Review: Executive Club, the frequent flyer program of British Airways

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (May 24, 2019): British Airways’ loyalty program (Executive Club) explained.

Launched in 1995, the frequent flyer program of British Airways is called the Executive Club. In 2011, following its merger with Iberia, the flag carrier of the United Kingdom and the founding member of the Oneworld global airline introduced dramatic changes to its Executive Club program, creating a distinct reward currency, Avios. Avios is a coalition program, offering members of the frequent flyer programs of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Meridiana thousands of ways to earn and redeem Avios for flights, hotels, and even travel experiences. Although Executive Club has some downsides, it scores high in my list of the world’s best frequent flyer programs because it’s the only well-established loyalty program of a major Western legacy airline that is not revenue based (yet).

What is your opinion about British Airways’ Executive Club? Leave a comment below.

In this overview, I explain the Executive Club program and how to benefit from it:

  1. Executive Club elite levels
  2. How to earn Avios in the air
  3. How the earn Avios on the ground
  4. How to spend Avios (and travel for free)
  5. Best and worst Avios redemptions
  6. Pros & things I like about Executive Club
  7. Cons & things I don’t like about Executive Club
  8. Poll: what’s the world’s best frequent flyer program?


1. EXECUTIVE CLUB ELITE LEVELS

You earn two types of miles within the Executive Club program:

  • Avios is the Executive Club’s mileage currency. You collect Avios on flights, hotel stays and even car hire (more on that below). Avios can be spent on award redemptions.
  • As well as Avios, you also collect Tier Points every time you fly with British Airways or one of its Oneworld airline partners. The sole purpose of Tier Points is to determine your status within the Executive Club program; they can only be collected by flying, they can’t be spent on rewards, and they reset back to zero every new year. The amount  of Tier Points you earn depends on your ticket type, the fare class, and the distance flown.

So, Avios unlock rewards while Tier Points unlock Executive Club benefits. There are four Executive Club elite levels that you can work your way up as you collect more Tier Points. Blue is the entry-level; Bronze the second level; Silver the third level; and Gold is the top-level. Each level has benefits and as you move from Blue to Bronze then Silver and finally Gold, these benefits become more valuable.

  • Blue is the entry level. Just signing up for the Executive Club program will already give you access to the following benefits:
    • Access to members only offers
    • Priority over non-members on standby and reservation waiting lists
  • Bronze status is reached after collecting 300 Tier Points in a year, and has the following benefits:
    • Priority check in and boarding
    • Free seat selection 7 days before departure
    • 25% bonus Avios
    • Access to members only offers
  • Silver status is reached after collecting 600 Tier Points in a year, and has the following benefits:
    • Priority check in and boarding
    • Free seat selection at booking
    • Access to Business Class lounges
    • Extra baggage allowance
    • 50% bonus Avios
    • Access to members only offers
  • Gold status is reached after collecting 1500 Tier Points in a year, and has the following benefits:
    • First Class check in and boarding
    • Free seat selection at booking
    • Access to First Class lounges
    • Extra baggage allowance
    • 100% bonus Avios
    • Additional reward flight availability
    • Access to members only offers
  • Executive Club has also a secret fifth tier, called Executive Club Premier, which is an invitation only tier, typically reserved for those whom British Airways considers as being of commercial importance (e.g. politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and other influencers). The tier comes with the following benefits:
    • All benefits of  Gold status
    • Access to all British Airways Lounges, including the Concorde Room
    • A dedicated 24/7 customer care line and special email service for queries
    • Fees waived for all reward ticket bookings, changes, and cancellations
    • Priority consideration for upgrades when the cabin is oversold
    • British Airways may even delay a flight by up to 30 minutes to facilitate tight connections

BRITISH AIRWAYS TIERS


2. HOW TO EARN AVIOS IN THE AIR

As mentioned above, you earn two types of miles within the Executive Club program: ‘Tier Points’, which determine your status, and ‘ Avios’, which can be exchanged for a variety of rewards. Whenever and wherever you fly, you can earn both Avios and Tier Points with British Airways, its Oneworld alliance partners and its other airline partners. You can even earn Avios and Tier Points for eligible flights you’ve already taken, up to a full three months prior to the date you joined the Executive Club. Almost all flights are eligible; the only flights you do not earn Avios or Tier Points on are reward flights, agency discounted fares and industry discounted fares:

  • You earn Avios and Tier Points on all airlines of the Oneworld alliance: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, and SriLankan Airlines.
  • You earn Avios but no Tier Points on the following British Airways airline partners: Aer Lingus, Air Italy (formally Meridiana), and Alaska Airlines.

The amount of Avios and Tier Points you collect depends on which airline you fly, how far you fly, the cabin you fly in, the type of ticket you hold and your Executive Club tier. For example, this is the amount of Avios you earn when flying with British Airways:

Earning Avios on British Airways Flights
Class of travel
Fare class
Avios awarded
Avios Tier Bonus
Earn Tier Points
Economy (Lowest)
Q, O, G
25% of miles flown
✓
✓
Economy (Low)
K, M, L, V, S, N
50% of miles flown
✓
✓
Economy (Flexible)
Y, B, H
100% of miles flown
✓
✓
Premium Economy (Lowest)
E, T
100% of miles flown
✓
✓
Premium Economy (Flexible)
W
150% of miles flown
✓
✓
Business Class (Lowest)
R, I
150% of miles flown
✓
✓
Business Class (Flexible)
J, C, D
250% of miles flown
✓
✓
First Class (Lowest)
A
250% of miles flown
✓
✓
First Class (Flexible)
F
300% of miles flown
✓
✓

Contrary to most other airline loyalty programs, British Airways does not publish a chart for determining the number of Avios and Tier Points you’ll earn on any given flight. The easiest way to work it out is to use the Executive Club’s online flight calculator. The calculator is for direct flights only; for connecting journeys, enter each flight separately, then add the amounts together to get your total. For example, a flight from London to New York will earn you the following number of Avios & Tier Points as a base (Blue) member:

Elite members of Executive Club will receive bonus Avios on top of these base miles: a 25% bous for Bronze members, 50% for Silver members and 100% for Gold members.


3. HOW TO EARN AVIOS ON THE GROUND

The possibilities to earn Avios are endless, even when not flying, by making use of the many partners of the Executive Club program (for a full list of all partners, click here).

  • You can buy between 1,000 and 100,000 Avios each calendar year for yourself or a friend.  Avios points can only be purchased on Ba.com using the Purchase Avios points Application Form. In most cases your Avios will appear in your account immediately, for you to spend straightaway. However, there are some instances where this could take up to five working days. Your Avios cannot be used until they have been added to your account.
  • You can grow your Avios balance everytime when you stay with any one of British Airway’ hotel partners. You can book direct with dozens of different brands or convert your points from a participating hotel loyalty scheme to Avios.
    • Participating brands include Marriott, AccorHotels, Hyatt, Best Western, Intercontinental, Langham, Mandarin Oriental, and Shangri-La.
    • Executive Clubs also collaborates with booking engines such as Booking.com, Hotels.com, Agoda, Kaligoo and Rocketmiles. For example, with hotels.com, you will collect 6 Avios per £1 spend without earning Hotels.com Rewards, and 3 Avios per £1 spend while earning Hotels.com Rewards.
  • You earn Avios every time you rent a car with Avis: three Avios per £1 spent, with a minimum of 500 Avios per one or two-day rental or 700 Avios per three-day rental or more. In addition, you get at a free additional driver with every rental. You also earn Avios for car rental with Budget, Maggiore, and Zipcar.
  • As an Executive Club Member, you can collect 1 bonus Avios for every £1 you spend when you book a British Airways holiday package (e.g. flights & hotel or flights & car packages). On top of the Avios you’ll collect for your package holiday, you will also be rewarded with additional Avios for the flight and car rental elements of your package.
  • Members earn Avios by shopping online in the British Airways Avios eStore, a collection of more than 400 online retailers including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Apple and eBay. Occasionally, there are promotions that give you more Avios for your money. Other shopping opportunities that earn you Avios are shopping at Heathrow airport and purchasing High Life Shop products onboard British Airways flights (or alternatively, when you shop online and pre-order directly to your seat onboard).
  • You can also earn Avios for purchasing lifestyle-related products, such as newspapers (The Economist and Financial Times) and Sky TV.
  • You can dramatically increase your Avios mileage earning with credit card spendings: 
    • You can transfer program points from the American Express or Diner’s Club Rewards Programs into your Executive Club account to boost your Avios account.
    • One of the fastest ways to earn Avios is by using a British Airways co-branded credit card (only available in selected countries, such as the USA, France, and the UK). These credit cards also offer a considerable amount of bonus Avios upon your first purchase (often enough for a longhaul redemption ticket). For example, the British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card is offered to USA citizens and earns you 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus purchases, and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases; the credit card also includes a 10% discount off all British Airways flights and a companion ticket every calendar year when you make $30,000 USD in purchases.

4. HOW TO SPEND AVIOS ON FREE TRAVEL

The most popular way to spend your Avios is to redeem them for free flights. Executive Club members can redeem Avios on all Oneworld member in addition to British Airways’ partner airlines Aer Lingus, Air Italy, and Alaska Airlines. In fact, members have the ability to fly to almost 1,000 destinations in over 150 countries worldwide. You pay these reward flights with Avios plus a cash amount to cover the taxes, fees and carrier charges.

The number of Avios and cash you’ll need for a free flight depends on your travel class (Economy vs Business vs First Class) and the route (there are nine zones based on the distance between your departure and arrival airports). Each leg of your reward itinerary is calculated separately, with no layovers, stopovers, or open jaws included. Therefore, if your trip from Cape Town to New York includes a layover in London, the cost of your journey will be the sum total of the two individual legs. Executive Club doesn’t publish a detailed rewards chart but you can work out the cost for a reward flights using the Executive Club online calculator. You can search for availability and proceed with booking an award ticket using the Executive Club online search engine.

There are a few ways to reduce the amount of Avios you need for a reward flight:

  • For reward flights with British Airways, you will pay either a peak or off-peak Avios amount, depending on the date of your flight. Two thirds of the year is off-peak. When booking reward flights, you can choose all peak dates, all off-peak dates, or a mixture of the two. The taxes, fees and carrier charges you pay are the same for both peak and off-peak dates, but you’ll need a lower amount of Avios for off-peak dates.
  • Reward Flight Savers are the program’s best value reward flights. You pay the Avios and a flat fee in cash plus a low flat fee instead of the taxes, fees and carrier charges. Reward Flight Savers are only available on return flights (operated by British Airways) in Europe and return flights (operated by British Airways’ subsidiary Comair) in Southern Africa.
  • If you don’t have enough Avios for your chosen reward flight, or would like to save some for your next reward, you can reduce the Avios cost by paying an additional cash amount. The fewer Avios used, the more you make up in money. You’ll be presented with a range of these Avios & Money payment options at the checkout process when booking a reward flight.

For example, this is the amount of Avios & cash you need on peak and off-peak dates for a one-way Business Class ticket from London to New York:

Another great way (and IMHO, the best way) to use your Avios is to spend them on upgrades. Only cash bookings on flights operated by British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines can be upgraded with Avios, either at the time of booking or later on depending on availability. Always keep in mind that upgrades can only be applied to the next higher cabin of service: Economy to Premium Economy, Premium Economy to Business, and Business to First Class (but not Economy to Business when the plane features a Premium Economy cabin). In general, the lowest priced Economy Class fares cannot be upgraded.

