The Maldives.....Paradise Personified!

Sarah Freeman on 23 June 2019
The Maldives located in the Indian Ocean is an archipelago of over 1,000 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls, less than 2 metres above sea level. Historically known as a luxurious retreat for the rich and famous, given expansion of the airline network and resort offering, this beautiful part of the world is now available to discover for a whole range of visitors.

Flying from the UK is easy with an Emirates regional departure to Dubai and then a quick layover to catch the direct flight to Male. Male is the entry point for everyone to catch their speed boat, domestic flight or seaplane to their island home. The Maldives are divided into North and South Male Atolls, so it’s important to understand where your island is located and how best to get there.

I took a 35-minute speedboat to my first destination, the trio of Anantara resorts, Dhigu, Veli and Naladhu Private Island. Arriving after the hair blowing boat ride, you’re warmly greeted at the jetty and the first thing you notice is the sheer intensity of the colours, the bright white sand, the azure blue ocean, the striking greenery.

Quickly whisked off to your room, you know immediately upon entering your beach villa that this is going to be a wonderful holiday. Dhigu offers 110 beach villas and the iconic over water suites and is targeted at families. The hub of the resort centres around Aqua Bar and the large infinity swimming pool with sandy walkways leading off through tropical jungle to your accommodation. The beach villas are ideal for 2 adults and 1 or 2 children, offering a private sun terrace and direct access to the beach with your own reserved sun loungers. The wow moment was opening the bathroom door and entering the luxurious garden courtyard which featured a giant outdoor bath and rain shower. If you’re after rest and relaxation, this resort is perfect. Despite 97% occupancy the resort felt extremely spacious and quiet, often I was lying on the beach and it was completely deserted.

Anantara Veli is the hideaway adult only resort and is slightly smaller with 67 over water and ocean bungalows. A favourite for honeymoon couples, the island fringed by a turquoise lagoon and golden sands can’t help to inspire romance. The over water villas are located on a walkway to one end of the island, if you’re looking for a special treat, these are for you, with spacious terraces leading to your own steps into the ocean you really don’t need to leave your room.

Out of all the resorts, Naladhu was my favourite. This small and exclusive private island is home to just 20 stunning houses all with private pools, 24 hour dedicated butler service, private dining and in-house spa service while still offering access to all the facilities at the sister resorts. The resorts dining facility, the Living Room is open 24/7, its ethos is that the resort is the guests’ home and as such they are able to access what they want, when they want. As most guests come to the island for privacy and relaxation, it’s common for guests to stay in their large and luxurious villas and therefore you really feel like you’re the only ones on the island. If guests want to explore, they can walk over the bridge to Veli but only Naladhu guests can gain access back to the island.

The resorts offer 6 restaurants and 2 bars between them, while each offers a different menu, they all offer spectacular views and the finest dining you could wish for. I enjoyed a sumptuous 5 course dinner at Sea.Fire.Salt located at the water’s edge, with Asparagus Cappuccino as an amuse bouche and Maldivian Tuna Fillet on the menu you know this is going to be a great dining experience. The next night we decided to enjoy pre-dinner cocktails at Dhoni Bar and then to dine at Origami, a modern Japanese restaurant on Veli which provides live theatre with its teppanyaki kitchen. If you’re celebrating a special occasion the resorts “dining by design” program offers you a choice of unique and intimate dining experiences from torchlit beach side dinners with movie for 2 experience to an on the water private floating pontoon.

If you’re not the type of person to just sunbathe for 6 hours a day, the resort offers a range of activities. Whether you’d like to try water-skiing, wake or knee boarding, take a snorkelling trip to look for turtles or sharks or sail off on a sunset cruise, enjoy a game of tennis, the gym or a meditation session, there’s something for everyone. Children don’t miss out either with the Dhoni club offering an exciting indoor and outdoor playspace while for under 3’s, babysitting services are available. One of the highlights at Dhigu is the spa, located over the water I can attest that the Signature Massage is 60 minutes of pure bliss.

What sets these resorts apart are their service levels, Thomas the Resort Manager at Naladhu and his staff go above and beyond, whatever you want or need, however weird and wonderful, at whatever time of day, they will provide. With over nearly 40% of their guests being repeat customers and some guests returning for their 20th visit, you know they’re offering something special.

After a blissful three days, unfortunately it was time to leave and head back to Male to catch the seaplane to our next destination.