a waste of my valuable 1 ½ days time in the resort, which was better dedicated to discovery, more discovery, and (a little) relaxation.

A scented iced towel and a glass, or more if desired, of a delicious tropical fruit juice almost completed the arrival ceremony, as the baggage has already been taken to the designated dressing area, integrated into the bathroom suite.

A round of the villa with the butler, in my case a charming Seychellois hospitality veteran by the name of Brigitte, introduced me to the hidden gadgets and buttons, the other “wheres” and “whats,” and ended with the one-touch dial on the phone through which she would be available 24/7 and to be at my beck and call for whatever my heart would desire to make my stay complete. It was then that I missed my wife the most, as such service simply must be enjoyed as a couple, and I never failed to miss her until the moment of my departure, knowing how she would soak up all the attention and take advantage of the fabulously superb spa, but more of that later.

Before retreating, my butleresse let me know that a spa treatment was set up for me, about an hour down the timeline, or whenever I was ready, which left me sufficient time to unpack and then enjoy a quick walk around the outside of the villa and stick a toe in the inviting water of my own infinity pool which extended across the entire front of the villa.

I left for the spa a little late and there was NO reaction or the slightest feeling given to me that I was the one coming late, as it was after all MY time and the staff was very obviously there to attend to me, as and when needed and not as and when pre-scheduled. Before leaving to the spa, my butleresse discussed my dinner and drink preference with me, and that duly taken care of I was then driven in one of the little buggies across the estate to the spa.

Without going into the details, the Balinese masseuse delivered what I thought was the best massage this side of Africa, totally professional and very well aware of the knots in my back and shoulders from all the traveling of previous days, as she hit all right pressure points. I was in a state of near trance when she was done, and I felt like a new person, and that means something to me, not generally being accustomed to lying idle on a massage table, when, in fact, I could do something more productive – here I learned something new and will keep it up. The equipment of the spa, or the gym part of it, was state-of-the-art, and a personal trainer was available for those wanting to work out, but then my writing duty called, and the work out had to wait until my return to Kampala.

When arriving back at my villa, one of the 5 international chefs the resort employs, together with a helper, was already busy preparing my seafood extravaganza BBQ, while my butleresse was swift in handing me a glass of chilled water and then gave me time to change. As the food is prepared in a little pantry adjoining the outside porch, they would only begin the final preparation of my dinner when I came out of the sliding terrace door, and my preferred drink arrived just as soon as I had sat down.

An exquisitely delicious soup was followed by a freshly cut salad, before being served some marinated raw fish and then fillets of tuna and red snapper appeared, only to make way for superbly grilled giant prawns and calamari, all of it melting in my mouth.

It is no wonder that Conde Nast had only two weeks prior to my visit given the Maia Resort their highest recognition for the “best cuisine in Africa,” and I for one cannot argue with that; simply everything, including the ingredients of the salad I had requested, was rolled into one perfect meal – only missing my other half to even more fully enjoy this hard to find level of hospitality and the celebration of fine food.

I had in the past eaten a great many meals prepared by celebrated chefs around the world in the cause of my frequent travels, but this dinner was simply extraordinary and the view high up on the hill sweeping the horizon, across the next peninsula and towards the open ocean only added to the atmosphere - starlight above and the scent of frangipani trees floating through the air – this surely does not get any better.

I gave my butleresse off for the rest of the evening at the conclusion of the culinary celebration given in my honor – or so it felt – and retired to my 7 x 7-foot bed. No issues with the mattress nor with the pillows, which were as good as my own at home, being very particular to those, and they truly wrapped themselves around my neck inducing a couple of hours of sound sleep.

Up again in the early hours, I enjoyed watching dawn break over the mountains of the island before making my way, with a buggy readily available at my front gate, to the restaurant for breakfast and to explore the breach.

Breakfast is, of course, prepared to order, and I indulged in marinated slices of freshly-caught fish, before turning my attention to the egg Benedictine, which proved as good as I ever had anywhere before. A platter of sliced cheeses and some of the finest cold cuts seen in recent times joined the tropical fruit platter as a conclusion to my morning meal.

