Love Island villa set for Gladiator ‘makeover’ in new series

Maya Jama teases the return of Love Island

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Over the years, Love Island has been known for contestants to sit around the pool in their swimwear and talk about their ongoing love drama. However, the latest Winter series taking place in South Africa has been branded the “sportiest” season yet with contestants as bosses splurge £1.2 million on a mansion makeover.

Despite the previous series being solely focused on the romance aspect of the show, this year the contestants will combat their quest for love in the latest gladiator villa.

The site, which is called Ludus Magnus after Rome’s ancient gladiator school, includes football and rugby pitches, a 400m running track and zip lines, as well as mountain bike trails.

It also has river rapids and two 50-metre swimming lanes in a vast lake which are typically used for Olympic training.

The estate sprawls over 25 acres in a wine valley near Cape Town, with the mansion consisting of 17 bedrooms and a treehouse, as well as a giant swimming pool.

A source told OK!: “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.”

As well as keeping the contestants fit and stopping them from getting bored, the eco-friendly villa runs off the grid and is powered by 266 solar panels.

Another insider said: “A team of gardeners have been brought in and there are carpenters and ­electricians building all sorts of new things for the show.

“And, of course, there will be cameras and microphones installed to capture everything. In the end, the whole villa will have to be put back to how it was.

“So it will have had a huge revamp and redecoration costs to add on top of the five months’ guaranteed rental.”

Alongside the stunning villa, viewers will be pleased to know that the famous Casa Amor Villa is still just feet away from the main house, tempting the contestants to new levels.

A source told The Sun: “Casa Amor’s inhabitants have always been able to relax in the knowledge that the people they’re coupled up with are miles away.

“Well, not anymore — if there’s any wild partying going on, the main villa may well be able to hear it.”

The upcoming series will see Maya Jama replacing Laura Whitmore after she announced her departure from the series earlier this year.

Laura began presenting the ITV2 series after the death of original presenter Caroline Flack in 2020.

She announced to her fans that “There was only so much I can do as a host. I couldn’t support [the contestants] or not support them. I couldn’t say anything.

“If I could [have done] things the way I wanted to, I’d probably still be doing it. When you work on the show, you can’t really talk about certain things.

“But I’m really proud of what I did and proud to leave on what I think has been a brilliant series, with great winners.

In October, Maya was revealed as the new host and said: “I’ve always been a massive Love Island fan.

“I’m so excited to be hosting one of the nation’s favourite shows. I can’t wait to get into the villa.”

Love Island returns January 2023 on ITV2 and ITVX.

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