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Island life

The Maldives; white powdery sand, balmy waters and the warm embrace of a golden sun

When to go?
The Maldives has a year-round temperature between 26C – 30C; it is best to avoid monsoon season which runs from November to mid-December, although the rain tends to be limited to short showers in the afternoon. The peak season stretches from the end of November to April, with Christmas and New Year being the most expensive time to visit. The best months are January thru March when the sky is the perfect azure blue and the seas so calm they take on an almost glass-like appearance. The prices in April are lower and May sees the start of the low season when the weather can be a tad more inclement but not so much as you would really notice.

 

Why go?
It’s incredible to believe that the Maldives have only been a holiday destination since the 1970’s. This most beautiful island nation consists of over 1,000 islands within 26 coral atolls that stretch down across the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean; today home to over 100 resorts that take advantage of the stunning natural beauty – crystal clear turquoise lagoons, pristine powder white sands that bask below the golden disc set against the backdrop of the clear blue skies. And don’t be taken aback by the unbridled beauty, and wonder if the holiday experience will live up to the sheer majesty of the natural splendour. Driven by strong competition The Maldives is probably one of the most sophisticated and luxurious destinations on the planet today; with the veritable bevvy of lavish personalised resorts and private island destinations offering the some of the world’s finest culinary delights, alongside underwater restaurants, night-clubs, the best in water-sports or just the perfect location for that idyllic getaway.

 

Where to stay
“Welcome to paradise!” The Maldives couldn’t be described better. It truly is a paradise on Earth: crystal clear waters in myriad shades of blue, vibrant marine life, colourful coral reefs and powdery white sand. Everywhere you look is a sight worthy of a travel postcard. An archipelago of islands, the Maldives truly offers a glimpse of the peaceful island life that evokes images of lying lazily by the beach, reading a book whilst gently swaying in a hammock, swimming in the ocean, and sipping on a cool drink while soaking in the sun. With the hope of fulfilling this fantasy, there is a myriad of resorts to choose from.

Cheval Blanc Randheli
Luxury retreat, Cheval Blanc has become a fashionable destination. Set on the unspoiled Noonu Atoll, just 40 minutes by seaplane from the Maldives capital of Malé, this idyllic resort offers a sanctuary from life in the fast lane. Sweeping palm trees, tropical flowers, white powder sand, and inviting turquoise waters teeming with a dazzlingly array of exotic fish and the serene dignity of sea turtles are matched by the grace and style of the warm tones and welcoming embrace of the individual accommodation. Thatched villas, teak, cinnamon wood, coconut

shell and exposed stone provide a sophisticated ambience that would be at home on the pages of Vogue. Whether you are snorkelling, jet-surfing, getting expert ATP tennis coaching or just relaxing by your own infinity pool, get your own personal major domo to arrange dinner at one of the Cheval Blanc’s incredible eateries, from casual relaxed dining at Deelini to a fine-dining experience at Le 1947, where you can indulge yourself on a French gastronomic feast to match anywhere in the world. www.chevalblanc.com

Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah
Four Seasons has now opened its first exclusive use hideaway, on Baa Atoll a private island that pairs Four Seasons legendary levels of service with the idyllic beauty and tranquillity you would expect to find in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve set in the Maldives. This secluded two-hectare piece of paradise surpasses every private island experience and is “entirely yours” from the moment you book; seven bedrooms, a Beach House, dive school and an 18.9 metre yacht extend the oceanic reach of the Maldives’ for up to 22 guests.
www.fourseasons.com/maldivesvoavah

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi
There are few resorts either as beautifully finished, well-staffed or with as much sense of relaxation as the five-star Maldives resort The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi. This is in part because the rooms are all perfectly private – carefully designed so that your space is out of sight of anyone else’s. The resort is also spread out just enough so that you rarely feel your experience is ever infringed upon by another guest. It makes for a sense of idyllic isolation.

Our pick of the accommodation options are the beachside villas. The more expensive water villas are the marquee option – all set on stilts, with glass floors to watch the sharks (these ones don’t bite) and fish. But they’re far smaller, with interiors more akin to a hotel than a Maldivian resort. The villas have soaring conical roofs, up to 130 square metres in size, with outdoor bathroom facilities, Jacuzzi baths and both rain and power showers. All lead to your private track of beach, with a canopied sun-lounger area at the end of a manicured garden.

Ten restaurants are available, all offering different grades of cuisine type and styles of dining. You’ll be surprised by the overall price. Once you’ve got to grips with the flight spend to Malé and then the seaplane, the per-night cost is excellent value.
thesunsiyam.com

Coco Collection
Just a few hours flight from the Middle East, this picture-perfect destination is ideal for a short break; Coco Bodu Hithi is a boutique luxury retreat that offers unrivalled 5-star luxury, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is an eco-oriented luxury resort situated within a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and if you are feeling particularly extravagant then hire Coco Privé Private Island, Kuda Hithi, one of the world’s most exclusive islands. Nestled amid the lush vegetation on the Eastern shores of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu are 27 Deluxe Villas providing ultimate exclusivity, the spacious villas enhance the rustic romantic feel of the island with a four-poster bed, sunken bath in an open-air bathroom and a private fresh-water plunge pool on the outdoor terrace. Wake up to the gentle sound of the waves brushing against the shore and just a few steps further along your own pathway canopied with lush greenery, awaits the soft white sandy beach lit up with the rays of the rising sun. The recipe for dining at Dhuni Kolhu is as simple as it is sublime; discover a world of tastes at Cowrie Restaurant with its live cooking stations or sample genuine island delicacies and barbecued fish with a hint of Thai inspired flavour at the Cornus Restaurant. As the night unfolds, the stylish Conch Bar serves creative cocktails, hops, grape and delicious light bites and snacks into the small hours. www.cococollection.com

Getting there
Flights
The main airport is Malé International Airport which occupies the whole of Hulhule Island, just a short distance from the capital island, Malé.

The main airlines fly to Malé:
Emirates fly direct from Dubai emirates.com
Oman Air flies direct from Muscat omanair.com
Sri Lankan fly direct from Colombo srilanken.com
British Airways flies direct from London ba.com
Flying time from Dubai is only 4¼ hours and a free 30-day visitors’ visa is issued on arrival.

Transfers
When we first visited the Maldives transfers between islands used be by traditional dhoni but with the growth of the resorts across the entire archipelago you are more likely to travel by speedboat or seaplane; however, before you get to kick-back and bask in the relaxing sunshine be prepared for long queues at immigration and your transfer. Our recommendation is once you get to where you are going – stay put! The transfers waste a great deal of your time and money not to mention trying your patience.

WORDS BY: FRANCESCA JACKSON

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