To be honest, anywhere that has sunshine, blue skies and sand as far as I can see is a winner for me, but I am drawn to visit a place I thought I could only ever dream about – the Maldives.
The islands of the Indian Ocean have always been somewhere I have longed to visit. Images of perfect isles scattered lovingly across the clear blue waters lure me in, and with peace and tranquillity abundant seemingly wherever you choose to lay your hat, that draw gets stronger and stronger every day! Believe me, when you spend your days in the presence of a well-travelled team of luxury holiday experts like I do, your tongue ends up hanging out at the prospect of a trip to an island paradise like this.
Top of my personal wish list is Soneva Fushi by Six Senses, a favourite of Madonna with an unbelievably romantic setting. It’s not hard to see why celebrities choose to retreat here on their vacation, the resort’s philosophy of ‘no news, no shoes’ just about says it all. Guests can envelope themselves in a luxury escape that still retains a true Maldivian feel, while a 25 minute transfer by seaplane not only guarantees a level of remoteness that few get to experience, but also allows you stunning views across the archipelago as you zoom through the skies. Bliss!
Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa is one of the most recent luxury developments in the Maldives, and is an awe-inspiring sight. Privacy is paramount – a comforting prospect when considering my pasty white skin and a bikini combined – more for the benefit of the other guests you see – with each villa featuring its own private pool and terrace or sundeck. It is even a haven for families, with an array of amenities available even including bottle sterilisers, nappies and branded baby shampoo, so you can avoid dragging with you the abundance of kiddy clobber that so often puts families off long-haul travel with young children.
One of the best-known resorts in the Maldives is One&Only Reethi Rah, which has won numerous awards over the years, and looking at it closely, it’s not hard to see why. Located on one of the larger of the islands in the North Male Atoll, the all-villa nature of the resort gives a sense of privacy, while most include their own private pools, and many their own outside personal dining areas, daybeds and luxurious baths for two. Whether it’s adventure or sanctuary that you’re after you’ll find it here. I think I would err on the side of caution and opt for the sanctuary option myself – looking at those views I could stare out at the ocean all day long!
Visitors to Huvafen Fushi are met at the airport by their very own butler – now for me this is the best possible start to any holiday! A mixture of modern elegance and Maldivian charm, this is a near perfect utopia, and for a little added quirkiness, an underwater spa (yes really!) and barefoot, sand-filled bar make for a real conversation starter. I’m not one for working out while I’m on holiday – I prefer to slog my guts out in the gym for months before I go away instead – but checking out the over-water gymnasium here is a must, as is a dip in the saltwater flotation pool!
W Retreat and Spa is the antithesis to some people’s idea of what a traditional Maldives holiday should be – to others it is quite simply perfection. This is because here, contemporary styling is so abundant, from the gleaming white soft furnishings throughout to the artwork on the walls and the funky waterfront exterior canopied Sip Lounge. The draw for me has to be the AWAY Spa, with more treatments from around the world on offer than I can count! An array of eating and drinking options offering everything from in-villa dining to an underground nightclub mean that a holiday here will certainly be one to remember.
With so many offers available year round, I think a trip to the Maldives could finally be on the cards!
Carole Booth is Commercial Director at Destinology.