Celebrities

Love Island 'splash out on £1.2M villa' for sportiest ever season

Love Island bosses ‘splash out on £1.2M Roman Gladiator villa which boasts zip line and rugby pitch for sportiest season yet’ – as winter series returns with new host Maya Jama

Love Island bosses have reportedly splashed out on a £1.2M villa which will see the contestants compete like Gladiators to win the show’s sportiest season yet.  

According to The Sun, the lavish mansion in South Africa boasts a zip line, 400m running track as well as both rugby and football pitches. 

The property will be home to a whole host of British singletons as the winter edition of the show returns in January after three years – with new host Maya Jama, 28. 

Incredible! Love Island bosses have reportedly splashed out on a £1.2M villa which will see the contestants compete like Gladiators to win the show’s sportiest season yet 

The supersized luxury eco-retreat boasts stunning mountain views and is nestled away in a ‘protected area’ in the heart of the Franschhoek wine valley in South Africa’s ‘millionaire row’. 

ITV2 are said to be shelling out a reported £8,000 a day for exclusive use of the property, which is said to be owned by triathletes Regis Maniora, 43, and wife Ilaria, 41, from Luxembourg.

The spectacular home also features its very own river rapids alongside 50-metre swimming lanes in a vast lake.

Stunner: The property will be home to a whole host of British singletons as the winter edition of the show returns after three years – with new host Maya Jama, 28

A source told the publication: ‘The challenges on Love Island always make for fun TV and this place is a producer’s dream.

‘It’s absolutely stunning and has so much going on. It will set the standard for future series.

‘There’s bound to be plenty of fun and games on the winter edition and Ludus Magnus provides the perfect opportunity for a huge range of activities for the contestants to get stuck into.’

Casa Amor: This year’s Casa Amor will be just feet away from the main property which will no doubt cause friction (pictured)  

In the middle of the lake is also its own ‘Love Island’, with a private beach and palm trees and this year’s Casa Amor will be just feet away from the main property.  

Casa Amor is a staple of the reality show when the men and women are divided and one group is sent to the smaller property with new arrivals – known as bombshells – to test their loyalties.

Usually the venue is a drive away but the next door location is bound to cause friction, with a source saying the main villa will be able to hear any ‘wild parties’ that might occur.

How many?! There are also 17 lavishly decorated rooms in the villa 

The sprawling mansion has 17 bedrooms, treehouse as well as a T-shaped swimming pool, which will no doubt see drama over the course of the series. 

The home is named Ludus Magnus after a Gladiator school in ancient Rome where where slaves battled for their lives against armoured gladiator in front of baying Romans.

MailOnline have contacted ITV for comment. 

It comes after former host Laura Whitmore took a swipe at the show on Wednesday as she claimed that she would still be fronting the franchise if she’d had more freedom in her role. 

Gladiator: The home is named Ludus Magnus after a Gladiator school in ancient Rome where where slaves battled for their lives against armoured gladiator in front of baying Romans (Russell Crowe pictured in the 2000 movie Gladiator) 

The television presenter, 37, stepped away from the ITV2 dating show earlier this year, a role which she took on in 2020, but has now revealed the real reason for her departure.

In a new interview, Laura took a swipe at the programme, admitting: ‘If I could [have done] things the way I wanted to, I’d probably still be doing it.’

She said she struggled to remain impartial while working on the show, admitting she sometimes wanted to voice her opinion on what had happened in the villa and ask the Islanders how they were coping following their stay. 

Oh my! In a new interview, Laura Whitmore, 37, has admitted that she would probably still be hosting Love Island if she could have done things ‘the way she wanted’

Speaking to Psychologies magazine, Laura said of the contestants: ‘There was only so much I can do as a host – I couldn’t support them or not support them. I couldn’t say anything.

‘So you kind of have to go quiet, and that was hard for me because I like to be able to have those conversations. 

‘If I could [have done] things the way I wanted to, I’d probably still be doing it.’

The TV star replaced Caroline Flack as the host of the ITV dating show when she stood down in December 2019. Caroline tragically took her own life aged 40 in February 2020.

