With a year-round temperature of 24 to 33 degrees centigrade and an average sea temperature of 26 degrees, the popularity of the Maldives has grown significantly over the past ten years. The ease of access from Dubai (only a short three and a half-hour flight) makes it an obvious choice for the perfect city and beach twin centre holiday. Honeymooners especially, are attracted by the stunning atolls, romantic resort packages and superb, private accommodation on offer. Most of the top resorts have Marine Biologists on site, their own coral protection programmes and offer far more than simple idyllic beach escapes. The seaplanes and various boat transfers to the island resorts are well run and seamless, making combining different atolls, comfortable and easy. The island resorts also operate on 'island time' (one hour ahead of Male time) in order to maximise daylight hours and aid sunset viewings!
The naturally bountiful marine atolls and jaw-dropping island resorts, offer the remote paradise and tranquillity sought by today's well travelled clients who are seeking respite from their busy day-to-day lives. Few places on Earth offer such stunningly aesthetic vistas and marine spectacles, in conjunction with such high end accommodation types, cuisine and overall standard of luxury.You can still indulge in designer brands at the famous resorts' boutiques, savour the finest of wines with Michelin-starred quality dining; whilst at the same time learn about reef protection programmes, local cultural initiatives and have fun with various water sports.
The finest resorts offer an array of excursions for all ages from big game fishing, snorkelling, PADI diving courses and dolphin cruises, to art, cooking and pottery classes, and much more. Depending on the atoll, you may also be able to take a Whale Shark excursion or a trip to see Manta Rays. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa has a turtle sanctuary and rehabilitation area where guests can see all sizes of injured and rescued Hawksbill Turtles. At its kids’ club, children can even help with the weekly weighing and monitoring of the turtles every Tuesday or help to track ones that have been released with a very clever app which is a truly wonderful engaging interaction.
You may be surprised at the sophisticated goods available, superb design and tech readily available across these scattered islands. I found that each resort’s transfer boat offered complimentary wi-fi for example and the new resort Amilla Fushi had an iPad in all rooms and restaurants.
The variety of resorts is also hard to fault with long established rustic, eco resorts such as Soneva Fushi (celebrating its 20th anniversary this autumn) and Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa which is styled like a traditional Maldivian village, to the super stylish Velaa Private Island. Amilla Fushi in the Baa Atoll offers an entirely new concept, fusing the barefoot and relaxed luxury with modern design and cutting-edge technology. A new hybrid, it offers several accommodation types which appeal to honeymooners, families and multi-generational families alike. Their mix of Water Villas, Beach Villas, large Residences and unique Tree Houses, more than cater for every international market.
Within the same Baa Atoll (and opposite the new Amilla Fushi), is the long time favourite, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giravaru. With breathtaking blue seascapes and famous Blu restaurant, it remains one of the very finest resorts in the Maldives. Sophisticated accommodation is combined with well honed educational programmes, marine protection, superb children’s programmes and a modern spa offering Ayurvedic programmes, combined with the latest anti-gravity yoga coaching, unique night jungle spa for couples and boot camp fitness trails.
If a mature and sophisticated resort appeals, then the famous One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives takes some beating. With numerous luxury beaches, vessels and perfectly manicured gardens, you will love the freedom of cycling from one end of the island to the other, rarely seeing another soul. A larger resort with a fabulous beach club, three-acre spa, art classes and classy boutiques, this also offers absolute privacy in between the many daily attractions.
The other end of the spectrum has to be Soneva Fushi and Gili Lankanfushi − similar in their concepts of eco credentials and barefoot, jungle-style luxury, they both succeed in providing an antidote to modern living with excellent service, yet low fuss escapism. Large, rustic villas, healthy, organic dining options, herb gardens and stargazing entice you to take up new hobbies. Soneva Fushi even has its own top-class Observatory with guest expert speakers such as Buzz Aldrin visiting regularly to engage patrons. Alternatively, there is always the outdoor cinema and popcorn option.
The latest private island to grace the Noonu Atoll, is Velaa Private Island. A forty-minute seaplane flight from Male, this offers an entirely new level of sophistication and design with almost everything available having been customised for its visionary owner. Not part of any hotel chain, this island indulgence has a spectacular 22-metre-high Wine Tower (Tavaru is the tallest building in the Maldives and houses the largest wine collection in the Maldives), a very well stocked Cru Champagne Bar, the stylish 'Aragu' Signature Restaurant (quite unlike any other), golf, tennis, a squash court, badminton, table tennis, table football, an amazing kids’ club with miniature water park... and the list goes on. The bikes have special sand tyres, the wine tower has an exterior lift and viewing lounge, the tennis court is covered with fans for all weathers and the gold area has the very best technical equipment available. Not forgetting the spa, with Clarins Blend, Cloud 9 therapy chamber (there are only four in the world and this is the only one in South East Asia) and a Snow Room... this resort cannot fail to amaze you!
With such outstanding natural beauty, warm Maldivian hospitality and fascinating wildlife (Fruit Bats, Geckos and noisy Water Hens, in addition to the obvious marine attractions), combined with ever so stylish luxury resorts, the allure of the Maldives is likely to continue for some time to come.