Zen rocks


The Maia resort on Mahé in the Seychelles offers an experience beyond that of the ordinary island holiday. VISI’s photographer, Dook, went in search of relaxation and renewal.

Maia – although I don’t know much about Greek mythology, it took only a few minutes on the Internet for me to discover what an appropriate name it is for this luxury resort. Maia was the eldest and most beautiful of Atlas’s daughters, also known as The Seven Sisters.

She became Zeus’s shy, lovely mistress and, along with her sisters, was transformed into a star that can be seen in the night skies as part of The Seven Sisters cluster – the latter was also the original name for the Seychelles on the maps of the first Portuguese explorers.

When, from a sharp bend in the road, I caught my first glimpse of the luxury resort named after this goddess of spring and rebirth, I already found myself being quietly seduced by her charms.

Maia is tucked into its own cove lined with a powder-white beach bordered at both ends by organically curvaceous – almost sculpted – granite rocks. Scattered up the steep hill in a forest of rich green vegetation, I could see the tops of the resort’s Balinese-style roofs. There is no reception area, so I was whisked straight to my villa to check in. I was met there by my very own butler, who would be at my service for the duration of my stay.

Each of Maia’s 30 villas has the same basic design but differences in layout combinations and location – ranging from the beach to the edge of a cliff – give each one an individual character.

The high ceilings are made from imported ylang-ylang leaves and are a feature of all the resort’s buildings, as are the polished teak floors and furniture designed and custom-made by the Bensley Design Studio in Bangkok. The overall style is that of simple, luxurious elegance.

The main bedroom contains all imaginable mod cons, including a small iPod onto which guests can have music of their choice downloaded, or plug your own into the Bose sound system.

The bathroom, stocked with luxurious La Prairie products, has plenty of floor-length windows that offer views of private gardens and sweeping panoramas without compromising on privacy. Two exquisite carved natural-stone basins rise from the pastel-coloured mosaic pebble floor. There’s a great shower inside but who would want to use it when the alternative, located outdoors across a small wooden bridge, is a sunken natural-stone bath under its own ylang-ylang roof, surrounded by a blue tiled pool and flanked by two sun loungers emerging from the shallow water?

Godly experience

I soon learnt that this bath took so long to fill, that it was a good idea to tell the butler when I wanted to soak so that it would be ready when I returned. I was expecting a simple experience but instead it had been transformed into a seductive scene straight from a movie, complete with floating flowers and candles.

This seemed like such a waste on me alone, but it turned out that Angelina, Cameron, and Charlize were too busy to enjoy my company. I couldn’t think of many people with whom I would rather have shared the experience, so I sipped my drink and watched the sun go down while contemplating how my wife would have loved it all.

Below the bath, and only a few paces away, was my own inviting infinity pool, deep enough to swim in and perfectly suited to my mental metabolism, which had so quickly connected with the Zen atmosphere of the resort, that a walk of a couple of metres felt like quite a journey.

As if all this wasn’t enough, I also made great use of the thatched gazebo, which had a dining area with its own bar and kitchen, as well as an oversized day bed that frequently tricked me into taking unplanned naps.

Meals can be taken on the beach, in the gazebo, at the pool bar, or at Tec Tec restaurant, which overlooks the main swimming pool. Executive chef, André Chiang, is serving – dare I say it – food fit for the gods, or even an art gallery.

Born in Taiwan and trained in France, André has worked in the kitchens of many leading restaurants. Described as French-Mediterranean with an Asiatic touch, the cuisine is fascinating and seriously delicious. But, as I am neither a god nor a gallery owner, I found I couldn’t indulge in it every night and so it was the simple yet tasty bar menu that supplied most of my dinners.

‘Do very little else’

Plenty of activities such as snorkelling and kayaking are on offer but, after a day spent lolling about doing very little, one must dig deep into the energy reserves – and do very little else. The spa is a great place for this. Secluded in a quiet corner, facing moss-covered rocks, are the treatment rooms where petite Balinese women make big magic with their tiny hands.

The spa offers a list of exclusive and intriguing treatments that would inspire many people to happily hand over a credit card without asking any further questions. There is even a yoga instructor for those who need to get knotted. In fact, not only are the staff required to pass an emotional quotient test, they also have to do yoga and meditation before starting work each day.

This policy must certainly have helped my butler to float around inconspicuously, anticipating – and meeting – my every need. Perhaps I shouldn’t say it, but at the end of my stay I really did feel like a god.

Maia: +248 390 000, reservations@southernsun.sc, www.maia.com.sc