Maldives vs Seychelles | Country & Town House
Country & Town House | March 2012
Maldives vs Seychelles
The Indian Ocean: turquoise seas, thatched villas, sugary sand... But where to choose – the Maldives or the Seychelles? Tough one, ponders Laura Ivill
Island Idyll One of the most extraordinary places on earth, the Maldives archipelago is a dreamscape of islands best seen from the air – you can’t believe you are still on planet Earth. Arriving by plane, shallow lagoons are turquoise pools in the aquamarine ocean, in the middle of which tiny low sand islands peek above the waves.
Resort Paradise Taj Exotica Resort and Spa is the quintessential barefoot luxury resort, with yearround temperatures of 27-32°C, and only a 15 minute private speedboat ride from the airport. As soon as you step onto the jetty abandon your shoes. The almost-flat island is made entirely of the softest, finest white sand and is just 770 metres long by between 15-20 metres wide. And if the 30°C heat gets too much for toasting toes, on the boardwalks there are wooden tubs of water with ladles and floating blossoms to cool you down. Daily raking of sand plus the use of organic sprays eliminates bugs.
Lazy Days There is no excuse for not putting your feet up and forgetting the rest of the world exists – lie on a lounger with no one in sight, or relax in a double hammock. Get stuck into a holiday read and have your favourite iced cocktail brought to you. Then float in the crystal-clear, 200-acre balmy lagoon that’s just waist-deep. For even more privacy, retreat to your villa, with your own pool, sun deck and day beds, order room service from your butler and relish the peace.
Time to Explore With few people (Japanese honeymooners excepted), no cars, no hassle and no sites or towns to see, you have everything here you need for some delicious down-time in seclusion. But the Maldives is justly famed for its underwater spectacle, so you’ll want to see what’s beneath the ocean, too.
Culinary Delights The signature finedining restaurant, The Deep End, sits on stilts over the ocean and is one of the most romantic places to dine you could imagine. Or the resort will serve you dinner by the pool or on the beach – or even take you by boat to a single thatched villa in the lagoon for a champagne meal by yourselves. Afterwards, the beach cocktail lounge is open until the last guest leaves.
Spa Heaven Also on stilts over water is the tranquil spa, where Ayurvedic specialities are purifying and healing. From your treatment room you can hear the sounds of the ocean and see the sunlight sparkle on the ocean. Simple outdoor morning yoga sessions under a thatched pavilion are a gentle start to the say.
The Details Scott Dunn offers luxury tailormade holidays to Taj Exotica, Maldives, from £2,275 per person for seven nights (based on two sharing), staying in a Lagoon Villa with breakfast , including speedboat transfers and international flights with British Airways.
020 8682 5075; scottdunn.com
Island Idyll The flavours and the culture of French-based Creole infuse this far-flung archipelago of 155 tropical islands northeast of Madagascar. You will hear it spoken in the market on the main island of Mahé, where locals go to buy spices for curry. Here, you are never far from sweeping views of the ocean and every inch of the granite and coral islands is covered in lush vegetation. Pristine beaches fringe a turquoise shore with sand so fine you’d think it was flour.
Resort Paradise It is hard to imagine how the Four Seasons Seychelles could be more secluded and spacious, with 67 roomy villas built on stilts, some 25 metres high, nestling into the hillside. The resort is a feat of engineering, having been constructed around the existing landscape, incorporating giant boulders, huge palms and indigenous takamaca trees so that you feel immersed in the jungle. Villas all have views across Baie Lazare, and your private terrace pool, big enough to swim in, is heated directly by the sun.
Lazy days You’ll want to make the most of holidaying in luxury undisturbed. The villas are decorated in a soft white palate with, natural woods and textures, a huge ceiling fan hanging from thatched rafters over a canopied bed, and facing out to sea.
Time to Explore A 40-minute drive over the hills to the capital
Victoria, brings you to the food market where you’ll find chillies and spices to recreate those Creole dishes yourself. From there, take a 90-minute speedboat trip to the neighbouring island of Praslin and its nature reserve, then onwards by boat to the quaint island of La Digue, where there are no cars but a herd of giant tortoises who like to be fed.
Culinary Delights Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine is served in the hillside open-air restaurant Zez, where a sunset cocktail awaits. Beachside, tuck into a Creole buffet at Kannel.
Spa heaven High up in the hillside, few spas can lay claim to such a spectacular setting. Overlooking the bay, the panorama of sea, sky and lush vegetation is a tonic for the senses – you will feel any remnants of stress fall away. Scrubs and lotions are made from the natural botanical ingredients of the islands, so lie back, breathe
deeply and luxuriate in some expert pampering.
The Details Kuoni offers seven nights with breakfast at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles in a garden villa, including flights with Air Seychelles from Heathrow with private transfers in resort and an airport lounge in the UK on departure. From £2,452 per person based on two sharing. kuoni.com