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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-08-30 07:45:41

tatler man the maldives

the maldives
UPLOADED

Life s tyle

welltravelled

DIVE IN

Island-hopping in

THE MALDIVES

112113 IRISH TATLER MAN

Over 105 resorts dot the Maldives’ 26 atolls, where
thousands of paradise islands promise secluded romance

along with adrenalin-filled dives. Yet while it may be
tempting to fly and flop, it’s well worth the effort to indulge

in a spot of island-hopping, writes Shilpa Ganatra

Manta

welltravelled

Y ou don’t need the pilot to This page, clockwise
announce we’re close to from top left:
landing in Male, the capital
of the Maldives. Once Postcard-perfect scenes
descended below the clouds, await guests at every
the sight of dozens of white, luxury resort; snorkelers
get a glimpse of
underwater life in
Kurumba; no coral reef
island in the Maldives is
more than 1.5 metres
high; rest and relaxation
are paramount at this
dream destination

sandy islands, barely

reclaimed from pulls of Tiffany-blue ocean,

is a giveaway.

The Maldives are a near-unique

phenomenon on Earth. Formed of 26 atolls –

rings of shallow coral reef – it encapsulates

over 1,100 disparate coral reef islands, ranging island-hopping. Yes, it requires the
inconvenience of packing,
in length from 18km to just a few metres. None travelling, unpacking, and leaving
behind flip-flops at the last hotel,
is more than 1.5 metres in height, making the but it means there’s zero chance
of resort-fatigue setting in – a
country the lowest-lying in the world. First World problem if ever there
was – and that different sets of
Luckily for the tourist industry, many of breakfast buffets can be explored. swim in shoals while
Furthermore, variations in strange-looking cornetfish
these islands are the perfect size for resorts, localised ecosystems mean swim right up to you making
snorkelers or divers will see a it hard not to swim without
ranging from three-star hotels to ultra-luxury wondrous range of sharks, rays touching them. Parrotfish
and fish – but mainly the breakfast show off their vibrant
hideaways from $1,589 per night – for the buffet. colours, as if in competition
with black, white and orange
Viceroy, should you be wondering. Sharks, it should be noted, are clownfish near them. It’s
not of the Jaws variety, they’re mainly black-tip nothing short of magical,
Most often, holidaymakers are whisked or white-tip reef sharks, and snorkelers will only and exactly what gives the
see baby ones near the shores. Thankfully, Maldives its reputation for
straight to their resort of choice. The only they’re nothing to fear. In fact, it seems a little unsurpassed marine life.
like cheating to count swimming with them as I figure there’s no better place to learn how
reason to visit Male is to allow for late flight an achievement. They’re docile little things that to scuba dive, so I sign up for a test dive. I’ve
will run away from you when you try to swim been told that the first time will sort the wheat
arrivals, early morning departures or for culture towards them. I know, I tried. from the chaff – you either take to it or you
don’t. Well, I didn’t find that strictly true. I was
vultures to indulge in the local way of life, My first resort, Kurumba, is a mere ten able for it and enjoyed the experience, but I’m a
minutes away from the airport. I expected the worrier, and found that you need to keep the
though current political tension in the country proximity to noise and pollution to lessen the ‘what ifs’ at bay when underwater. My fellow
range of underwater activity, but that certainly first-timer, however, was a natural, looking just
means it’s probably best avoided. wasn’t the case. Dunk your snorkelled head as graceful and comfortable as our instructor, a
under the water – even when the water is former London city worker who threw it all in
Indeed, once settled on a resort, the strict waist-high – and you’ll realise that the calmness and began teaching in the Maldives eight years
of the ocean is deceiving. Translucent white fish ago.
Islamic laws governing locals don’t apply – My next stop is the bar. But this bar is in the
sea, as once every week they take a selection of
less-than-modest clothing can be worn and

same-sex couples are welcomed, though

discretion is advised. And while importing or

exporting any alcohol will result in confiscation

at the airport, every resort offers a full bar

service, though, like all goods and services in

the Maldives, it comes at a premium. Expect

cocktails to set you back around €17.

