In­dian Ocean:

Mal­dives, Mau­ri­tius, Sey­chelles, Re­union, Sri Lanka

Selling Travel - - Contents -

The cata­ma­ran cuts through the glassy ocean and bounces over the gen­tle swell of the waves. I look ahead as the daz­zling blue of the sky greets the wa­ter’s shim­mer­ing sur­face.

A spray of salty wa­ter hits the boat, cool­ing me in an in­stant as I gaze at a seascape now punc­tu­ated by lu­mi­nous greens and daz­zling white sands as Ile Aux Cerfs comes into view.

A day-trip from my re­sort on Mau­ri­tius, this is a show-stop­per of an is­land. It fits ev­ery de­li­cious cliché of an es­capist’s par­adise and is one that I am more than happy to in­dulge.

I spend time bask­ing on the pow­dery

sands be­fore don­ning flip­pers and mask to see what lies be­neath the wa­ter.

Pops of colour­ful coral re­veal an un­der­wa­ter jun­gle and myr­iad life. Tech­ni­colour fish mes­merise with their ethe­real sub­ter­ranean per­for­mances. While above-wa­ter on this is­land is un­doubt­edly stun­ning, be­low is a trop­i­cal king­dom of mag­i­cal sea crea­tures.

On the up

Mau­ri­tius sells it­self on its pris­tine environment; many ho­tels of­fer ex­cur­sions, day trips and ac­tiv­i­ties that range from snorkelling to ob­tain­ing div­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

Mau­ri­tius has ex­pe­ri­enced growth af­ter up­grad­ing the of­fer­ings of many of its re­sorts this year.

With the coun­try cel­e­brat­ing its 50th An­niver­sary of In­de­pen­dence through­out 2018, there have been many large-scale ren­o­va­tions, with a fo­cus on the adult­sonly sec­tor to at­tract more high-spend­ing honey­moon­ers and cou­ples.

This Septem­ber saw the Mal­dives win the award of Lead­ing Dive Des­ti­na­tion at the South Asian Travel Awards, an ac­co­lade that should en­hance its cur­rent growth af­ter a quiet 2017.

En­joy­ing a healthy 2018, com­pe­ti­tion is strong and agents can take ad­van­tage of the su­perb deals avail­able in the Mal­dives, even in the five-star lux­ury mar­ket. And fam­i­lies should not be dis­cour­aged from the Mal­dives, with re­sorts like Cen­tara Grand Is­land Re­sort and Spa of­fer­ing allinclu­sive ex­pe­ri­ences with great choices for din­ing and ex­cur­sions.

Re­union Is­land is also start­ing to emerge from its co­coon af­ter years in the shadow of its bet­ter-known coun­ter­parts.

Nikki Hain, In­dian Ocean Prod­uct Man­ager at Premier Hol­i­days, said that the re­cent ad­di­tion of Re­union Is­land to its port­fo­lio is al­ready prov­ing pop­u­lar.

“Re­union Is­land is a new des­ti­na­tion for us in 2019 and in the two months since launch­ing the brochure we’ve seen lots of in­ter­est and book­ings from agents.

“More peo­ple are be­com­ing aware of what it has to of­fer, such as its breath­tak­ingly stun­ning vol­canic moun­tain land­scape. It is a des­ti­na­tion to con­sider twinned with Mau­ri­tius or South Africa.”

The Sey­chelles has also had a strong year, record­ing a 16% growth in UK visi­tors be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber 2018 com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

Nikki Hain said: “Sales for the In­dian Ocean are re­ally storm­ing ahead this year and the Sey­chelles has per­formed

ex­tremely well. The hon­ey­moon mar­ket is re­ally tap­ping into is­land hop­ping in the Sey­chelles, plus more ho­tels are of­fer­ing adult-only ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

The is­land is also fo­cus­ing on sus­tain­able tourism and in­creas­ing its of­fer­ings for clients dur­ing their stay.

