Travelling there with Qatar Airways, voted Airline of the Year by Skytrax in 2019, myself and my colleague Claire recently discovered the undeniable magic of the Maldives, staying at a selection of stunning resorts on private islands, each one offering something different to the last. I could write for pages about my time in paradise so instead I’ve shared my favourite experience on each island, to help you decide which luxury Maldives hotel is best for you…
But First... My Unforgettable Qatar Experience
If I’m honest, I never usually think of the flight as part of my holiday, but simply a way to get there before the fun begins. My recent experience flying Business Class with the multi award winning Qatar Airways, however, has well and truly changed my mind and was absolutely seamless from check-in in Manchester through to disembarking in Male. All the aircrafts we flew in were super modern and comfortable and the entertainment selection was very impressive – in fact, I lost track of how many great films I watched!
From every flight and every staff member, the service was exceptional and, as I was in the Business Class cabin, I was assigned my own personal cabin attendant who introduced themselves and assured me that I could ask for anything I needed. Indeed, you can have food service at any time you want… travelling with Qatar, everything is on your terms! Speaking of food, the selection and quality was exceptional, and the highlight for me had to be a delicious vegetarian Jalfrezi. There were also several smaller touches that really made the difference, such as a choice of various oils to go with your fresh bread rolls – I went for a delicious pomegranate oil! All this great food was washed down with some great vintage wine (the list was so extensive) and Champagne on arrival. The fabulous facilities didn’t stop there, as I also enjoyed one hour of free Wi-Fi (as is the case for all Business Class passengers), while you can also pay for additional hours. That’s the first time I’ve kept up to date with the news while in the sky! I was also treated to a premium amenity kit from luxury Italian brand, Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.
If all that wasn’t enough, I was lucky enough to fly in the new Qsuite, an innovative quad seating arrangement in which each of the four seats face into each other. This makes it great for families and groups travelling together as the space can become a social area, while if you’re travelling alone or in a two, the seats can also be made completely private… I basically had my own private room with a fully shutting door and flat bed. I also loved the rose gold touches to the cabin – super stylish!
My Highlight on Each Island
Niyama Private Island Maldives
It’s hard to decide what I loved most about Niyama, as my whole experience on the island was pretty spectacular. I guess I’d have to go for the five-course caviar menu served in Edge, a restaurant suspended over the Indian Ocean and reached only by speed boat. This was my first-time tasting caviar and, it’s safe to say, I will never look back. Every single dish was so delicious and completely different to the last…even the dessert included Champagne caviar! If all the amazing cuisine wasn’t enough, each course was matched with a wine, making for the perfect evening in paradise. This super-sleek fine dining is wonderfully contrasted by the laid-back Surf Shack, somewhere else I loved on the island. Part of the island's surf school, this was the perfect place to enjoy rum and reggae music while watching the pros surf some waves.
While Jumeirah Vittaveli was being built, two nosy stingrays started exploring the island and were fed fish by the workers here. Ever since, they have returned to this spot, now bringing with them a hundred or so stingrays and jackfish to the Maadi Point beach every single evening. I just loved this story and was delighted when, at around 6.30pm, we were able to join the team in feeding the frenzied creatures their dinner. This is particularly special as, during the day, these usually elusive creatures stay well away from the shallow reef in the deep sea and can be hard to spot.
My highlight at Soneva Fushi had to be the dining experience in Shades of Green, where everything we were served was completely plant-based and prepared using Nordic techniques. As a meat eater, I must admit I was sceptical… but I was quickly proven wrong as I munched my way through five courses that used ingredients that had pretty much all come from the organic garden here. We also enjoyed a tour of this very garden, picking, tasting and smelling the produce that featured in the unique menu, that was all based around the colour yellow.
Milaidhoo Island Maldives
Milaidhoo Island Maldives enchanted me from the moment I arrived, though after giving it some hard thought, I think my highlight had to be the boat ride we took to Hanifaru Bay, a UNESCO biosphere reserve where the world’s largest group of manta ray can be seen. Sure enough, I saw plenty of these unique creatures here, as well as a reef shark! Having said that, when I took to the water with a snorkel, I’m sure I saw near enough the whole cast of ‘Finding Nemo’! There are strict rules here wih access monitored and snorkeling time limited but of course, I didn't mind... this is vital to keep the area pristine and the marvellous marine life safe.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
One for the wildlife lovers, this amazing island has its very own turtle rehabilitation centre, where they rescue and rehabilitate many Maldivian sea turtles every year, releasing them back into the wild whenever possible. My highlight here was undoubtedly feeding these incredible animals, some of which had been injured before their rescue. One little turtle with a missing leg absolutely melted my heart and I was overjoyed to see just how happy and well cared for it seemed in its new home!
LUX South Ari Atoll, Maldives
Oops, another food-related highlight. I’ve always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and at LUX South Atoll, it’s certainly one of the best. Located over the water, East Market is inspired by an authentic Asian market, home to interactive stalls that serve tasty dishes from all over the world. As well as delicious homemade croissants, perfectly crisp baguettes and a range of the usual breakfast delights, I also embraced the less traditional options on offer and, let me tell you, dim sum for breakfast is a revelation!
For more advice on our featured luxury resorts in the Maldives, get in touch with our Luxury Travel Specialists today…