Outstanding Recognition for Jumeirah Group At The World Luxury Travel Awards™

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Jumeirah Group won seven awards at the World Luxury Spa Awards and the World Luxury Restaurant Awards™ Gala 2016 in Switzerland. Jumeirah Vittaveli won three awards at the ceremony - the resort’s Talise spa was named ‘Best Luxury Wellness Spa,’ in the Maldives; the restaurant Fenesse won ‘Best French Cuisine’ in the Maldives; and the Indian restaurant Swarna won ‘Best Indian Cuisine’ in Asia.

Talise Spa at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, also in the Maldives, was named ‘Best Luxury Hideaway Spa’ in the Indian Ocean; Talise Spa at Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa in was named best ‘Luxury Fitness Spa’ in Asia and ‘Best Luxury Destination Spa’ in Kuwait; and Talise Spa at Jumeirah Bodrum Palace   won best Luxury Wellness Spa in Turkey.

Graham Kiy, General Manager at Jumeirah Vittaveli, said: “This is an outstanding recognition for Jumeirah Group, our resort and a tremendous honour for the entire team. Wellness, relaxation and excellent dining offerings are an essential ingredient of a perfect tropical island holiday. We are humbled to have been recognised as leaders in these disciplines.“

The World Luxury Spa Awards gives recognition and thanks to the luxury spa industry, setting benchmarks in quality, innovation and service for spas around the globe. Established as the world’s leading awards initiative for Luxury Spas, The World Luxury Spa Awards sets the spotlight on spas, attracting the attention of global spa-goers and industry experts. Voting is based on service excellence and is cast by spa guests.

The World Luxury Restaurant Awards™ inspires excellence and ignites healthy competition in the luxury restaurant industry. Voting is based on the food experience as a whole, combined with aspects of service excellence, presentation, quality and menu choices. Votes are mainly cast by guests, but also by industry professionals that approve and support the nominated establishments

About Jumeirah Group:

Jumeirah Group, the global luxury hotel company and a member of Dubai Holding, operates a world-class portfolio of hotels and resorts including the flagship Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts manages properties in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Kuwait in the Middle East; Baku, Bodrum, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Mallorca (Spain);the Maldives and Shanghai in Asia. Jumeirah Group also runs the luxury serviced residences brand Jumeirah LivingTM with properties in London and Dubai; the new contemporary lifestyle hotel brand VenuTM; the wellness brand TaliseTM; Jumeirah Restaurant Group DubaiTM; Wild Wadi WaterparkTM; The Emirates Academy of Hospitality ManagementTM; and SiriusTM, its global loyalty programme. Future openings include luxury and lifestyle hotels in China, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Oman, Russia and the UAE. www.jumeirah.com

In December Kandima Maldives to be open

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A contemporary new lifestyle resort opening December 2016 under new hospitality group, Pulse Hotels & Resorts

Located on a lush tropical island in the Dhaalu Atoll, Kandima Maldives will offer guests the opportunity to experience the Maldives in a new way. This contemporary lifestyle resort will embody all the positive values of the Maldives, whilst adding its own innovative, vibrant and playful style. Kandima will be the first lifestyle resort in the country, offering more than just a beach holiday; instead it will offer an experience, giving guests the opportunity to get involved and create memories.

This game-changing resort is set to be anything but ordinary, and cater for guests of all ages; couples, groups of friends and of course honeymooners. Whether you seek relaxation, adventure, wellbeing, sport, spa experiences or just family time, Kandima Maldives will have something for everyone.

Kandima Maldives is perfect for those searching for quality, value and a contemporary and intelligent holiday experience. The goal at this resort is to help guests get the most out of their holiday, by making each stay unique, enjoyable and memorable. Kandima Maldives’ promise is that all guests will leave feeling energised, relaxed, inspired and above all, happy.

To enhance the experience, Kandima Maldives has a first class infrastructure on the island, boasting the longest pool in
the Maldives, tennis courts, an art studio, marine biology school, kids club, games room, library, gym, yoga studio and spa. There is plenty to keep everyone occupied and the array of activities and events on offer is endless, including a huge choice of watersports, diving or snorkelling near the house reef, yoga, Zumba, bicycles, beach volleyball, petanque, arts and crafts lessons, and much more.

In addition, the island offers one of the largest selection of F&B outlets in the country, with an incredible choice of ten delicious restaurants and bars, all featuring unique and individual menus offering flavours of the world from Chinese and Japanese to authentic Maldivian and Mediterranean. So whether it be tropical or traditional, Kandima has something to suit everyone’s tastes.

The resort offers a choice of 274 stylishly designed studios and villas, with eleven different categories to choose from, all of which have a private terrace and endless tropical views to enjoy. Their locations at different points along the 3km long island makes the accommodation suitable for both honeymooners seeking privacy and families looking for activity. Categories include;
• Beach & Sky Studio: A two storey villa, guests can choose between a Sky or a Beach Studio. 138 studios in total, situated along the main beach, all with their own private terrace or balcony.
• Family Sky Studio: 6 interconnecting sky studios with separate living room. The Family Sky Studio’s sleep up to 8 people.
• Beach Villa with Jacuzzi: 30 spacious beachfront villas all with their own private deck, Jacuzzi, and of course endless ocean views.
• Beach Pool Villa: 20 stunning beachfront villas, all with their own private pool, Jacuzzi and private deck.
• Aqua Villa: 30 stylish overwater villas with private deck, offering endless views of the beautiful Indian Ocean.
• Aqua Villa with Jacuzzi: 30 stylish and spacious overwater villas with private deck and Jacuzzi.
• Aqua Pool Villa: 20 stunning overwater villas all with their own private deck, swimming pool, and of course endless ocean views.


Loading Maldives Offers.... Velaa Private Island is definitely a honeymoon spot vying for first position on our ‘wildest dreams’ list.

Located in the breathtaking Noonu Atoll, 187km north of Malé, Velaa Private Island has been designed purely with luxury in mind. Privacy and comfort are must-haves, while the resort’s architecture and design allows the stunning Indian Ocean scenery to take centre stage.

There are a variety of different accommodation options on offer (all of them remarkable in their own right) but our pick for honeymooners would be the aptly-named Romantic Pool Residence, an ultra-private one-bedroom villa, suspended above the lagoon, boasting uninterrupted views over the ocean.

You can only reach it by boat (so no chance of being disturbed here) but the villa does come with its own private chef and butler, to give you more time to enjoy the Jacuzzi, sundeck and sunken bath which all offer unparalleled views over the stunning Maldivian scenery. You can even enjoy a treatment in the villa’s very own spa.

What more could you possibly want from a honeymoon?

Win the chance to surf The Maldives with Jamie O’Brien and Shane Dorian

Loading Maldives Offers.... How would you like the chance to head off to the Maldives for a week long trip with Jamie O’Brien and Shane Dorian, hanging out with the pair of them, catching a few waves and helping to raise money towards a good cause in the process? Well that scenario is a very real possibility for one lucky winner who makes a donation to More Than Sport through a competition being run by Omaze.com

Pledges start at just $10 for 100 entries to the competition and the winner will not only get to surf and hang out with Shane and Jamie, but will also get the chance to watch things unfold at the invite only Surfing Champions Trophy. You will also share a dawn patrol with Shane, ride the giant Sasquatch blindfolded with J.O.B, and receive coaching and surfing tips from the pair of them whilst also enjoying the delights of the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa resort. The Maldives is truly one of the best places on the planet to surf so just imagine what it would be like to share it with two of the biggest names in the sport too.

