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Top 10 romantic retreats in the Indian Ocean
With its dreamy beaches, jewel-like waters, gently swaying palms, luxury lodgings, and all-round castaway vibe, the Indian Ocean has long been the go-to spot for loved-up couples wanting to play, relax, and retreat. From the Maldives and Mauritius to the Seychelles and Sri Lanka, we’ve rounded up the 10 most swoon-worthy retreats in this glamorous collection of islands - all of which go above and beyond to champion romance.
LUX* St Gilles, Mauritius
The stay: Within rolling-out-of-bed distance of the coral-sheltered lagoon at L’Hermitage, this five-star beachfront stunner on the west coast of Réunion was made for spontaneous and adventure-loving couples to live out their Robinson Crusoe fantasies together. You can expect sumptuous guest rooms and suites housed in whitewashed Creole villas - all of which assure colonial elegance, contemporary styling, on-trend soft furnishings, sun-dappled balconies or terraces, and ravishing views of the tropical gardens, sparkling waters, and shimmering sands.
The romance: Dewy-eyed couples can book blissful pampering treatments at the LUX* Me Spa, work up a sweat in the state-of-the-art gym, make good use of the tennis and volleyball courts, and lounge by the huge outdoor pool. Equally standout are the laid-back bars and gourmet restaurants, the excellent watersports, and the impromptu LUX* “treats” that can include anything from alfresco movie screenings with beanbags and popcorn to a message in a bottle entitling you to all sorts of freebies. To top it off, there’s a cute Tree of Wishes sculpture where you can tie a ribbon or tag featuring your initials and the date of your visit around one of the branches.
More information and to book: LUX* St Gilles, Mauritius
Anantara Tangalle Peace Haven, Sri Lanka
The stay: The clue’s in the title at this former coconut plantation set on a sun-bleached beachfront near the sleepy town of Tangalle on Sri Lanka’s unspoilt south coast. Opened by Thailand-based hoteliers Anantara in 2016, the vibe here is one of understated luxury; think 25-metre outdoor pool, tennis courts, spa with Ayurvedic treatments, yoga pavilion, 24-hour gym, Spice Spoons cooking school, and upscale restaurants for buffet spreads and à la carte menus that pull focus on Sri Lankan, Italian, and international dishes paired with fine wines.
The romance: Couples-centric activities aside (the signature Dining by Design program that allows you to enjoy a private dinner with a customised menu and a flawless level of personal service is always a winner), the gracious hospitably continues in the spacious and stylish guest rooms. There’s authentic Sri Lankan design spiced up with batik fabrics, colonial-inspired teak furniture, comfortable beds with rattan headboards, and tropical garden or Indian Ocean views. For extra bragging rights, book a villa with a private plunge pool and a furnished outdoor terrace.
More information and to book: Anantara Tangalle Peace Haven, Sri Lanka
Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius
The stay: Heart-tugging hideaways don’t get much swankier than this secluded six-star sleep in the island’s north-east. Named for Indian Ocean spice pioneer Maurice Van Nassau, it’s impossible not to fall for this enchanting place (and for each other) from the get-go; especially when you’re greeted with super-luxe facilities such as the secluded white-sand beaches, tropical gardens, and striking infinity pool with cabanas. Little wonder, then, that this place ranks as one of Condé Nast Traveller’s most romantic hotels in the whole of Mauritius.
The romance: For intimate escapades, the lovey-dovey offerings are as impressive as the waterside setting; think heavenly spa, floodlit tennis courts, watersports (kayaking, paddle boarding, kitesurfing, snorkelling, waterskiing), and free shuttles to two nearby championship golf courses (Legend and Links). There’s also four restaurants for global cuisine, three bars for day-to-night drinks, and a well-stocked cellar for 25,000-plus wine labels. A collection of chic-as-you-like suites and villas with terraces or gardens (some with private pools) tops things off nicely.
More information and to book: Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius
LUX* North Male Atoll, Maldives
The stay: With a mission to become one of the most desirable addresses in the Maldives when it opens its doors in February 2019, this new groundbreaking resort on the picnic island of Olhahali raises the bar high with a collection of eye-poppingly stunning spaces in which to relax and retreat. Without a thatched roof in sight, you can look forward to ultra-modern beachfront or overwater split-level penthouse villas with private pools, magnificent decks, and superyacht-meets-South Beach living spaces styled by Singapore-based design group MIAJA.
The romance: For active duos, this highly-anticipated place has two swimming pools, tennis and volleyball courts, watersports galore (including a PADI diving centre), outdoor games, and easy access to a secluded lagoon. Those who want to slow the pace down a bit will enjoy the junk art studio, LUX* Me Spa, yoga plinth, and big-screen cinema. And it will be just as glam on the food and drink front, especially the private dining room for its wall-to-wall aquarium filled with colourful fish and the French Riviera-style beach bar for its cocktails, tapas, and feet-in-the-sand vibe.
More information and to book: LUX* North Male Atoll, Maldives
The stay: Those seeking romantic respite on the west coast of Mauritius will fall in love with this award-winning resort set on a pristine white beach overlooking the magnificent Le Morne Mountain and the glittering Indian Ocean. Just a short taxi ride from Flic-en-Flac, it comes with 27 acres of tropical gardens filled with some 150 endemic plants, lashings of Indian-inspired architecture (it was once a Taj hotel), a temple-like spa with cascading pools, and plenty of places to kick back and watch the brilliantly-hued sunsets this area is so famous for.
