Finolhu, Baa Atoll, Maldives

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It’s back to the glamorous Baja beach days of the 1960s for this new all-villa resort in the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Baa Atoll in The Maldives. Located 30 minutes by speedboat from sister property Amilla Fushi (and a 30-minute sea plane ride from Male), the just-opened Finolhu features 125 villas (many overwater and more than half with private pools) arrayed by beach and lagoon on a pristine atoll claiming a 1.8km-long snow-white sand bank and impossibly blue waters.

The mood is retro beach party with a double-height club hosting classic movies, demode arcade games and a lively entertainment program featuring DJs, weekly pool parties and monthly full moon knees-up on the sand bar.

The resort is not just for the “beach-erati” however; families are catered for as well with a kids club and schedule of teen activities, including all manner of watersports, games and cooking classes.

The Marine Hub features an underwater biosphere and offers diving, snorkelling and guided ocean excursions. The room inventory encompasses 41 overwater lagoon villas with direct ocean access, 41 overwater ocean villas with private freshwater 6m swimming pools as well as one and two-bedroom beach digs with private pools.

Expect king beds, indoor and outdoor bathrooms, flat screen TV with satellite channels, free high-speed Wi-Fi, unguents from Britain’s popular Neal’s Yard Remedies and, in keeping with the retro vibe, vintage-style Marshall speakers.

DON’T MISS: Kicking back in the groovy Cove Club with fitness centre, beach gym and 10 “treatment divans”, each celebrating a diva of the 60s or 70s.

DINING IN AND OUT: Executive chef Nishantha Parana oversees the signature Kanusan, located on the tip of the island with wonderful Indian Ocean views and an overwater bar. The Asian kitchen dishes up dumplings, noodles, laksas, curries and stir fries. Try the abalone with Asian leaves or fried softshell crab with green mango salad. In the Baahaa Grill, chefs deliver the spice blends of North Africa, perhaps a Libyan fish tagine or mezze platter. The resort’s old-fashioned milk bar specialises in healthy snacks.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Swim, stroll or jump a classic Maldivian dhoni boat to that long and lovely sand bank where you’ll find the rustic Fish & Crab Shack; settle in beneath the coconut palms with a bucket of prawns and glass of rose.

CHECKING IN: Villas from $US750 ($990). Full board meal plans $US120 a day; half board, $US70.


A new luxury hotel brand will debut in Sydney’s Chatswood this December; Silkari Suites will feature 212 studios, apartments and suites; projects in the pipeline include a resort and spa on NSW’s south coast featuring a championship golf course • The remarkable landscape of the South Australian Flinders Ranges will serve as a salve for lucky guests signing up to meditation guru and stress
buster Jacqui Lewis’s mindfulness retreat
at Wild Bush Luxury’s Arkaba from September 4-7; the all-inclusive per-person cost of $3475 includes guided wildlife safaris, homestead digs and luxury swag camping
• Brisbane’s new Oaks Woolloongabba is posting an opening special of $119 a room with Wi-Fi; 5km from the CBD, the $47 million new-build features 80 serviced apartments with private balconies • New York’s prestigious Waldorf Astoria on swanky Park Avenue is set to close in 2017 for a mammoth three-year refurbishment that is expected to see up to two-thirds of the 1400-plus guestrooms transformed into private apartments.

Ballet Dancers Rocked the Maldivian Night at Per Aquum Resort

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Until now the only type of ballet to be found in Maldives has been the graceful antics of manta rays.

That is about to change. An ensemble of ballet dancers from Russia’s renowned Mariinsky Ballet Company, including first soloist, Xander Parish, will swap St Petersburg’s Theatre Square for a tropical beach backdrop as part of Pulse, Per Aquum’s stream of avant-garde experiences.

Overwater stages will spring up at Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi and Per Aquum Niyama resorts in Maldives as performances of Swan Lake, Scheherazade, Giselle, Carmen and Don Quixote come to life over two magical nights.

Guests at Per Aquum Niyama will be able to enjoy an exclusive performance on 21 August with an encore at Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi on 23 August.

 Xander Parish, originally from Yorkshire in England, was the first British dancer to be accepted into the Mariinsky company and will be joined by his hand-picked ensemble including Oksana Bondareva and Renata Shakirova.

Courtesy of Per Aquum, budding ballerinas and ballerinos will also have a once in a lifetime chance to take centre stage themselves as Xander and his dancers will also be offering masterclasses at each resort during their visit.