So it’s straight to the resorts I go. Most

often, holidaymakers will opt for one place to

stay for ease and due to the availability of offers

such as cheaper villas, upgrades or extra

activities for longer stays. Yet there’s

something to be said for indulging in a spot of

114115 IRISH TATLER MAN

This page, above:

Luxurious over-water villas are ideal for honeymooning
couples ; catching some surf ; alfresco dining with a view;
spectacular scenery abounds in the Maldives; snorkelling
is a must-do in the clear bue sea; hotel facilities take full
advantage of the breathtaking vistas

wines to the shallow sandy-white shores where Being a Six Senses resort, the highlight Shilpa Ganatra was a guest of Coco Bodu
guests indulge in a wine-tasting session. could only have been the spa. Nestled in thick Hithi, Six Senses and Kuoni. For information
Sounds idyllic, right? It certainly was – so much vegetation, each of the nine treatment rooms is about Coco Bodu Hithi, North Malé Atoll,
so that not even a passing lightning storm with actually a huge pod made from love vine. After visit cocoboduhithi.com or email
thrashing rain could make our group of 10 treatments – which range from massages to [email protected]
abandon the table. A big thank you to Moses experimental rituals from visiting practitioners
and Courtney, the two staffers who weathered – spa-goers can rest in their relaxation area Lagoon Water Villas at Six Senses Laamu
the conditions with us, all in the name of wine. overlooking the postcard-perfect beach. Bliss. are priced from US$808 per villa, per night,
on a B&B basis. For more information, visit
With that unique experience hard to top, I I floated off the island, back to the airport, sixsenses.com.
set off for Six Senses, Laamu. This involved the and took another boat to my final resort, Coco
speedboat back to the airport, a 50-minute Bodu Hithi. Unfortunately, this is where the Kuoni offers seven nights in Kurumba in
flight, then a half-hour by speedboat to the weather did me no favours. While a constant a deluxe room, including British Airways/Sri
island. But it was all worth it once I’d spied 30°C throughout the year, the best time to go is Lankan flights from £1,521 per person, based
their overwater villas in the distance, like pretty between December and May, when stormy on two sharing. To book, visit kuoni.co.uk by
little castles on almost neon-turquoise waters. weather is at its most infrequent. But I didn’t March 10 2016 and quote: IO0021.
escape it. Which brings us to a salient point:
My room was exquisitely furnished, but the what can you do in the Maldives when it’s
magic happened outside of the bedroom. raining? I highly recommend eating breakfast
Making the most of its overwater location, the until lunch, then enjoy lunch until dinner, and
glass-bottomed bath meant I could watch the take a long, leisurely dinner.
rainbow fish and dark stingrays glide along as I
enjoyed a bubble bath while sipping a glass of It helped that the food on the resorts was
wine. Even the toilet had a glass-bottomed exquisite. While coconuts and fish are the only
panel, which made for a much more interesting major locally-sourced ingredients, the supply
pastime than reading The Darwin Awards. ships are weighed down with everything from
burrata to Scottish beef. Needless to say, the
The ambience at Six Senses was notably choice is incredible: breakfast buffet displays
different to Kurumba. While guests can choose are larger than the size of my flat, while the
to socialise as much as isolate there, Six Senses specialty restaurants could rival any of Ireland’s
is a heaven for those who want pure rest and best. Coco Bodu Hithi’s signature evening
relaxation. The peace and tranquillity infiltrates restaurant is Aqua, where they turned
the island like a mist, aided by the vastness of something as simple as a fishcake into a
the resort. Every guest is given a bicycle or fine-dining delicacy – and that was before a
tricycle for the duration of the stay, to make life mouth-watering main of flaky, moist salmon.
easier. So, after dinner at one of their four
high-end restaurants or informal bar, most Such is the reputation that precedes it, the
retire to their rooms, unless the resort is bar is set high for the Maldives. But sunny or
hosting Cinema Under The Stars, a beachside stormy, it’s paradise for water babies, spa
screen with impeccable sound. fiends and foodies alike. ITM


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