As well as the basic $10 donation, there are loads of other pledge amounts available and all score you varying amounts of entries to the competition as well as some amazing goodies from wax bundles and J.O.B autographed beater boards to custom boards from JC Hawaii signed by Shane. At time of writing there are still 38 days left to enter the competition, and the lucky winner will also receive flights and the stay at Four Seasons Resort.

What are you waiting for, for just $10 you can help make a difference and improve lives whilst also giving yourself a chance to go on what will probably be the most entertaining and crazy surf trip you ever will. To check out the full details and enter head over to the Omaze website.

You can slaps see Jamie’s Instagram video revealing the trip.

Maldives: A to Z travel tips you (probably) don't know

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Snorkeling in crystal clear waters.

The Maldives, famed for its crystalline waters and long tongues of white sand, lies peacefully at the center of the Indian Ocean.

There is so much to love about this intriguing country, and so much more to learn beyond the travel brochures. The archipelago peppers the seas south-west of Sri Lanka offering a blissful holiday destination if distance, solitude and luxury are your calling.

Resorts are purpose-built on otherwise deserted islands and wherever you are in this nation of beaches, the sea is ever-present – essential to this country's past and present, and a reminder of the fragility of its future.

A is for Atolls. The Maldives is really just a collection of thin coral spines serendipitous poking from the warm waters of the Indian Ocean forming this precarious island nation. There are about 1200 islands in the Maldives, but just 250 are inhabited.

B is for Before you go. Little serious preparation is needed before a trip to the Maldives, but do prepare for the worst and ensure your travel insurance covers the region including the cost of evacuation in the event of an emergency. The Maldives is a long way from home, in fact, a long way from anywhere (see also J and T).

C is for Children. The Maldives is an excellent place to take kids. The sea is warm and off many islands swimming is safe in reef-protected lagoons. Many of the resorts offer a wide range of activities for juniors including snorkeling, sailing and kayaking as well as pools and land-based activities. Relaxing as a family is easy.

D is for Diving. This part of the Indian Ocean is a famed international diving spot partly due to exceedingly clear warm waters and diverse marine life. All resorts offer dive facilities, while specialist operators also run trips. Manta rays, and whale sharks are easily spotted, while even a snorkel trip can result in getting close up and personal with spectacular marine life. The Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 hammered the coral reefs in this part of the world, resulting on widespread coral bleaching. Reports of recovery vary from those who claim the reefs have fully recovered to those who believe the impact on marine life endures.

E is for Equatorial. The Maldives' location on the equator means there is no bad time to visit. Temperatures deviate little from the high 20s to low 30s and the islands seldom go long periods without sunshine. That said, the months from May to November are in the monsoon season meaning the sunshine can be punctuated by sharp torrential rainstorms. The rains are beautiful in themselves and offer an excuse to retreat to your beach-side accommodation and listen to the rain on the roof.

F is for Foreign ownership. Should your island holiday spur ambitions of owning a small piece of island paradise, a quick rethink may be needed. Foreign ownership was completely prohibited until last year when the government passed a law allowing foreigners the chance to buy land if they invest a cool US$1 billion ($1.4b) or more and 70 per cent of the land used is reclaimed from the ocean.

G is for Global warming. With 80 per cent of the country's land less than 1 meter above sea level (the highest point is 2.4m above sea level), the nation has been forced to consider a future without any actual country. Ways to mitigate sea level rise range from seawalls and reclamation through to the possibility of relocation of the whole population to another nation. Talk to the locals and responses to the threat posed by sea level rise range from denial "it won't happen in my lifetime" to concern, "all countries need to work to prevent global warming". The country's first democratically elected president even suggested in 2009 using tourism levies to purchase land in either Sri Lanka, India or Australia to relocate the whole population when the seas claimed the land.

H is for Holidaymakers. More than 1.2 million tourists visited the Maldives last year .Though tourism was non-existent in the country until the 1970s and only boomed in the 1990s, it is now the country's biggest industry. Visitors from China make up the largest tourist group followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and India.

I is for Islam. The state religion is Islam and the vast majority of the population is Muslim. However, unlike other Muslim nations, it is easy to miss the influence of religion while holidaying if you transfer straight to a resort island, where the pleasure-seeking culture of international resorts is culturally dominant.

J is for Jetlag. The Maldives is seven hours behind New Zealand which will mean you spend your first few days waking early and wanting to hit the Indian cotton sheets by early evening. But the beauty of island time is there are no rules and dozing beach side to beat the jet lag is totally legit (just don't forget the sunscreen).

An aerial view of Club Med.

K is for Kani Club Med. French resort-veterans Club Med are among many international resort operators to have staked a claim in the Maldives. The company operates an extremely well-run resort on the island of Kani where the laid-back charm of the Maldives is at its best. Guests loll around under palm trees on white sand beaches, or participate in more vigorous activities including sailing, surfing and diving, punctuated by cocktails and meals of beautifully prepared fresh food. The Club Med charm is on full display on this beautiful island from sun-up to sun-down when the real partying begins.

L is for Luxury. There is no shortage of luxury available in resorts across the country. Among them are the Finolhu Villas, a stunningly beautiful five-star resort, designed by New York firm Yuji Yamazaki Architecture. The 52 villas, restaurant, gym and luxury spa on the island were completed last year and are entirely solar powered. Each villa has its own pool and is furnished with a calming and elegant Japanese-inspired interior – luxury that's hard to beat, and no kids under 12 allowed!

M is for Male. Strangely, the nation's capital is one of the most-densely populated cities in the world. The city is home to more than 150,000 people all packed into just over 5.8 square kilometers. Flights to the Maldives land at Male International Airport, a reasonably basic but adequate airport. From here jet boats and water taxis ferry holidaymakers to the islands at startling speeds.

Island time: Yachts at Club Med Kani in the Maldives.
N is for Nuisances. Though the distance from New Zealand means a big trip to the Maldives, the islands are blessedly free of many other nuisances. Absent are the hassles of other beach destinations such as hawkers and aggressive currency traders and there are no dangerous animals though some marine life such as stingrays need to be respected. Lonely Planet advises healthcare in the country is good by regional standards and most resorts have an in-house doctor.

O is for On the way. The long-haul flight means a stopover on the way. Singapore Air flies from Auckland and Christchurch direct to Singapore and then on to Male. With your luggage checked all the way through, it is easy to take advantage of the layover. Changi Airport's three terminals offer excellent top-brand shopping and good food, or passengers with a longer layover can take advantage of the airport's city tours. The airport also has excellent transit hotels and a day bedroom can be booked for up to six hours sleep for less than US$100 – well worth it if you want to arrive at your destination refreshed.

P is for Population. The population of the Maldives is just 380,000 – around the same population of the Wellington or Canterbury regions. About half of the population live in the capital, Male.

Q is for Quality time. The Maldives are a popular honeymoon destination, but couples at every stage of their relationships can be found taking in the romance of the location. Even a British couple who made the trek to the island nation, while we were there, in a bid to repair their marriage, admitted they were happy to be navigating rocky marital ground so far from home.

​R is for Rufiyaa. The Maldivian rufiyaa is the currency of the country, but chances are that if you are booking a resort holiday, US dollars will be the preferred currency.

S is for Sustainable. Putting aside the carbon footprint of your flight to the Maldives, the sustainability-minded will find much to love in the islands. Sophisticated solar and water-use schemes operate, partly through necessity, on many of the islands in a part of the globe blessed with hours and hours of free sunshine.

T is for Ten thousand, five hundred kilometers. The Maldives is more than 10,500 kilometers from New Zealand. This makes it a hike across the globe if choosing it as a holiday destination, but the outstanding beauty of the archipelago make the long journey worthwhile.