Guests who book directly via Per Aquum’s website will receive exclusive benefits including an upgrade to half board at Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi and a 60-minute massage for two at Per Aquum Niyama, as well as an invitation to the pre-event cocktail party and a host of surprises including a signed copy of Xander’s book – from Per Aquum with love.

Luxury hits seaplanes as Maldivian begin operations of eighth seaplane

Loading Maldives Offers.... Maldives’ national airline, ‘Maldivian’ began operations of its eighth sea plane Wednesday, and adds luxury to the method of transportation which is frequently used by tourists in the Maldives. The DH-6 Twin Otter Aircraft has an interior designed for the comfort of its passengers. As such, the flight is air conditioned, and seats are reflective to that of private jets.

During a ceremony held at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport to commence operations of the flight, Head of Administration of Island Aviation Service, Ali Nashath revealed that the opportunity to charter the plane is now available for interested parties. He added that both individuals and resorts would be able to charter the plane for their needs.

While it has only been two years since the company began seaplane services, they have achieved a number of goals they set out for the two years. Speaking to the media, Nashath stated that the company will be bringing in two more seaplanes this year, as it is one of their goals to have 10 planes in their fleet within the two years.

The company revealed that the ninth seaplane is slated to arrive late August or early September, while the tenth will arrive by November latest.

During the short ceremony, Sheeraz Rashid –Manager, Commercial and Facilities at Maldivian Seaplane – revealed that the company intends to add more luxury seaplanes to their fleet depending on the demand for them. He noted how the country had always needed one, as the demand for high-end resorts is extremely high in the Maldives.

W Maldives Appoints Chef Ilias Kafalis as New Director of Cuisine

Loading Maldives Offers.... Housing five vibrant dining venues in one resort is an uphill struggle, but W Maldives does it effortlessly. With the appointment of Ilias Kafalis as its new Director of Cuisine, they aim to raise the standards even higher as the experienced chef brings his expertise to the Maldives.

With 15 years of knowledge behind him, Chef Ilias has seen the industry in Greece, Cyprus, France, China and Qatar. He joins W Maldives from InterContinental Hotel & Resort - Doha, Qatar.

Born in city of Athens, Chef Ilias holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Hospitality School of Galaxidi in Greece. His gastronomical career took its baby steps in Nice, France, followed by a three year culinary journey under the helm of a 3* Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse and 2* Michelin Chef Helene Darroze. In Paris he also worked for such luxury catering companies as Potel & Chabot, Saint Clair and Fauchon Epicerie.

“We are ecstatic to have Ilias join our resort and lead our very talented kitchen talents” said Anton Birnbaum, General Manager, W Maldives. “He has tremendous experience, a very impressive resume and possesses excellent leadership and management skills.”

2011 saw Chef Ilias’ talent reaching to millions as he participated in the Greek 2011 edition of the famous cooking show TOP CHEF, where he made it through to the semi-finals. He is also the author of the culinary book “A Look on the Modern Greek Cuisin”.

Famous figures such as Princess Stéphanie of Monaco, Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni, Jacques Chirac and Andrés Iniesta – an FC Barcelona professional football player – have been lucky to have tasted the dishes prepared by the talented Chef.

Chef Ilias believes that this will provide him a new beginning in the Maldives, and aims to create a food culture that will concentrate on sourcing the best of the local produce.

“Taking the lead at W Maldives will truly mark a new beginning for me in the country. I aim to bring here my own menu of French Mediterranean cuisine with a touch of Asian and Arabic flavours. I would like to create a food culture that will concentrate on sourcing the best of the local produce and making everything we do sustainable by using the freshest and organic ingredients possible,” Chef Ilias said.

The private five star island which provides a new cutting edge, contemporary lifestyle experience and an exclusive escape boasts some of the most unique dining experiences in the industry. These include; Kitchen, Fire, Fish, and Private Dining. The first being a bistro, second a beachfront grill, third a seafood specialty and fourth the option to dine in seclusion as the resort takes care of it all.

Maldives resort offered exclusive access to new rooms to UK divers

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Maldives-based Eriyadu Resort is offering exclusive access to its newly completed Beach Club rooms to UK divers booking with Regaldive.
The resort's 16 Beach Club rooms are in a two-storey block and boast panoramic views. Just minutes away from the main restaurant and dive centre, the Beach Club rooms are in a prime location.
Located on North Male Atoll, Eriyadu Island offers a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and wonderful diving. The house reef around Eriyadu is breath-taking and offers a wide variety of marine life with more than 350 different species of fish.
Some of the most spectacular dive sites in the Maldives are located nearby, making the island a diver's paradise.