Sherin Fran­cis, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of the Sey­chelles Tourism Board said: “For a small coun­try like the Sey­chelles, where we em­pha­sise con­ser­va­tion, it is im­por­tant to get more out of each tourist in­stead of re­ly­ing on tourism ar­rivals.”

Af­ter claim­ing the ti­tle of Lead­ing Adventure Tourism Des­ti­na­tion for Asia in 2017, Sri Lanka con­tin­ues to be a su­perb sug­ges­tion for agents look­ing to of­fer an al­ter­na­tive to Thai­land. Those look­ing for adventure, ex­plo­ration, cul­ture and his­tory will find a large se­lec­tion of wildlife sa­faris, adventure tours and cul­tural ex­cur­sions.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion

The Mal­dives is wel­com­ing a raft of new ho­tel open­ings over the com­ing months.

Crown & Champa Re­sort is set to open Ku­dadoo Pri­vate Is­land (ku­dadoo.com) in au­tumn 2018. The adults-only ex­clu­sive is­land will be home to 15 lux­u­ri­ous over­wa­ter vil­las.

Sun Aqua Iru Veli Re­sort (iru-veli.com) opened in Oc­to­ber 2018 and fea­tures 125 beach and over-wa­ter vil­las, each with their own pool.

Carpe Diem Beach Re­sort (car­pediemmal­dives.

com) makes its de­but this month (Novem­ber) in Raa Atoll with a spa, se­lec­tion of restau­rants and a pri­vate wa­ter park. Emer­ald Mal­dives Re­sort & Spa (emer­ald

mal­dives.com) is due to open in De­cem­ber 2018. It will of­fer a spa, gym and four restau­rants.

SAii La­goon Mal­dives ( cu­ri­o­col­lec­tion3.

hil­ton.com) will open as part of the Cu­rio Col­lec­tion by Hil­ton – a brand which prides it­self on of­fer­ing “un­ex­pected and au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ences”.

Her­i­tance Aarah ( her­i­tance­ho­tels.com) opens in Fe­bru­ary 2019, lo­cated on the Raa Atoll, about a 40 minute sea­plane jour­ney from Male. The re­sort will have 82 over-wa­ter vil­las and 75 land vil­las. Fa­cil­i­ties will in­clude an over­wa­ter spa com­plex, a PADI-cer­ti­fied dive cen­tre, gym, tennis court and kids club.

Com­ing soon: Hil­ton has re­vealed that the Con­rad Mal­dives Ran­gali Is­land will un­veil the first-ofits-kind un­der­sea res­i­dence this Novem­ber. Its guests will be able to choose from an ex­clu­sive col­lec­tion of four ex­pe­ri­ence menus of­fer­ing adventure, food, en­ter­tain­ment, well­ness, cul­ture and sus­tain­abil­ity.

Din­ing

Set on the is­land of Mu­ra­vand­hoo in the Mal­dives, JOALI (joali.com) opened in Oc­to­ber with four fu­sion restau­rants, com­plete with a liq­uid ni­tro­gen ice cream cor­ner. Clients can also try their hand at Mal­di­vian cook­ery classes at Her Kitchen and in­dulge in “des­ti­na­tion din­ing” on a pri­vate sand­bank.

Fol­low­ing its re­fur­bish­ment at the end of 2017, the LUX* Grand Gaube (luxre­sorts.com) in Mau­ri­tius now of­fers a tra­di­tional Cre­ole Smoke­house with Rum Tree house, open sushi kitchen and a pisco bar.

Real ale fans can take a trip to the re­cently launched Fly­ing Dodo Brew­ery, the first and only brew­ery in Mau­ri­tius, while fine din­ing ex­perts should co­in­cide their trip with the Bernard Loiseau

Culi­nary Fes­ti­val at Con­stance Belle Mare Plage (con­stance­ho­tel.com) in spring.

Sun Re­sorts’ La Pirogue in Mau­ri­tius has in­tro­duced a new ex­pe­ri­ence named Tribe, which is an ode to the African her­itage of Mau­ri­tius. Guests can en­joy a night of

fire shows, African-in­flu­enced mu­sic, drums and de­li­cious Cre­ole and African dishes. Tribe takes place at the Le Morne Beach Bar once a month and is open to guests and lo­cals look­ing for a mem­o­rable way to spend an evening.