U is for Unplug. The Maldives are a long way from New Zealand and feel like it. Though there is good 3G coverage on many of the islands – the pure distance from home makes it easy to turn off your phone and forget the worries of the real world and just relax on island time.

V is for Visas. A 30-day free visa is issued on arrival for all nationalities, provided you possess a passport with at least six-months validity and have a ticket to continue a journey out of the Maldives. You also need either funds to cover your stay or confirmation of a reservation at a resort or hotel.

W is for Wellness. A holiday in the Maldives is a chance to focus on wellbeing. Most resorts offer massage and wellness treatments, while fitness is easy to achieve with time on your hands. A mixture of regular swims, yoga, zumba and gym workouts are possible in the bigger resorts and whether you want to up the adrenaline or blob out with a book, it's easy to set the right pace for your holiday.

X is for X marks the spot. This is the spot you can claim for yourself in this dreamy island nation. There is no shortage of beach and restricted numbers at each resort (based on maximum occupancies) mean it is easy to find a spot all to yourself, whether you want a quiet piece of beach to read a book, a spot at the bar for a cool mint majito you can find some real uninterrupted bliss in this quiet nation encircled  by the seas.

Y is for Yoga. Whether you are a yoga expert or trying new things on holiday, there is something truly magical about yoga on the beach while gazing over the Indian Ocean. Many of the Maldivian resorts offer yoga classes with instructors from around the world.

Z is for Zumba.  Club Med Kani is among the resorts offering daily fitness classes. While the thought of a poolside Zumba class in front of strangers can be a little daunting, there is nothing like a bunch of bikini-clad French women of all shapes cutting Latin moves to liberate the mind and get the hips moving to a Zumba beat. Holidaying is all about trying new things after all.

Take the plunge into undersea wonderland at five star luxury resort

Loading Maldives Offers.... Most of us have seen the pictures of resorts in the Maldives.

Stunning water villas built over crystal clear waters reached only by seaplane or speed boat.

What you can’t know until you have been of course is that resorts in the Constance range, Halaveli and Moofushi, are even better than the perfect pictures make them look.

These five star resorts are among some of the leading hotels in the world and provide a top of the range guest experience.

Floating in the North Ari atoll and shaped like a curved Dhoni, a Maldivian boat Constance Halaveli is a magical place where water and sand lie in contrast to the exuberant green foliage.

The beauty of Constance Halaveli, with its wide, soft white sand beaches all around the island, is matched by the exceptional hospitality renowned of the Constance brand.
The Jahaz restaurant at Constance Halaveli

Quiet and luxurious, it has a range of attractive facilities.

Dining options include the main restaurant, Jahaz, offering international buffet style cuisine and themed evenings; a specialty over water restaurant, Jing, serving a creative Asian fusion menu and rated as one of the best restaurants in the Maldives; and Meeru, a relaxed, al fresco beach grill with a selection of fresh seafood.

Each of the restaurants also has its own sommelier.

Two bars – one poolside, one over water along the jetty – provide ideal locations to enjoy a sun downer or signature cocktails late into the evening.

Superb snorkeling on house reef

There’s superb snorkeling on the house reef, and access to excellent diving – including four protected marine areas – nearby.

There’s also the relaxing and rejuvenating over water U Spa by Constance.

The glorious villas here all have a private pool. Water Villas are set off a very long jetty, meaning that the highest numbered villas are exceptionally peaceful.

On the beach there’s the choice of impressively spacious Beach Villas and the even bigger Double Story Beach Villas, which are set over two floors with two bedrooms, ideal for families.

If you’re in need of butler service, a private gym and spa treatment room, there’s one gigantic Presidential Villa.

All villas come with high rafted ceiling and furnished terrace.

Halaveli has recently launched its new Cristal Ultimate package – allowing guests an all inclusive option.

Constance Halaveli walkways and water villas look stunning when all lit up at night. It's not unusual to see rays and small sharks in the water at this time.
Moofushi, a paradise island in the Maldives, is the jewel in the Constance group’s crown.

Actually known as the Jewel Island it is one of the new high-end all inclusive resorts that do not compromise on quality.

What primarily distinguishes Constance Moofushi from the others is its French Overseas style, as delivered by this experienced, top-end Mauritian company.

There is an accent on fine food and drink delivered with friendly, attentive service. There is an elegance to the whole resort yet, at the same time, it has a cool beach traveler look and feel.

'Perfect island haven'

The resort brings its high standards of service and design to create a perfect island haven.

The Manta restaurant offers buffet-style dining, serving a range of sumptuous international cuisine including Italian fare and Maldivian specialties.

An over water section of the restaurant allows guests to dine amid stunning Indian Ocean views.

The equally relaxed à la carte Alizée beachfront grill is located just a few steps from the ocean, and specializes in grilled meats and fresh seafood.

A picture perfect paradise

The premium in the all-inclusive means there are no compromises on the quality and variety of the food.

Reacting to any changes in the nationality and preferences of new arrivals, the executive chef and his team do a remarkable job in pleasing everyone.

There are sommeliers in the specialty restaurant Alizée and in the main buffet Manta restaurant.

They gently guide diners to good wines to complement the enjoyment of each course.

With over 150 labels included, there is plenty to choose from.

The Island has two bars. The tropical Manta bar serving signature cocktails. The Totem bar is the beach bar.

Trunks of wood for seats at the counter under thatch where people share conversation together to pass a little time in the shade.

On the sunlit sand are low slung seats and more trunks, now length-wise, leveled-off and used for tables, long and short.

As dusk falls the mood changes as the candle lamps come out.

A quarter of the thatched villas are on the beach, with easy access to island facilities.

Stunning water villas built over crystal clear waters

However, for me, the Maldives is all about the stunning ocean villas.

In Moofushi, these are built on two jetties, each villa has private decking and a stairway down to the Indian Ocean.

They are beautifully furnished with rustic decor using rattan, rough-hewn marble, stripped wood, and closets built from white leather trunks, while in-room Mac Minis provide movies, music, and Internet access.

The senior ocean villas are slightly bigger and include an amazing bathtub built on a gravity-defying overhang.

'Clear blue ocean'

Moofushi is perfectly situated on the south Ari Atoll, acclaimed as one of the best diving locations in the world.

Here you will find the clear blue ocean teeming with colorful sea-life.

Whether you are a seasoned scuba diver or have never even put on a snorkel mask the Maldives is the place to get immersed.

The reef around the island is stunning so my advice is – no matter how appealing that sand or pool – take the plunge and glance below the surface into this undersea wonderland.

There is also a rejuvenating over water spa, a swimming pool, fitness center, boutique and non-motorized water sports.

There is also a range of excursions at extra cost) including a traditional Dhoni sunset cruise, dolphin search, deserted island experience, big game fishing and a day-long whale shark experience – giving participants the amazing experience of snorkeling with these gentle giants of the ocean.

World's largest underwater restaurant going to hit Maldives

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The restaurant will open as part of the new Hurawalhi resort this November.

The destination already features the world’s first underwater spa, as well as another underwater restaurant and a nightclub beneath the ocean.

The new arrival will be at Hurawalhi, where the roof on 5.8 gets its name from the depth; the roof of the restaurant will be submerged 5.8 metres below the surface of the Indian Ocean. 

5.8 will be 18m long and has an acrylic glass-domed roof designed by New Zealand architects MJ Murphy who shipped the structure from Auckland. 

MJ Murphy previously created Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at the Conrad Maldives Conrad Rangali, which is owned by the same company as Hurawalhi, Crown & Champa Resorts. 