The Avios amount required for an upgrade is based on the Avios costs for reward flights in the cabins you are upgrading from, and will depend on whether your flight is scheduled on a peak or off-peak date. The formula is: Avios for the cabin you wish to upgrade to  Avios for the cabin you make your booking in = Avios required to upgrade one way. Here’s an example for a peak one-way upgrade from London to New York, upgrading from premium economy (World Traveller Plus) to business (Club World): Club World: 60,000 Avios  World Traveller Plus: 40,000 Avios = 20,000 Avios to upgrade.

There are several ways to check upgrade availability:

  • If you have an existing booking: log in to Manage My Booking, select your flight and choose “Upgrade this flight with Avios” to see if your flight can be upgraded
  • If you’re just making plans: use the ‘book and upgrade’ form to search for specific flights and dates to see if you can upgrade as you book or use the reward availability tools to search for inspiration and availability

Much like on the earning side, British Airways also provides a variety of (less lucrative) ways to redeem your Avios with non-airline partners, such as car rentals, hotel stays, travel experiences, and more.


5. BEST AND WORST AVIOS REDEMPTIONS 
  • IMHO, the best way to use your Avios is to upgrade to Business Class with British Airways, Iberia or American Airlines. Starting at just 20,000 Avios one way on longhaul flights, you can upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class, enjoying a flat bed the whole way. Finding these upgrades is easy (as explained above).
  • Paying shorthaul flights with Avios almost always represents fantastic value. For example, Sri Lanka to the Maldives, Melbourne to Sydney, and most domestic flights within Japan are only 4,500 Avios one way in Economy Class. New York to Chicago, Miami to Cancun, or Lima to Cusco? All 7,500 Avios!
  • Another great route to spend your Avios is the USA West Coast to Hawaii: all 12,500 Avios one-way in Economy Class with either American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. The typical cost of this route is more than 20,000 miles using most other frequent flyer programs.
  • Making use of Reward Flight Savers, short haul European flights (e.g. London to Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin and Prague) are just 4,000 Avios off peak.
  • Business Class redemptions on British Airways with Avios are not very interesting anymore because of the insanely high surcharges you have to pay in addition to Avios points. This is often $700- 1000 USD one way, especially when you start or end your journey in the UK or USA. There is a way around these surcharges though, and that is to start your itinerary in a country where surcharges are illegal or not imposed (such as Brazil, Hong Kong, and South Korea to name a few).
  • Business Class redemptions on Oneworld partners remain valuable because of the often modest surcharges, as long as you don’t depart or arrive in the UK. IMHO, the best Business Class redemption is on Qatar Airways’ sublime Qsuite from Doha to the Maldives, which is only 37,500 Avios for a full-service 5 hour flight.
  • One of the disadvantages of Avios awards, is that these are priced per flight segment. There is a way around this however. When you book a redemption flight with two or more Oneworld partner airlines along with British Airways, the Multi-Carrier Reward Flight option is available. Under this scheme, members are able to book as many layovers, stopovers, and open jaws as they like. The only thing that matters is the total distance of the entire itinerary. This reward option is great for round-the-world trips or trips where you foresee many stops along the way.
Multi-Carrier Reward Flights (Two Or More Oneworld Partner Airlines)
Total Miles
Avios Needed
Additional Charges
0 – 1,500
30,000
Up to $502.84 taxes, fees and carrier charges
1,501 – 4,000
35,000
Up to $1,039.57 taxes, fees and carrier charges
4,001 – 9,000
60,000
Up to $999.03 taxes, fees and carrier charges
9,001 – 10,000
70,000
Up to $833.80 taxes, fees and carrier charges
10,001 – 14,000
90,000
Up to $1,226.25 taxes, fees and carrier charges
14,001 – 20,000
100,000
Up to $1,153.90 taxes, fees and carrier charges
20,001 – 25,000
120,000
Up to $1,160.17 taxes, fees and carrier charges
25,001 – 35,000
140,000
Up to $1,144.97 taxes, fees and carrier charges
35,001 – 50,000
No pricing information available

6. PROS & THINGS I LIKE ABOUT EXECUTIVE CLUB
  • British Airways’ Executive Club is one of the few remaining large frequent flyer programs in the world that is not revenue based (yet). You earn status within the program based on miles flown and not on the money spent.
  • Executive Club allows you to earn and spend miles on airlines of Oneworld, which is my favorite airline alliance of the three major alliances (the other two being SkyTeam and Star Alliance). Oneworld is a collection of some of the most prestigious flagship airlines in the world that offer overall the best service and Business/First Class products in the skies.
  • Executive Club has the best online search tool for award flights of all Oneworld airlines. That said, you should always stick to searching for individual flight segments rather than connecting itineraries, since the online search engine has a known issue with showing phantom partner award space.
  • Tickets booked with Avios are flexible. You can cancel an Avios booking as long as it’s more than 24 hours from departure, and you’ll only pay a $55 USD re-deposit fee or forfeit the taxes and fees of your booking, whichever is less.
  • Executive Club offers a generous amount of bonus miles to its elite members. Gold members earn a 100% bonus, Silver members earn a 50% bonus, and Bronze members a 25% bonus on top of base miles earned while traveling with British Airways and partner airlines.
  • Executive Club allow you to pool your Avios in a household account with up to six people who live on the same address, letting you make full use of the collective balance. Everyone in a household account will continue to collect Tier Points and move through the tiers of the Club individually, but they can also spend Avios taken from the pooled household account (so that award redemptions are reached faster). When any Avios are spent, a proportional amount will be deducted from each member’s balance in the household account. There are a few important things to remember about a household account:
    • Members of a household account cannot redeem their Avios for anyone outside of the household account
    • Changes to the registered household account address can only be made once every six months
    • Executive Club Members must be 18 years or older before they can spend their Avios
  • You can transfer up to 27,000 Avios to another Club Member each calendar year. Transferring Avios will reset the 36-month period for both the person sending and the person receiving the Avios.
  • Many airlines and hotel schemes are based on earning throughout the calendar year. BA Executive Club is different and is instead based on the year from your original joining date of the program. The number of Tier Points earned in this twelve month period determines your status for the next period.
  • Executive Club gives the Tier Points you’ve earned in the past, real value in the present. All the Tier Points you’ve ever earned, since you joined the program, are added up to become your Lifetime Tier Points. Each year, your annual Tier Points will reset on the anniversary of you joining the Executive Club but your Lifetime Tier Points will remain. Once you reach 35,000 Tier Points, you will be rewarded with Gold membership (and its benefits) for life.
  • Executive Club has a unique and interesting partnership with Hotels.com. The latter is one of my favorite hotel search engines, because it has a great and simple loyalty program called Rewards: when you book and stay 10 nights with Hotels.com, you get one reward night! Hotels.com allows you to earn Avios in addition to its Rewards program, although you choose whether you want to earn nights with Hotels.com Rewards:
    • You collect 6 Avios per £1 spend without earning Hotels.com Rewards
    • You collect 3 Avios per £1 spend and earn Hotels.com Rewards

7. CONS & THINGS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT EXECUTIVE CLUB
  • British Airways imposed insanely high surcharges on its award flights with departure (or arrival) from the UK or USA. For Business Class tickets, these can be in the rang of $700-100 USD one way. This  make long haul redemptions in Business Class o Economy Class generally very poor value (especially since the carrier often launches promos for full cash tickets that come close to what you would pay on surcharges for an award ticket).
  • Reward flights are priced per segment and not for the whole itinerary, which can make routes with one or more connections costly.
  • Your Avios stay valid as long as you collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios every 36 months — any longer and your Avios will expire and be removed, so remember to take action before those three years are up.
  • Executive club only rewards its elite members with bonus Avios fly British Airways, American Airlines, Iberia and Japan Airlines. However, flying Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines, Finnair, LAN, Qatar Airways, Srilankan Airways, Royal Jordanian or S7 airlines will not earn you any bonus Avios.
  • Executive Club does not allow stop-overs on award tickets.

8. POLL

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The post Review: Executive Club, the frequent flyer program of British Airways appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Top 10 most phenomenal luxury hotels for a honeymoon

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (May 20, 2019): Top 10 best honeymoon hotels in the world.

A honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience (for most couples) and one of the most anticipated and indulgent holidays you’ll ever take. Not only is it the best way to start your married life together, but it’s also the perfect excuse to splurge on that expensive bucket list trip you’ve always wanted to take.  Naturally, expectations for a honeymoon are always high, but what makes a hotel honeymoon-worthy differs from couple to couple. For some, it’s far-flung solitude, pristine beaches and breathtaking views (count me in). For others, it’s all about unrivaled luxury, endless pampering and being served as a royal. From posh overwater villas to secluded rooms with private plunge pools, from spectacular outdoor suites to your very own Italian palazzo, here is my list of the 10 most romantic and idyllic honeymoon hotels in the world.

There is more information (with reviews & Youtube clips) below the slideshow. What is your favorite hotel in the world for a honeymoon? Leave a comment or take my poll below.

Click to view slideshow.

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10. THE OBEROI AMARVILAS, INDIA

Situated less than 2000 feet (600 meters) from the Taj Mahal – the world’s most exquisite testimony to undying love – it is easy to rekindle romance at The Oberoi Amarvilas. The property stands amidst nine acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, minarets, pavilions, fountains, reflection pools and terraced lawns inspired by traditional Mughal designs. The resort has 102 exquisitely appointed rooms and suites, each with uninterrupted view of the Taj Mahal and complemented by Oberoi’s warm, personalized hospitality. Many rooms of this elegant five-story building have private terraces. The fine dining restaurants serve Pan-international and authentic Mughlai cuisine. Couples can experience candlelit dining on their private balcony, beside the silhouette of the Taj Mahal, or relax with a spa treatment in a couples’ therapy suite with Taj Mahal views.

  • Hotel website: Oberoi Amarvilas
  • Travel tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one complimentary lunch for two).
  • Review: coming soon.

OBEROI AMARVILAS, INDIA


9. BELMOND HOTEL CARUSO, ITALY

Situated in the most spectacular location on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, almost suspended between sea and sky, Belmond Hotel Caruso occupies a former medieval palace at the highest, quietest point of Ravello, overlooking the rocks and cliffs of Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the Mediterranean (or, more correctly, Tyrrhenian) Sea. With frescoed salons, arched stone vaults and just 50 highly individual rooms and suites occupying every shape and corner of the ancient palace’s architecture, it is an intimate retreat with an intriguing sense of history. But above all, with its rose arbor leading to one of the world’s most spectacular infinity pools, with sunlit or candlelit dining in the Belvedere Restaurant, and with a rich sense of its past as a retreat for presidents, writers and film stars, the hotel is almost impossibly romantic and the perfect decor for an unforgettable honeymoon.

  • Hotel website: Belmond Hotel Caruso
  • Other accolades: Belmond Hotel Caruso also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels on the Amalfi Coast, the world’s most spectacular cliffside luxury hotels, the world’s most stunning hotel pools, and the best luxury hotels in Italy.
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, $100 USD food & beverage credit, early check-in, late check-out, and daily breakfast for 2).
  • Review: read my review of Belmond Hotel Caruso here.


