Paradise found? A Visit to the Seychelles (part 3 of 4)

- Erik Haugen, Erik Haugen, CEO of Kiwi Collection, has a well-deserved reputation as an outstanding merger and acquisition specialists, a leader and a premier long-range business development strategist. In addition to a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics magna cum laude from Cornell University he has a Master’s degree in both Marketing and Finance from one of the most celebrated academic institutions in America – the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As an Executive in a handful of high-powered consulting firms, Erik has developed long-range strategic plans for several Fortune 100 clients. He has also found success as a Senior Sales and Marketing Executive in the pharmaceutical and resources industries of Europe and the United States. His extensive professional experience has led Erik all over the globe and he has been a guest at many of the world’s finest hotels. And, while traveling with his beloved wife, Erik has developed a passion for fine cuisine, fine hotels, and exotic locations. His success in the world of high-finance has allowed Erik to fuse his passion and professionalism into his current role at the helm of Kiwi Collection.

Seychelles: Maia Luxury Resort and Spa

The second property we stayed in was Maia. The Maia experience, like the North Island experience, started the moment we walked off the plane. As we exited the domestic terminal our driver was waiting for us and escorted us to our car. Once inside, we were offered the usual cool towel and bottle of water. The drive from the airport to Maia took about 30 minutes, along the coast then across to the other side (west) of Mahé and a bay called Anse Louis.

Maia is a relatively new property, opened in September 2006, although you would never know it from the setting. The phenomenal plantings really seem mature. It consists of 30 independent villas all of the same design (when you have a perfect design then why alter it!). The only thing that differs between the villas is their location and their view. Some of the villas are along the small but perfectly formed beach (these are the most popular villas with families), and the remainder are spread up (or down depending on your perspective) the hill.

Once we arrived at Maia we were greeted at the entrance and whisked by buggy up to our beautiful hillside villa, where our butler was waiting for us. Welcome drinks, fruit platter, etc., were all part of the plan, and executed perfectly. We hardly even noticed when our butler Salim asked us for our credit card to cover “incidentals”.

The experience at Maia is very much linked to the villa and your own private butler. There are some lovely communal areas such as the lounge, the bar, the restaurant, and the communal pool in front of the beach. And of course there is also the lovely beach, although most guests choose to remain in their villas. It is also important to note that only guests and staff are allowed into Maia. That means that guests will never encounter outsiders strolling around the property, using the spas, or eating in the restaurant. This is a very firm policy and not even relaxed for local VIPs.

Maia really is a private hideaway. You can enter your villa, close the door, spend the remainder of your stay in the haven of comfort and tranquility that is your villa, and never leave except for excursions to the beach, to the restaurant (if you want to eat in the restaurant rather than in your villa), and for the unpopular event of leaving.

The villas are amazing. They consist of five areas: a small lounging/dining pavilion with the butler’s bar, the bedroom, the main bathroom and toilet, the plunge pool, and the dipping pool/outdoor bath. The buildings are solid concrete, with tall thatched ceilings that give them a Balinese feel. But the real trump card here is the quality of all the modern conveniences; the fittings and fixtures in the rooms. iPod docks, built in Bose speakers, Sony flat-screen TVs, a sound system that pipes music to all areas of the villa, Nespresso coffee makers – the list could go on forever. The rooms are extremely comfortable. The beds are possibly the most comfortable beds we have ever experienced in a hotel or resort; the sheets are a delight, and the goose down duvets are light and fluffy. The toiletries in the bathroom are La Prairie, which my wife couldn’t get enough of – their body lotion was fantastic.

Maia provided us with a series of pleasant surprises throughout our stay, beginning when we entered our villa (a Signature Villa overlooking the ocean and the mainland) and we were struck by two key things. The view, which was spectacular, and the plunge pool (~ 8 meters x 4 meters), which really drew us in with its azure blue promise of cooling comfort.

From the moment you arrive, to the moment you leave, your butler is your single point of contact for all things. They are on call 24 hours and are always keen to help out. Want to arrange a barbeque on the beach? They will sort it out for you. Want to arrange a fishing trip? They will arrange it for you. If you just want to be left alone they can, of course, arrange that too. Just hang the coconut on the door to your villa and you will not be disturbed.

So what did we do at Maia? Well, out of respect for the philosophy of the property we spent most of our time in the outstanding villa and at the magnificent spa. The routine was simple: wake up, eat breakfast in the villa, sit in the sun loungers, read a book, have a dip in the plunge pool, take a trip to the beach, take a dip in the plunge pool, have lunch in the villa, have a rest, take a dip in the plunge pool, and have a treatment in the spa. In the evening we went down to the restaurant for dinner so that we could see who else was at the property. We were sure that we recognised a group of ladies from North Island, but since we had only seen them from afar we were not entirely sure.

On one day we took a tour of the island by car. We had a driver, and of course our trusty butler along for the ride. We went up Mount Josephine and had magnificent views of Mahé, the other islands, and the ocean. We stopped at Beau Vallon on the beach for a delightful picnic, laid out by our butler, and then we returned to the property for dinner.

The staff at Maia are fantastic. Representing over ten nationalities and three continents, they have been honed into a finely tuned machine by the General Manager and his management team.

Given the amount of focus there is on the butler, the success or failure of the individual guest’s experience does depend on the butlers. Fortunately they have sourced the best there is. For our part, it was really thanks to our butler Salim that we had such a memorable experience.

Four nights seemed like a short stay as we were just starting to really relax and get used to each other’s company again when we had to leave.

We left the property with our butler as well as the General Manager waving us off. A very nice personal touch.

  1. Very cool! I support your view!…

  2. It’s a very good place!…