Loading Maldives Offers.... The 2016 Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy line up is complete and it is one of the most star studded the unique event has seen. Joining Pipe specialists Jamie O’Brien, former Championship Tour competitor and WSL deputy commissioner Travis Logie and 2015 event champion Shane Dorian will be Taj Burrow, Bethany Hamilton, Rob Machado and local champion Hussain ‘Iboo’ Areef.

Taj Burrow is a surfer that needs minimal introduction. Taj is known for his cheerful demeanor and dynamic surfing. The West Australian burst onto the scene in 1999 with a groundbreaking profile movie (SaboTaj) and impressive competitive results, Burrow finished No.2 in the world in his rookie season. He stayed on tour for almost two decades and notched up 12 CT victories. After calling this year’s Fiji Pro his last CT event, Burrow now has more time on his hands to attend more diverse events like the Four Seasons Maldives Champions Trophy.

“This event looks incredible,” Burrow said. “The waves in the Maldives look so fun and the resort looks amazing – there was no way I could knock this one back. The crew surfing in it this year is unreal. I can’t wait to get over there with my girls.”

Bethany Hamilton was born and raised on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai where surfing became a strong part of her life from a young age. Hamilton began to enjoy much competitive success from a young age winning a number of local and regional events. In 2003, Hamilton lost her arm when she was attacked by a tiger shark while surfing near her home. Exhibiting her trademark determination and love of surfing, Bethany returned to competition just seven months later, placing 5th in the 2004 NSSA nationals (winning it the following year).

A truly inspirational soul surfer, Bethany’s career highlights include: Hawaiian State Champion, T&C Pipeline Women’s Pro winner (2007), Surf n Sea Pipeline Women’s Pro winner (2014), and 3rd place at this year’s Fiji Women’s Pro. Hamilton’s competitive prowess coupled with her strong passion for surfing.

“I’m so excited to have fun surfing with the boys in the Maldives’ pristine waves,” Hamilton said. “It’ll be fun and interesting competing on twin and single fin boards. I’m Looking forward to a cruise time with my family and enjoying our time in paradise.”

Considered one of the smoothest surfers of his generation, Californian Rob Machado is an iconic soul surfer, spending over the last decade travelling the world surfing the most perfect waves he can find, usually on different and experimental equipment. Some people forget however that through the nineties, Machado was a solid fixture in the WSL CT top 10, even making it to World No. 2 in 1995 and was seen as a formidable opponent by his fellow competitors.

Machado’s ability on boards of all shapes and sizes will see him as a major threat when competition gets underway at the 2016 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy.

“I’ve always been a massive fan of this event,” Machado said. “Having the three different board types in one event is a really cool concept – it just sounds like an amazing event in an amazing location.”

Event coordinator, Mark Winson of Tropicsurf, predicts the most exciting year yet with this incredible and diverse line-up of competitors.

“There’s no guessing which way this will go, and that’s what makes it so exciting,” Winson said. “Spectators are in for an electrifying show of surfing skills.”

For the first time in the event’s history a local wildcard will go head to head with the world’s best in the main event. Hussain ‘Iboo’ Areef is widely recognised as Maldives’ national surfing hero. The reigning Domestic Champions Trophy winner and successful Maldives Open campaigner will be a legitimate threat on the world stage of the Champions Trophy.

“I am honoured to have this opportunity to surf in the Four Seasons Champions Trophy this year”, Areef said. “I am so stoked to be able to surf with my heroes. Thank you Four Seasons for giving a Maldivian a chance to participate in this event. I’m really looking forward to it”

Equally as exciting is the announcement that the upcoming Maldives Open surfing event will be used as the selection competition to determine the highest placed local surfer for future Champion Trophy’s. Mark Winson of Tropicsurf sees this as one of the most thrilling evolutions of the Champions Trophy.

