Amanda Statham, Tim Ecott and Nicki Grihault, The Daily Telegraph, October 12, 2014
What makes the perfect romantic retreat? Preferences vary, but most would agree that sunshine, a big bed, a cool spot to take a private dip and wonderful food (available at any hour) are high on the priority list. The palm-fringed islands of the Indian Ocean meet all these demands and more, with their tropical climate, five-star resorts and stylish restaurants. Remote, yet easily accessible by plane; exclusive, yet relaxed; sensational beaches, but with more to offer than simply sun and sand – the Indian Ocean islands of the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius are perfectly suited for loved-up escapes.
However, it’s the quality of accommodation that really sets the Indian Ocean apart from island getaways such as the Caribbean or Thailand. A romantic retreat should be a break from reality, a chance to live a fantasy life, if only for a week, and the Indian Ocean’s hotels offer a spoiling choice of vast villas, often exquisitely furnished and full of new technology, while infinity pools and overwater suites with a butler and fabulous sea views are the norm rather than the exception. The region is continually redefining the luxury experience, from arriving by seaplane or speedboat to increasingly seductive villas with open-air bathrooms complete with al fresco spa for two.
Indian Ocean resorts have also refined the art of making couples’ experiences feel unique rather than contrived; think drift dives for two, nature walks through rare tropical forests or sunset cruises aboard private yachts. With influences from India, Africa, Europe and China, the region’s cuisine is a spicy delight and exceptionally high levels of service ensure that dining (an all-important part of a romantic holiday) is a joy. Personal chefs whip up seafood suppers in villas, waiters deliver courses by boat to candlelit floating pontoons and pack champagne picnics for trips to uninhabited islands. Whether you’re seeking up-to-the-minute suites, top-flight dining, fabulous scenery, world-class diving or award-winning white-sand beaches, the Indian Ocean has a romantic hotel to suit.
Romantic hotels in the Seychelles
There are other luxuriant forested islands with white beaches lapped by warm, shimmering waves. But the Seychelles is sexy. The humid air is filled with intoxicating scents and the sensuously shaped boulders free the visitor to indulge the senses like never before. Giant coco-de-mer palm trees, source of the erotically shaped fruit of legend, have become a symbol of these 115 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean almost exactly on the equator and 1,000 miles from the east coast of Africa. Discovered by the Sixties “jet-set”, the islands now host the modern equivalents: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and even the Beckhams have all holidayed in the Seychelles.
Tim Ecott, a frequent visitor to the islands, picks his 10 most romantic places to stay: Romantic Seychelles hotels
Romantic hotels in Mauritius
Mauritius, with its miles of beautiful white-sand beaches, backed by lush forests and dramatic volcanic peaks, is made for romance, with some of the best luxury hotels in the Indian Ocean. Private plunge pools, butlers and helicopter transfers are on offer, along with some of the best gourmet restaurants in the region and top-notch spas. It’s no wonder that Mauritius frequently tops lists of the world’s most romantic holiday islands. There’s also plenty to do and see away from the beach, from visiting colourful markets, riotous temples and colonial houses to the thrill of riding the longest zip-line ride in the world or a tandem skydive from 10,000ft – all in a space the size of Surrey. Perhaps best of all, romance here is affordable – Mauritius has some of the best-value deals in the region.
Nicki Grihault, Telegraph Travel’s Mauritiusexpert, picks her 10 most romantic places to stay: Romantic Mauritius hotels
Romantic hotels in the Maldives
The Maldives, an archipelago of more than 1,100 islands stretching 500 miles in 26 atolls down to the equator, regularly tops lists of the most desirable destinations on earth for a romantic break. Only around 200 of the islands are inhabited and of these more than 100 are private island resorts, each ringed by dazzling white sand and shallow lagoons. Despite their remote, desert island appearance from the air, there’s plenty to do at these far-from-rustic resorts, boasting some of the most sophisticated accommodation in the world. The world’s first underwater restaurant, spa, nightclub and wine cellar can be found here, overwater villas boast infinity pools and glass floors, and the choice of dining locations is sensational – jetties, remote sandbank, candlelit verandas or dinner à deux on the beach at a neighbouring island. The isolation of the islands also results in some of the best diving and snorkelling spots in the world, with plankton-rich seasonal currents attracting manta rays and whale sharks.
Amanda Statham, a luxury hotel expert, picks her 10 most romantic places to stay: Romantic Maldives hotels
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This article was written by Amanda Statham and Tim Ecott & Nicki Grihault from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.