Kate Stephens finds bliss in the Indian Ocean
Kate Stephens finds bliss in the Indian Ocean
Why go? First, let’s get something straight. Those pictures you see of the Maldives – the stretching desert island sands, the rippling cliché that is a turquoise blue sea, the lush green of swaying palm trees – it really is like that. In those first moments when you step off the seaplane (that’s inevitably how you get there) you’re struck by a landscape so beautifully alive with deep, sun-drenched colour it’s hard to take in….
When: It’s always warm (26°C-30°C) in the Maldives, with December to April hot and dry – peak season. May to November is cloudier and more humid with weather that can be unsettled.
Where to stay: Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives (atmosphere-kanifushi.com) is a new five-star all-inclusive resort in the spectacular Lhaviyani Atoll, just a 35 minute seaplane flight from Malé International Airport. Opened in December, it’s set on one of the Maldives’ longest resort islands with 150 villas.
And relax… A Sunset Pool Villa at Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives
On arrival guests are greeted by drummers pounding out Maldivian rhythms and a welcome party of resort management happily clapping along. One cool glass of champagne later and it’s all aboard one of the many buggys that patrol the island. There are four villa types, all beach-fronted and of excellent standard, ranging from the entry-level Sunset Beach Villas to the signature Sunset Pool Villas located out of the way on the northern tip of the island, each with a private pool. Spacious, cool and well equipped – with UK plug sockets, iron and ironing board to boot – every room opens up on to a private veranda right on the beach. The bathroom is wonderful – open-air with a massive jacuzzi bath that gets straight to your knots. And what’s not to love about a bed you can see and hear the sea from?
You really must: What does one do all day in the Maldives? Other than basking in the sun with a great book, of course… First, check into the Akiri Spa by Mandara and get yourself thoroughly relaxed. The service is impeccable and I seriously recommend the Pure Indulgence package (£135), which lasts two hours 15 minutes and includes a traditional body scrub, aromatherapy floral bath and Balinese massage. Heaven…
Beach beauty: cast yourself away on the white sands of Lhaviyani Atoll
Next, the sea is teeming with vibrantly coloured life, and while the resort doesn’t have a house reef it does offer snorkelling excursions twice a day to various sites and for all levels. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try a diving lesson with the lovely team of mostly Italian and Dutch instructors. There’s also a 50 metre full-size swimming pool, tennis and two kilometres of white sand beach. Guests are given one free excursion and additional ones cost £60 each, with plenty to choose from including trips to local islands (both inhabited and deserted), fishing and sunset cruises. The sunsets here are incredible and you may see one or two – or a pod – of dolphins swimming alongside your boat.
Dine at: Food is an area where many all-inclusives struggle, but here it’s excellent. Try some Maldivian curry, and the fresh tuna is as good as it gets. As well as the all-day The Spice restaurant there are teppanyaki and vegetarian à la carte restaurants, plus poolside bars serving unlimited cocktails. And as part of the Platinum Plus all-inclusive package your villa has a mini-bar with beer, wine and snacks that’s replenished twice a day.
Bring home: a glowing tan and a restored faith in the beauty of this world.
Jet set: get some thrills in the super-clear waters of the Maldives
Book now: The journey from grey to colour (read London to Malé, the capital) can be done direct in around 11 hours, but if a short break for much-needed leg-stretching is welcome try flying with Oman Air (omanair.com) in two parts from Heathrow to Muscat (just over seven hours’ flight time) and then from Muscat to Malé (around four hours). You can also get good deals if you want to stopover in this richly scenic Arab country.
Destinology (0800 634 2866; destinology.co.uk) offers tailormade packages to the Maldives. Six nights at Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives costs from £1,849 per person based on two adults staying in a Sunset Beach Villa between 1-31 May 2014. This includes all-inclusive Platinum Plus accommodation, return flights to Malé from London Heathrow with Oman Air, plus free return seaplane transfers for bookings taken by 1 April 2014.