The view became better and better as our buggy laboured up the path towards our villa at the top of the ridge. Below us a powder-white beach curled around a cove, flanked on one side by lilting palms, on the other by sapphire-hued waters.
But, for all its natural good looks, The Seychelles has never enjoyed the same profile as its Indian Ocean cousins, The Maldives and Mauritius. Maybe it hasn't attracted the big crowds because the Seychellois like it like that. The authorities have kept development on a relatively small and upmarket scale to protect the archipelago's unique flora, fauna and Creole charm.
Opened last September, Maia Resort & Spa is one of the latest examples of the type of luxurious hotel that must cause the Seychellois government to rub its hands in approval. It subscribes to the quality over quantity mantra with just 30 villas and a spa. Creeping up an incline from Anse Louis beach, the resort looks spectacular, all soaring Balinese-style thatched roofs. The restaurant, pool, bar and spa are reached by chauffeured buggy.
Maia's staff are required to pass an Emotional Quotient test and must do yoga every morning. But whatever the recruitment method, the service is of an incredible standard, with a butler assigned to each villa.
Maia overlooks Anse Louis beach on the south-west coast of Mahé. This is a quiet corner of the island, although Maia does not feel too cut off from local life, helped by the fact that it fronts a public beach.
The comfort factor
Our "hillcrest" villa offered spectacular panoramas. Stay in an Ocean Villa and you can walk straight on to the sand. Each living area is dominated by an open-air day-bed crowned by a thatched roof. You'll also get your own infinity pool and kitchenette. Bedrooms are super-luxe with Asian-inspired lines - lots of wood, muted colours and black- and-white framed photos of the islands. Bose sound system, iPod dock, flat-screen TV are supplied.
Big with wall-to-wall mosaic tiles, a separate walk-in shower and lots of cupboard space. The real showstopper is the bath, set outside beneath a thatched roof. Toiletries are by the reassuringly expensive La Prairie.
The food and drink
The Tec Tec restaurant has recruited a Taiwanese chef, the results of which are accomplished - if fussy - Asian-Franco food. There is also a Creole-style dish on the menu each day, or you can simply ask the chef to rustle up what you fancy. Other options are an in-villa barbecue or dinner on the beach. Breakfast can be served in your villa.
Well-heeled Germans, French and some British.
The capital, Victoria, and the Morne Seychellois National Park are a short drive away. Day trips to other islands, snorkelling, diving and game fishing are possible. You can snorkel on the reef in front of the hotel. Aspa offers treatments, and a pavilion is available for yoga, meditation, Qi Gong and Shiatsu.
There are a lot of steps so it's challenging for people with disabilities. Children are welcome only in Ocean Front Beach villas.
Villas start at £990 per night with breakfast. Kuoni Travel (01306 747008; kuoni.co.uk) offers five nights from £3,237 per person, based on two sharing an Ocean View villa, including return flights, transfers and b&b accommodation.
Maia Luxury Resort & Spa, Anse Louis, Mahe, Seychelles (00 248 390 000; maia.com.sc).Reuse content