5.8 can also be used for weddings, giving couples the chance to have an underwater wedding for up to 20 guests seated in the venue. 

Hurawalhi is in the Lhaviyani Atoll, where Crown owns several resorts, including Kuredu, a popular option from the UK; guests from other resorts will be able to catch a boat to try 5.8 for themselves. 

The resort plans to stand out in the crowded high-end Maldives market by opening as an adults-only property. 

“The Maldives has been increasingly focused on families, but we believe there is a market for a resort just for adults,” said Nina Fleischmann-Torosyan, Hurawalhi’s director of sales and marketing. 

There will be an all-inclusive plan available at Hurawalhi, tapping into another trend in the luxury space. 

The resort will have 90 villas and is a 40-minute seaplane ride from Male; Crown & Champa also has a significant stake in seaplane company TransMaldivian Airways, which Fleischmann-Torosyan said would allow customers access to the some of the country’s lowest fares for the air transfer. 

The resort has been designed by Japanese-American architect Yuji Yamazaki who designed another of the Champa-owned hotels in the Maldives, Club Med Finolhu as a landmark green resort and 100% solar-powered.

Yamazaki first met Champa boss and tourism pioneer ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef while on holiday at Meeru, one of the group’s hotels and has designed W New York and the Andaz LA.

The island is a nesting site for Green Turtles and the company is working with WiseOceans on its conservation strategy. As much as 60% of the resort will run on sustainable solar energy and the island will have a policy of not using any plastic bottles. 

The area is also known for its high-quality diving and Manta Ray population. 

Crown & Champa also owns some neighbouring small local islands, including Dream Island, which the resort will offer for romantic overnight glamping trips. 

There will also be another phase in 2018 when the company will build private residences for sale and lease back into the rental pool. 

Hurawalhi is pitching itself as ‘affordable luxury’ and has earlybird rates pre-opening.

Lux Resorts and Hotels is planning to reopening of Maldives resort

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The refurbished resort will feature 193 pavilions and villas when it reopens on September 1.

These will include 49 adults-only villas with private pools on the eastern side of the island, while to the west there will be 38 water villas, a two-bedroom Lux villa and 105 beach villas.

All villas have been redesigned including the property’s water villas, while new restaurants and bars have also been added, including the Beach Rouge lounge bar, which already features at the Lux Belle Mare property in Mauritius.

The resort will have a total of seven restaurants, including the Asian-themed East Market, and five bars.

Lux will also launch a range of Reasons to Go Lux activities at the resort, including photography workshops and a junk art studio.

The company is planning a launch party to mark the reopening in September.

Lux is undergoing a major period of expansion including a new property in the Maldives - Lux North Male Atoll which is due to open in 2017 with 60 private villas.

The company is also planning to open new properties in the United Arab Emirates, Reunion, Turkey and China.

The Maldive's Atoll, No Worries

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As we’re herded onto a cramped, stiflingly hot seaplane, I wonder how something so dinky can possibly float, let alone fly. Although air travel is part of my job, I still fear flying, and specifically taking off. The smaller the aircraft, the more my fear grows. Still, once everyone – and everything – is strapped in, we’re off, and we’re OK.

The plane soars over the ­Maldives’ Malé Atoll as we head south-west towards Constance Halaveli. I peer out of my window and strain to focus on the water below, rather than a propeller that, much to my dismay, is in my direct line of sight. As distractions go, it’s a good one. The deep blue water beneath us is hypnotic – ebbing and flowing, and intermittently giving way to dollops of aqua marine, turquoise and white. It’s every bit the postcard image of a tropical paradise.

After a 35-minute flight, with one short stop, we’re deposited about a kilometre offshore, and clamber, luggage in hand, onto a floating wooden platform. The wait isn’t long, but allows enough time to take a few photos before one of the hotel’s boats arrives.

The Maldives, located south of the Indian subcontinent, consists of 26 coral atolls – approximately 1,200 islands in total. The country has only been a holiday destination for about 40 years, but isn’t short of mid-range to high-end resorts. The North Ari Atoll alone, where Halaveli is located, is home to several, including W Retreat and Spa Maldives, Banyan Tree Madivaru and ­Kandolhu Maldives.

Once we have checked in, we’re whisked away to our beach villas on golf buggies. I’m shown to a family beach villa, one of 86 villas that make up the island resort. The well-hidden accommodation sports its own plunge pool, private beach access and sun deck. Paired with the option of room service, guests could easily hole up for days on end without interacting with another soul.

That evening, we dine at Jing, one of the four on-site eateries, and the only restaurant here that asks guests to wear shoes. Over a delicious meal of shiitake mushroom cream soup, black Angus beef and a beyond-decadent dessert (the black chocolate combination comprises a long tube of chocolate over chocolate ice cream on a giant chocolate-­dusted plate, with hot liquid chocolate poured over the tube to reveal yet more, fudge-like chocolate), we’re told by Sindya Cecile, the resort’s guest services manager, that there has been a slight drop in bookings during the past year. This, she explains, is mainly down to the global economic downturn, and is most noticeable among ­Russian travellers, a result of the collapse of the rouble.

Despite this, the resort is, during our visit, at 60 per cent capacity, even though it’s monsoon season (May to November). It’s little ­surprise that "low season" hasn’t put people off visiting entirely. We experience only a few, momentary showers, and glorious temperatures that don’t rise above about 30°C. Though the seas can also be choppy during these months, which makes for several less-than-pleasant boat journeys, hotels are noticeably quieter and rates cheaper – prices are about US$450 (Dh1,653) per night lower than during the high season (November to April).

It’s incredible how fast one acclimates to island life. On our second day, I spend the afternoon indulging in one of U Spa by ­Constance’s mind-meltingly relaxing massages. As the therapist works out the knots in my neck and lower back, I’m privy to a view of the ocean below through a cleverly placed transparent pane of glass under my table. After 45 minutes of being pleasantly poked and kneaded, I’m ushered into a lounge area overlooking the water, and spend the remainder of my time sipping tea. One morning is spent watching the sun rise over the water while we’re led through various yoga poses by Halaveli’s on-site yoga instructor. At this point, I begin to feel almost entirely at ease, letting go of the stresses of everyday life waiting back home. I even find it relatively painless to disconnect from my smartphone, despite the strong Wi-Fi.

The same day, a group of us head out on one of the hotel’s boats for three hours of snorkelling. We drop into the sea, one by one, and are guided by several instructors around the edge of the reef. The water is warm and teeming with life – we spot beautiful coral and fish of varying sizes and colours during our experience.

Yet all this beauty is bittersweet, as the lowest-lying country in the world remains extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A paper published by the Maldives’ Ministry of ­Environment, Energy and Water reported that from 2000 to 2006, 90 inhabited islands flooded at least once, while 37 islands flooded regularly. While the government is working on several environmental initiatives, the resorts also have to do their part. A brief discussion with ­Serjoscha Grünzel, ­Halaveli’s assistant front office manager, reveals that both ­Halaveli and Constance ­Moofushi – our second destination – are Green Globe certified. The international certification for sustainable tourism has a stringent set of criteria that includes sustainable design and construction of buildings and infrastructure (new and existing); strict labour practices that follow the conventions of the ­International Labor Organization; the purchase of disposable and consumable goods; and energy and water consumption. While many of these steps take place behind the scenes – which I see first-hand as I’m given a back-of-house tour – some are noticeable throughout our stay. Glass water bottles are used most of the time – even in the rooms – and AC units shut off when doors to the villas are open longer than three minutes.