Ac­tiv­ity and adventure

Clients stay­ing at Mir­ihi Is­land (mir­i­hi­is­land.

com) in the Mal­dives can now ex­pe­ri­ence a new manta ray sa­fari. Guided by a team of lo­cal ex­perts, clients will be taken out on a tra­di­tional Mal­di­vian Dhoni boat, or yacht, and en­cour­aged to swim and snorkel along­side the friendly crea­tures.

Do­maine de Ram­bouil­let (tourism-mau­ri­tius.

mu) is the lat­est eco-park to open in Mau­ri­tius. It of­fers adventure-seek­ing clients quad and moun­tain bik­ing, hik­ing and archery in La Ni­col­iere. An­other re­cent ad­di­tion to the adventure scene is two new canyon­ing cir­cuits at Casela Na­ture & Leisure Park (case­la­park.com), where visi­tors can fly over the tree­tops on a zip-line.

Na­ture-lov­ing cus­tomers can ex­plore wild habi­tats at Gal Oya Na­tional Park in Sri Lanka. Tours en­able clients to get close to swim­ming ele­phants, go on a na­ture walk with a nat­u­ral­ist and meet the coun­try’s abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple.

Canon­nier Beach­comber Golf Re­sort & Spa has up­graded it Kids Club, with sa­faristyle themed tents which of­fer young guests four spa­ces for paint­ing, watch­ing tele­vi­sion and lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, read­ing and re­lax­ing, and games.

Spa and well­ness

Ex­pec­tant par­ents can now in­dulge in baby­moon pack­ages at the Four Sea­sons Re­sort Mau­ri­tius at Anahita (foursea­sons.com/

mau­ri­tius). Op­tions in­clude the preg­nancy re­lax­ation mas­sage, while women in their first trimester can try out the newly launched Vaishaly Ex­pe­ri­ence.

Moven­pick Re­sort & Spa Kured­hivaru Mal­dives (moven­pick.com) opens this month. In­tended as a des­ti­na­tion for re­lax­ing and re­ju­ve­nat­ing, it fea­tures sun­set yoga

and treat­ments in over-wa­ter or jun­gle­view rooms.

Ba­ga­loni Re­sort Mal­dives is set to open in April next year. Its spa will fea­ture deluxe nat­u­ral treat­ments, a yoga pavil­ion, beach gym and vol­ley­ball.

Kanuhura, a Sun Re­sorts prop­erty in the Mal­dives, won Best Lux­ury Is­land Re­sort Spa at the World Lux­ury Spa Awards of 2018 for its Kokaa Spa.

Events and fes­ti­vals

Golf en­thu­si­asts hol­i­day­ing in the Sey­chelles might en­joy the grand fi­nale of the 2018 Stay­sure Tour Sea­son, which is be­ing held the is­land of Praslin at Con­stance Le­mu­nia this year be­tween De­cem­ber 12-14.

Art fans vis­it­ing Mau­ri­tius in De­cem­ber can get im­mersed in cre­ativ­ity at Porlwi

(porlwi.com). This fes­ti­val sup­ports the evo­lu­tion of all forms of art on the is­land and brings to­gether cre­ative artists from around the world to show­case their work in three cat­e­gories: street art, street mu­sic and street light.

Clock­wise from top left: LUX* Grand Gaube; a sea­plane at Ku­dadoo Mal­dives Pri­vate Is­land; lil­li­pads in Mau­ri­tius; the pool at Long Beach Mau­ri­tus Re­sort

Pic­tured, clock­wise from top left: Möven­pick Re­sort Kured­hivaru Mal­dives; catch­ing the train in Sri Lanka; the Seven Coloured Earths, Mau­ri­tius; Four Sea­sons Re­sort Mau­ri­tius at Anahita

Above: Joali Mal­dives

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