What impressed me a lot was one of the staff promptly standing at my side, when the first taste of my cup of tea – I was told one of the best tea brands on the market – did not meet my palate’s standards, being used to the strong and unique pure African tea I normally take and out of habit often bring with me when traveling. The young waitress immediately sensed that something was not quite right and swiftly zeroed in on the taste, then offered me a locally-produced pot of Seychellois tea, which tasted much nearer to my homemade brews.

That said, I was then told that should I ever come back, I could let the resort know my tea brand preference, ditto for coffee, and they would have it available for me. This attention to the finer details of making a guest happy I thought quite extraordinary, and it only added to all other experiences and seductions of my senses, which I underwent while at the Maia.

As a travel writer, I was given the royal tour of the resort after breakfast, accompanied by the head groundskeeper who was rightly proud of “his” 30+ acres of gardens and tropical forest and who pointed out the flora to me, some of it familiar from back home at Lake Victoria, whiel also discovering new species indigenous to the Seychelles, which were quite a sight to behold.

I was shown the beachside villas, an ideal setting for visiting families, as access to the beach was just steps away through a tropical garden shielding the occupants of the villa from all preying eyes. I also saw some of those villas set higher up on the hillside, each and every one of them with the same basic features but with ever so slightly modified layouts to fit the contours of their specific location.

The overall impression was that the gardens were meticulously maintained, manicured in fact, with special attention to the flowers in season, and that the villas I was able to see where ready at an moment’s notice for occupancy, with not one speck of dust in sight – in spite of trying to catch someone on this – and while apparently a number of villas were occupied, I did not see a single guest, all of whom obviously preferred to stay away from the public areas and had tucked themselves into their respective villas. In fact, why would a guest want to leave the privacy of his or her villa, when all meals are delivered to their private dining area within minutes of being prepared and their butler is on call in the pantry, other than maybe taking a walk on the beach, going goggling or diving or engaging in some other activities to discover the island’s attractions?

Lunch took place under a tree on the beach with the resort’s general manager Frederic Vidal, who has been in situ since well before the opening of Maia and who explained to me the philosophy of the resort and all else I wanted to know.

Meanwhile, it was with more than just a heavy heart, more like a broken one, that I had to take my leave from Maia, with the key staff members all lined up to bid me farewell, as one would expect a valued friend to be treated and given a send off after a long expected and successful visit.

I do acknowledge that the Maia is pricey and clearly out of reach for most, but those who can afford it will not be disappointed. Clearly all my senses were seduced, and I could not help but continue talking about the Maia, even at the next leg of my trip in Kenya. The total immersion in what could best be described as luxurious simplicity got the better of me, and though only staying there for a little over a day, it has left its marks on me and my future definitions of luxury – I will be a lot harder to please from now on, courtesy of the Maia Luxury Resort and Spa.

In closing, in spite of my both discreet and direct attempts to obtain some names of the rich and famous from the various staff previously staying at the Maia, not one would be drawn into that discussion. All identities of the guests are totally protected, and due to the location of the resort, any paparazzis in pursuit have little, if any, chance to harass or catch out their targets. Many other hotels and resorts take pride to share names and throw the real biggies around in their conversations as if they were trophies, but not at the Maia, where seclusion and privacy are protected at all cost.

Hospitality made in heaven and sent down to Earth to rescue us from hospitality factories and pretenders – that is my final verdict about the Maia Luxury Resort and Spa.

And if anyone thinks that is over the top and uncharacteristic of my otherwise more critical reviews, just go there yourself and within a day you, too, will be converted.

Visit for more information about this fabulous place, or write to , or else visit the site of the Seychelles Tourist Board at and follow the links to Island Resort or Spa Hotels for more details on truly luxurious little hideaways.


A stay at the Maia Resort and Spa is hospitality made in heaven
Photo by Wolfgang H. Thome

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