The Indian Ocean’s popularity never leads to complacency, and the region is always evolving to meet ever-changing client expectations and trends. We look at what’s new across the region.

Sea change

With an increasing focus on climate and sustainability among UK consumers, luxury resorts across the Indian Ocean are ahead of the game and continuing to market their green credentials.

Heritance Aarah in the Raa Atoll is the latest addition to the Aitken Spence Hotels portfolio and the first property in the Maldives to achieve LEED Gold certification. This award recognises the resort’s initiatives to save energy, water and resources, while at the same time producing less waste. Having reduced its carbon and water footprint by 30% and 55% respectively, the brand say its key priority now is to ensure its resorts contribute positively to protect and preserve the environment and ecosystems they operate in.

The Maldives is also drawing eco-conscious travellers. Susan Greenhorn, Commercial Manager for Arabia and the Indian Ocean at If Only, says: “Mauritius in particular has reacted exceptionally to the growth of sustainable travel. There’s a range of new eco-friendly resorts opening up, such as SALT of Palmar in Belle Mare, which boasts its very own pesticide-free farm and provides every guest with their own reusable water bottle.”

A desire for authentic experiences and cultural immersion continues to be a theme in Mauritius.

Greenhorn continues: “Mauritius is catering more for adventurous travellers who want to experience its authentic side and expect a selection of activities beyond the beach.

“C Mauritius is such a property, designed to inject a sense of fun into every aspect of your holiday, while Attitude Hotels and Resorts offers guests the change to get involved in island life.’

Sri Lanka is predicted as a hot destination for 2020, according to luxury travel brand Abercrombie & Kent. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recently lifted its warning against visiting, so advise clients to take advantage before numbers peak.

As we enter the last quarter of the year, there are plenty of new offerings across the Indian Ocean to look out for, both now and into 2020.

Maldives

Early December sees the reopening of eco-resort Gili Lankanfushi following its renovation. Every piece of furniture in the new villas will be made using upcycled materials and new wellness packages such as Surf & Spa and Dive & Discover are now on offer.

Recognising a growing trend towards affordable luxury, OBLU X in the Malé Atoll will open its doors in 2020. Already showcasing four five-star resorts across the Maldives, this three-star hotel signifies a break with tradition and targets a new market. Featuring 350 villas and suites, it will be its largest resort.

Surrounded by a vast lagoon, Capella Maldives is set to open in 2020. Featuring 64 luxury villas and mansions on the beach or over water, its integrated design is the first of its kind in the Maldives. Features include an oceanfront destination offering immersive dining concepts, while its award-winning spa and Michelin-starred Omakase bar are further offerings.

The islands continue to be considered one of the most romantic destinations on Earth and Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi has launched a year-round Romantic Getaway package for couples and newlyweds, enabling them to stay in the resort’s intimate new Tented Jungle Villas with a private pool in the middle of the Maldivian jungle.

There are also changes afoot for clients flying to the Maldives, with the introduction of a new five-times-weekly flight from London Heathrow to Male via Bahrain with Gulf Air.

Meanwhile, British Airways passengers flying from London Gatwick can now look forward to a refreshed Boeing 777 fleet and new-generation economy and premium economy seats.

Sell it: Inspiring Travel Company offers seven nights all-inclusive in an Earth Villa at OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo for £4,209pp (saving £2,100) for travel between November 1 2019 and October 31 2020 if booked by December 12.

Mauritius

Constance Hotels & Resorts will launch the first hotel of its new brand C Resorts in the New Year, inviting guests to release their ‘inner child’. A great option for families with older children in their teens or 20s, the resort has a party atmosphere and guests can expect juggling pool attendants and giant swings. Younger children are well catered for too – highlights include a jellyfish-shaped musical shower on the beach, kids spa treatments and eco-charm bracelets to build through their holiday.