On the third day, we board a speedboat for a 40-minute ride to Moofushi, in the South Ari ­Atoll. The water is so choppy that I begin to question whether we will make it in one piece. The resort offers an all-inclusive, more sociable experience than Halaveli. It also lends itself to more water activities. Snorkelling, kayaking and windsurfing are readily accessible, from the steps of your water villa or from the public beach areas. I’m also not at a loss for photo ops. The sea is, if that’s possible, a clearer shade of turquoise than at Halaveli, and the resort’s layout makes for perfect Instagram snaps.

The next three days are taken up with more yoga and yet another soothing massage, this time for a full hour. I spend one afternoon happily paddling around in a kayak for an hour, taking in the views of the sea life below.

While on a walking tour of ­Himandhoo, a neighbouring island 20 minutes north-east by boat, I ask our guide for a brief history of the Maldives. To my surprise, he laughs and says he doesn’t know, despite being ­Maldivian. The information I do eke out of him, however, is that the majority of Himandhoo’s male residents – about 75 per cent – are fishermen. Most women are homemakers, though some work in government jobs, including as schoolteachers. It’s a Saturday, so there are small children flitting around on bikes, throwing the odd "hello, what’s your name?" our way, before laughing and running off. Though the tour starts out promisingly, with a visit to the local school and a quick chat with the principal, it ends disappointingly touristy, with our guide pushing us to buy from the few local vendors hawking tat on the main strip.

As we’re readying to board the boat back to the resort, I point to a tattered yellow flag with a set of scales flying over the island. The flag, I’m told, is from the old government regime. It seems that many of the islanders still support Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected official in 30 years. ­Nasheed was ousted in 2012, and jailed in 2015 when found guilty of terrorism by the current regime. The current government has ­experienced ­continuing ­political protests – some of which have been violent – in the capital, Malé. But unless you have done your homework before arriving, you would have little clue this could be going on 30 minutes from the resort. The subject comes up briefly one night over dinner, and the lack of discussion is perhaps understandable, given that most visitors come here to get away from the worries of their own lives. In a way, you can’t blame them – it really is easier to look past the propeller and into the beauty beyond. It’s just a shame that the effort to insulate guests in pampered luxury in paradise will mean most will leave without seeing or hearing much about life beyond their resort.

The Maldives is the Number One Travel Destination For Chinese

Loading Maldives Offers.... For affluent Chinese in particular, the Maldives is the number one most planned future travel destination. The Maldives is a popular resort home to numerous luxury hotels, including a Four Seasons, with a St. Regis set to open on Sept. 1 and a Ritz-Carlton to follow, but is not known for its shopping.

However, more than half of consumers surveyed prefer to purchase luxury goods and determine vacations based on the availability of luxury shopping. Despite these numbers, Chinese consumers said that nature experiences and eco-tourism are among the top three desired travel activities, preferences that contribute to the Maldives’ popularity.

Given the popularity of both shopping while traveling and the Maldives’ popularity, which seems poised to stay given the interest in eco-tourism, partnerships with luxury hotels or otherwise establishing a more visible presence in the Maldives should be considered for luxury brands looking to expand.
However, the top reason for traveling is still related to experience rather than products. Location-specific items or collections are a recommendation from the report that can help tie luxury products to the local experience to encourage purchase as mementos or souvenirs.

Hotels stand to benefit from ever-increasing interest in luxury travel. Half of respondents said they would only stay in four- and five-star hotels.

However, hotels need to further familiarize themselves with consumers by market, as the nature of luxury travel is not universal. For example, Singaporeans average 3.1 leisure trips per year, while Indians have the highest rate of “bleisure,” or business trips with a few days of leisure on either end.

Moreover, 65 percent of Indian consumers, as well 38 percent of Chinese compared to 34 percent overall, prefer condos or houses to hotels. Luxury hotels must find ways to close the gap that home amenities, namely kitchens, offer to travelers by emphasizing hotel-exclusive elements of great service or highlighting high-end suites.

New customers

Overall, China’s outbound luxury travelers spend $65,000 per household on tourism per year, including $34,000 on travel shopping, according to a recent study from the Hurun Research Institute and Marriott International.

Chinese outbound tourists have long been a high-priority group for luxury brands, but the demands and habits of younger travelers are changing quickly. The digital natives aged between 18 and 36 years old want a more personalized experience, including superior guest services and smart device integration (see story).

Hotels will need to alter their strategy in order to take advantage of the new influx of travel are from abroad.

Affiliate sites and online travel agencies have kicked brands out of first-page search results, according to a May 2016 L2 report.

Across 452 non-branded keywords, TripAdvisor had the highest first-page display rate by a significant portion, and similar sites and online travel agencies (OTAs) dominated the top 10. To make themselves visible to prospective travelers researching online, brands must make themselves visible on these sites and target consumers by region (see story).

“Luxury hotels again need to understand the needs of the traveler,” Ms. Banta said. “A younger traveler has different needs to an older one with kids: service and quality are both key to this traveler, as is a desire for unique and customized experience, including connecting with them on WeChat and WhatsApp.

“We have seen a rise for local cultural experiences in our research over the years, as well as local culinary dining/fine dining asides from shopping,” she said. “The other thing that emerged strong in our research across was that security now plays a very important part in their choice of destination given some of the incidents that have happened in Paris and Istanbul.

“But luxury shopping and traveling still go hand-in-hand, especially for travelers from China and India.”

High-End Luxury Segment In India Are Targeted By The OZEN By Atmosphere At Maadhoo

Loading Maldives Offers.... Maldives-based Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts is set to tap the high-end luxury segment in the Indian market with the opening of its all-inclusive resort, The OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo. The property will offer 90 keys, comprising 44 beach-front villas and 46 on water villas. Within this mix, the resort will offer a 2-bedroom family suite on the beach and a high-end water suite.

Talking about the property, Dinesh Bhaskar, Group Director–Sales and Marketing, Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts, said, “The OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo will open on July 15, 2016. We have curated the entire experience and elements according to the needs of discerning travellers. We believe OZEN will be the next big hospitality development in the Maldives with its location and the exceptional services we have on offer for e.g., the underwater fine dining experience at OZEN is also included within the Luxury All-Inclusive plan being offered at the resort.”

The OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo is situated at a 35-minute drive by speed boat from the Male International Airport. Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts is targeting high-net worth individuals with private jets, business class travellers and celebrity guests to The OZEN property.  Bhaskar said, “There is a huge segment within the Indian market, who are looking for exotic and personalised experiences, without diluting the brand & segment positioning. OZEN is about quality from the time the discerning customer arrives at the Male` International Airport.”

Bookings for The OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo were opened three months ago. “We already have firm bookings of 7,000 room mights from world-over. By August-September, with word-of-mouth publicity, I expect this momentum to pick up within the Indian market too and results will be seen during the upcoming Diwali holidays,” Bhaskar said.

In India, Mumbai-based Krisia Holidays is the Preferred Partner for Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts. Suraj Dalwani, MD, Krisia Holidays, said, “The OZEN by Atmosphere will offer an opportunity to book and live the five-star luxury experience. We are getting inquiries from cities like Jamnagar and Bhubaneswar, besides the Tier-I markets. We are working with our trade channel partners to create awareness about all the Atmosphere resorts.”

Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts also operates The Atmosphere Kanifushi and The Oblu by Atmosphere in the Maldives. “In 2014, Atmosphere Kanifushi welcomed 1,800 customers from India, which increased to 2,400 in 2015, and we are hoping to close the year with 2,750 guests from the country. For Kanifushi, India is the 6th largest source market, globally,” Bhaskar said.