“There is so much surfing talent here in the Maldives and the Maldives Open is widely regarded as the highest level of domestic competition in the country, Winson said. “It’s the perfect opportunity for local surfers to earn unequalled bragging rights, a share of US$25k prize money, and the Champions Trophy. I’m sure that Iboo and surfers just like him will be real contenders in this event for years to come”

Maldives Open contest organiser and president of the MBBA Fuku Areef explains that;

“Local surfers are really excited to see one of our own go head to head with the world’s best. It’s a tremendous opportunity for Iboo on the world stage and we’re confident that he will do really well. Furthermore, to now have the Maldives Open as the qualification event for future Champions Trophy’s is a great opportunity for any Maldivian surfer to put themselves up against the likes of surfers like Shane Dorian or Taj Burrow. That’s such a great step forward for local surfers and the Champions Trophy concept”

The 2016 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy will run from August 8-14. For more information head to, or check out the WSL app.

About the event: Unique in many ways, the Surfing Champions Trophy determines heat times based on age and tests skill across three divisions: single-fin, twin-fin, and thruster.  Places are granted by invitation-only to six world champions in a battle for inner-circle kudos and a US$25,000 prize pot. Each heat is run with a timing handicap per competitor’s age; so, the older the competitor the more time they have in the water.

The event is hosted aboard Four Seasons Explorer – the Maldives’ ultimate surf vessel. Fans can get up close to the action with onboard VIP passes, while the ‘surf tour’ experience continues with shoulder-rubbing events back at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa, which plays host to the contest’s competitors, judges and Tropicsurf partners (the pros behind Kuda Huraa’s surf operation.)

Exploring the Magical Maldives...

Loading Maldives Offers.... For a first time visitor the Maldives must seriously blow people’s minds, the most effortlessly beautiful and serene setting – this place is heaven. Question is which island do you grace with your presence? I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Maldives before and I would have to say that when there, seaplane travel is generally better than a boat transfer as the aerial views are breathtaking and it makes it easy to island hop. Seaplanes can only travel in the daytime so any flights arriving after 4pm may need to take a speedboat.

The most important point for the Maldives is that if you are into water-sports stay somewhere with good house reef especially if people are keen to snorkel, otherwise the visit can be disappointing as there is not much snorkeling around some of the islands.

As a general rule, and most people would say this, I’d try to avoid June and July as the sea tends to be very choppy and the weather isn’t great. When the weather is better and the sea is calm you really see the Maldivian beauty in all its perfect light!

This beautifully exclusive island is a 40-minute flight from Male, located in the Baa Atoll, if you’re looking for sheer luxury – this is it. With breathtaking rooms and suites and a fabulous reef nearby for snorkeling this is an ideal place for anyone up for filling their days lazily with swimming, strolling and totally relaxing whilst wanting for nothing. You can wander around the island or cycle if you’re feeling slightly more adventurous to get from A to B.

One of the first things you notice is that the service is excellent and the staff seriously attentive, they focus on what makes their guests happy and at ease. The dining options are great, with a choice of three different restaurants and various bars on the island. Sitting with your feet dipped in the water whilst you sip your cocktails is so refreshing and such a great touch. The owner is a business man who fell in love with the Maldives but felt everywhere he stayed fell short of total seamless luxury so he created VELAA meaning everything should be perfect – and it is truly wonderful.

Worth noting is the incredible spa, perched out to sea on its own purpose built hut it looks as beautiful outside as it is in. The treatments are all ‘My Blend by Clarins’ and whatever part of the spa you’re in you are guaranteed beautiful views, there are little huts for treatments or out on stilts over the water, and an amazing Jacuzzi also perched out on the water. Worth trying is one of the cloud9 stress relief treatments and if you can face a shock, the snow room – bizarre to feel freezing in the beach setting but supposedly great for your energy levels and skin toning.

Sri Lanka’s Hayleys buys Maldive island resort for US$23mn

Loading Maldives Offers.... ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Hayleys group said it had bought an island resort in the Maldives for US$23 million which will complement its city hotels and resorts portfolio in Sri Lanka.

The acquisition was made by Hayleys subsidiary Luxury Resort (Pvt) Ltd., incorporated in the Maldives, a stock exchange filing said.

It bought Kudarah Island Resort Maldives located in South Ari Atoll which has 51 luxury villas close to the popular Kudarah Thila dive site.

The resort will be branded Amaya Kudarah Maldives and be under management of Amaya Leisure.


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Escape the UAE heat this summer and enjoy a luxury surfing trip to the stunning Maldives

Dreaming of an active summer break, but also want to throw a little luxury into the mix? Luckily you can now get the best of both worlds at idyllic Maldives’ resort Gili Lankanfushi, with the opening of a new top-notch surf shack on the island.