Located on the less developed southeast coast of the island, Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort and Villas opened in September 2019. Close to Blue Bay Marine Park, the resort features 164 Premier and Deluxe guest rooms, suites and villas; each with a rain shower and daybed. A further eight luxury pool villas are set to open in May 2020.

Beachcomber has just launched its ‘Familymoon Experiences’ for guests travelling with children 0-17 years old. When booked on a half-board basis, families can enjoy a complimentary two-course lunch, bottle of sparkling wine and experience such as family beach dinner, dolphin spotting or tennis lesson.

Heritage C Beach Club in Mauritius has recently reopened after a four-month renovation. Highlights include its new gin bar and extensive rosé wine cellar. The club is free of charge for the guests of Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort, Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort and Heritage The Villas.

The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority is focusing on honeymoons for the next 12 months with a new concept – The Honey and the Moon. ‘Honey’ will represent the pampering, cocktails and fine dining, while the ‘Moon’ will represent adventure, exploration and the outdoors. The idea is to market the destination as more than just a picturesque location but one with an exciting, adventurous side.

Sell it: Elegant Resorts offers seven nights at Constance Prince Maurice in a Junior Suite from £1,964pp with breakfast and transfers. International flights are extra.

Seychelles

In addition to its 22 private beach bungalows and five beach suites, Alphonse Island is launching two new four-bedroomed villas in November 2019. Aimed at families and large parties, each villa can sleep up to eight adults and four children, and a private chef can be arranged for in-villa dining. A new free diving experience is also on offer at the resort from Blue Safari Seychelles for clients seeking underwater exploration.

One of the older resorts in the Seychelles, the Hilton Northolme Resort and Spa is set to undergo an extensive refurbishment in January 2020. With plans to relaunch in March 2020, clients can expect upgraded public areas, restaurants and facilities.

With the wellness trend showing no sign of slowing, Four Seasons Seychelles has recently appointed a Naturopathic doctor and yogi who will provide complimentary consultations to all guests and prescribe tailored spa and yoga experiences, herbal remedies and dietary and exercise advice.

Meanwhile, at its Desroches Island resort, Four Seasons has just announced the launch of its Carefree Castaway offer that includes the services of an in-villa chef and private butler. This is available to all guests staying in multi-bedroom Residence Villas or in the Desroches Suite.

Sell it: Turquoise Holidays’ Ultimate Seychelles Itinerary is a 10-day holiday combining Four Seasons on Mahe, Constance Lemuria on Praslin, Le Domaine de L’Orangeraie on La Digue and Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Felicite Island. From £5,295pp including flights and transfers.

Sri Lanka

An aquatic experience awaits in 2020 with Dream Yacht Charter’s new offering. Two six-night by-the-cabin cruises will visit the south and east coasts of the island with highlights to include the UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle and whale watching. Andy Byham, Director of Dream Yacht Charter UK, comments: “Until now yachting holidays have tended to be considered to be the preserve of wealthy travellers. We have pioneered the ‘by-the-cabin’ concept to offer affordable yacht cruises with the added convenience of having a crew to take care of all the hard work.”

Jetwing Lighthouse has now completed its £1 million refurbishment, with 63 of the original rooms receiving a makeover. Keen to cement its reputation as pioneers of sustainable tourism, the property has also increased its solar energy generation and installed a biogas plant.

Set to open on December 15 2019, Haritha Villas and Spa is ideal for adventurous clients, with the resort offering personalised experiences around the island such as riverboat safaris, rainforest trekking and moonstone mining. The adults-only resort also has a focus on wellness activities, with accommodation options including villas or colonial mansions.

The recently opened Aprota Villas located on the eastern coast is the first luxury hotel in Arugam Bay. It targets clients that want luxury paired with exploration, citing activities such as elephant watching, surfing or discovering archaeological ruins in the local area.

Sell it: Titan Travel’s 12-day The Best of Sri Lanka trip includes city tours of Colombo and Galle, a Yala National Park safari, a visit to Sigiriya Rock fortress and high tea at the Colonial Hill Club, from £2,099pp with return flights.