8. SONG SAA PRIVATE ISLAND, CAMBODIA

Song Saa Private Island is a honeymoon heaven nestled in the undiscovered beauty of Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago. With unique, world-class cuisine, stunning sunset views, and an array of spa and wellness treatments, Song Saa offers the ultimate indulgence for mind, body and soul. Harmony, sustainability and world-class luxury are the core principles that underpin the design of Song Saa which includes energy efficient thatched roofing, recycled timber from disused fishing boats, furniture made from driftwood collected from local beaches and coves, and floors made from timber salvaged from old factories, warehouses and demolition yards around Cambodia and Thailand. With 9 overwater villas in addition to 18 Garden and Beach Villas, this resorts represents 5-star-plus luxury and a level of romance that you might not expect in Cambodia.

  • Hotel website: Song Saa Private Island
  • Other accolades: Song Saa Private Island also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most beautiful overwater bungalows and the world’s best eco-friendly luxury hotels.
  • Tip: Enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, 1 bottle of Champagne on arrival, and one 60 minute massage or a Discover Scuba session per adult once during stay).

SONG SAA PRIVATE ISLAND, CAMBODIA


7. JADE MOUNTAIN, ST LUCIA

A honeymoon destination in its own, Jade Mountain is St. Lucia’s only resort property with the iconic view of both the Piti and Gros Piton mountains floating upon the Caribbean Sea. The location of the property is unsurpassed, rising majestically above the private estate of Anse Chastanet with 600 lush tropical acres bordering two soft, sand Caribbean beaches with pristine coral reefs just off shore. Its impressive design, with individual bridges leading to exceptional infinity pool suites and rugged stoned-faced columns reaching towards the sky, makes Jade Mountain one of the Caribbean’s most mesmerizing resort experiences. With the fourth wall entirely absent, Jade Mountain’s 29 suites (called “sanctuaries”) are stage-like settings from which to embrace the full glory of  St Lucia’s twin peaks, the Pitons World Heritage Site, and the eternal Caribbean Sea.

  • Hotel website: Jade Mountain
  • Other accolades: Jade Mountain also features in my top 10 lists of hotel rooms with the best views, the world’s best luxury hotels, the best resorts in the Caribbean, the world’s best all-inclusive resorts, and the world’s best resorts with private plunge pools.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, $100 USD spa credit, early check in, and late check out).
  • Review: read my review of Jade Mountain here.

JADE MOUNTAIN, ST LUCIA


6. GRACE SANTORINI, GREECE

Grace Santorini is an exclusive boutique hotel in Santorini, perched 363 meters (1190 ft) above Santorini’s world-famous caldera, offering breathtaking views. Crisp, minimalist and simply marvelous, the hotel skips the ornamentation for vast swatches of pristine white and sea views that stretch to infinity. The 21 innovatively refurbished rooms and suites showcase a contemporary style, combining cutting edge, bespoke design alongside traditional handcrafted pieces whilst the luxurious bathrooms offer double vanity units with marble carved basins and spacious rain showers with mosaic feature walls. Most of the rooms feature outdoor plunge pools while the 400 square meters (4.300 square feet) villa offers a private heated pool and spa. The hotel’s pool is truly spectacular and one of the most photographed swimming pools in the world.

  • Hotel website: Grace Santorini
  • Other accolades: Grace Santorini features in my top 10 list of the best hotels & resorts in Greece, the most beautiful hotel pools in the world, the world’s best hotel breakfasts, the best hotels in Santorini, and swimming pools with stunning views.
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, one-way private airport transfers, and one private yoga class for up to two people).
  • Review: read my review of Grace Santorini here.


5. THE BRANDO, FRENCH POLYNESIA

The Brando is a unique luxury resort on French Polynesia’s breathtakingly beautiful private island of Tetiaroa – an atoll composed of a dozen small islands surrounding a sparkling lagoon 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Tahiti. The Brando offers carefree luxury in the midst of pristine nature and is only accessible by a 20-minute private plane flight from Tahiti. The resort’s 35 villas sit on white-sand beaches frequented by sea turtles, manta rays and exotic birds. This Polynesian style resort also offers two restaurants showcasing Polynesian-inspired dishes, East/West fusion and classic French cuisine, as well as a luxurious spa and wellness center. It was in this natural wonderland that the legendary actor Marlon Brando settled down, and finally found his home. Room rates start at 3300 euro per night for the cheapest room category (one bedroom villa), inclusive of food & beverages.

  • Hotel website: The Brando
  • Other accolades: The Brando also features in my top 10 lists of the most expensive hotels in the world, the most luxurious resorts in French Polynesia, the best beach resorts in the South Pacific, and luxury hotels with private airports.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks at the Brando when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and 100 euro resort credit).

THE BRANDO, FRENCH POLYNESIA


4. AMAN VENICE, ITALY

As sumptuous and romantic as the city itself, Aman Venice is set in the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopolion, one of the eight monumental palazzos on the Grand Canal. The great 18th-century painter Tiepolo once lived here, and his frescoes adorn the walls of many of the 24 rooms and suites. In the 19th century, the presiding Papadopoli family turned adjoining buildings into two gardens that, today, are among the city’s rarest private green spaces. When Aman Venice was renovated in 2014, its sensitive incorporation of modern comforts won the palazzo a heritage award for Italy’s best restoration. While the hotel’s opulent interiors sate appetites for grandeur, they invoke balance and harmony too. Rococo works of art are offset by the contemporary restraint of Jean-Michel Gathy interiors; private gardens and year-round wellness encourage calming introspection. Combining a reverence to the past and an appreciation of the present, local experts curate authentic, cultural and ultra-romantic encounters away from the crowds, reaching the heart of Venetian passions.

  • Hotel website: Aman Venice
  • Other accolades: Aman Venice also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Venice, the 10 best Aman hotels in the world and the 10 most amazing city hotels in Europe.
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, one lunch for two, early check-in, and late check-out).
  • Review: read my review of Aman Venice here.


3. IVORY LODGE LION SANDS, SOUTH AFRICA

The award-winning Lion Sands Private Game Reserve is located in the finest territory of the world famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve, stretching for miles along the perennial Sabie River which forms its natural boundary with the Kruger National Park. The land, which has been owned and managed by the More Family for four generations, is a place of rarity and carries with it a passion which can only be instilled by a great family history. Lion Sands has three different lodges, with Lion Sands Ivory Lodge being the most upscale option. Each of the six suites is surrounded by untamed African Bush and is operated as a private villa. All villas have a private rim flow pool, exquisitely appointed bedroom and lounge, and simply more of everything. For a once in a lifetime romantic experience and the ultimate African bush experience, you may consider a stay at one of the treehouses operated by the same management in the Sabi Sand wildlife reserve.

  • Hotel website: Ivory Lodge Lion Sands
  • Other accolades: Ivory Lodge Lion Sands, also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most amazing outdoor hotel rooms, the best safari lodges in Africa, and South Africa’s most insanely beautiful luxury hotels.
  • Review: read here my review of Ivory Lodge’s sister property, River Lodge Lion Sands.


2. NORTH ISLAND, SEYCHELLES

North Island is the world’s most exclusive hideaway and the best hotel I have ever been to. The insanely beautiful island has only 11 opulent hand-crafted villas overlooking the pristine, powder-white sands and turquoise waters of the Ile Du Nord eco-reserve. Raised off the ground to catch the cooling Indian Ocean breezes, all villas open up onto your private garden and the beach. Plunge pools and outdoor showers provide the finishing touches to your private sanctuary. The island’s lounge and dining areas, scenically located health spa and gym, library and dive centre, and a rim-flow swimming pool are all built into a granitic outcrop. Keep an eye out for Brutus, the island’s 160-year-old tortoise. The resort was the decor for honeymoon of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, and for Hollywood actor George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin in 2014.

  • Hotel website: North Island
  • Other accolades: North Island also features  in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in the Seychelles, the world’s most exclusive private island resorts, the world’s best luxury hotels,  the world’s most expensive hotels, and Africa’s most astonishing beach retreats.
  • Review: read my review of North Island Seychelles here.


1. SONEVA JANI, MALDIVES

Located on an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll, the Maldives’ most exclusive resort is surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted Indian Ocean views. Each one of the 24 water villas has a private lap pool and opens to its own stretch of lagoon, with some villas featuring slides going directly from the top deck into the lagoon below. The highlight of the villas is the retractable roof in the master bedroom, which slides back at the touch of a button so that guests can lie in bed and stargaze. The culinary experiences at Soneva Jani are as diverse as they are memorable: in addition to the delightful dining venues, you can indulge in culinary adventures such as private dining around the lagoon, a Robinson Crusoe-style castaway picnic, organic garden lunches and cooking classes. It doesn’t get more romantic then here.

Contact me to get a resort credit and two complimentary Soneva experiences at Soneva Jani.

  • Hotel website: Soneva Jani
  • Other accolades: Soneva Jani also features in my lists of the most luxurious resorts in the Maldives, the most fabulous overwater villas in the Maldives, the best new luxury hotels of 2016, the most astonishing beach retreats in Asia, and my favorite hotels in the world.
  • Review: read my review of Soneva Jani here.


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Travel series: a travel guide to the Seychelles

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (May 17, 2019): Travel series: a travel guide to the Seychelles.

My travel blog features a section that comprises a selection of destination & travel guides. You can find these travel guides under ‘destinations‘ in the blog’s header menu (indicated by the blue arrow in the screenshot below).

I hope these online travel guides – based on my own travel experiences – may help you to get the most out of your (luxury) trips. So far, I have published travel guides on the following destinations:

  • Australia
  • Greece
  • Hawaii
  • Japan
  • Maldives
  • Oman
  • Rwanda
  • Sri Lanka
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • West Canada & Rockies

Today, I am adding a new travel guide to my blog about the Seychelles, an archipelago of legendary beauty in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Equator and east of Kenya. Its 115 coral and granite islands, which are the peaks of a massive underwater plateau, star in countless tropical island fantasies and represent one of the world’s very last frontiers. Once your aircraft descends into the Seychelles International Airport, you know that you have arrived at a place of awe-inspiring scenery, with granitic mountain ranges clad in virgin jungle cascading down to hauntingly beautiful, palm fringed, with sand beaches. The Seychelles beckon discerning travelers to their shores, by offering adventure, romance and luxury resorts in pristine surrounds still untouched by man.

Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to the Seychelles with my travel guide. Find out more about:

  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Getting around
  • Travel requirements
  • Inspiration, highlights, & travel tips
  • Suggested itineraries
  • Recommended luxury hotels (+ reviews)

SEYCHELLES TRAVEL GUIDE


BEST TIME TO VISIT

The Seychelles enjoy a tropical, humid climate with constant high temperatures throughout the year. The amount of rainfall is mainly determined by two monsoon seasons in which the trade winds blow from opposite directions:

  • From May to October, the strong south-east trade winds (the so-called southeast monsoon) bring a relatively dry period with mostly clear skies and very little precipitation, although seas can be choppy at this time of year with seaweed littering the beaches of Praslin island (cf below).
  • From December to March, the weak north-west trade winds (the so-called northwest monsoon) bring wet weather and cloudy skies to the Seychelles, especially in December and January, though the seas are calmer during this period. The rain mainly falls in the form of short downpours or thunderstorm, often occurring in the evening or at night. In general, the northern island of Mahe (where the capital Victoria is located) sees more precipitation than the other islands, since Mahe is located closer to the Equator and features high hills (up to 900 m or 3000 ft) which tend to capture the clouds.
  • The transition months April and October are interspersed between the southeast and northwest monsoon and are often considered the best months for a visit to the archipelago: the winds die down as they change direction, the seas are calm, the beaches are free of seaweed, and sunny days are the norm (with a few passing showers).