Lux upgrades luxury resort in the Maldives

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Lux Resorts & Hotels has unveiled a series of upgrades being undertaken at its luxury resort in the Maldives.

The Lux South Ari Atoll will reopen on 1 September 2016 following a “complete refurbishment”. On the island’s east side there will be 49 pool villas, including 46 with seven-meter pools and three with 14-meter pools. These three larger units will form the resort’s adults-only area, and also come equipped with twin showers and private terraces that feature “couples’ love nests”.

Two kilometers to the west, there will be 38 water villas and a two-bedroom Lux Villa, which will complement the resort’s 105 beach villas, 12 of which feature private pools.

The resort’s seven restaurants and five bars are all undergoing a major upgrade. Highlights will include beach side Italian, Indian/Arabic and international outlets, dedicated sushi, teppanyaki and robatayaki counters, and the largest selection of sakes and Japanese whiskies in the Maldives.

Lux will also bring its beach club concept to the island, which was first seen at its flagship Lux Belle Mare in Mauritius. The new Beach Rouge will serve seafood and wine, among other items.

The resort’s spa is also being renovated to incorporate a traditional Chinese tea house, a new area for skin and body care and an extended lagoon-view relaxation area.

And finally, Lux South Ari Atoll will introduce a series of “expert-led workshops” that allow guests to learn a range of skills such as painting, photography and meditation.

“The brand vision is to offer our guests different luxury hospitality experience; helping people celebrate life, by making each moment matter. I have no doubt Lux South Ari Atoll will become a real spot in the Maldives, with its fresh and exciting new look and its incredibly passionate team, getting ready to welcome guests. We have a winning combination” shares Paul Jones, CEO of Lux Resorts & Hotels.

The Maldivian Thriving Guest Houses Industry

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For a country that is mainly driven by tourism, it is essential to increase the number of inbound tourists year by year. The lush greenery and serene stretches of sandbanks of the Indian Ocean archipelago has, for the longest time defined Maldives as a luxury brand; but the problem with that is not everybody could afford luxury. Not everyone is made for the posh hotels and private island retreats, and this in turn limited the beautiful island nation to a generic audience. But as urbanization and modern development took over the nation, we witnessed the rise of tourist guesthouse businesses; an avail to those who had been only dreaming of a vacation in the Maldives, as they were offered luxury on a budget.

Fast forward to 2016, we are now in a Maldives where the guesthouse business has become a common household name. It has become one of the fastest growing industries – becoming a fully-fledged business, with several businesses and organizations endorsing them and coming to their aid. While almost all of the islands of the country sport a guesthouse, several commodities have been arranged for such businesses such as the ‘guesthouse internet’ by Dhiraagu.

‘Guesthouse Internet’, Ultimate Wi-Fi Solution for Guesthouses

In the world which has been subject to globalization over the years, it is incredibly important to access high speed internet no matter where you are. And that is one of the premier challenges faced by guesthouses – especially ones in the remote or rural areas of the country. With the ever growing guesthouse community, it had become a pivotal challenge for the telecommunication companies of the country bring a solution to such issues – and the country’s telecom giant, Dhiraagu has finally taken a step towards an ultimate solution and introduced the ‘guesthouse internet’ initiative.

"With this service, guest house customers will be able to access fast internet services from fiber optic cables, with private wi-fi hotspots via cloud wi-fi network system. Guest house owners will be able to offer their customers enhanced services," Dhiraagu revealed.

Dhiraagu said with the package, customers will be able to access cloud based centralized wi-fi management system, Unified Threat Management (UTM), manage and analyze traffic, guest portal and branded guest log-in page, different packages for guests, easily generate access codes, special relationship management and 24 hour technical support.

Guest House Insurance Scheme 

It is inevitable that insurance has become a vital part of our lives today. From health to motor, we make sure to insure all things dear to us – and to take it one step further, Allied Insurance’s Amana Takaful recently announced the ‘Guest House Insurance’ scheme.

The special package introduced for guesthouses include; Fire, Business Interruption, Public Liability and Burglary along with Natural Disaster covers. In addition to these, the package also offers additional covers such as Money Takaful, Employee Personal Accident Cover in addition to the plate glass cover.

Such packages by the leading insurance company of the country goes on to show how fast the industry has been growing and how different and various organizations are jumping on the bandwagon to support such business. It won’t be long before we experience even more advanced options being available for guesthouse owners.

Industry Tax Guide: Tourist Guest Houses

Not everyone is an expert when it comes to numbers and accounting, and due tax payments. And when such systems exist – especially ones specific to certain businesses it sure makes life easier to have a handy document that guides you around it all to teach you the ropes. The Industry Tax Guide published by Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) aims to do just that.

“Since tourist guest houses are subject to a number of taxes, it is important for guest house operators and those venturing into the industry to be fully aware of the tax implications”, MIRA said as they published the document.

The guide explains the requirement to register for various taxes and how to go about doing it, the taxes guesthouses are subject to, the tax returns guesthouses must file and the payments guesthouses must make, the deadlines for filing tax returns and making payments, what records guesthouses must maintain and other tax-related information which guesthouses need to know. In short, the book is covers everything you need to know about the taxes that you are responsible of paying – which could be found online through the official website of MIRA.

While these are just some of the very noteworthy initiatives by various organizations, there is no doubt that in the near future there will be even bigger and better initiatives in support of the local guesthouse industry. From non-existence to mainstream, the industry has proven itself within the span of just a few years – and it is only forecasted to grow by the numbers with each passing day.

Maldives without limits - Hurawalhi

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With more than 1200 resorts to choose from in an area already world-renowned for its beauty – a new opening ought to be nothing short of spectacular to be worthy of interest. Hurawalhi in the Maldives is unparalleled, extraordinary and utterly original.  Environmentally innovative, a breath-taking underwater restaurant, a tropical Champagne Pavilion, stylish villas and an over 18s-only policy and with no other resorts as far as the eye can see – Hurawalhi offers its own take on Paradise.

This is the Maldives redefined; a truly unique five-star resort experience, nestled amongst the spectacular coral reefs of Lhaviyani Atoll, opening in October 2016.  

Just a 40-minute seaplane flight from Male, here are a distinctive collection of superbly designed, exclusive and supremely spacious villas strung across the glittering lagoon - perfectly positioned, so that all guests can enjoy either sunrise or sunset panoramas. And with dining options that include on the beach, over the water, and even under the water, the philosophy here is that nothing is impossible.

Offering 90 Villas including 60 Ocean Villas and 30 Beach Villas, Hurawalhi is a sanctuary of serenity for grown-ups who are seeking luxury and innovation. The residences are stylishly and beautifully conceived featuring soothing décor, sumptuous linens on king size beds, bleached wooden floors, and private terraces with panoramic views.  

With a strong environmental focus, Hurawalhi gives back to the Maldives as much as it gets. Using solar panels, its own water bottling plant, energy saving solutions, hot water recovery and an in-house marine biologist, Hurawalhi’s eco credentials are the finest in the Maldives.

In addition, Hurawalhi is collaborating with WiseOceans, the marine conservation and education specialists. WiseOceans are teaming up with the resort’s own in-house 5* PADI instructors in order to provide educational guided dives and snorkelling through the spectacular nearby reefs and shipwrecks. The island is a nesting site for green turtles and WiseOceans are tasked with preserving this natural habitat as well as educating visitors on these beautiful and endangered creatures.