‘I couldn’t say anything!’ Complaining, Laura said: ‘There was only so much I can do as a host – I couldn’t support them or not support them. I couldn’t say anything’

Laura – who is mother to a 20-month-old daughter with Love Island voiceover star Iain Sterling – took to social media after this year’s summer season to detail her decision, admitting she found flying back and forth from the villa ‘very difficult’. 

In her statement, Laura said she was only planning to fill in for Caroline for one series, emotionally saying that she hope she did her late friend ‘proud’.

The former showbiz reporter penned: ‘Some news! I won’t be hosting the next series of Love island.

All over: Whitmore confirmed her departure from the ITV2 ratings juggernaut in August after a brief two-and-a-half year spell as host 

‘There are certain elements of the show I’ve found very difficult that cannot be changed some due to the format, including the flying back and forth to South Africa along with my new conflicting projects.

‘I wish it was still possible but know you’ll be in safe hands. I was only planning to fill in for Caroline for a series and it turned into 3 series. I hope I did you proud Caroline.’

Laura’s stint on the ITV2 dating show received mixed reviews this season; some viewers praised her handling of sensitive topics, while others criticised her for ‘encouraging slut-shaming’ in a segment which sparked 427 Ofcom complaints. 

Who is Maya Jama?  

Maya Jama, 28, is a presenter of Somali and Swedish descent.

Her parents named her after poet Maya Angelou because her mother read the famous poem, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, during her pregnancy.

Maya grew up in Bristol, along with her brother Omar, but moved to London aged 16 to pursue her broadcasting career. 

Her father was in prison for most of her childhood, for violence-related crimes such as pub brawls and fights – she stopped speaking to him aged 12 but remains incredibly close to her mother.

Maya’s parents named her after poet Maya Angelou because her mother read the famous poem, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, during her pregnancy

She set up her own YouTube channel as well as landing a gig as a presenter for JumpOff TV.

Her first big gig was as the host of MTV’s The Wrap Up, before moving on to host MTV Essentials and MTV News.

She co-presented Trending Live! on 4Music from 2015 until 2017, Cannonball on ITV in 2017, the MTV show True Love or True Lies in 2018, and the first series of The Circle with Alice Levine on Channel 4. 

In November 2017, she became the youngest person, then aged 23, to co-host the MOBO Awards on Channel 5 with fellow presenter Marvin Humes.

She became the team captain on ITV2 rap panel show Don’t Hate the Playaz presented by Jordan Stephens.  

Maya has enjoyed a successful radio presenting career. She hosted #DriveWithMaya on Rinse FM from 2014 to 2017, and co-presented Radio 1’s Greatest Hits and presented her own show, Maya Jama on BBC Radio 1 from 2018 to 2020. 

In 2020, she announced she was leaving BBC Radio 1, a station she has hosted on for two years.

Like twins: Maya pictured with her lookalike mother 

In an Instagram post, she said at the time: My loveess, I’ve made the very difficult decision not to continue my Radio 1 contract from June.

‘As you know I have been juggling & There are a lot of exciting commitments happening that would mean I’m not able to dedicate the time needed to my weekly radio show.

Maya famously dated rapper Stormzy in 2016. They split three years later but remain friends.(pictured in June 2018) 

‘I’ve loved every moment of my time at Radio 1 and I would like to thank the team for their hard work and friendship during the last two years. It’s been a JOURNEY.’ 

In September 2021, it was announced that Jama would be the host of Simon Cowell’s new music competition gameshow Walk The Line. 

As far as her personal life goes, Maya famously dated rapper Stormzy in 2016. They split three years later but remain friends.

Stormzy seemed to address rumours he had strayed in his subsequent music releases – with his song Lessons said to be about the heartbreaking split and lyrics confessing that he had ‘done the dirt’ on the TV star. 

However, the award-winning musician later revealed he hadn’t been unfaithful throughout his relationship but instead, admitted to showing ‘disrespect’ to his famous ex. 

In August, she split from her fiancé Ben Simmons six months after getting engaged, due to long-distance.

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