Be mesmerised by the glory of The Maldives.
WORDS NICKY ADAMS
It’s only once you’ve been to the Maldives that you understand what the fuss is all about.
I once suggested to a friend from Europe that rather than me travel back to the UK, we meet somewhere central – somewhere we would both experience something totally unique and different. “How about India, or Sri Lanka?” I asked, dreaming of the lush tropicana, the deep-blue Indian Ocean, the vibrant colours and rich culture.
“God no,” replied my friend, who lives for the finer things in life, “It’s got to be the Maldives. Book it through Travel Directors so all we need to do is worry about which bikini we take.” And it’s true; as the most travel-savvy know, if you are going to journey long haul, this is one destination that offers all of those things, and much, much more.
Synonymous with luxury, tranquillity and mind-boggling natural beauty, these iconic islands are sprinkled across the Indian Ocean. Twenty-six coral atolls bask in sunshine, in a climate that is perennially hot, with very little temperature change. Sand as fine as sugar but white as snow encircle the lush green interior, and each island is edged with brilliant blue ocean, which teams with an explosion of colours. As if the natural beauty was not enough, the resorts pride themselves on offering a world-class service to the international jet set who frequent their shores. Arriving on a dedicated airport island, once you disembark from your flight you are greeted by your resort’s boat, and after you have gathered your luggage, regrouped and been refreshed with a cool flannel and a drink, you are whisked away.
Club Med Maldives is located on the islands of Kani and Fasfinolhu. Whilst exclusivity is key, these are considered the more accessible resorts. A paradise for couples, hushed tones echo around the islands, and noise is nothing more than the waves breaking on the beaches, and the birds singing in the treetops. A range of accommodation includes, amongst other things, the Overwater Suites. In my opinion these capture everything I love about a tropical island paradise. Sitting out in the ocean, the bungalows stand proud, while beneath you the myriad of wonders of underwater life can be observed. If you are someone that loves the thought of snorkelling, but prefers not to get your head under the water, then this is for you. You can quite literally sit and watch the sharks, the Manta rays and the tropical fish cruise beneath you, oblivious to your prying eyes. There is absolutely nothing more relaxing, entrancing – or romantic – than to sip on a cocktail, watching the sun go down over the brilliant turquoise ocean.
With an all-inclusive package available at Club Med, guests find the very best of everything can be enjoyed without having to worry about a hefty bill at the end of the stay. From Wi-fi to nibbles, almost everything is incorporated, and if, for you, a real holiday is never having to reach for your wallet, then this is perfection.
With its hard-to-surpass luxury, the Sheraton Full Moon Resort & Spa, on Furanafushi Island just screams ‘special occasion.’ Lynne Moore at Travel Directors, who has travelled extensively across the globe, holds this resort up as one of the finest she has ever visited.
Whether for your honeymoon, an anniversary or a once-in-a-lifetime romantic getaway, if you’re going to do it in style, then this is the way. Everything about the resort is idyllic. Arriving by water, you anchor in the jetty in front of reception, which sits in all its glory framed by the tropical island backdrop. Billowing white curtains blowing in the breeze complete the magical picture. The service is simply breathtaking. This is a Robinson Crusoe experience but with the friendly, effortlessly impeccable service that you would expect from the finest international resort. Indeed a friend spoke of her trip here, and for her the standard of service was epitomised by her birthday celebration.
“My husband had arranged a candle-lit dinner on the beach, and when we got back to the room, it was covered in scattered petals. There was champagne, chocolate, and to top it all – and I don’t know how they did this – “Happy Birthday” was spelt out in candles, and was floating in our own private pool. It was incredible.” The same friend spoke of the incredible experience of staying in an Ocean Pool Villa, where she slept on the Sheraton Signature beds – considered by some the most comfortable in the world. The rooms themselves were beautifully appointed, but for her what stood out was the bathroom – “it was huge and open plan, and the baths – well there was a claw-foot bath that could comfortably fit four people at once!” It was not just the room that impressed her, but also the level of service and hospitality. “The condition of everything was just impeccable; there were always people quietly working away, sweeping the beach or amongst the gardens. We would take the 10 minute walk across to one of the bars, and the second we sat down there would be a plate of fresh canapés in front of us.”
Despite the overwhelming urge to simply lie back and relax into the jaw-dropping beauty, this resort is also a mecca for the more active traveller. The selection of watersports is unparalleled, with some of the best snorkelling in the world on offer. Some are content to enjoy this, while others travel here to enjoy the spectacular diving. Whether it’s low-key kayaking, parasailing or adrenaline -inducing surfing– you name it. If it involves water, you can pretty much do it here. Big game fishing is an activity that thrill seekers partake in, and it’s unlucky to come back from a trip empty handed. Once the game has been brought to land, it is put to good use. Could anything be more romantic than gazing out across the water while a personal chef prepares your meal, freshly caught from the ocean? With seven restaurants to choose from, guests find there is no shortage of choice, and dining is exquisite. Ranging from casual to à la carte, there is a diverse range to tempt every palate.
It’s amazing to think that against the backdrop of such vastness this archipelago can offer so much. But big surprises certainly do come in small packages – and the Maldives really is just one of those extraordinary gifts.
Travel Directors Hamilton and Bayfair