The scene-stealer is the underwater restaurant, named 5.8 and will send senses soaring in this unparalleled setting, located 5.8 meters beneath the sea.  Each dish blends the best ingredients with innovation and style, resulting in a showcase of imaginative modern cuisine, combined with an incredible location, wine and service. Surrounded by out of this world marine views, the minimalist-designed restaurant keeps the focus outside; and rates high on romance - every table is set for just two. The menu concept is a multi-course tasting extravaganza also available with wine pairing options narrated by the sommelier.

Coming up for air, above the water, the Aquarium restaurant offers staggering sea views by day and a romantic flicker of candlelight by night.  Serving a contemporary menu with thoughtfully sourced ingredients, organic and artisanal, a Teppanyaki grill, there is an emphasis on the freshest of local seafood and the finest quality of prime beef with delectable sushi, sashimi and tempura all prepared by a personal, highly skilled chef.

Canneli is a third option for dining, serving international cuisine prepared to the highest standards whilst overlooking the tranquil Indian Ocean. Private beach dining al fresco under the stars is also encouraged, allowing guests to create once-in-a-lifetime memories in a romantic setting second to none, enjoying signature lobster and wagyu beef created by a personal chef. The seductively lit bar is directly on the beach with al fresco decking overlooking a glimmering pool and lagoon, and includes a comprehensive shisha selection.

For activity seekers there is tennis, badminton and beach volleyball, with a sports fishing boat for deep-sea fishing.   There is incredible diving on offer including guided diving and snorkelling boat trips and a complete PADI 5* training centre. There are jet skis available as well as para gliding, water skiing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, windsurfing, kayaks and catamarans.

Hurawalhi’s blissful Duniye Spa brings visitors closer to nature overlooking the vibrant turquoise water. Duniye means “universe” and the name represents its philosophy: a universal approach to wellness, with treatments inspired by ancient and modern expertise from around the globe. A strong influence from the healing traditions of Asia and Africa can be seen in the spa’s repertoire, including the use of local ingredients and treatments inspired from traditional cultures. Channeling wholeness, simplicity, purity and quality, the spa uses only the highest quality chemical free, organic compound products from ‘Healing Earth™ - they are all free from petrochemicals, synthetics, colourants, DEA, preservatives and parabens.

Indeed, there are countless reasons to visit the Maldives: dazzling white sands, cyan-blue seas, spectacular underwater life, and incredible sunsets. The opening of the extraordinary Hurawalhi ensures that this destination will remain unmissable in the years to come.

Heartfelt hospitality in the Maldives

Loading Maldives Offers.... Many Arabs, especially young couples, find the Maldives an attractive destination. Many Arabs and Gulf citizens keep searching for resorts in the Maldives that offer high levels of privacy and where they can pamper themselves on a magical holiday.

JA Manafaru is one of the best resorts in the Maldives, offering a luxurious family holiday and a place for couples to make their dreams come true. JA Manafaru, a place where holiday-makers can become stress-free, is located in a breathtaking setting some 75 minutes by seaplane from Male International Airport in the northern Haa Alif Atoll of the Maldives.

Once the seaplane lands, resort employees are on wait for guests with welcoming drinks, songs and small cold towels. They are then driven in a car to their accommodation. The resort’s employees are always smiling and try to satisfy their guests by ensuring they are at hand and asking after them. They are always there for people, even if what the guests ask for is not their responsibility to provide.

The resort offers several types of rooms suitable for couples, and small and large families up to 8 to 12 people. These include the Sunrise Water Villas with Infinity Plunge Pool, the Beach Bungalow with Private Pool, One Bedroom Beach Suites with Private Infinity Pool, and Sunset Water Villas with Infinity Plunge Pool.

The property boasts 84 keys consisting of beach villas and water villas, eight food and beverage outlets, and a spa and beauty complex. It also offers a water sports and PADI dive center, and an extensive children’s entertainment area.

Parents can keep their children in the kids’ club without worrying since employees are at hand to not only take care of the children but are also trained to babysit. In the kids club there is a small swimming pool, a playroom and special activities that include cooking and drawing. Although the club closes at 8 pm, parents can still avail of the babysitting service after 8 pm.

Next to the kids’ club, there is a chill zone where people can relax by having a cup of coffee, tea or juice, or play billiards. In the chill zone, there is also a small gym that is open 24 hours. The steam room is open the entire day and there is also an outdoor tennis court.

Guests can carry out several activities during the day. This includes water sports such as jet skiing, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, stand-up paddling, catamaran sailing, jet skiing, wake boarding, mono-skiing, knee boarding or water-skiing and much more.

The resort also offers guests fishing and sailing trips. On return, guests can have the fish cooked at the resort. Boat trips at sunset to watch dolphins are also on offer. Guests can also go by boat to Govvaafushi Island, which is part of the resort, and enjoy time there. Guests can stay in the island and swim alone and also spend the entire day there. An emergency phone will be with the guest if he needs anything or wants to return. In the castaway, the person can enjoy lunch and watch the sunset. The place is very private and very few people ask to spend the night on the island.

JA Manafaru participates in special international days like celebrating Earth Day by planting trees and International Women’s Day by having special activities for female employees and guests. Cooking classes are also on offer each day. Participants in the class learn how to cook a Maldivian main dish, bread, as well as dessert. There are also special night events, including Maldivian Night every Friday at the Kakuni restaurant. Guests can also enjoy several varieties of breakfast, including several Japanese dishes and an oriental breakfast.

Food lovers would enjoy the restaurants and cafés. Lunch is highly recommended at one of the poolside venues. Visitors can pick between Andiamo Bistro and Pool or the Infinity Bar and Pool

At the Andiamo Bistro and Pool, pizza is one of the best dishes to be ordered, particularly Duck Pizza. The Infinity Bar and Pool is well known for its beef burgers which include vegetables and eggs.

White Ocean is another restaurant where visitors can sit overlooking the ocean and have Japanese, Chinese and Thai specialties on a teppanyaki table for an authentic Asian fusion cuisine experience and artistic presentation.
Ocean Grill is another beachfront restaurant that serves local seafood and delectable meat, freshly prepared on a live grill and seasoned with organic herbs.

Horizon Lounge is a café where families can enjoy the sunset and spend their night listening to English music performed by a live singer. This café closes at around 11.30 pm.

The Calm Spa should also be visited and offers a sophisticated collection of aromatherapy massages and treatments. This includes Shidehara, Ayurvedic or a traditional Maldivian massage or healing ritual. The center is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm.

Before leaving, guests can buy some souvenirs from the small shop next to the reception or get some necklaces from the gallery shop. People can post their pictures on social media at anytime since free WIFI is available in most of the island. To top off, the resort accepts US dollars and euros.

A special place for me The Centara Grand Maldives

Loading Maldives Offers.... My first visit to the Maldives was in the 90's and more recently I have returned every year since 2013. A total of five visits.

The Maldives is a special place for me. It has a completely unique environment and I thoroughly relax and I enjoy chilling out in this peaceful and beautiful space.

With a rich culture, gorgeous vistas and spectacular marine life, it's one of my favourite destinations. I quickly adopt a 'life is good' attitude. One of total relaxation and enjoying being away from our usual routines. It draws me back year-after-year. I can truly say that the Maldives is a brilliant holiday destination – one of the best.

With 1,190 islands, land is still the scarcest resource in the country, making up less than 1% of its surface area and one of the lowest lying countries in the world (average height of only 1.5 metres).

My hotel of choice for the last four years has been the Centara Grand. Being a former hotelier I know there's nothing like the personal touch. Staying in the resort as a recognised regular guest, it's extra special. You get a sense of being part of a family. It's something quite unique and this is absolutely synonymous with the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa.