Voted Trip Advisor’s 'Best Hotel in the World' just last year, Gili Lankanfushi shares the same stretch of reef as the famous ‘Jails’ surf break, where even the most experienced surfers can push their performance. Situated in the stunning North Male Atoll, some of the best breaks in the country lie right on its doorstep, a quick hop, step and boat ride from the resort’s front door (which is only a twenty minute boat ride from the airport, too).

Teaming up with renowned surfing company Tropicsurf, who specialise in combing the very best surfing with the very best resorts, you’ll be in the most experienced of hands thanks to bespoke lessons and surf trips tailored to your very own needs. What’s more, options range from an hours’ beginners lesson to all-day excursions, perfect for those looking to make a day of it. Sounds like the dream summer trip to us, and all just a quick four hour plane journey from Dubai! Count us in…

Stunning aerial views of Gili Lankanfushi
Sit back and relax on a hammock mid surf! 

OZEN at Maadhoo: The Atmosphere Indulgence

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It’s yet another beautiful day in the luxurious paradise of Maldives, as it welcomes the brand new ‘OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo’ – the latest luxury opening in the island destination. The resort which opened its doors to the world yesterday brings lifestyle luxury to the Male’ Atoll, and is expected to hit 90% occupancy after being open for just three days.

OZEN at Maadhoo offers a unique and exclusive luxury holiday plan; The Atmosphere INDULGENCE™.  The Exotic 90 villa resort presents its guests with an all-encompassing Luxury Beach holiday experience with all elements of the perfect luxury holiday in the Maldives, fully taken care of, upfront.

About 35-minutes away by a Luxury speedboat from Malé International Airport, on the idyllic island of Maadhoo in South Malé Atoll, OZEN brings a complete hassle-free lifestyle holiday offering, to those seeking a tranquil escape from the daily grind. The Atmosphere INDULGENCE™ plan even includes an exquisite fine-dining experience within the first Underwater restaurant in Male` Atoll – M6m (Acronym for Minus Six Meters!), at no extra charge – a first in the Maldives which will prove on to be a unique feature of the resort.

“Today is a very special day as we welcome our first guests to OZEN by Atmosphere. It is gratifying to see all our hard work come to fruition and our vision coming to life. My team & I are fully excited & prepared to take care of our discerning guests during the coming weeks. We look forward to welcoming many more to our home away from home during the coming months and create lasting memories,” Mr. Venkata Giri, General Manager of OZEN said.

OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo is the third resort within the Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts portfolio. After the successful launch of Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives in December 2013, the brand opened a wonderful & extremely popular four star superior resort – OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli in November 2015.

Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts intends to expand their portfolio with another two resorts during the coming year!

Discover the Luxury of Maldives through villas, lush nature and tropical beaches

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This Indian Ocean paradise provides holidaymakers with a pampered castaway experience
As I snorkelled across the lagoon, our guide, Ali, beckoned us towards a school of vibrant oriental sweetlips, their yellow fins and monochrome stripes providing a stark contrast against the turquoise sea.

And as we drifted past the coral reef, we were enchanted by a display of brightly coloured parrotfish, surgeonfish and clownfish before being circled by an inquisitive spotted eagle ray.

But the highlight was the sudden appearance of a sea turtle, swimming gracefully below me – the first of many magical moments on this trip of a lifetime to the Maldives.

This Indian Ocean paradise, comprising more than 1,000 coral islands, grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, provides holidaymakers with a pampered castaway experience.

My partner and I arrived by speedboat at the Amari Havodda resort in the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the south of the Maldives, and were greeted by friendly staff who attended to our every need during our blissful
It’s the perfect choice for romantic getaways – especially for honeymooners and those wanting to pop the question. But it’s also ideal if, like me, you’re looking for an excuse to slow down, bask in the sunshine and indulge in some much-needed R&R.

The resort, which opened earlier this year, has 120 villas with six different types to choose from, so there’s something to suit everyone. We opted to stay in a Sunset Beach Pool Villa, enjoying the combination of being a stone’s throw away from the sea but with our own plunge pool for added privacy.

You can also divide your stay between two villa types (overwater and beach) to experience the best of both worlds. Whatever you choose, all of the villas are contemporary, spacious, comfortable and air-conditioned – much needed when the sun is at its highest.

