By Clare Walsh | November 2018 | 7 minute read
Mauritius and the Seychelles are booming and concentrating on the adults-only sector and sustainability respectively while the Maldives continues to be queen of luxury, Sri Lanka is conquering adventure tourism and Reunion is piquing new interest. We take a look at new product across the Indian Ocean.
On the up
This is a region on the up. 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 Seychelles recorded a 16% growth in UK visitors between January and September 2018 compared to the same period last year. The island is 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.
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 adults-only 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 all-inclusive 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.
Premier’s Hain said: “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 Maldives is welcoming a raft of new hotel openings over the coming months. Crown & Champa Resort is set to open Kudadoo Private Island in autumn 2018. The adults-only exclusive island will be home to 15 luxurious over-water villas.
Sun Aqua Iru Veli Resort opened in October 2018 and features 125 beach and over-water villas, each with their own pool. Carpe Diem Beach Resort makes its debut this month (November) in Raa Atoll with a spa, selection of restaurants and a private water park.
Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa is due to open in December 2018. It will offer a spa, gym and four restaurants.
SAii Lagoon Maldives will open as part of the Curio Collection by Hilton – a brand which prides itself on offering “unexpected and authentic experiences”.
Heritance Aarah 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-of-its-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.
Set on the island of Muravandhoo in the Maldives, JOALI 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 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 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.
Selling Tip: Suggest foodie clients travelling to Mauritius experience traditional street food delicacies at Port Louis or Mahebourg market, which features an array of tempting food stalls.
Activity and adventure
Clients staying at Mirihi Island 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 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, 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 safari-style themed tents which offer young guests four spaces for painting, watching television and listening to music, reading and relaxing, and games.
Sell it: Premier Holidays offers a three-night privately escorted extension from one of its tours to Gal Oya National Park. From £599pp, it includes a walking tour with a naturalist guide, boat safari, jeep safari, four-star accommodation with full board and transfers. The deal is based on two sharing.
Spa and wellness
Expectant parents can now indulge in babymoon packages at the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita. 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 opens this month. Intended as a destination for relaxing and rejuvenating, it features sunset yoga and treatments in over-water or jungle-view 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.
Selling Tip: For clients looking for an extended spa experience, suggest incorporating LUX* Resorts award-winning three-day vitality experience into their Mauritius trip. It combines fitness, relaxation, nutrition and healthy eating.
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. 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.
Book it: Travel 2 has seven nights at the five-star Maritim Resort and Spa Mauritius, staying in a privilege room on an all-inclusive basis. The lead-in price is £1559pp and includes flights with Emirates from Stansted and return transfers. Valid from April 30-July 3 2019.