As mentioned above, the trade winds not only define the wet and dry season in Seychelles, but also determine where the seaweed drifts, a natural phenomenon which – although totally harmless – can detract from the otherwise picture-perfect beauty of the Seychellois beaches and can make swimming unpleasant and impossible. Especially during the dry season, from May to September, the strong south-east trade winds results in seaweed being washed up onto the beaches of Praslin’s southern and western coast. That said, a seaweed-free beach is never far away and many hotels offer a free shuttle service to beaches unaffected by this natural phenomenon.

The weather in the Seychelles is very similar to that other stunning Indian Ocean destination, the Maldives, although it features an inverse pattern. Wet season in the Seychelles coincides with the dry season in the Maldives and vice versa.


HOW TO GET THERE & GETTING AROUND

All visitors arrive in the Seychelles via Seychelles International Airport, which is located on the island of Mahe near the capital city of Victoria. A growing number of airlines is serving the destination and you can click here for an updated list of all carriers that offer direct flights to the Seychelles :

  • From/via Asia: Air Seychelles (via Hong Kong, Mumbai), SriLankan Airlines (via Colombo)
  • From/via Middle East: Emirates (via Dubai), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi), Air Seychelles (via Abu Dhabi), Qatar Airways (via Doha)
  • From/via Europe: Condor (via Frankfurt), Air Seychelles (via Paris), Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul), Air France (via Paris)
  • From/via Africa: Kenya Airways (via Nairobi), Ethiopian Airlines (via Addis Ababa), Air Austral (via La Reunion), Air Seychelles (via Johannesburg, Durban and Mauritius)

Before you buy a plane ticket, consider reading my tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket.


GETTING AROUND

Resorts on Mahe island are all located within easy reach of the Seychelles’ international airport (a 30 to 60 min taxi drive). Resorts located on other islands can be reached from Mahe by high-speed ferry (e.g. Praslin, La Digue, Labriz), by light aircraft (e.g. Praslin, Fregate, Desroches Island), and/or by helicopter (private island resorts).


TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

Requirements for entry into the Seychelles differ from country to country, and are subject to change. Prior to departure, always check with your government and your nearest Seychellois embassy or consulate what documents you need for travel to the Seychelles.

  • You need a valid passport. The passport must be valid for the period of the intended stay until arrival back in the holder’s country of origin or residence.
  • Seychelles is a visa-free country meaning that there are no visa requirements for any person wishing to travel to this country.

Make sure you read my 10 tips to plan a worry-free trip.


INSPIRATION, HIGHLIGHTS, & TRAVEL TIPS

There are several good reasons why you should put the Seychelles on your bucket list:

  • Spectacular white-sand beaches that rank among the most beautiful beaches in the world
  • Awe-inspiring natural scenery with Jurassic rainforests and ancient boulders
  • Island hopping
  • Observing giant tortoises
  • Scuba diving
  • Private island resorts that rank among the world’s most exclusive hotels

The following articles may also inspire you and help you plan your holiday to the Seychelles:

  • Top 10 best things to see & do in the Seychelles
  • Top 10 most fabulous luxury resorts in the Seychelles
  • Top 10 most beautiful beaches in the Seychelles
  • Maldives vs Seychelles vs Mauritius: which one is best?
  • Tips & tricks for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel
  • Tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket

SUGGESTED ITINERARIES 

What sets the Seychelles apart from so many other holiday destinations is its wide variety of islands, each one with its own particular geography, character and history. Experiencing more than one island during your stay is a must and will add a dimension to your holiday experience that you will never forget. Whatever your choice, a regular network of air and sea transport operating out of the principal island of Mahe will cater for most itineraries. Ferry services, domestic flights, and even helicopter transfers are available on a daily basis to many of the islands.

Mahe, Praslin and La Digue are the main islands that you need to put on your itinerary when traveling to the Seychelles.

  • Mahe is the largest island in size and population, with a dramatic mountainous interior, thick Jurassic rainforest, and plenty of bays and coves to explore.
  • Ringed with exquisite white-sand beaches and impossibly clear waters, Praslin is the Seychelles’ second largest island, with only a handful of villages scattered around its territory.
  • La Digue, where time has stood still and life is blissfully serene, features the archipelago’s most iconic beaches (such as world-famous Anse Source D’Argent) and can be enjoyed in (relative) tranquility.

I recommend to stay at least on two islands if you don’t have time to visit all three. Mahe is about a one hour high-speed ferry ride from both La Digue and Praslin, with the latter two island located quite close to one another (20 minutes by boat). Those who are easily seasick should consider the flight from Mahe to Praslin instead of the ferry, especially during the south-east monsoon season when the sea can be rough.

If you spend one week in the Seychelles and you like to do some island hopping, I suggest the following itinerary:

  • 4 days on Mahe (Four Seasons, Banyan Tree or Maia Luxury Resort).
  • 3 days one Praslin (Raffles Praslin or Constance Lemuria Resort)
  • 2 days on La Digue (Le Domaine De L’orangeraie resort)

If money is no issue, I recommend the following one week itinerary, which includes the Seychelles’ top 3 private island resorts:

  • 4 days at Six Senses Zil Payson (which is ideally located to explore both Praslin and La Digue island)
  • 4 days at either North Island or Fregate Island

RECOMMENDED LUXURY HOTELS (+ REVIEWS)

I recommend to visit my top 10 list of the most fabulous luxury resorts in the Seychelles if you are eager to know how I rank the Seychelles’ top hotels, based my own experience.

Below, you find my reviews of hotels in the Seychelles (with pros, cons, and tips to save money).

  • REVIEW BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES Review of Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort
  • REVIEW MAIA LUXURY RESORT & SPA SEYCHELLES Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles)
  • REVIEW RAFFLES SEYCHELLES Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel
  • FOUR SEASONS SEYCHELLES REVIEW Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
  • Review: PHENOMENAL North Island Seychelles
  • Hotel review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles

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The post Travel series: a travel guide to the Seychelles appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Review of Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in one of my favorite destinations in the world, the Seychelles, an astonishingly beautiful island archipelago in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:

  • Review: Qatar Airways A350 Qsuite from Frankfurt to Doha (world’s best Business Class)
  • Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
  • Review: Raffles Seychelles Resort (Praslin island)
  • Review: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Mahe island)
  • Review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles (today)
  • Review: Constance Ephelia Resort (Mahe island)
  • Review: British Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Seychelles to London

Today (May 15, 2019): Review of Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort
  • Location: Google maps
  • Hotel website: Banyan Tree Seychelles

Located on the picturesque south-western coastline of Mahé island, the Banyan Tree Seychelles might hold some of the most desirable real estate on earth. The resort has 60 exquisite Creole-style villas (some with stunning views) that are located above or along the pristine beach of Intendance Bay. The latter is an impressive crescent of powdery white sand, backed by hills that are covered in lush rain forest. All villas come with a private pool and are lovingly decked in contemporary and colonial decor, evoking equal parts comfort and sensuality. The spa is a serene experience, pairing incomparable views with soothing Asian-influenced treatments.

Banyan Tree Seychelles features in my top 10 lists of the best resorts in the Seychelles, the best Banyan Trees hotels in the world, the world’s most beautiful hotel beaches and hotel rooms with the world’s best views.

Have you ever stayed at Banyan Tree Seychelles? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Reviews of other luxury hotels in the Seychelles
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

Click to view slideshow.

*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to the Seychelles with my online Seychelles travel guide ***


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort is located on the southwest coast of Mahe, the granite-filled main island of the Seychelles known for its white powder beaches and dramatic rock formations. With lush mountainous scenery, small towns with a unique Creole culture, and over 60 sensational beaches and coves fringing the island’s spectacular coastline, there is much to explore. Mahé is also home to the Seychelles’ international airport and the resort is a 40 minute drive from the airport, which is definitely an advantage compared to hotels on other islands which can only be reached by a ferry ride or domestic flight (something you may not be looking forward to after your longhaul flight to the Seychelles).
  • The resort enjoys an idyllic location on a remote estate in beautiful Intendance Bay along the Indian Ocean. On the ground where the resort now stands, Peter Sellers (the famous British actor of the Pink Panther movies) and George Harrison (a member of the Beatles) first bought the site in 1974 to make it their home in the Seychelles, attracted by the island’s insanely beautiful scenery and ideal climate. After a period of political turmoil in the late 70’s when most of the island’s private properties were reclaimed by the state, the Banyan Tree Group saw the touristic potential of the area and decided to build the resort known today as Banyan Tree Seychelles.
  • The single most attractive feature of the resort is its location on the jaw-droppingly beautiful beach of Anse Intendance, which offers half a mile of the whitest and softest sand you’ll ever encounter, with a lush backdrop of palm trees, huge boulders and steep jungle-covered hills. There is no reef so the waves here are much larger than at most other beaches on the Seychelles, making it more suitable for surfing rather than swimming at most times. During the south-east trade winds (May to September) the waves can reach fearsome heights, but in the north-west trade wind season (November to March) the sea is calmer. IMHO, this beautiful beach is the best on Mahe island and one of the best beaches in the Seychelles.
  • The low-rise resort features an attractive design, inspired by local French Creole architecture. The main lobby complex comprises three colonial-style plantation pavilions, centered around a tropical courtyard dominated by a giant banyan tree. Housing the reception area (decorated by lush greenery), two of the three restaurants, and a boutique shop, these three pavilions are interconnected by lovely whitewashed verandas overlooking the fabulous beach of Anse Intendance. Each element of the decor is well-appointed, imaginatively designed, and constructed with quality materials. Beyond this hub, the villas stretch out along the beach on one side and climb a steep hill on the other side.
  • The resort features 60 spacious villas, located either beachfront or hillside. During my holiday, I was upgraded to a Sanctuary View Pool Villa, which offered a spectacular view over jungle covered hills, blinding white sands, and turquoise waters. Set on a bed of rocks, this pool villa came with an outdoor jetpool, a pool deck complete with pristine sun loungers, and a colonnaded outdoor living area. Inside, there was a large bedroom with kingsize bed and a bathroom equipped with dual vanity, rain shower and deep soaking bath tub. The Asian influenced interior featured pitched ceilings, dark timber contemporary furniture, and ivory marble floors.
  • Although chances are high that you will spend most of your leisure time at the resort near your own private infinity pool, the Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort also has a fabulous, Instagram-worthy main swimming pool, located next to the main lobby complex. The L-shaped pool is lined by a dozen comfortable sun loungers and overlooks the white sands of Anse Intendance and the Indian Ocean. You can complete your leisurely pool experience by quenching your thirst with poolside cocktails or feed your hunger with tasty bar snacks. The pool deck has direct access to the beach, and is partly shaded by the surrounding tropical vegetation.
  • Set on a hill behind the lobby, the resort’s impressive spa sanctuary is the perfect place to recharge your body and soul. There are eight spa pavilions, nestled between the granite boulders and indigenous trees on the hillside. These open-sided pavilions allow you to enjoy garden views and bird song during spa treatments, scrubs, and wraps. The staff members and spa therapists are very professional ansd skilled – all of them have been trained at the Banyan Tree Spa Academy in Thailand – and they make use of Banyan Tree’s own-brand signature oils during treatments. The spa complex also houses a fully equipped gym.
  • The resort features three restaurants, offering a wider variety of dining options compared to most of its 5-star compatitors on the island:
    • Au Jardin d’Epice is the resort’s all day dining venue, located in the main plantation pavilion below the reception area. It offer a lavish breakfast buffet in the morning (complemented with a menu), light snacks, salads, sandwiches and meals for lunch, and international dishes for dinner.
    • Located next to the reception area, Chez Lamaar is housed in a colonial pavilion with an al fresco wooden veranda. Open for dinner only, it serves delicious authentic Creole cuisine influenced by the eclectic flavors of West-Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent.
    • Banyan Tree’s signature restaurant Saffron is located at short distance from the lobby in a natural wetland much visited by water birds. Here, chefs prepare authentic dishes crafted on traditional recipes and cooking methods of Southeast Asia. Thai cuisine is the main attractions at Saffron and its dishes have won both hearts and culinary awards.
  • The resort also features three distinct bar areas:
    • With refreshing drinks, delightful fruity cocktails and delicious snacks, the pool bar offers poolside relaxation.
    • With its verandah decor of warm wooden hues and creamy whites exuding island romance from every nook and cranny, La Varangue – located next to the lobby – is a great place to settle down for an afternoon drink or pre-dinner aperitif.
    • A real highlight is the Rum Shack, hidden in the lush vegetation along the beach, where you can feel the sand on your feet and enjoy a cocktail while gazing at the Indian Ocean. Here, you also find a couple of sun loungers where you can easily spend the whole day.
  • The hotel is managed by the Banyan Tree hotel group, one of the best global luxury hotel brands. The Banyan Tree hospitality company, which was established in 1994, has its roots in Singapore and provides naturally luxurious, ecologically sensitive, and culture-aware experiences for the discerning traveler. I have previously reviewed the equally superb Banyan Tree properties in Bali, Koh Samui, Phuket, the Riviera Maya, Bangkok, and Vietnam. That said, Banyan Tree’s Seychelles outpots is my favorite hotel in the group’s portfolio.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