Due to its tropical climate, the Maldives is blessed with warm temperatures all year round. The dry season officially runs from January to March, but people flock here at all times.

This is the perfect choice for romantic getaways

The small island, which you can walk around in about 15 minutes, is lush with natural fauna and palm trees – the national tree of the Maldives. Such is their abundance that coconuts feature in many dishes at the Amaya Food Gallery.

Menus change daily and there are a variety of choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including vegetable tempura, exotic curries and grilled meats. The waiters are genuinely the kindest I have ever met – ours, Ismail, demonstrated his talents by making me a beautiful starfish necklace out of palm leaves.

For an extra special treat, book a table at Ember Robatayaki, a Japanese restaurant on the northern shore (you can book a buggy to take you there but it’s not necessary, as everything is within walking distance). As we arrived, our chef informed us that he was, in fact,

Sri Lankan, but you would never have guessed it from the authenticity of the dishes. Snapper and Wagyu beef were charcoal-grilled to perfection in front of us, and sushi platters were also served. We somehow managed to find room for a delicious green tea chocolate parfait with mango, coconut and green tea jelly.

There’s a gym at the Fit Centre if you need to work off some extra pounds, but we opted for sunset yoga instead. While looking out over the horizon, we attempted to stretch into the vinyasa yoga positions with the encouragement of our teacher. Afterwards, we rewarded our hard work with astrology-themed cocktails at Thari Bar while gazing at the stars.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with a plethora of water sport activities, too. Spot dolphins on a sunset cruise aboard a traditional Maldivian dhoni, or, if you’re a thrill-seeker, feel the wind in your hair during a jet ski ride.

We decided to flex our arm muscles and paddled out in a glass-bottom kayak for two, catching sight of angelfish when we stopped for a breather.

If you overdo the water sports and need to soothe away any aches and pains, then book a treatment at the Breeze Spa. Choosing a serene mood massage, I lay back and let my body and mind unwind as my therapist kneaded away my knots.

Afterwards my partner and I soaked in a petal-strewn Jacuzzi before being served a healthy vegetarian dinner for two.

While sipping a peach Bellini at Iru Bar on our last night, I said my goodbyes to this little piece of paradise as the sun disappeared into the horizon. It’s a destination that had me completely under its spell.

Luxury villas, lush nature and tropical beaches: Discover the Maldives

Ten things you must do in the Maldives

  1. Dip your feet in the water while dining under the stars at Amari Havodda’s sunken pool.
  2. Book a cooking lesson and learn how to make authentic Maldivian food.
  3. Make a splash in the infinity pool, one of the largest in the Maldives.
  4.  Learn how to make a “fresh fit” cocktail at a cocktail-making class and sip the finished result from a coconut shell.
  5. Watch a romantic movie, eat popcorn and feel the sand beneath your feet during weekly movie nights.
  6. See the wonders of the deep from the comfort of a glass-bottom kayak.
  7. Lie back and relax during a massage at the Breeze Spa and come away feeling tip top.
  8. Pop on a wetsuit and go scuba diving on the beautiful house reef.
  9. Catch the wind during a windsurfing lesson or have a go at stand-up paddling. 
  10. Sit on a sun lounger and read a book without any interruptions.

Kuoni backs Maldives dive clean-up

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Tour operator Kuoni has teamed up with a resort in the Maldives to carry out a dive clean-up as part of Make Holidays Greener month.

Instead of a traditional beach clean-up, Kuoni and the Kuramathi Island Resort are holding a clean-up of diving areas on Friday (July 15).

The dive clean-up is being organised from the resort’s main dive school with volunteers collecting debris and rubbish underwear around the resort’s reef.
Kuoni reps Darryl Dyer and Joe Kendel, who are both qualified advanced divers, will be among those taking part in the reef clean-up.
This will be followed on Saturday (July 16) by a presentation on underwater plastic pollution at the resort’s eco centre by Kuramathi’s resident marine biologist, which will include advice on how to prevent this type of pollution.
Kuramathi Island Resort is a Travelife Gold member and is sold exclusively by Kuoni in the UK market.
This year’s Make Holidays Greener month is being run by Abta and one of the main initiatives involves beach cleans at resorts around the world.

