Maldives and Seychelles: Islands with Unmatched Luxurious Getaways
In each locale, the natural world puts on its finest no-holds-barred displays, albeit differently. The softest, bone white–sand beaches and lush inlands cloaked in dense native foliage and coconut forests are all hemmed in by diurnal skies and unequivocal water-worlds brush-stroked by infinite shades of blue. Discovering such beauty, resort developers have made moves again and again to match the vibe. The best in the world from nearly every major player has had a go at one or many memorable resorts. From never-seen design elements to amenities of your dreams—above, below, and beyond the water—each place delivers a modern fantasy all its own.
Anantara Maia Seychelles Villas
Asia-based Anantara is now making waves in Africa thanks to the reimagining of a beloved Bill Bensley–designed property on the southwest coast of Mahé in the Inner Seychelles. The 30-acre resort, rebranded as Anantara Maia Villas in 2020, spans both mountain and beach with a total of 30 villas fully integrated into the natural surroundings by open-air design. Highlights of each 2,691-square-foot, thatched-roof masterpiece include an infinity pool; an outdoor, ocean-facing bathtub; a sprawling terrace; and an al fresco bar.
The property’s Beyond All-Inclusive policy means its nightly rate includes all meals and select activities plus a dedicated villa host, tasked exclusively with fulfilling vacation wishes, big and small (read: he or she will be servicing your villa and your villa only). As the name implies, the policy extends beyond endless food and drink; it’s an invitation to indulge as and when you choose. You can make a dinner reservation or have impromptu meals in your villa, on the beach, in the wine cellar, or under the stars—all of which can be requested through your host. It also entails unlimited group yoga or qigong and non-motorized water sports. Guests staying among the 17 premier villas for at least three nights are privy to daily private yoga, unlimited scuba diving (for certified divers), and a daily 60-minute signature massage. anantara.com
Anantara Kihavah Maldives VillasThe pinnacle of Maldivian beauty, the Baa Atoll is officially designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its dazzling lazuline waters and biodiverse coral reefs. Within this coveted region find several swoon-worthy resorts, none more enticing than Anantara Kihavah. The 80-key property makes up a mélange of overwater bungalows and beach villas, each a grand production of transitional indoor-outdoor space. Of special note is the clever layout in Kihavah’s overwater bungalow, where a sizable infinity pool lies at the core, replacing a traditional living area and offering direct water access from all sides through sliding doors.
Next-level amenities constitute some of the Maldives’ best. The island houses the nation’s first Muay Thai boxing ring, where a resident professional boxer provides lessons at any level. At Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas Spa, six overwater treatment suites foster a sensation of floating at sea thanks to floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Enter another dimension at underwater restaurant SEA, drinking and dining among wild, swimming clown fish, Moorish idols, grouper, and blacktip reef sharks. Beyond the glass encasement, mirrored ceilings and walls heighten the surreal scenes. Above water, at astronomy-themed rooftop bar SKY, engage in instructor-led stargazing using the largest telescope and observatory in the entire Indian Ocean (see “Night Lights” on page 131). Then, sip cocktails on a lie-flat, sky-facing circular couch and let your mind drift to a fantasy galaxy far, far away—or simply revere the one you’re currently in. anantara.com
Kudadoo Maldives Private Island
If you’ve traveled well and believe you’ve experienced the best hospitality has to offer, head to Kudadoo. This next-generation, ultra-luxe experience is the real deal, brought to life by meticulous eco-chic design, a sublime location, over-the-top amenities, and an unparalleled Anything, Anytime, Anywhere policy, meaning nothing is off-limits—nor costs extra.
The 15-residence, Yuji Yamazaki–designed property in the Lhaviyani Atoll is an exercise in sustainable, contemporary Japanese elegance. At Kudadoo’s core lies The Retreat, a bi-level, open-air, overwater pagoda crowned by 984 solar panels that power the resort in its entirety. Cross breezes off the ocean cool the bold, understated structure, which, ironically, houses the most over-the-top enticements: a world-class wine and cheese cellar, a stylish international restaurant, a sleek live music lounge, an infinity-edge swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and the Sulha Spa.
