If you’re after a holiday that doesn’t involve you doing more than laying on a beach chair, cocktail in hand, then the Indian Ocean islands are the perfect choice. Mauritius, the Seychelles and Mozambique all offer clear blue waters, glistening sand and a number of resorts to suit every budget and taste.
Luxury travellers in particularly are spoilt for choice though, with swank resorts taking up huge areas of land, such that you can have a complete holiday without even leaving the hotel’s property. Here are my picks for the most luxurious Indian Ocean island resorts.
Constance Ephélia, Seychelles
I’ve long been a fan of the Constance group of hotels. The brand epitomizes exclusivity — think an Apple TV in your room, airport transfers in a BMW X5, and a butler at your beck and call.
Unlike Mauritius and Maldives, Seychelles is mountainous, making for spectacular views — the turquoise enclaves of water are framed by hills covered in lush vegetation, which seem to stretch on forever. Constance Ephélia, located in Mahé, is the larger of two Constance properties in Seychelles, and is a fantastic option for a beach holiday with a bit of action, especially if you’re travelling with kids, who can enjoy the daily activities organized by the Constance Kids’ Club.
Guests can keep active with a game of tennis, squash or beach volleyball, or even go rock climbing or zip lining onsite. The resort is quite spread out, making it difficult to walk from one side to another, and waiting for the in-house shuttle can be cumbersome. I booked into a hillside villa situated at the highest point of the resort, which made for jaw-dropping views. The villa came with its own golf cart, allowing me to zip around the resort at my leisure, plus its own private infinity pool, sun terrace and garden — the ultimate in luxury.
Many of the activities offered by the resort are complimentary, including feeding the giant tortoises on the property, as well as “coconut school,” where I learnt to crack open a coconut in such a way that the coconut milk is preserved — harder than it looks!
The spa is a must-visit. It is probably the largest one I’ve ever been to, covering 5000 square meters, with a spectacular relaxation area that has day beds in the pool, plus an oversized jacuzzi.
Last on the list of what makes Constance Ephélia special: the food. With five restaurants on the property, I was spoilt for choice, and was equally impressed by each of them: fresh, delicious sushi at Cyann, the seafood eatery; a the dessert selection which resembled a high tea at Corrosol, the buffet restaurant; and king prawns at the beachside “toes in the sand” restaurant, Seselwa, which specializes in traditional island food.
One&Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius
When it comes to global luxury hotel brands, One&Only is one of the first chains that comes to mind. Its Mauritius offering, One&Only Le Saint Géran, is situated in a private peninsula with a sheltered lagoon that is ideal for watersports. Each room has a private terrace that overlooks the ocean, and features Egyptian cotton sheets, handpicked bedding and a spacious bathroom, with around-the-clock butler service.
My favourite part about visiting Mauritius is trying out the signature local cuisine, which is mostly traditional “Mughlai” food. One&Only has a waterside Indian Pavilion with an open kitchen, and it takes food seriously. The chef, Faizan Ali, is originally from Northern India, and is a master in the kitchen, creating dishes like “Ulte tawe ka Parantha,” shallow-fried lamb patties so soft they melt in the mouth, plus “Jheenga Zebunnisa,” prawns marinated with chilli and garlic.
Downtime is a must at One&Only — the resort has an in-house Chinese medicine practitioner, who offers personalized wellness programme made up of lifestyle and nutrition components, as well as Taoist yoga and cosmetic facial acupressure — a refreshing treatment.
Outdoor lovers can take their pick from putting on the Gary Player-designed nine-hole golf course, or honing their skills on the tennis court. Other complimentary activities include water skiing, kayaking, snorkeling or glass-bottom boat trips.
White Pearl Resort, Mozambique
While Mauritius and Seychelles are more suited to longer getaways, Mozambique is perfect for a two-night stay. Finding a luxury resort here is not difficult, but out of the few I’ve stayed at, White Pearl Resort in Ponta Mamoli is definitely at the top of my list.
The resort is situated on a relatively untouched stretch of beach, to which it has exclusive access. The common guest areas epitomize “beachside chic,” and are decorated in shades of white and aqua. Cocoon chairs and oversized day beds are spread across the deck, while suites are completely private, with private decks and plunge pools.
The resort’s beach bar offers dining with a traditional Mozambican flair — I thoroughly enjoyed the peri-peri chicken and giant prawns, which were soaked in lemon and garlic. Lunch is kept casual, but dinner, which comes included in the half-board rate, is more of a classy affair, with a Mozambican dish on the menu every night. My favourite dish was “Piexe Grelhado,” grilled herb-crusted barracuda cutlet served with crushed potatoes and a paprika, lemon and tomato sauce.
The breakfast menu is non existent — I was able to ask for anything my heart desired, which on that day, happened to be cinnamon and sugar pancakes. In addition to that, I was also served a three-tiered stand for my first course, with muesli, yoghurt and pastries.
The resort offers numerous beach activities, including a PADI-accredited dive centre, where guests can dive on one of the world’s top pinnacle reefs. Unfortunately, during my visit, the sea was too rough to take a boat out. Instead, I went horse riding along the beach. Even though it was only my second time riding, the guides made me feel completely at ease.