Day 1 - Flight To Dubai I arrived at Manchester Airport with my colleagues and we were delighted to be advised that our seats had very kindly been upgraded by the lovely Emirates − we could not contain our excitement. We were then escorted to the Business Class lounge, where we enjoyed an array of gorgeous food, whilst sipping on the complimentary Champagne. We then boarded our flight and left the rainy cold grey skies of Manchester heading to paradise! The service throughout the Emirates flight was fantastic and as we were aboard the A380, we, of course went straight to the back of the plane to enjoy the renowned bar.
Day 2 - Arrival In Oman Early the next morning, we landed at Dubai Airport and transferred to Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman. As it was my first time to the hotel I had no idea of the true beauty of the setting, until we started our ascent up the mountain through the stunning scenery. At the top, we started to descend and the spectacular resort came into view. On arrival, we were met by the the resort's resident goats − they are all around the resort and such a quirky addition − before we were greeted by the staff who took us to the reception area where a date smoothie, made using dates grown all around the resort, was waiting for us. It was the nicest smoothie I have ever tasted, so I just had to ask for the recipe. Then we were shown to our pool villas, which were traditionally decorated and featured a huge double vanity, walk-in shower room and huge bath with outdoor shower, as well as a gorgeous lounge area looking out to the private pool, outdoor seating and also the sun terrace with cushions − perfect for chilling out on a hot day.
After unpacking, we all made our way to the Six Senses Spa where we enjoyed a sixty-minute massage, then I went to the ladies waiting room, which was fully equipped with a sauna, steam room and ice room, and was an excellent way to prolong the feeling of relaxation. We then went for lunch at the Summerhouse restaurant where we were greeted with homemade lemonade − which was to die for − and we enjoyed an array of fantastic dishes, from the cold avocado and orange soup to start with and the caeser salad with soft poached egg, to the special of the day which was chicken and cashew nut noodles. We all agreed it was fantastic.
As it was a scorcher of a day, we decided to head to the pool and enjoyed soaking up the gorgeous views. That evening we were kindly invited to enjoy cocktails with the General Manager at the Private Reserve which was amazing and probably the biggest villa I have ever seen. It has multiple bedrooms with a copper bath in the master bedroom that has no taps − just air holes where the water fills up from the bottom − and is a timeless piece of Omani heritage which the owner purchased specifically for the resort. This villa is ideal for weddings, big family groups or functions. As the sun set we returned back to the Summerhouse for our evening meal, which again was the highest quality of food. I enjoyed a smoked duck carpaccio starter and grilled prawns with mango butter sauce for my main. We all commented on the high standard of food we received. We then went to the Zighy bar where we enjoyed cocktails beneath the stars.
Day 3 - Paragliding at Six Senses Zighy Bay We arrived at the Spice Market for breakfast and ordered hot food − the majority of us went for the Eggs Benedict − before checking out the buffet. The breakfast spread was amazing and include fifteen different types of jam, Bircher museli (which was to die for) and an Arabic bread cooking station − the bread was one of the nicest things I have ever eaten. One of my colleague's had hers filled with cheese, whereas the other went for cream cheese stuffed with onions and tomatoes. We then set off for our site inspection of the resort and saw the two bedroom villas, the Zighy pool suite categories, the herb garden and kids' club.
Afterwards, we went on our paragliding experience which began with a 4x4 trip to the top of the mountain, which is also where the restaurant 'Sense on the Edge' is located. This is a stunning setting and is also the iconic brochure picture of Zighy Bay that we all know and love. The restaurant is open for dinner three to four nights a week in high season and is 'a must' when you visit Zighy Bay. The others all set off for their paraglide − the videos they took are amazing. You land from your paraglide at the beach, so we all congregated down there as we hadn't set foot on the beach yet.
We then all went back to my villa where we sat in the pool and experienced the in-villa dining. Even though we only had sandwiches, they were of an extremely high standard. Afterwards, we were taken to the jetty where we picked up our boat for our very own private sunset cruise. As we left the jetty and made our way out to sea we looked back and saw the stunning backdrop to Zighy Bay at its finest. We spent a few hours on the boat where some of us tried their hand at fishing, and we also enjoyed canapés and Date Champagne. For dinner we enjoyed a private barbecue at one of the private retreats (Zighy Bay has two of these) and on arrival we were shown around this stunning villa which is perfect for families as it is equipped with a full kitchen. We sat down at our dining table and awaited the feast that was for us outside. The chef cooked an array meat, fish and vegetables in front of our eyes, and I went for the lobster tail with grilled tuna steak, accompanied by freshly made salads. All of it was amazing! We then tucked into dessert which again used the locally grown dates, this time in a cheesecake, before retiring to bed as we had a 5am wake up call booked.
Day 4 - Arrival at Six Senses Laamu It was with a heavy heart that we left Zighy Bay, as it had been an experience I will never forget and can see why it's such a huge hit with our clients. We took the transfer back to Dubai Airport where we boarded our flight to Male. This was my first time to the Maldives so I was extremely excited. On arrival we were met by two lovely people from Six Senses Laamu who checked in our bags for us ready for our domestic flight to Laamu. We were then escorted to the lounge where we enjoyed snacks and complimentary wifi until our flight was ready. We took the forty-minute flight and arrived at Kadadhoo where we were met by our GEM (Guest Experience Maker) who escorted us on our private transfer by Six Senses speedboat to Lamuu.
Although it was dark outside, I still caught a glimpse of just how mesmerising Six Senses Laamu. If anyone is dubious about the extent of travelling involved in order to get to Laamu, it really is so quick and easy that you hardly realise it. Also, because it is that little bit further away, you are rewarded with an exceptionally pristine setting and the coral is like nothing I have ever seen before, even on films. It is one million per cent worth going that extra distance to witness this truly spectacular island.
