Travel

15 new Indian Ocean escapes for 2022

New luxury resorts in the Maldives, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Zanzibar. 

Call off the search, paradise has been found. Destinations don’t get dreamier than the Indian Ocean. Whether you want island hopping in the Maldives, scuba diving in the Seychelles, tropical rainforests in Sri Lanka or animal adventures in Zanzibar, each destination offers its own perspective of the Indian Ocean.

While honeymooners continue to fall in love with the Indian Ocean, there’s nothing stopping singles, couples and families from admiring the world’s most beautiful beaches. The new Indian Ocean escapes are family-friendly, eco-conscious and, of course, Insta-worthy. 

So, whether you’re excited by private butlers or private islands, plunge pools or infinity pools, there’s a resort to meet your wanderlust wish list. Plus, the excursions are just as breathtaking, from underwater photography to helicopter tours. 

It’s time to dive right in – here are the best new Indian Ocean escapes. 


MALDIVES 

Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

Alila Kothaifaru Maldives opened in May 2022, and is great for honeymooners – it’s in a largely untouched part of the Maldives, which makes for a more secluded stay. Located a 45-minute seaplane journey from Malé, on the northern edge of Raa Atoll. The property boasts 44 beachfront villas and 36 overwater villas, all of which have pools and a sun deck. While the treetop spa adds to the castaway vibes. Snorkellers and divers will be drawn to the location, as it has marine life ranging from colourful coral to manta rays. Plus, excursions are available to Hanifaru Bay, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The restaurants range from Mediterranean cuisine at Seasalt to Japanese-inspired flavours at Umami. 

GO: Visit www.hyatt.com for more information.


Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort and Spa

Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort and Spa only opened in the summer of 2022, and is a top-notch family-friendly resort. Situated in North Malé Atoll, it’s a 20-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport. What sets this apart is that it’s an all-villa resort, and all 109 rooms come with a pool. The resort describes itself as a family-friendly getaway, as there are villas that can sleep up to six people. Plus, it boasts a kids club, children’s pool and rooftop lounge for teenagers. If you book before 30 September, take advantage of the opening offer. As long as you stay for a minimum of four nights, you’ll receive a complimentary daily breakfast, premium speedboat transfers, and an extra 5,000 Hilton Honors members points. 

GO: Visit www.hilton.com for more information.


Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island

As the Maldives is a popular destination for Emiratis, it comes as no surprise to find that the UAE’s Jumeirah Group opened a resort in the island nation. The North Malé Atoll resort is reachable by speedboat or seaplane from Malé Airport. The all-villa luxury resort has 67 beach and over water villas, all with gorgeous views of the Indian Ocean. Even Talise Spa has six over water treatment rooms, so you’ll feel like you’re floating in a bubble of bliss. The more unusual excursions include underwater photography, planting trees, making coconut oil and a submarine tour. 

GO: Visit www.jumeirah.com for more information. 


Patina Maldives, Fari Islands 

When only the slickest designs will do, check into Patina Maldives, Fari Islands. The resort is part of the Design Hotels family – a collection of boutique properties which stand out for their striking interior design. There are 110 rooms ranging from villas to two-storey beach houses, all of which have a slick contemporary design. The hotel has seven restaurants, three food trucks, one bar and a beach club. Aimed at a more travel-conscious crowd, it offers biohacking experiences, grows its own ingredients in the organic garden, and has eliminated single-use plastic almost entirely. Plus, the community vibes, with fashion boutiques and art galleries, make this feel more like a home away from home.

GO: Visit https://patinahotels.com for more information. 


Siyam World

Proving that the Indian Ocean isn’t just for honeymooners, Sun Siyam has created one of the most family-friendly resorts in the Maldives. Located a 40-minute scenic seaplane flight from Malé, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in paradise. The accommodation ranges from lagoons to villas, some of which have their own pool and slide. We’d recommend the king beach suite, as it has an outdoor bathroom, beachfront terrace and an Instagrammable swing which skirts the water’s edge. The facilities include a horse ranch, yoga for kids, a football pitch and Zumba classes. In the evening, look out for the entertainment, which ranges from crab races to live DJs.

GO: Visit www.sunsiyam.com for more information.


The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort isn’t technically new, but it has undergone a major refurbishment. The hotel reopened its doors at the end of 2021 and looks as good as new. Take your pick from 33 on-land and 44 overwater villas, each of which comes with a private pool. One of the newly launched concepts is the Signature Floating Dining Ritual, which lets you enjoy your meal from pool. If you’re travelling with your family, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are villas with two and three bedrooms. Plus, a children’s club offering meditation, painting and video games, and a spa that even has services for kids. Best of all, there’s the legendary St Regis Butlers service, which is there to offer a personalised stay. 

GO: Visit www.marriott.com for more information.


SEYCHELLES 

JA Enchanted Waterfront 

JA Resorts & Hotels is a Dubai-born brand and has bought some of that luxury hospitality to the Seychelles. JA Enchanted Waterfront has certainly got us spellbound, especially with its waterfront villas, which span two floors and 8,000 square metres. Created in a contemporary Creole style, it’s perfect for big groups. Dining options range from the fun to romantic, including floating breakfast in your private pool, moonlight dining and a private barbecue. Excursions include sunset cruises, big game fishing, helicopter tours and water sports. Plus, it’s only 5km from Seychelles International Airport and nearby to Eden Island’s attractions, from boutiques to bars. 