IMHO, Banyan Tree Seychelles enjoys one of the most breathtaking beach locations on earth. That said, the facilities and villas are excellent as well. Nevertheless, the resort is not perfect and there are some things you need to know:

  • The ocean can get very rough here with strong undercurrents, particularly between May and October. Whilst this makes surfing terrific fun for the experienced, it limits the possibilities to swim on most days. Water conditions are clearly marked by colored flags in front of the hotel and must be adhered to. Because of the rough seas, the resort also doesn’t operate a water sports club (something you’ll find at most other resorts in the Seychelles).
  • The beach is stunning, but remarkably, the resort doesn’t have a beach club. The beach-front villas come with two sun loungers per villa, but there are no loungers for guests staying in the hillside villas. Halfway the beach, you find the Rum Shack, which features a couple of loungers (in the shade) and although it might be an option to lounge here during the day, the bar is far away from the main pool and other resort facilities.
  • Banyan Tree Seychelles resort is the oldest five-star property in the Seychelles (it opened in 2002). You don’t really notice it in the public areas, which are excellently maintained and exude a timeless ambience due to the plantation-style decor. However, the room decor is slightly underwhelming, the furniture feels a little dated, and overall, the villas could use a refurbishment. Banyan Tree has the best location of the three ultra-luxe resorts on Mahe (the other two being the Four Seasons and Maia) but the least impressive (albeit still excellent) villas.
  • Some hillside villas are tucked away deeply into the jungle and do not enjoy a view nor a lot of sunshine during the day.
  • Service & food at the resort get mixed reviews from other guests on Tripadvisor. That said, I didn’t encounter any service issues (hospitality was warm, sincere and efficient during my stay) and I found the food to be excellent, especially at the Thai restaurant which is one of the most established restaurants in the Indian Ocean (although I agree that the cuisine at the Arabian and international restaurant could have been a bit more inspirational and sophisticated).
  • The resort is located in what seems like the middle of nowhere, but, in a way, that is what makes it so unique – secluded, private, quiet and serene with its own amazing beach, great dining options, and exclusive facilities. Although the isolated location is part of the appeal for most guests, it’s important to emphasize that the resort is removed from almost everything, so you won’t find any restaurants, shops or night life within walking distance of the hotel.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 8/10
  • Spa: 8/10
  • Service: 8/10
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Overall experience: very good 8,4/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Banyan Tree Seychelles (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: it’s possible to stay for free at Banyan Tree Seychelles Resorts via AccorHotels’ loyalty program, which is called Le Club AccorHotels. In 2016, AccorHotels and Banyan Tree announced a strategic long-term partnership in which both groups collaborate to develop and manage Banyan Tree-branded hotels around the world. The partnership gives Banyan Tree access to AccorHotels’ global reservation and sales networks but its also good news for Le Club AccorHotels members as they can spend and redeem points at Banyan Tree hotels, as well as get elite perks at these properties. Read my review of Le Club AccorHotels here.
  • Room tip: if you want to have direct beach access from your villa, you need to book a beachfront pool villa. However, I highly recommend a hillside villa since these offer you some of the most spectacular ocean and beach views on earth (this is especially true for the Intendance Bay pool villa).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE SEYCHELLES
  • REVIEW BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES Review of Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort
  • REVIEW MAIA LUXURY RESORT & SPA SEYCHELLES Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles)
  • REVIEW RAFFLES SEYCHELLES Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel
  • FOUR SEASONS SEYCHELLES REVIEW Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
  • Review: PHENOMENAL North Island Seychelles
  • Hotel review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Seychelles is often sold as a year round destination and it is. However there is more chance of bad weather, that is to say rain, from November to March. The transitional months of October and April are excellent for a visit as the oceans are very calm and the weather balmy. During the dry seasons (May to September), it can be windy (causing seaweed on the south or south-easterly side of the islands) with rough seas.


HOW TO GET THERE

The resort  is located a 40-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport (SEZ). Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to the Seychelles.


PHOTOS
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - ENTRANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – ENTRANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – VERANDAH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - BOUTIQUE SHOP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – BOUTIQUE SHOP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - BOUTIQUE SHOP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – BOUTIQUE SHOP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY - BOUTIQUE SHOP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: LOBBY – BOUTIQUE SHOP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: WELCOME DRINK
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: WELCOME DRINK
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: RESORT MAP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: RESORT MAP
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: PATHWAY TO VILLAS
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: PATHWAY TO VILLAS
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: PATHWAY TO VILLAS
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: PATHWAY TO VILLAS
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - ENTRANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – ENTRANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE (VIEW)
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE (VIEW)
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE (SUNRISE)
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE (SUNRISE)
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA - TERRACE (SUNRISE)
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: VILLA – TERRACE (SUNRISE)
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: ANSE INTENDANCE BEACH
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: RUM SHACK ON ANSE INTENDANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: RUM SHACK ON ANSE INTENDANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: RUM SHACK ON ANSE INTENDANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: RUM SHACK ON ANSE INTENDANCE
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT SAFFRON
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: DINNER AT CHEZ LAMAR
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D'EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST AT AU JARDIN D’EPICES
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: SPA
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: GYM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: GYM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: GYM
BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES: GYM

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The post Review of Banyan Tree Seychelles Resort appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Review: Le Club AccorHotels (loyalty program of AccorHotels)

StayLongerandSave

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel contests, tips, series, or news.

Today (May 10, 2019): AccorHotels’s loyalty program (Le Club AccorHotels) explained.

Being a member of a hotel loyalty program is one of the easiest ways to get free nights and/or score upgrades at luxury hotels. I previously published the details, with pros & cons, of the loyalty programs of Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental, Hotels.com, Jumeirah, and The Leading Hotels of the World. Today, I have a look at the loyalty program of AccorHotels.

AccorHotels is a French multinational hospitality company that represents the largest hotel group in the world outside of the USA. It operates in 100 countries, with more than 4,200 hotels and 250,000 employees worldwide. AccorHotels recently acquired Swissôtel, Raffles and Fairmont properties and entered a strategic partnership with Banyan Tree, drastically increasing its share in the luxury market.  In the budget range, Ibis and Formule 1 are its major subsidiaries, while its midrange offer includes Swissôtel, Mercure, Pullman, Novotel and Adagio. AccorHotels’ loyalty program is called Le Club AccorHotels and it very simple: for every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem a €40 Accor voucher.

What’s your opinion about Le Club AccorHotels? Leave a comment below.

In this overview, I explain Le Club AccorHotels program:

  • Membership tiers
  • Earn points with Le club AccorHotels
  • Redeem awards & travel for free
  • Pros & things I like about Le Club AccorHotels
  • Cons & things I don’t like about Le Club AccorHotels
  • Reviews of Accor hotels around the world
  • Key points
  • Poll: what’s the best hotel loyalty program?
RAFFLES MALDIVES RESORT
RAFFLES MALDIVES RESORT

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LE CLUB ACCORHOTELS: MEMBERSHIP TIERS

Le Club AccorHotels membership is free and gives you access to a range of benefits the second you join the program. Status upgrades are awarded according to the number of nights spent or the number of points earned at hotels that participate in the program, opening the door to even more benefits and perks. Le Club AccorHotels has four membership tiers:

  • Classic membership is awarded for free upon joining the program, and entitles you to the following benefits:
    • 10% off room rates at participting hotels
    • Advance access to private sales on the AccorHotels website
    • Online check-in and fast check-out
    • Free internet access worldwide
  • Silver membership is awarded after 10 night or €800 in expenses and comes with all the Classic benefits, plus:
    • Priority welcome
    • Late check-out
    • Welcome drink
    • Turndown service
    • A 25% point bonus
  • Gold membership is awarded after 30 night or €2800 in expenses and comes with all the Classic and Silver benefits, plus:
    • Guaranteed room up to 3 days before arrival
    • Early check-in or Late check-out
    • Welcome amenity
    • Upgrade to the next room category subject to availability
    • A 50% point bonus
  • Platinum membership is awarded after 60 night or €5600 in expenses and comes with all the Classic, Silver and Gold benefits, plus:
    • Dedicated Le Club AccorHotels customer care line
    • Guaranteed room up to 2 days before arrival
    • Early check-in and Late check-out
    • Premium WiFi (if existing)
    • Access to the Executive Lounge (if existing)
    • A 75% point bonus

LE CLUB ACCORHOTELS: EARN POINTS

You earn points each time you stay at a participating Accor hotel for the following expenses: room, minibar, telephone, room service, dinners, drinks, and treatments at spa centers connected with the hotel. You can only earn points by booking directly via one of AccorHotels’ reservation channels:

  • The AccorHotels.com site
  • The AccorHotels app
  • The 21 Accor brand sites
  • Accor’s call center
  • The reception desk in any of the Accor hotels
  • Travel agencies using a GDS connected to the AccorHotels reservation center

The number of points you earn depends on your status within the program, as shown in the table below, on the basis of 10 euros in eligible expenses.