Yamazaki’s architectural prowess is further evidenced in each of the 15 ryokan-inspired floating residences (the smallest among them measures 3,300 square feet). Lattice-style screens surround the wood-framed houses on three sides to ensure maximum privacy. On the fourth side, retractable glass doors welcome the outdoors in, opening to an expansive, tiered sundeck surrounding a private infinity pool, a glass-bottom dining area, swinging day beds, and a ladder to the sea.
Settling into the Anything, Anytime, Anywhere mindset, you could have breakfast at The Retreat for a traditional start to the day. Or request a floating breakfast served in your infinity pool, a croissant and Champagne castaway meal marooned on a sandbar (dubbed Dream Island), or a vegan detox brunch on the beach. Almost any food item you can think of is fair game—a 21-page digital breakfast menu serves as a guide—as are the libations, and you set the location and the mealtime.
After, plan for languid or action-packed days. All activities are private and complimentary, including snorkeling with giant mantas alongside a marine biologist, unlimited spa and beauty treatments, private fitness training, boxing, and vinyasa and hatha yoga sessions—all courtesy of a resident team of spa therapists, personal trainers, yoga instructors, and meditation gurus.
You could Jet Ski, go flyboarding, play a bit of paddle tennis (with a pro, no less), or have a wine and cheese tasting in The Retreat cellar, where six different Champagnes and 80 wines from Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list are readily available as endless pours. In all cases, experiences are flawlessly executed thanks to a dedicated butler. kudadoo.com
The Nautilus Beach and Ocean Houses Maldives
Also in the Baa Atoll, this independent, Maldivian-owned resort features oversize accommodations sparkling with colorful, boho-chic interiors. Intimate, with just 26 overwater and beach houses, the Nautilus promotes a highly personalized stay steeped in barefoot luxury. Guests vacation free of dress codes and schedules, enjoying unscripted meals and spontaneous experiences organized on a whim. Such flexibility opens possibilities for things like an in-villa, poolside breakfast at 2 p.m. or, come midnight, a pre-sleep, volcanic stone healing massage in the Solasta Spa. thenautilusmaldives.com
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles & Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island
From the prehistoric granitic landscape that deems Seychelles’ beaches unique on Earth rises Four Seasons Resort Seychelles in Mahé. The rare, natural grandeur, which stems from the 75-million-year-old supercontinent Gondwana, envelops the mountainside property with 67 treetop villas and suites, and 27 residences. Ancient, tropical broadleaf forest peeks through rippled slabs of granite, while mammoth, Flintstone-like boulders lay wedged between the white sands and turquoise waters of Petite Anse Bay.
Take in views from private infinity pools, lounge decks, outdoor showers, open-air reading pavilions, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors in the villas, where interiors draw on sophisticated, Creole-French influences. At the resort’s highest point, a glass-encased welcome and relaxation lounge anchors Le Syel Spa, crowned by a rooftop meditation deck. At beach level, hand select a daily catch from the Petite Anse Fish Counter at Kannel restaurant and later look forward to enjoying cuisine and cocktails from the resort’s five other dining venues.
Travel 35 minutes by plane to sister resort Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island for a private island experience in the country’s untouched, remote southern reaches. At first, the low-lying, palm-studded island recalls the Caribbean or Bahamas, but the Seychellois landscape proves to be anything but familiar tropical fare. A thriving population of Aldabra tortoises outnumbers humans, a testament to the island’s primordial origins.