GO: Visit www.jaresortshotels.com for more information.


L’Escale Resort Marina and Spa

Despite being one of the new hotels on the block, L’Escale Resort Marina and Spa is already making a name for itself, as it is part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The charming hotel is on Mahé island, and houses 25 guest rooms. The rooms include suites and villas with a mountain or ocean view. Plus, selected suites and villas include a personalised butler service. The spa offers massages, facials and more, and features a hammam, steam room and sauna. If you’re travelling by superyacht, you’ll be pleased to hear that this is the only hotel in the Seychelles that can cater to the mode of transportation. 

GO: Visit https://lescaleresort.com for more information.


Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts

You know you’re in for a luxurious experience, as Mango House Seychelles is part of Marriott’s LXR Hotel & Resort. The location was once the Italian photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri’s residence, and it has now been turned into a 41-room boutique resort. The accommodation ranges from rooms, suites and villas to beachfront residences with pools. The rooms all have classic four-poster beds and balconies with a view. Excursions are given an upgrade: enjoy a private tour in a glass-bottom boat, hike the rocky coastline path of Anse Major Beach, take a scenic helicopter tour and go with a park ranger to explore native wildlife. 

GO: Visit www.hilton.com for more information.


SRI LANKA 

Granbell Hotel Columbo 

Granbell Hotel Columbo was created by the Japanese hospitality company, Belluna Co. Ltd, and opened in the spring of 2022. Less of a resort and more of a hotel, it is in the capital and boasts Indian Ocean views, which are best experienced from the swoon-worthy rooftop infinity pool. While the rooms are compact, many of them come with a terrace and have baths with a view. Plus, there’s a spa, rooftop bar and, reflecting the creators, an authentic Japanese restaurant, Minori. 

GO: Visit https://granbellhotel.lk for more information.


Harding Boutique Hotel 

Harding Boutique Hotel is on the pristine white Ahangama beach, which is on the south coast of Sri Lanka. The sophisticated hotel looks like it’s straight out of Architectural Digest, as it has six suites that are designed by British architect Jonathan Ashmore. Book yourself into a signature room, which come with a king size four poster bed, Egyptian cotton sheets and a terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean. The hotel has a charming origin story: Paul Harding, the founder of Harding Boutique Hotels, was born in Australia, to a Sri Lankan mother and Australian father, and always had a lifelong appreciation of his heritage. Plus, the hotel is in a fantastic location to go exploring – it’s near the historic city of Galle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Mirissa, a surfing hotspot.

GO: Visit www.hardingboutiquehotels.com for more information.


ZANZIBAR 

Bamboo Zanzibar 

Bamboo Zanzibar is great for grown-ups. The hotel opened at the start of the year, and is a little piece of luxury in Jambiani, which is 450-metres from Jambiani Beach. The venue only has 10 ocean view suites – the rooms are doubles and there are no twin or triple rooms, and guests must be above 15 years old. The fine dining restaurant offers seafood, salads and traditional Zanzibar curries. Plus, there’s a private beach, outdoor swimming pool and barbeque facilities.

GO: Visit www.bamboozanzibar.com for more information.


Emerald Zanzibar Resort and Spa

Emerald Zanzibar Resort and Spa opens in November 2022, but is just too gorgeous not to add to this list. Plus, it joined The Leading Hotels of the World before even opening. The resort overlooks Muyuni Beach in Matemwe, and is beautifully spread across 10 hectares of land. The venue is home to 250 suites, some of which have bathtubs at the edge of the bed and others by floor-to-ceiling windows. The site has been declared a marine conservation area, meaning it’s brimming with beautiful sea life. The Diving Center offers experiences where you can discover green turtles, bottlenose dolphins and tropical reef fish, and The Water Sports Center includes kayaking, windsurfing and jet skis.

GO: Visit www.emerald-zanzibar.com for more information.


The Zanzibella Hotel and Spa

The Zanzibella Hotel and Spa opened at the start of 2022, and is located in Kiwengwa. It’s more on the rustic side and includes rooms with a balcony and sea view, plus suites with a kitchenette. Moyo Restauracja & Bar sources its ingredients locally to create Zanzibar-inspired dishes. When you want to unwind, enjoy spa treatments on the beach – choose from Swedish massages to facials that draw on Japanese kobido techniques.

GO: Visit https://zanzibella.com for more information.


TOA Hotel and Spa

TOA Hotel and Spa is nestled on the eastern beach of Pongwe, and it has 86 rooms that are bright and airy. Take your pick from rooms with a garden or sea view, suites with hot tubs and a honeymoon suite with its own private pool. The beach chic rooms are oh-so romantic and include four poster beds with mesh curtains, which face the floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel has a restaurant that draws on flavours from the Indian Ocean, three swimming pools, three bars and a spa. The hotel organises tours: Spice Tour guides you through villages and spice plantations, at the Monkey Forest you can observe Red Columbus monkeys in their natural habitat, and Prison Island is home to giant tortoises. Plus, there are swimming and diving experiences aplenty. 

GO: Visit https://toazanzibar.com for more information. 


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Kohinoor Sahota - Deputy Editor
A sucker for a good story, if you invite Kohinoor to a gallery, comedy night, new restaurant, hiking trip, cycle ride, pool day or just about any activity, preferably with the promise of wine, she’ll probably say yes – that is if she isn’t busy planning her next adventure.

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