Luxury restaurants go under the sea

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Nowadays it’s no longer enough to wine and dine in the tallest skyscrapers in order to prove your upper-class bona fides. Apparently, you need to go deep, too.
Next month, luxury-seekers will find another reason to revisit the Maldives with the opening of the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant. Part of the expansion of the five-star Hurawalhi Resort, it is being billed as the world’s largest underwater restaurant.
It’s yet another feather on the proverbial cap for tourism in the Maldives, a trailblazing destination in the field of underwater hospitality. The 5.8 Undersea Restaurant will open on the heels of two submarine Maldivian restaurants: the Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives and the Subsix at Niyama.
In addition to 360-degree views of marine life, Hurawalhi’s restaurant will come with its own wine cellar. The Maldivian resort of Anantara Kihavah opened a dedicated wine cellar under the sea in 2011.
While not every atoll or isle is cut out to be the next trendy submarine restaurant, the Maldives has the perfect synergy of factors favouring such a “niche product,” according to Nihat Ercan, executive vice-president for investment sales at Jones Lang LaSalle.
“The Maldives works very well for the underwater concept,” Ercan said. “Tourism there is generally based on the principle that one island hosts one resort.”
More: Only in Dubai… it’s the world’s first underwater tennis court
On that note, India’s pioneering underwater resto, the Real Poseidon, was shut down shortly after launch, due to building code violations and safety risks.
Developers around the world have been trying, with various degrees of success, to replicate the concept on lodging. In Florida, an underwater laboratory was converted into Jules’ Undersea Lodge, which guests can access only by scuba-diving 21 feet into Key Largo waters. Off Pemba Island in Zanzibar, the Manta Resort offers the Underwater Room, a submerged bedroom in a floating house.
Surprisingly, it’s an idea that makes business sense. According to Ercan, underwater rooms are cheaper to develop than overwater villas. The key lies in prefabricated the structures on land and then submerging them later.
The Ithaa restaurant was pre-constructed in Singapore for USD5 million before it was cast into the Indian Ocean in 2005.
More: Architect gets eco-political with new underwater city design
Unlike underwater restaurants, a fully underwater hotel seems to be an idea that doesn’t hold water, so to speak. Plans to build the Hydropolis Hotel in Dubai and the Poseidon Resort in Fiji, both of which feature multiple submarine rooms, are now figuratively dead in the water.
For now, visitors to Dubai can make do with the Poseidon and Neptune suites at the Atlantis hotel, which gives the semblance of a submarine environment through “windows” that are actually the panes of the hotel’s larger-than-life aquarium. Similarly, guests at the 11 Ocean Suites in Singapore can sleep in rooms that share walls with the massive South East Asia Aquarium, the largest oceanarium in the world.
While it’s still years before most people come to sleep underwater, it’s clearly becoming evident that when it comes to eating out with class and attitude, you don’t keep your head above water.
Get a glimpse of what to expect here:

Malaika Arora Khan sizzles in bikini on the beaches of Maldives

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Malaika Arora Khan, who is enjoying a much needed break post the completion of India's Got Talent, was sizzling in a burnt yellow bikini on the beaches of Maldives.

Malaika was seen having some fun and trying out yoga postures in the middle of the sea with none other than her son Arhaan.

The mother-son duo can be seen sitting on a surfing board trying yoga asanas.

ALSO READ: Is IGT judge Malaika Arora Khan back with husband Arbaaz?

Yummy mummy Malaika wrote on Instagram: "Wat a perfect way to start ur day......SUP yoga in the middle of the blue sea.thank u @fsmaldives for this unreal experience #standuppaddle #yoga#kudahuraa #fourseasonsresort #maldives"

Malaika, who is known for her famous item numbers Chaiyya Chaiyya, Munni Badnam, is known to a fantabulous figure. In another picture, the actress looks perfect in a blue monokini.

And in the next she can be seen having fun snorkelling. "I love the ocean ....... #maldives #snorkeling #fourseasonsresort #kudahuraa @fsmaldives 📸 credit@@waseemshaikh3"

And the mommie dearest was joined by her teenage son as they explored the deep ocean and its marine life.

St Regis sets date for Maldives debut

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The group is among many to have luxury island hideaways in the country and will open the all-villa St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort on September 1.

The 77-villa property is in the Dhaalu Atoll, 40 minutes from Male by seaplane and is designed by WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design out of Singapore; lagoon villas are shaped like manta rays, the signature bar is in the shape of a whale shark and there is a lobster-inspired spa and a spiral shell-shaped library.