An excess of coastline—nine glorious miles of it—invites the prospect of total isolation and private beach pursuits among just 71 freestanding villas, suites, and residences. Partake in any or none of 70-plus organized activities, from deep-sea fishing to snorkeling to tortoise feeding to yoga on the airstrip. If you choose to simply embrace the island’s good life, lounge around your pool—every understated villa has one. Treat yourself to restorative journeys at the Circle of Connection Spa. Or savor the most exquisite of sunsets at the island’s towering lighthouse, which triples as a lookout point, bar, and restaurant. Whatever you choose to do (or not do) on Desroches Island, expect to entirely disconnect from the world that lies beyond the confines of this singular dot in the Indian Ocean. fourseasons.com
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands
Opened in June 2021 in the North Malé atoll, the Ritz-Carlton’s freshman Maldives property is the futuristic vision of the late Kerry Hill, the Australian design legend behind some of the best resorts in Asia, including most Aman resorts. Inspired by the sun and its circular formation, the resort plays out as a dramatic contemporary collection of 100 circular wooden villas cast along both the beach and overwater. Plus, there’s a colossal 360-degree Eau infinity pool and a nine-room, ring-shaped overwater spa (known on island as the Circle of Life spa). The spherical villas honor the presence and beauty of water’s abundance, each with an oversize, in-room soaking tub and integrated sundeck flanked by a curvaceous infinity pool. ritzcarlton.com
Velaa Private Island, Maldives
Home to the Maldives’ most over-the-top amenities, Velaa is ideal for anyone worrying they may get bored in paradise. At the heart of the island lies a José María Olazábal–designed, nine-hole golf course with instruction led by PGA professionals. Nearby, Lha Velaa Kids Club boasts the most extensive kids’ water park in the Maldives. On the water, the big kid toys await: hoverboards, Flyboards, and tandem Jetovators. At the two-story spa, marvel the ocean blues from the cantilevered hot tub and embark on a coed, hot-and-cold hydrotherapy circuit, underscored by the country’s only snow room. In the evening, fine dining restaurant Aragu features the best in global ingredients. Alternatively, savor a live-action teppanyaki dinner on the rooftop of the three-story Tavaru Tower, and after the tour, visit the tower’s prized tenant: a highly organized, 6,000-bottle wine collection, specializing in rare finds.
Among Velaa’s 47 one-bedroom villas, two-bedroom houses, and four-bedroom residences, the standout Sunrise Water Pool Villa features a glass porthole in the living room floor, an ocean-facing circular bathtub with mood lighting, and an overwater infinity-edge pool as part of a tiered sundeck. While most Maldives properties court romance-seekers, Velaa remains equally popular with families thanks to its large, multi-bedroom inventory and all-ages, larger-than-life offerings. velaaprivateisland.com
Mango House Seychelles
LXR Hotels & Resorts by Hilton is redefining casual luxury in the Indian Ocean with Mango House Seychelles, the former home of Italian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri that has been adapted into a sublime, boutique resort of 41 sea-facing rooms and suites. While the mod, earth-tone guest rooms and boho vibes scream Saint Bart’s, the details are distinctly Seychellois, from kimonos printed with artwork by Seychelles artist Michael Adams to fiery national cuisine at Creole restaurant Moutya, prepared using traditional methods like hot coals and steamed husks. Staff welcomes guests as if they’re reconnecting with old friends at a private home and rarely stray from this effective, personable approach. hilton.com
Le Château de Feuilles, Seychelles
While new-build properties with all-out amenities are the norm among the hotel elite in the Seychelles, one classic property from 1970 thrives on an unfussy, lost-in-time appeal. This nine-room boutique property on the island of Praslin reigns as the sole member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection in the entire Indian Ocean. Today, Le Château de Feuilles attracts travelers longing to embrace a Seychelles of yore, cozy in the hilltops of Pointe Cabris (the island’s easternmost point) where they can enjoy superb French-influenced cuisine (day and night), and revel in exclusive weekend access to the pristine, picturesque, uninhabited island of Grande Soeur. relaischateaux.com Discover additional wellness offerings worldwide in LM’s 2023 Wellness Guide at www.luxurycard.com/guide/2023/wellness