Per €10 of expenditure
Status Number of points earned at participating brands (excluding Mama Shelter, Adagio, Adadio Access, Ibis and Ibis styles) Number of points earned at Mama Shelter, Ibis and Ibis styles) Number of points earned Adagio (excluding Adadio Access) Number of points earned at Adadio Access
Classic 25 12.5 10 5
Silver 31 15.5 12.5 6.25
Gold 37 18.5 15 7.5
Platinum 44 22 17.5 8.75

It is also possible to earn points with partners of Le club Accor program (the full list of partners can be accessed here):

  • La Collection by Le Club Accor is an online shopping portal offering a broad product catalogue featuring 250 brands in high-tech, home furnishings, fashion, travel, leisure, beauty care and accessories. You earn one point per euro spent.
  • Le Club AccorHotels partners with several hotel chains outside the program, such as ClubMed, Ctrip, HuaZhu, and Independent Partner Hotels. In most cases, you will earn one Le Club AccorHotels point per euro spent when staying at these hotels.
  • Le Club AccorHotels partners with several airlines, including Hainan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Finnair, and Iberia. In most instances, you can convert the miles that you collect with these airlines’ loyalty programs into Le Club AccorHotels points (or vice versa). For example, when you travel with Finnair, you can convert your Finnair Plus points into Le Club AccorHotels points on the Finnair website (the minimum conversion of 3,500 Finnair Plus points is equal to 500 hotel points).
  • Members of Le Club AccorHotels enjoy savings and earn points every time they rent a car with Avis, Hertz and Europcar.
  • Le Club AccorHotels partners with Eurostar. When you travel with Eurostar, you can collect points with Eurostar’s loyalty program – called Club Eurostar – and then convert them to hotel points. The minimum conversion is 500 Club Eurostar points, equal to 1500 Le Club AccorHotels points.
  • There are dozens of other program partners, ranging from lifestyle and travel essentials partners to partners specialized in finances and surveys.

LE CLUB ACCORHOTELS: REDEEM POINTS & TRAVEL FOR FREE
  • You can redeem your points for free or discounted hotel nights at AccorHotels’ portfolio of hotels (no blackout dates). For every 2,000 points you collect, you are entitled to a reduction of 40 euros on the price (including tax) of accommodation or on-site expenses (which comes down to receiving cashback – in Accor vouchers – of 5% as a base member). It is possible to use up to 1,000,000 points, in increments of 2,000 points (which comes down to 20,000 euros).
  • Your can use your Accor points for a unique selection of one-of-a-kind events accessible with your Le Club AccorHotels account. Sporting fixtures, cultural events, concerts in a VIP box, etc … You can access the list of elite experiences here.
  • Your can use your Accor points for a tailored range of premium hotel packages reserved exclusively for Le Club AccorHotels members. These packages at Accor’s high-end hotels are inclusive of several extras (e.g. welcome gift, spa treatment, dinner, etc …) and can often be booked at a discounted number of points. You can access the list of premium hotel packages here.
  • You can convert your hotel points in airline miles by transferring them into the loyalty programs of almost 30 major airlines. The number of miles you’ll get depends on the airline. For example, with British Airways, there’s a minimum conversion of  4,000 points, which wil get you 2,000 Avios.
  • Le Club AccorHotels points can also be redeemed at participating Europcar rental locations. You can redeem 2000 points for a 20 Euros discount when you book a car via Europcar.

  • You can use your Le Club AccorHotels points for train travel. Accor points can be converted into Club Eurostar points, which allows you free travel on the Eurostar (there’s a minimum conversion of 4000 points for 350 Club Eurostar points). In analogy, you can also convert your hotel points into BahnBonus points (which is the loyalty program of German’s national railway) and choose from the wide range of gifts offered in the BahnBonus reward catalogue.
  • You can use hotel points for shopping in AccorHotels’ online shopping portal, La Collection by Le Club Accor.
  • You can convert your points into a donation to the Solidarity AccorHotels endowment fund, and help to provide training and access to employment for those who need it most.

PROS & THINGS I LIKE ABOUT LE CLUB ACCOR
  • AccorHotels is the largest hotel company outside the USA, making it quite easy to earn & redeem points at more than 4000 hotels across the globe (which are grouped in 21 brands). You can access the full list of all AccorHotels brands here.
  • AccorHotels recently acquired Swissôtel, Raffles and Fairmont properties, drastically increasing its share in the luxury market. You can earn and redeem points at all hotels managed by these brands.
  • AccorHotels and Banyan Tree announced a strategic long-term partnership in 2016 whereby both groups collaborate to develop and manage Banyan Tree-branded hotels around the world. Banyan Tree is one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands; the company also manages the Angsana & Cassia hotel brands. The partnership gives Banyan Tree access to AccorHotels’ global reservation and sales networks but its also good news for Le Club AccorHotels members as they can spend and redeem points at Banyan Tree hotels, as well as get elite perks at these properties.
  • The program is very simple when it comes to spending points: 2000 points can be exchanged for a €40 off voucher.
  • Elite members earn €40 off vouchers faster as they are awarded bonus points upon completion of their stays: a 25% points bonus for Gold members, 50% for Silver members and 75% for Platinum members.
  • Point won’t expire as long as you stay once every 12 months in one of AccorHotels’ properties across the globe.
  • Members have access to 10% discounts at participating hotels.
  • The program has several partners, so if you don’t want to spend your voucher in an Accor hotel, then there are a small number of other options such as rental cars, convering them in airline miles, and Club Med holidays.

CONS & THINGS I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT LE CLUB ACCOR
  • One of Le Club AccorHotels’ most disappointing features is that it does not offer suite upgrades as a benefit for elite members (which is a huge contrast with almost all other large hotel loyalty programs).
  • The number of points you earn across AccorHotels’ brands is inconsistent and confusing. At Ibis and Ibis Styles you earn 1.25 per €1 while you don’t earn anything at all Ibis Budget. At Adagio, you earn 1 point per €1 spent, while at Adagio Access you earn 0.5 points per €1 spent.
  • Le Club AccorHotels allows you to convert airline miles into hotel points, but the exchange rate is extremely poor (7:1 for Finnair, 9:2 for Qatar). Compare that to Marriott Bonvoy where you have a 3:1 conversation rate for most airlines.
  • The exchange rate for converting your Le Club AccorHotels points into airline miles is much better, but again, it depends on the airline you are transferring them to, so it is very inconcistent. Some conversions don’t make sense. For example, you can convert your hotel points into British Airways Avios at a 2:1 ration, while you can covert your hotel points into Iberia Avios at a 1:1,  so you should always move your Le Club AccorHotels points to Iberia Plus, and then use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them to your British Airways account.
  • Contrary to other hotel loyalty programs, Le Club AccorHotels rarely launches promotions that allow you to boost your account.
  • You cannot purchase Le Club AccorHotels points.
  • You cannot earn Le Club AccorHotels points with credit cards, as there are no AccorHotels branded credit cards. Also, the program is not a transfer partner of American Express. On a positive note, Le Club AccorHotels regularly launches promotions for holders of certain credit cards (e.g. spay two and stay tree’ promos for holders of Mastercard).
  • Le Club AccorHotels does not offer lifetime status.

MY REVIEWS OF ACCORHOTEL‘S LUXURY HOTELS
  • REVIEW RAFFLES SEYCHELLES Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel
  • Hotel review: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (Vietnam)
  • Review: Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver (Canada)
  • Review: the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (Canada)
  • Hotel review: Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam
  • Hotel review: Raffles Le Royal (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

KEY POINTS
  • AccorHotels has an impressive portfolio of luxury hotels, where you earn and/or redeem points.
  • Base members of AccorHotels receive 10% discount on stays (so it makes sense to subscribe to the program).
  • for every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem a €40 Accor voucher.

POLL

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The post Review: Le Club AccorHotels (loyalty program of AccorHotels) appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in one of my favorite destinations in the world, the Seychelles, an astonishingly beautiful island archipelago in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:

  • Review: Qatar Airways A350 Qsuite from Frankfurt to Doha (world’s best Business Class)
  • Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
  • Review: Raffles Seychelles Resort (Praslin island)
  • Review: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (today)
  • Review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
  • Review: Constance Ephelia Resort (Mahe island)
  • Review: British Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Seychelles to London

Today (May 15, 2019): Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles).
  • Location: Google maps
  • Hotel website: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa

Set on the secluded beach of Anse Louis overlooking the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, this magnificent all-inclusive property is lushly landscaped with hibiscus, lemongrass and cinnamon. The 30 ultra-luxurious villas are settled between gigantic granite boulders in gold-awarded flower and spice filled gardens, some of them coming with spectacular ocean views. Pampering and wellness are the focus at the Balinese-style spa, which offers instruction in Hatha yoga and Qigong, as well as restorative treatments performed in open-air pavilions. The resort is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.

Maia Luxury Resort & Spa features in my top 10 lists of the best resorts in the Seychelles and the world’s best all-inclusive hotels.

Have you ever stayed at Maia Luxury Resort & Spa? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Reviews of other luxury hotels in the Seychelles
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

Click to view slideshow.

*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to the Seychelles with my online Seychelles travel guide ***