Getting to the Maldives could not be easier. Travelling from Bangkok with my partner Pichai, we boarded a direct flight to the International Airport in Malé, the capital and most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. With Bangkok Airways it's just 4 hours 15 mins from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Over the years, I have become a member of their frequent FlyerBonus club and take advantage of 10 kg extra baggage as a result, which is handy but not really necessary for this trip.

You don't need that much luggage in the Maldives. Staying at a beach resort, you spend much of the time in shorts and T-shirt and as the title suggests - barefoot. Just perfect.

After Malé we take a seaplane, from the terminal next door to the main airport, for a 25 minute hop to the resort. Arriving at the Centara Grand, aboard a twin engined De Havilland Sea Otter, is very special. I just love sea planes. An experience not to be missed. It's a great way to arrive, stylish and fun.

There is no dress code in the resort. For the restaurants, however, swim wear is not allowed. In the evenings for dinner, smart casual is the order of the day. Most guests we saw tended to wear something loose fitting, partly due to the warm temperature and partly for comfort. Cotton seems to work best.

So to summarise you do not need very heavy luggage. Travel light.

Spending much of the day outdoors and in bright sunshine don't forget to bring a high factor suncream. The resort provides free SPF 20, replenished daily as a bathroom amenity. I recommended however using SPF 50 to 70 for your neck and face, especially at the beginning of your holiday.

Bring lots of reading material (there is a library if you forget or run out) and your headphones (if you like to listen and relax to music).

The resort has many daily activities which include excursions by boat to nearby islands for sightseeing and shopping; sunset cruises with dolphin watching and fishing trips.

Over the years it has been interesting to watch the development of the resort. The Centara is no stranger to change. Improvements evolve, without ever loosing the resort's original design concept. It has improved organically - with care. The inclusion of 20 Sunset Ocean Pool Villas has been so successful they are often sold out. They incorporate a small horizonless plunge pool in the Villas and it's a perfect place to soak and relax especially at sunset with the fabulous colours above the turquoise sea.

The colour of the sea a perfect contrast against the red, orange and yellow hues of the setting sun. The low lying landscape provides some of the most brilliant sunsets you will ever see. And the best way to view this is with a cocktail in your hand - perfect!

Dining at the Centara is a delight. The resort is family friendly so there is a wide choice of dining options.

We particularly enjoyed eating at the Island Club. A fine dining restaurant with a great kitchen. It's elegant and special. The menu changes daily for lunch and dinner. The service is faultless.

Being a Thai owned resort, it comes as no surprise that the resort caters for lovers of Thai cuisine. Arguably the fastest growing global culinary 'flavour'. Thai cuisine is a huge phenomenon.

The resort's Suan Bua (lotus pond) is a wonderful Thai restaurant with an exceptional Chef - Khun Ning. We regularly ate here during our two week vacation. Alternating between Azzura Italian Restaurant and Reef, the International Buffet Restaurant with its popular Teppanyaki Counter.

The resort is all-inclusive, which at first, 4 years ago, worried me (would it be cheap and cheerful, with heaps of French fries and burgers? Fast high-fat / high-carb meals?) But I needn't have worried. At the Centara Grand it's a great concept with great food.

You can completely forget about taking your wallet anywhere in the resort. You never need to figure out your spending – it's all included – going to bars and restaurants is trouble free and most importantly, stress free.

The island is packed with water sports. With snorkelling; para gliding; banana boats; mini water slides; a supervised kids club and a scuba club. On top of this, are daily activities including spa treatments; kids fish feeding; shark/stingray feeding and a new recently introduced yoga programme with the extraordinary Dr Raj.

You can learn to scuba dive at the resort, starting with an intro course that is included in the resort package. Also included free are the shopping, fishing and sunset cruises with dolphin watching.

There are regular diving trips, for the more experienced diver, which are chargeable.

For me the top activity is swimming with Whale Sharks. They are called sharks but actually they are the world's largest fish, plankton eaters.

The trip consists of a 45 minute boat ride to the area where the whale sharks might be feeding and once spotted, snorkelling 30 to 45 minutes in the general area. Growing up to 9m long, these majestic creatures gently swim along, giant mouths open, they feed and we watch in awe at their immense power and beauty.

This is probably on my list of top 10 things to do in the world, such a unique and extraordinary experience.

What else to do....? Well for me quite often, nothing.
(How often can you do that?)

You are you in charge of your own time, you're on holiday so relax. Lay back and soak up the good karma, which is so easy to do as there is so little that causes you stress. You adapt to a slower island pace.

The staff are fantastic and always on hand to offer help and advise. They work together as one big happy team. It all flows so well. Service is effortless and seamless.

The resort has a very extensive library, and for parents with kids there are no worries about cuts and scrapes, with a full-time medical professional and clinic, help is on hand.

Experience the Luxury of Maldive with Stunning Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa

Loading Maldives Offers.... The Maldives is always a popular luxury choice, and Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa is among the most prestigious hotel destinations in the country.

Now, following previous incredible ttgluxury trips where we have taken agents to the likes of the Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Macau and Thailand, the Maldives will be next on the agenda.

Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa is a scenic 70-minute flight from Male to Gan International Airport in Addu Atoll, located just south of the equator. From there, it’s then just a five-minute boat ride to the resort and agents will soon be wowed by the island’s idyllic setting, untouched natural beauty and striking coral reef.

Stay in style

The lush resort is home to more than 17,000 coconut trees, over four miles of picturesque coastline and more than a mile of white sandy beaches. An all-villa resort, it affords an exceptional amount of privacy and space per guest and the 132 villas are in nine distinct styles.
These range from private water villas and tropical tree houses perched on stilts among dense vegetation, to pool villas and beachside residences. And for the ultimate experience, the resort features two Presidential Villas – over-water Villa Muthee and land-based Villa Laalu.
When it comes to dining, there are three main restaurants - poolside Javvu serves international dishes, Dr. Ali’s on the east coast offers Arabic, Indian, Cantonese and Vietnamese cuisine and with stunning views on the north coast of the island, Fashala is the place to go for a delicious seafood meal. Other places to relax on the island with a cool drink and some tasty snacks include the stylish M-Lounge and Manzara Bar, while guests may also choose to have bespoke gastronomic experiences crafted just for them.

Unique activities to try

The resort offers endless activities and excursions and is one of few in the Maldives to be located so close to local islands, which means there are unique cultural, historical and nature tours which are only available in Addu Atoll. The more energetic guest can take a speedboat to Gan Island to explore by bicycle the five neighbouring islands connected by a 17-kilometre road.
Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa is also the largest resort island in the country, so it’s little surprise it is home to the only golf course in the Maldives, with nine holes.
There’s also diving to try, with myriad sites to visit, including the British Loyalty shipwreck, 25 minutes away. Other water-based activities include surfing, dolphin-spotting cruises and snorkelling to see turtles. The resort also has its own 21-metre luxury yacht, Horizon.

Make the most of the island

Back on shore, jungle pathways allow for tropical explorations and a chef’s garden can also be enjoyed, along with jogging trails and even an eco-centre to understand more about this precious environment. 

The island is also a playground for families – with a Cool Zone kids area and plenty of fun activities to keep them amused. There’s even a new Tropical Safari whereby young guests must keep an eye out for an alternative “big five” and “little five” to record in their Island Safari Handbook as they play on the island. In the water, there's plenty to do too - Kneeboarding, Seabobs, waterskiing, wake boarding and banana boat rides are just some of the watersports available.
And of course for adults, CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La provides a range of blissful treatments with a sense of place. Guests can also keep up their fitness and wellbeing routines, with yoga, meditation, a gym and badminton and tennis courts available across the island.