I have been lucky enough to visit the Maldives on more than one occasion, including on the British Airways inaugural trip in November 2009 to mark the launch of their direct service to Male International Airport from London Gatwick. I find the relaxed barefoot luxury vibe of the islands and the gorgeous turquoise colours a welcome antidote to hectic city living. I've also more recently flown with Emirates and combined shopping in Dubai with flopping in the Maldives. A further option which is on my list is to twin a Maldives holiday with Sri Lanka a country with a rich cultural heritage and deep sense of spirituality.
You really are spoilt for choice in terms of superb resorts to stay at. That said, there are differences in size, style, ambience, facilities, location and budget and to get the most out of your stay it's worth getting some first-hand advise before you book. These are some of the resorts I've visited and the things that stood out for me.
Soneva Fushi is the original desert island hideaway. This is a jewel in the Baa Atoll and only a 30 minute seaplane flight from Male airport. It is one of the largest islands and is green and lush with plenty of Maldivian charm and understated elegance. The island has a feel of barefoot luxury with a ‘no news no shoes’ philosophy.
There is careful conservation of the environment through on-going sustainable projects. Much of the delicious food and materials are sourced locally and organic food production has been developed at the resort.
There is a state of the art telescope. The observatory in the organic garden offers an amazing insight into the starry night sky. The unique Fresh in the Garden ''tree-house'' restaurant is amazing, reached by a rope bridge. You can also watch films under the stars at the outdoor Cinema Paradiso. There is use of a free bicycle to cycle to your villa and around the island and snorkelling with the in house marine biologist is available.
Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru is a contemporary style luxury resort with lush jungle interior in the Baa Atoll, a 40 minute sea plane flight from Male. This is great for families with spacious villas including a separate room for the kids. The resort’s coral garden in shallow water gives children an introduction to the underwater world.
The Marine Discovery Centre here is amazing for insights into conservation projects and the ecosystem of the Maldives. Pioneering research takes place on the manta rays that visit the Baa Atoll between June and November each year. Also, the Four Seasons Explorer is available. It is a luxury catamaran that offers three, four and seven night cruises between the two Four Seasons Maldive resorts (the other is Kuda Huraa) stopping at exceptional dive sites, uninhabited beach resorts and remote island communities.
Four Seasons Kuda Huraa is a North Male Atoll Resort only a 25 minute speedboat ride from Male airport, with the charm of an idyllic Maldavian village setting. The hotel has a gorgeous spa on its own island and the Kudu Mas Club and Furaavaru Teen Centre offer a great range of activities for kids and teens. There is a 30 minute complimentary surfing course offered once a week and the Kandu Grill barbeque is not to be missed.
The One and Only Reeth Rah is a beautiful, chic and very private, luxury resort in the North Male atoll, 75 minutes by luxury yacht from Male. The villas have unprecedented space and privacy and fine dining is available with a choice of four superb restaurants. There are twelve beaches to choose from and complimentary bikes to explore the island.
Gili Lananfushi is an intimate, serene, understated, luxurious and eco-friendly coral island in a large lagoon, 20 minutes by speedboat from Male. Jetties thread across the sparkling lagoon out to its 45 sublimely indulgent water villas. The resort has a unique underground gourmet wine cellar with an artisan cheese room and chocolate cave. Huvafen Fushi is a beautifully stylish, sublimely relaxing Per AQQUM retreat in the North Male atoll, 30 minutes by speedboat from Male. There are exquisite water and beach bungalows and pavilions, with private plunge pools and all the mod cons. The futuristic underwater LIME spa is lovely and you can relax on a beanbag at the stylish UMBar (visited by international DJ’s), a great place to relax with sun-downers.
Get in touch if tropical paradise beckons you...