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The main reason why one would want to stay at Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, is because of its reputation as one of the most exclusive resorts in the Seychelles. The Seychelles are an archipelago of legendary beauty in the Indian Ocean, just south of the Equator and east of Kenya. Its 115 coral and granite islands, which are the peaks of a massive underwater plateau, star in countless tropical island fantasies and represent one of the world’s very last frontiers. The spectacular island group is often referred to as the Garden of Eden, and it still lives up to its blissfully exotic name with exquisite tropical landscapes, the world’s most magnificent beaches, and an amazing array of underwater wildlife.
  • When the Gondwana supercontinent began to break up in the mid-Jurassic area, the Seychellois islands were excluded from the drift and remained untouched for the next 150 million years. Cut off from the rest of Africa by nearly a thousand miles of ocean, the isolated location of the Seychelles led to the creation of unique fauna and flora, such as giant tortoises. The islands first appeared on the map after the expedition of Vasco da Gama in 1503. He titled it the Seven Sisters archipelago after a star constellation of the same name, which was used by mariners to navigate the seas. The stars were named after the daughters of Atlas and Pleione from Greek mythology, the eldest and most beautiful known as Maia, The Great One, hence explaining the mysterious name of the resort.
  • The property is located on the southwest coast of Mahe, the largest island and entry point to the Seychelles. Mahe is a place of awe-inspiring scenery, with granitic mountain ranges clad in virgin jungle cascading down to hauntingly beautiful, palm fringed, with sand beaches. Staying on Mahe is a great choice as the resort is an easy 25-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport, appealing to both Africa and Middle East-based couples and families seeking a short break to rejuvenate as well as long-haul guests looking for a comprehensive escape. The hotel offers chauffeur service to and from the airport (not included in the room rate). The glorious island of Praslin and La Digue (where most of the Seychelles’ famous sights are found) are a one hour boat ride away.
  • The hotel enjoys a beautiful and secluded setting that ranks among the very best on Mahe Island. Its thatched roof villas and facilities are perched high on a hilly, palm filled, private peninsula in the Indian Ocean. One side of the peninsula overlooks the shallow waters of Anse Boileau and Mahe’s verdant peaks, while the other side of the promontory overlooks a beautiful stretch of golden sand (Anse Louis), which is washed by the timeless tides of the warm Indian Ocean and flanked by an enormous, jungle covered cliff made of dark brown granite. The sheltered bay of Anse Louis is one of the most beautiful on Mahe and it’s easy to understand why the owners choose this idyllic location for the construction of their hotel.
  • Fitting well within the existing landscape, the property was designed by Bill Bensley and Lek Bunnag, two of the world’s most highly regarded luxury resort and hotel architects. By taking cues from nature and never complicating what was already perfect, Maia’s design exists as part of the peninsula, as if it has always been there. Featuring a striking combination of Aztec and Balinese design influences, the resort is somewhat reminiscent of a timeless native African village, with clusters of hut-like structures in a variety of shapes and sizes that peep through the canopy. Furnishings are deliberately scant, with mainly brown and beige colored interiors that are inspired by the African earth. There’s an interesting read in Architectural Digest about the creation of resort and the design by Bensley.
  • Guests enter the resort via a small, open-sided welcome pavilion, which floats over a water pond and is set among palms and other native plantings. From here, a chauffeured golf buggy can take you straight to your room (where check-in is done) or drop you at the resort’s public areas if you prefer so. The latter all cluster close together on a steep hill, cascading down to the beach of Anse Louis. A bar with a fringed conical roof and columns clad in woven copper strips is set on the hilltop. A majestic staircase descends from this bar to the pool deck, main restaurant, sunset bar, and a boutique shop. Made from black lava stone and surrounded by cushioned loungers and umbrellas, the main pool overlooks the garden and is flanked by impressive fire pillars (which are lit after sunset).
  • The resort offers 30 phenomenal villas, each strategically positioned in different locations for ultimate privacy and reached through individual gated gardens. All have at least one infinity-edged pool – most have two – and expansive terraces that seem to be suspended above the earth. Eleven of the villas have direct beach access, while the other 19 villas are set on the hillside. During my holiday, I stayed in a Maia Signature Villa which offered a fabulous panoramic view of Anse Louis Bay. The enormous villa featured an outdoor living area, equipped with a dining table, a well stocked bar, and an oversized day bed. It also offered direct access to a massive private pool. The main pavilion housed an air-conditioned bedroom with king-size bed and a bathroom with a walk-in shower, dual vanity, and a glorious outdoor sunken bath tub.
  • Bathrooms are  stocked with extravagant and oversized Hermès toiletries, which are by far the most impressive bathroom amenities that I ever encountered in a luxury hotel. And yes, you can take them home with you.
  • Compared to other resorts in the Seychelles, Maia Luxury Resort & Spa – which opened in 2006 – occupies a relatively small plot of land (only 30 acres), further adding to the private and intimate nature of the resort. The resort grounds represent a lushly landscaped garden bursting with life and color and delighting senses of sight and scent with beautiful trees and herbs, fruit trees and greenery bearing exotic spices such as cinnamon, and extra-ordinary flowers such as orchids, blossoming hibiscus and heliconias. The green-fingers paradise is home to over 300 different species of exotic and endemic plants tended to by 18 passionate full-time gardeners.
  • The property’s all-inclusive service includes all-day snacks and select alcoholic beverages, and goes above and beyond by allowing you to curate your meals and to dine anywhere, anytime. From your villa to the beach, the resort will serve your meals wherever it pleases you. Otherwise, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the property’s sole restaurant, called Tec-Tec. Open sided and high-ceilinged, this Bill Bensley designed space mixes elegance with raw nature. Positioned beside the ocean and beach,, Tec-Tec draws inspiration from a number of cultures, and you can choose from five menus during dinner (Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Thai and Creole). The cuisine is complemented by an impressive collection of top international wines.
  • Dedicated to the rejuvenation and restoration of the body, mind and soul, Maia’s boutique spa is set in the lush gardens near the resort’s entrance. Snaking through papayas and palms, a wooden pathway leads from the small spa reception pavilion to three luxurious open-air treatment rooms. Spa treatments are terrific (I highly recommend booking your massages in advance), mixing Balinese traditional massage styles with modern treatment methods. Skin therapies utilize healing minerals from the largest thermal lake in the world while delicate floating petal baths follow deep muscle restoring massages.  There is also a small gym and a meditation pavilion on site, offering complimentary and private classes in yoga and qi gong.
  • The personalized service at Maia is excellent, starting with a champagne welcome ritual in your villa where your butler is waiting to unpack your bags. Each villa benefits from the resort’s butler service to cater to your every need. Butlers are there to accompany you on day excursions if you require another pair of hands to help with the kids or help with the bags. The MAIA butler is not only a villa caretaker, but also an assistant and concierge, ensuring that you are looked after right up until your goodbye. The butler can also prepare light dishes, meals and refreshments throughout the day; this includes off menu items such as barbecues and freshly caught fish.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Maia Luxury Resort & Spa is one of the Seychelles’ most exclusive resorts, and my favorite one on Mahe island. Because of its secluded beachfront setting, massive villas (the best on Mahe) and superb service, Maia Resort represents a little slice of perfection and paradise. Nevertheless, you need to know the following when considering a stay here:

  • Although the Anse Louis beach is absolutely beautiful and idyllic, it’s not the best stretch of sand in the Seychelles, a destination known for having the most magnificent beaches in the world. The sand is very soft but it has a light brown color (it’s not sugar white). The sea can be rough as well with high waves, and the section of the beach in front of the hotel features a partly rocky underground.
  • It’s important to keep in mind that Anse Louis is not a private beach but open to the public (like all beaches in the Seychelles). In fact, the beach is conveniently located right off the main coastal road, and is therefore easy to get to for non-guests, either by car, taxi, or local bus. However, it never gets crowded, and visitors tend to stay at the far end of the beach (near the parking lot), away from the resort’s beach section.
  • Depending on the season, and its corresponding wind direction, seaweed can often plague the beach, sometimes making it almost impossible to swim. Generally speaking, from May to September, the cooler, drier, south-east trade winds bring lively seas to southwest Mahé and this results in seaweed being washed up onto beaches in this corner of the island. However, the staff does a remarkable job in cleaning the beach, and there are always seaweed-free beaches on the other coasts if you happen to visit at this time of year.
  • Although families are welcome, the resort mainly caters to adults since child-friendly facilities are limited. That said, Maia’s policy on children is extremely generous: children up to four years old stay free of charge, while a single child from five to 18 years old can be accommodated in each villa with a meal supplement. If you are traveling with children, you can only stay at one of Maia’s ocean front villas, which are situated right on Anse Louis beach, near the main pool.
  • The hotel has only one restaurant, with separate Thai, Creole, Indian, Japanese and Mediterranean menus, plus a daily changing menu. But even given all these options, you may get a little bored by the food if you stay longer than a few days. In addition, while the food is excellent, I was not blown away by what I was served. I do belief that Maia Luxury Resort & Spa would benefit from the addition of a (second) fine dining venue, lead by a star chef, in addition to its all day dining restaurant.
  • While beautifully designed, the resort’s public area with the restaurant, bar and main pool is much smaller compared to most other resorts at this level. However, this won’t be an issue for most guests since the villa experience is central at Maia and most guests will spend their leisure time by their private pool or on the beautiful beach.
  • While most accommodations feature glorious vistas, some of the beach villas’ ocean views are blocked by vegetation.
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Pool: 8/10
  • Rooms: 9/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 8/10
  • Spa: 10/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional 9/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: book your room via The Leading Hotels of the World website (and not the official hotel website). The added benefit is that the stay will count toward a free night in the LHW loyalty program (read more about that here) and that you will also get a spa credit, in addition to the full board hotel package.
  • The hillside, panoramic ocean villas offer magnificent views over surrounding jungle and ocean. The oceanfront, Maia signature villas offer direct access to the beach and are more suitable to families with children. For a map of the resort, click here.
  • The villas with the best ocean, beach and sunset views are villas 221 and 220, so make sure to request one of these villas during the booking proces.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE SEYCHELLES
  • REVIEW MAIA LUXURY RESORT & SPA SEYCHELLES Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles)
  • REVIEW RAFFLES SEYCHELLES Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel
  • FOUR SEASONS SEYCHELLES REVIEW Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
  • Review: PHENOMENAL North Island Seychelles
  • Hotel review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles
  • Hotel review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The Seychelles is often sold as a year round destination and it is. However there is more chance of bad weather, that is to say rain, from November to March. The transitional months of October and April are excellent for a visit as the oceans are very calm and the weather balmy. During the dry seasons (May to September), it can be windy (causing seaweed on the south or south-easterly side of the islands) with rough seas.


HOW TO GET THERE

The resort  is located a 40-minute drive from Seychelles International Airport (SEZ). Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to the Seychelles.


PHOTOS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: ENTRANCE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: ENTRANCE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: ENTRANCE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: ENTRANCE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: WELCOME PAVILION
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: WELCOME PAVILION
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: WELCOME PAVILION
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: WELCOME PAVILION
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - ENTRANCE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – ENTRANCE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - GAZEBO
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – GAZEBO
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - GAZEBO
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – GAZEBO
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - WELCOME DRINK
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – WELCOME DRINK
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - WELCOME SNACK
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – WELCOME SNACK
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BEDROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – BATHROOM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - OUTDOOR BATHTUB
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – OUTDOOR BATHTUB
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - OUTDOOR BATHTUB
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – OUTDOOR BATHTUB
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - OUTDOOR BATHTUB
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – OUTDOOR BATHTUB
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL (VIEW)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL (VIEW)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA - PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: VILLA – PRIVATE POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HELIPAD
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HELIPAD
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HELIPAD
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HELIPAD
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: HILLTOP PAVILION & WATER POND
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: TEC-TEC RESTAURANT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: TEC-TEC RESTAURANT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: TEC-TEC RESTAURANT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: TEC-TEC RESTAURANT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: TEC-TEC RESTAURANT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: TEC-TEC RESTAURANT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SUNSET BAR
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SUNSET BAR
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SUNSET BAR
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SUNSET BAR
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SUNSET BAR
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SUNSET BAR
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: MAIN POOL
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BEACH OF ANSE LOUIS
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES AT NIGHT
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: DINNER (CREOLE BUFFET)
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: PRIVATE DINNER
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: IN-VILLA BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: IN-VILLA BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: IN-VILLA BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: IN-VILLA BREAKFAST
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: LUNCH
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: SPA
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: GYM
MAIA RESORT SEYCHELLES: GYM

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The post Review of Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles) appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in one of my favorite destinations in the world, the Seychelles, an astonishingly beautiful island archipelago in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:

  • Review: Qatar Airways A350 QSuites from Frankfurt to Doha (world’s best Business Class)
  • Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles
  • Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
  • Review: Raffles Seychelles Resort (today)
  • Review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
  • Review: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Mahe island)
  • Review: Constance Ephelia Resort (Mahe island)
  • Review: British Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Seychelles to London

Today (1 May 2019): Review of Raffles Seychelles (Praslin island).
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Hotel website: Raffles Seychelles
  • Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso

Cradled at the heart of the original Garden of Eden, the island of Praslin, the Raffles Praslin has 86 architecturally exquisite villas, all of them with private plunge pools and outdoor pavilions to soak in breathtaking views of the opal-hued ocean, white sandy beach and lush green hills. This luxurious hotel is infused with Seychellois spirit and traditional Raffles service. The magnificent hotel pool is one of the largest in the Indian Ocean territory. Swim, sunbathe, snorkel, sail, kayak, walk, or just do nothing at all, Raffles Seychelles has it all.

The Raffles Seychelles, features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in the Seychelles and the most spectacular hotel bathrooms in the world.

Have you ever stayed at Raffles Seychelles ? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Reviews of other luxury hotels in the Seychelles
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Photos

Click to view slideshow.