We got off the boat and took our first breathtaking steps on to what only can be described as a floating island. We were met on arrival by the whole team which was quite a welcome. The General Manager, Martine, was so happy to have us there. She took us to the Chill Bar where we were introduced to everyone and ordered cocktails, before we made our way up to Zen where we enjoyed the most gorgeous array for Sushi. This was my idea of heaven, as Sushi is my all time favourite cuisine. We then were shown to our villas; mine was villa 54 which was a beachfront villa with pool and my GEM showed me around. I couldn't believe my eyes, it had the most gorgeous bed looking out onto my private pool and outside there was a bath tub and shower (covered for privacy), while upstairs I found the sitting area with views onto the pristine turquoise waters. I was also shown my personalised bike − this is the only way to get around the island, as they don't believe in buggies to ensure there is no pollution on the island − and it had a plate with my initials 'JA' on it, which they very kindly let me take home.
Day 5 - A Tour Of Six Senses Laamu As soon as I opened my eyes the following morning I eagerly stepped outside. It was everything I had ever dreamed of and more! White soft sand with pristine turquoise water − like something out of a movie. I had my first outdoor shower which was unreal − seeing the rich vegetation around me whilst showering was something you can only dream of. We then went to Longitude for breakfast and the juice and smoothie section was huge − they are really big on healthy cuisine. We all tucked into our juices, had breakfast and then went to the spa. We all were encouraged to try something different so I went for the Vietnamese cupping massage which involves heated glasses placed on the skin to form a sucking effect which enriches the oxygen flow. It was fabulous and like nothing I have ever experienced before. My treatment room was called a 'nest' and that's exactly what it was − a circular shell with walls and ceiling being made of entwined twigs, as well as the most stunning private view of the ocean. All the way through my treatment all I could hear was the sound of the waves lapping against the beach.
Afterwards, we were taken to the juice bar overlooking the ocean and enjoyed the ginger tea and wellness juice − it was the perfect place to relax after our treatments. We then made our way to Sip Sip and the new main pool area where we settled into our day beds and looked out at the ocean. Sip Sip is the new bar area around the pool where guests can enjoy pizzas straight from the oven. Obviously we had to sample these. We went for goats cheese and pear, pulled pork and the classic ham and pineapple − the crispy absolutely gorgeous. They were served on a picnic table, so you literally do not have to move off your day bed. We also sampled their signature cocktail which is a take on Piña Colada which was served in a fresh coconut. The nicest cocktail I have ever had!
We were taken on a tour of the island by Adam, from Reservations, and got to see the island in its entirety from Leaf restaurant to the organic herb garden, where we met the resident scarecrow. We saw the lagoon water villa which features a glass-bottom bath tub, outdoor shower, direct access to the lagoon and a sunken desk area. All villas are duplex and that first moment when you stand up on the second floor overlooking the lagoon, is absolutely priceless. We also saw the two bedroom accommodation which is absolutely perfect for families, and now with the addition of the main pool and the fabulous 'Den' kids' club, the resort is becoming increasingly popular with families.
Before dinner we went to Chill bar. For me, this setting completely epitomises the Maldives. The bar looks out to the ocean and has a deck furnished with day beds, bean bags and cushions for you to 'chill out' and watch the sunset − which has to be the most spectacular site I have witnessed. The sky was a stunning mixture of pink and blue, a memory that will stay with me for a lifetime. We were joined by a few staff members and had a cocktail, before dinner with the reservations team at Longitude. It was a great way to get to know people we deal with on a daily basis over all sorts of superb food including crispy duck pancakes and Maldivian cuisine. We then retired back to the Chill Bar where we continued to enjoy the fabulous Maldivian hospitality.
Day 6 - Private Island Picnic and Sandbank Dinner We woke up to another absolutely stunning day and enjoyed more fantastic Eggs Benedict at Longitude and again took full advantage of the healthy juices on offer. We then took a speedboat ride for our private island picnic. I could see the island in the distance and as we approached, I could not believe my eyes. It was a tiny uninhabited island with a virgin reef and staff had already set up sun loungers, chairs, tables, food and drink for our arrival. They then left us to enjoy the island privately enjoying swimming and snorkelling in the turquoise blue lagoon, which didn't go any deeper than my waist for around thirty metres out. It was spectacular and so rich with marine life. We saw turtles and every species of fish you could think of. We then enjoyed our picnic which consisted of prawn and chicken wraps, antipasti, tomatoes and mozzarella, plus an array of breads, cheeses and roasted vegetables. We also took a walk around the island, which only took fifteen minutes and then it was with an extremely heavy heart that we left this little piece of heaven and returned to the resort.
We picked up refreshments from the ice-cream parlour, which were totally complimentary, and has over forty-seven flavours on offer. The burnt milk ice-cream is amongst the best! After getting ready for dinner we were invited for a private barbecue on the sandbank. We took a five-minute speedboat trip to a tiny stretch of sand that was lit up with candles. After sundowners on the beanbags watching the stunning sunset we took our places at the table that had been set up for us and tucked into our bespoke menu that we chose earlier on in the day. What made this so special was that the Chef was cooking live for us by candlelight and torch. We had the freshest seafood and fish dishes by candlelight on our own private sandbank. Absolute heaven!
Day 7 - Homeward Bound We said our final goodbyes to paradise and set off for home. As I said many times, this was a trip on a lifetime and I will be sure to never forget it! Thank you Six Senses!