The romance: Discreetly scattered around the resort, the plush villas come with elegant décor, private plunge pools, alfresco living areas, and a 24-hour butler for whom nothing is too much trouble. Facilities include a yoga studio, beauty salon, fitness centre, floodlit tennis court, a selection of watersports, and access to the 18-hole Tamarina Championship Golf Course (a 15-minute drive away). There’s also three superb restaurants for Mediterranean, Mauritian, Indian, and Japanese fare as well as a lovely bar for sundowners and live evening entertainment.
More information and to book: Maradiva, Mauritius
Raffles Seychelles, Seychelles
The stay: The spoil-you factor is high for couples at this huge all-villa resort on the north-eastern side of Praslin, above the narrow beach of Anse Takamaka. Not only does it boast the largest pool in the Seychelles (at 45-metres it’s more of a lagoon), but it also offers six different restaurants, romantic in-room dining, complimentary non-motorised watersports, and excursions to Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve - the UNESCO-listed nature park celebrated for its endemic birds, rare fauna and flora, and precious Coco de Mer palm.
The romance: If island-inspired activities aren't your thing, the signature Raffles Spa is the largest in the archipelago (and also the closest to the Indian Ocean). Head here to enjoy a wealth of feel-good treatments and therapies in a glass-fronted pavilion or spa suite, most of which offer uninterrupted sea views. Equally evocative is the contemporary and luxurious accommodation; expect open-air balconies, private plunge pools, outdoor rain showers, pavilions with daybeds, and bathrooms with tubs that overlook the sparkling Indian Ocean.
More information and to book: Raffles Seychelles, Seychelles
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
The stay: Love is always in the air at this polished twin-island resort, connected by a 500-metre footbridge. Just a 30-minute seaplane ride from Malé, it rewards with powder-white sands, calm turquoise waters, and a fair few secluded spots to cuddle up and enjoy the grand sunsets together. Mixing contemporary design with classic Maldivian architecture, the gorgeous villas are split over two islands: choose from blissful beach villas (some with plunge pools) on Rangalifinolhu Island or tranquil water villas (wooden structures on stilts) off Rangali Island.
The romance: Romancing couples looking to do more than just sizzling on the beach can make the most of the gym, tennis courts, dive centre, two spas, and multiple dining spots (the world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant that serves European cuisine at 16-feet below sea level is an obvious highlight). Alternatively, charter a yacht and cruise around the atoll, book a pedalo excursion, or arrange to be “marooned” on a desert island where you can enjoy a romantic meal on the beach (once you’re done sunbathing you can call for someone to pick you up).
More information and to book: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles
The stay: Lovebirds can’t get enough of this all-villa boutique hideaway on Félicité - the small granitic island just a 15-minute helicopter ride from Praslin. Surrounded by luminous waters, coral-fringed beaches, rocky outcrops, and swaying palms, it exceeds expectation with an oceanfront pool, several restaurants for fresh-off-the-boat seafood, and a series of swoon-worthy villas with fancy extras such as plunge pools, sundecks with outdoor dining areas, bathrooms with deep-soaking bathtubs, private wine cellars, and a high level of personal service.
The romance: The beachside Six Senses Spa is worth the stay alone; not least for its elevated saltwater soaking pool, yoga and meditation pavilions, and remarkable wellness program that includes a body analysis and a discussion on lifestyle for optimum results. There’s also a rum-soaked bar, a selection of seductive beaches (the beautiful La Penice is just around the corner), a series of walking trails, and a mind-boggling variety of on-island activities such as cooking classes, fishing, diving, boat trips, snorkelling, kayaking, and outdoor cinema nights.
More information and to book: Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Seychelles
Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, Seychelles
The stay: There are fewer beautiful boltholes to get swept off your feet to than this five-star hideaway overlooking Anse Louis beach on the southwest coast of Mahé. There’s 30 acres of landscaped gardens, a striking pool made from black lava stone, and a relaxed “Whatever, Wherever, Whenever” dining policy so that you’ll never go hungry (or worse, get bored). The treats continue in the oceanfront thatched villas, all of which have private infinity pools, outdoor gazebos with daybeds, sunken outdoor baths, and the dedicated service of a 24-hour butler.
The romance: Complete with open-air pavilions, the spectacular Balinese-style spa takes centre stage for those looking for a combo of spirit-soothing treatments, meditative and spiritual practices such as yoga and qi gong, and rewarding daily workouts with resistance machines, hand weights, and kettle bells. There’s also personalised garden tours, unlimited non-motorised watersports (stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, scuba diving), and a climate-controlled cellar for sommelier-run tastings and perfect wine pairings during mealtimes.
More information and to book: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, Seychelles
Six Senses Laamu, Maldives
The stay: Romantic playgrounds don’t get more remote than this high-end resort hidden deep in the Indian Ocean on the Laamu Atoll (it’s only five degrees north of the Equator). But the hour-long flight and speedboat transfer from Malé International Airport is definitely worth the effort; not least for the free-form outdoor pool, several restaurants (both à la carte and buffet dining is available), fabulous bars with impressive cocktail menus, ice cream parlour with 40-plus flavours, and seriously relaxed vibe (guests are encouraged to go barefoot during their stay).
The romance: You’ll struggle to drag yourself away from your on-land or overwater villa, both of which are rustic-luxe living spaces designed with natural materials such as thatch, wood, leather, linen, and hessian (the latter are more splurge-worthy and kitted out with netted hammocks and glass-bottomed bathtubs). There’s also an outstanding spa with uniquely-designed couple's treatment nests and pavilions, a gym studio facing the ocean, a rooftop studio for yoga and meditation classes, and personal bikes for pedalling around the island at your own pace.
More information and to book: Six Senses Laamu, Maldives