*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to the Seychelles with my online Seychelles travel guide ***


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Raffles Seychelles is located on the north-eastern top of Praslin island, one of the world’s most far-flung destinations, nestled in the Indian Ocean. Ringed with exquisite white-sand beaches and impossibly clear waters, Praslin is the Seychelles’ second largest island, with only a handful of villages scattered around its territory. The island was named Praslin after the Duc de Praslin, the French minister of marine in 1768 when the original ‘Stone of Possession’ was erected on the island in what is still known as Anse Possession. Praslin is home to natural wonders such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Vallée de Mai and Anse Lazio, one of the best beaches in the world (located just minutes away from Raffles Seychelles).
  • Getting to Praslin from the Seychelles International airport on Mahe island is a sightseeing trip and adventure in itself (although some may find the extra travel efforts to get to the resort annoying). You can travel to Praslin airport in true aviator style with a 15-minute turbo propeller plane ride or you can take a leisurely pace across the turquoise blue ocean in a catamaran ferry. I used the ferry and had a gap of 4 hours between my arrival at the airport and my ferry departure, but the Raffles Praslin has a private lounge near the airport, where you can relax in style while waiting for the ferry. The resort itself is located on the east side of Praslin, a 15 minute drive from the jetty (20 euros by taxi or 45 euros by resort car) or a 45 minute drive from Praslin airport.
  • Opened in February 2011 as the first Raffles purpose-built resort, the property was designed by Ross Macbeth from Macbeth Architects & Designers. Macbeth was awarded the Young Architect of the Year award for his work here. As coveted sanctuaries of luxurious living, the resort’s contemporary architecture integrates the practical features of the island’s alfresco lifestyle into stylish resort chic. Exclusive use of wood and natural materials, complemented by Creole and Seychellois influences in calm, soothing colors create a pleasing balance to the eye. The interior of the property was designed by Wilson & Associates, consistently named as one of the top interior design firms in the world.
  • Although the resort grounds are clinging to a steep hillside in secluded Takamaka Bay, the property features a convenient and easy to navigate layout. When you arrive at the resort’s massive entrance gate, you are driven to the (slightly underwhelming) open-air reception area, where you will feel instantly relaxed as you enjoy the breathtaking views of the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean and Curieuse Island at the horizon. Most of the resort’s public facilities – restaurants, pool, and spa – are located below the reception area in the vicinity of the white sandy beach. From the reception area, several paths irradiate in all directions, leading to the villas that are built on stilts on the hillside, tumbling down towards the waters of the Indian Ocean.
  • The resort’s 86 beautiful pool villas (1-2 bedroom) represent some of the largest accommodations in the archipelago, ranging from 125 to 275 square metres (1345 – 2960 square feet). During my holiday, I stayed in an ocean view villa, which commanded superb views of the Indian Ocean and the island’s lush greenery. The villa came with an outdoor pavilion with sundeck beds and dining table, and an open air balcony with a (small) private plunge pool. Inside, the villa featured a spacious bedroom with a stylish sitting area and a separate dressing area. An easel with sketching paper was set up next to the bed to draw out my inner artist with the beauty of the island serving as inspiration. The bathroom was equipped with a deep soaking tub positioned to offer stunning views of the ocean and a private outdoor rain shower.
  • Steps away from the coastline of Anse Takamaka, amidst stunning tropical surroundings, the resort’s elegant spa facility – the largest in the Seychelles – is carefully designed to calm the spirit and awaken the senses. The luxurious spa features 12 treatment pavilions, showcasing the spectacular view of the blue ocean, tropical gardens and dramatic granite boulders. Two spa suites, a first in the Seychelles, are fitted with steam showers, Japanese soaking tubs, and observation decks where guests can enjoy stunning vistas in privacy. The spa takes its inspiration from the pearl which is found in abundance in local waters; it has a reputed ability to calm the spirit, open the heart chakra, stabilize emotions and rejuvenate the skin.
  • Combining the best of the local culture and cuisine with dishes from around the world, Raffles Seychelles features six outstanding restaurants and bars, each with its own unique atmosphere and setting – something to suit every mood and every occasion:
    • Losean Restaurant is the main dining venue, offering a lavish buffet breakfast (complemented by an a la carte menu), buffet-style themed evenings, and contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with influence from the Indian Ocean.
    • Curieuse is the resort’s signature restaurant, offering a gastronomic journey tracing through India, China and South East Asia. Infused with oriental spice and aromatic ingredients, the menu varies from Thai salads and spicy sour soup to Indian curries and Chinese stir-fries.
    • In a location famed for its fresh fish, the ‘Sushi Room’ is set in a glass-sided space inside Curieuse restaurant, celebrating the island’s world-class catch with an exciting menu of sushi and sashimi.
    • The Pool Restaurant & Bar offers a casual poolside lunch setting, perfect for refuelling during a busy day of soaking up the Seychellois sun.
    • Taking its name from a local promontory, the resort’s main bar – called Danzil – serves perfectly prepared drinks against a backdrop of inspiring views towards the ocean. You can choose from a rich selection of fine wines, rums, spirits and tropical cocktails.
    • Takamaka Terrace & Shisha Lounge is a rooftop lounge, located below the reception area and offering dramatic vistas over the sea. Specialties are mojitos, cosmopolitans, champagnes, shisha and stargazing
  • Raffles Seychelles claims to have the largest swimming pool in the Indian Ocean with a length of 45 meters or 150 feet. The large, dark-tiled, split level swimming pool is centrally located and lined by several rows of comfortable sun loungers where you can spend time soaking up the sun. The pool is overlooked by a bar and opens up to Takamaka Beach, whose white sands and turquoise blue waters are framed by beautiful boulders on both sides, with great views across the water to the island of Curieuese. The hotel does operate a beach club here, providing beach chairs, towels, and iced water to guests. Here, you also find a water sports center, offering an array of activities including non-motorised water sports like kayaking and snorkeling.
  • Although it will be difficult to drag you out of the resort during your stay, the Raffles Seychelles is an excellent base for excursions to neighboring islands. Right in front of the resort is Curieuse island, a bio-reserve notable for its giant tortoises and bare red earth intermingled with the unique Coco de Mer palms, one of the cultural icons of the Seychelles. Also close to the resort is St Pierre whose granite profile interspersed with coconut palms makes it the quintessential Seychellois island, appearing in numerous advertisment campaigns, posters and evocative photographs. La Digue island – word-famous for its spectacular beaches, including legendary Anse Source d’Argent (known as the world’s most beautiful beach) – is only 20 minutes by boat.
  • The property is managed by Raffles, one of the world’s most acclaimed hotel brands which traces its roots to the 1887 opening of the original Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The group operates several ultraluxe properties, from the classic colonial splendour of Raffles Singapore where it all began to Dubai, Seychelles, Cambodia, Paris, Hainan, Makati, Makkah, Warsaw and the Maldives. The Raffles name is synonymous with luxury, glamour and extraordinary service. The hotel chain is owned by Paris based AccorHotels, the largest hotel group in the world outside of the United States. Besides Raffles, AccorHotels also manages other luxury brands such as Fairmont, Swissôtel, and Sofitel, in addition to well known medium and budget hotel brands such as Ibis, Pullman, Novotel and Mövenpick.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

The 5-star Raffles Seychelles is an excellent choice for a relaxing holiday in the Seychelles. Nevertheless, it does have some minor drawbacks that you need to know:

  • The beach of the hotel is lovely according to global standards, but it’s not the most spectacular one compared to other Seychelles beaches. The white sand is incredibly soft and the water ridiculously clear, but the beach is narrow and nearly covered entirely when high tide arrives. It definitely lacks the expansive feel you get on other Seychellois beaches. However, that should not put you off as the hotel is a short 5 minute drive by car or 15 minute ride by bicycle (provided by the hotel at no extra charge) from Anse Lazio, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
  • The hotel is located on a hill on Praslin’s east coast, so it enjoys an oceanfront sunrise every morning but does not offer sunset views. This also means that the sun disappears behind the hills about one to two hours before sunset, putting the resort in the shade by late afternoon (around 4.30 pm). But, there is some good news as nearby Anse Lazio offers fabulous sunset views in case you want to catch the last rays of sunshine.
  • Not all rooms offer complete privacy because the vegetation on Praslin is dry and the villas are tightly packed. In fact, Raffles Praslin is the most densely built, all-villa resort in the Seychelles. The decks of some (lower end) villas look out over the lobby, the service area, or the decks of other villas (so there is some vis-a-vis). It’s nothing too bad, but nonetheless, I recommend that you request a villa with complete privacy (e.g. the villas on the outer edges of the resort) at the time of booking in case you don’t want other guests to stare into your pool deck.
  • Praslin’s main road is running like a loop around the resort and the higher located villas are built directly beneath that road (although none of them looks out on the road as they all have splendid ocean views). This may cause some traffic noise from time to time during the day, and although it did not disturb me, it may be annoying to others.
  • The expansive and hilly resorts grounds can be a challenge to navigate on foot. The property does provide reliable 24/7 buggy service though, so you never have to worry about having to walk too far to reach the main hubs of the hotel. At times when a lot of guests are moving around (mainly around breakfast & dinner time), the wait time for a buggy may be a bit longer.
  • The resort’s large pool is a magnet for families with young, playing and screaming children and that may ruin the experience for those looking for tranquility (especially when the hotel is at full occupancy, which often happens during the European school holidays). Unfortunately, the resort lacks a tranquil, adults-only corner on the ocean front where – if wanted – you can truly relax and take in the peace of the environment.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Villas: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 8/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good 8,6/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Raffles Seychelles (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and complimentary lunch or dinner for up to two people per room, once during stay).
  • Room tip: request a villa that is not looking out over the lobby or service area. My villa (nr 183) offered complete privacy, so ideal for honeymooners and those in need of tranquility.
  • Travel tip: I highly recommend hiring a car on Praslin or alternatively, booking a chauffeur via the resort. It’s very easy to drive around the island and it allows you to explore spectacular beaches and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Vallee de Mai (take one of the guides who are available at the entrance, as they will point you out things that you would otherwise walk straight past).
  • Travel tip: There is a public footpath in front of the property which runs parallel to the beach. Following this path, you can walk towards a small grocery at Anse Boudin, where you can buy drinks to stock up your outside fridge for sundowners.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

REVIEWS OF OTHER LUXURY HOTELS IN THE SEYCHELLES
  • REVIEW RAFFLES SEYCHELLES Review: Raffles Seychelles Hotel
  • FOUR SEASONS SEYCHELLES REVIEW Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles
  • Review: PHENOMENAL North Island Seychelles
  • Review: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Seychelles)
  • Hotel review: Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles
  • Hotel review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Seychelles is often sold as a year round destination and it is. However there is more chance of bad weather, that is to say rain, from November to March. The transitional months of October and April are excellent for a visit as the oceans are very calm and the weather balmy. During the dry seasons (May to September), it can be windy (causing seaweed on the south or south-easterly side of the islands) with rough seas.


HOW TO GET THERE

The resort  is located on Praslin Island, a 15-minute flight or 1 hour ferry trip away from Mahe Island. The latter island is the home of Seychelles International Airport (SEZ), the archipelago’s main point of entry. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to the Seychelles.


PHOTOS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: ARRIVAL COURTYARD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: WALKWAY BELOW LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: WALKWAY BELOW LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: WALKWAY BELOW LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: WALKWAY BELOW LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: WALKWAY BELOW LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: WALKWAY BELOW LOBBY
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: GAME ROOM
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: GAME ROOM
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: GAME ROOM
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: GAME ROOM

RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: HERBS GARDEN

RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: HERBS GARDEN
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: HERBS GARDEN
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: BOUTIQUE SHOP
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: BOUTIQUE SHOP
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: BOUTIQUE SHOP
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: BOUTIQUE SHOP
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: TAKAMAKA TERRACE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: HELIPAD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: HELIPAD
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT MAP
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT MAP
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS (BUGGY SERVICE)
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: RESORT GROUNDS (BUGGY SERVICE)
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA - ENTRANCE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA – ENTRANCE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA - ENTRANCE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA – ENTRANCE
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA - POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA – POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA - POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA – POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA - POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA – POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA - POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA – POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA - POOL DECK
RAFFLES SEYCHELLES: OCEAN VIEW VILLA – POOL DECK