For many people the Maldives have always seemed the poor relations of islands such as Mauritius, the Seychelles and the Caribbean. But if you’ve never been, (which we hadn’t), think again.
With so many new openings to choose from, it fell to your intrepid reporter, with beloved and baby in tow, to discover exactly what these islands have to offer. We decided to take some advice from experts Tots Too, who specialise in luxury destinations with excellent facilities for infants/children, and try out LUX * Maldives, swiftly followed by a stay at stunning island resort, Huvafen Fushi.
Following a 10-hour direct flight (from London), you’re then whisked off to your island, either by speedboat or seaplane. LUX* Maldives requires a 25 minute seaplane, whilst other resorts such as Huvafen Fushi are a similar length boat ride away.
Arriving at LUX * Maldives, you’re met by sensational Guest Relations Director, Dolores, and from then on you’re instantly in paradise. It’s a bigger island than most, being a kilometre from end to end – one of the advantages of the bigger islands being that depending on the exact location of your beach villa, your spectacular sea views are unlikely to be interrupted by restaurants on stilts or water bungalows, as with some of the smaller island resorts.
This was certainly the case at LUX* Maldives, where the beach villas are located on a wide stretch of sandy beach and boast the most magical views out over the translucent waters of the lagoon. There’s also something of a Robinson Crusoe-esque appeal with these villas as each one is separated by thick tropical vegetation for maximum privacy and seclusion.
The other advantage of a larger island is that they tend to have more restaurants to choose from, which having ‘done’ the menu at some hotels with just one restaurant, is a decided plus. LUX * Maldives has five restaurants – comprising Asian restaurant imaginatively named East, Japanese restaurant Umi (our favourite), and Italian restaurant Allegria, as well as Island Kitchen and the Middle Eastern/Indian Ocean themed restaurant Senses. And if this isn’t quite enough choice for you, there’s always the option to dine in your villa or arrange a romantic dinner a deux on the Sand Bank – divine.
What does one do every day? Well, apart from having to navigate the Maldives test of sharing 21 meals with one’s beloved and still ending up talking to one another, (which incidentally we managed brilliantly), and reading War and Peace – which you’ll have plenty of time to do, there are amazing snorkelling opportunities right on your doorstep at the House Reef, or just a short boat ride away from the resort. Combine this with swimming with whale sharks (you can’t do this everywhere but the wonderfully knowledgeable marine biologist at LUX * Maldives took us to an area where she managed to locate one) and you’ll have some incredible, if slightly scary, experiences to sink your teeth into.
Huvafen Fushi is one of a small selection of fabled islands in the Maldives. Just a 25-minute speedboat ride from the airport, Huvafen Fushi is metaphorically barefoot luxury – other resorts quite literally take your shoes away from you upon arrival.
It’s a small island, but don’t let that put you off, it doesn’t in any way feel claustrophobic. The accommodation choices are between beachfront villas and water bungalows. We opted for the former, though we’d have been reasonably happy with a water bungalow as they’re cleverly configured in a horseshoe shape, so you get a real sense of privacy, and beautifully decorated with private pools on the front deck. But the prize for us was staying in a beachfront villa with the sea just metres from our room. The beach villas are supremely comfortable and come equipped with an amazing bar, a fabulous outdoor bathroom and a private pool.
There are two main restaurants to choose from in the evening. Salt, which is closed at lunchtime and Fogliani’s. Both are excellent, as are the themed Buffet nights ranging from Barbeque Dinners to Lobster and Champagne Grills. And if you’re travelling with infants there’s a gourmet infant puréed menu. In addition, there’s the Raw Bar, which does serve food but is best for sunset cocktails before dinner.
As with all the Maldivian islands, activities centre round the sea and include scuba diving, fabulous snorkelling in the House Reef, Big Game fishing, Snorkelling Safaris and Yoga. We loved the Snorkel Safari, which is reached by a Dhoni, a traditional Maldivian sailboat. And when you’re not in the sea or in your own private pool, the hotel has its own infinity pool right next to the bar with super-comfortable loungers and hammocks strung from the trees.
But a big reason for many to come to Huvafen Fushi is the incredible spa: Lime. With an array of treatments ranging from Ear Candling, Fingers First and Pulp Friction through to Turquoise Explosions, there’s little that Lime can’t offer, either in the treatment rooms suspended over the coral, or in the underwater spa where you can enjoy a relaxing massage whilst watching reef fish feeding on the coral around you. At night, when the larger fish are visible, you can even watch white-tipped sharks swimming around your treatment room. Sensational and supremely relaxing…well maybe not the shark bit.
Words by John Gordon
John Gordon is the co – founder of Globalista.
He started work as a Barrister and subsequently in the Corporate Finance department of Hambros Bank. From 1984- 2010 he was the CEO of Xtreme Information, a global media intelligence company now owned by Ebiquity, a UK listed company. He is the co- founder of a number of start-ups including the debating forum Intelligence Squared, a publishing company specialising in Essays- Notting Hill Editions and Contagious, a marketing and technology information business.
Images: © Lux* Resorts