Dusit Thani Maldives
I have just returned from 2 1/2 days at the Dusit Thani (yes I know - far too short!), and had the most amazing time. I am lucky enough to have experienced many luxury hotels both in the Maldives and around the world, and fell in love with this place. Recently opened, in February 2012, the Dusit Thani, situated in the Baa Atoll, is a perfect blend of Thai and Maldivian hospitality. It's a wonderful place to go and escape the world and leave all your cares behind. The resort is what I call "relaxed luxury" and gives you the feeling of having your own bit of paradise. The resort is working hard at being eco-friendly, and are happy to show you "behind the scenes" such as the de-salination plant, bottling room, laundry, workshops, and staff quarters. Great care has been taken to ensure that buildings fit into the natural landscape of the island, and it's wonderful to walk or ride your bike along the sand paths (or take a golf buggy) through the palm and banyan trees. The individual villas are beautifully decorated, with extremely comfortable beds, and all mod-cons (including free wi-fi for those that just can't leave the outside world behind!) I stayed in a beach villa which had a super partially-outdoor bathroom, and a view from the bed through the foliage to the beach and sea - there's nothing better to start the day than to get up, open your decking doors, and walk onto "your" bit of beach. The staff are out of this world and really make the place - helpful and friendly and will do anything for you. The bars and restaurants are top quality, with excellent food and service. The signature Thai restaurant, Benjarong, offers delicious, authentic Thai cuisine in a beautiful setting overlooking the sea and the perfect spot for watching the sun set. And then there's the marine life! Situated on its own amazing house reef, which can be accessed off the beach, and with other reefs nearby I have never seen such wonderful corals, diversity and quantity of fish, turtles etc - and I achieved one of my bucket list - swimming with manta rays! The resort has it's own Marine Biologist, Lauren Arthur, who is passionate about her work - "don't stand on the reef"! And then there's the spa - a beautiful area situated on stilts among the trees - where you're looked after by Thai therapists, given a drink on arrival, a choice of treatments and essential oils. My 1 hour Swedish massage with "Glee" oil by a lovely Thai girl was just perfect - very relaxing and just the right amount of pressure. My final words are - don't forget the sunscreen (as the sun is very strong even through any cloud cover, and intensified when you're in the water), take an old T-shirt/pair of shorts to go snorkelling in so the sun doesn't get to your exposed bits, and finally apply insect repellant in the evenings as the foliage does conceal a few bitey friends! I speak as one who learnt the hard way! I didn't want to leave, and I'm saving to go back.