The island’s design sees it focus on several zones - the Lagoon zone with a water amphitheatre and an Iridium Spa; the Beach zone with two beachfront restaurants; the Jungle zone with a nature discovery centre and pop-up cafe; and the Coastal zone with a dive centre and bar.

There is also an art trail connecting the areas that will feature the work of artists in residence who will use locally sourced materials.

There will also be a Children’s Club and a Socialite Club for young guests aged 16 onwards.

There will be six dining venues, including an Asian specialty restaurant, an Italian restaurant, an underground wine cellar restaurant, a shack-style restaurant, a signature over-water bar and a pop-up restaurant in the middle of the resort.

Among the accommodations on the island will be the John Jacob Astor Estate – named for the founder of the original St Regis in New York. 

It’s said to be among the largest villas in the Maldives, with a total size of 1,540 square metres, with three areas – one of which includes a 92-metre pool, living room, master bedroom, show kitchen, spa room, mini theatre, fitness area, while another has two connecting lagoon villas, each featuring their own private pool. 

The Iridium Spa has six over-water treatment rooms, including two dedicated to Ayurvedic treatments, and a Blue Hole pool, which contains heated seawater with different water jets.

The 24-hour St Regis Butler Service will also be available for all guests. 

The brand, which is part of Starwood, has 35 hotels and resorts worldwide, with 50 more to follow by 2020.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Wins Three Prestigious Awards in World Luxury Restaurant & Spa Awards 2016

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The hugely successful first spa and restaurant gala event was concluded at the exquisite 5-star Grand Hotel Kronenhof Pontresina in Switzerland. The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives was recognised among the 38 countries and took home 3 awards at the gala event held on 18th June 2016.  The resort’s French Restaurant and Wine Cellar – Flavours received two Global awards as the Best French Cuisine and Best Wine Selection. The resort’s Spa – Spa by Thalgo - received the Best Luxury Spa Resort in the Maldives.

Abdulla Thamheed, General Manager at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, said: “This is a tremendous achievement – one we are both humbled and extremely proud to receive, and while there is often a sharp perception gap in the excellence of hotel food and wine offering, this award is a true reflection of the talent, innovation and cultural sophistication that we are delighted to showcase to the world though our restaurants.  Our Spa speaks to itself by been an ideal destination for a rewarding spa journey with our professionally certified therapists. As a team, we have always been committed to provide the best spa experience. Our aim is to create a lasting impression among our guests with a feeling of ultimate luxury and comfort “.

“We are honored with the latest international accolades that have been awarded to The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives. These awards are a testament of The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi’s world-class standards as we endeavor to deliver excellence in all our services and offerings, from our dining venues to our spa facilities. We are pleased that The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives continues to be internationally recognized as a benchmark in the hospitality sector and we will continue to build on the success that we have achieved”, said Evgenia Boyankova, Group Director of Business Development

The World Luxury Spa Awards are one of the most respected and coveted industry accolades and recognize the exceptional services of Spas in Hotels and Resorts worldwide. Setting benchmarks in quality, the World Luxury Spa Awards highlight spas with outstanding service standards, attracting the attention of spa-goers as well as industry experts. Awards are presented to luxury spas in 14 different categories on a country and global basis and are accepted by the industry as the pinnacle of achievement for luxury spas worldwide.

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

Flavours Restaurant

Flavours is a creative workhouse for authentic French cuisine, offering flavors that speak for themselves. Enjoy magnificent sunset views, world-class service and an extensive collection of wines.

Flavours offers the perfect mix of five-star flair and relaxed beach-club vibe. Your eye-line is always on views of the beach and the wide curve of Indian Ocean. Chef Satyendra and his team works indigenously to create seasonally inspired menus based around modern French haute cuisine.  Menus draw on classic French culinary techniques that embrace newer, lighter cooking styles incorporating the freshest ingredients. Going back to the roots of some favorite dishes, Flavours Restaurant features a cuisine that is at once familiar and straightforward, but also introduces some less-familiar recipes and flavors.

The accompanying Wine Cellar also having won the Award of Excellence for the most outstanding wine list in the world by Wine Spectator, is the home for an extensive collection of wines from around the globe. The wine selection consists of 420 labels of Champagne, Sparkling, White, Red and Rose to Sweet Wines from over 16 countries; which also includes rare champagnes like Grand Cru Bordeaux and Vintage Cognacs. Wine preservation systems are in place and to enhance guest experiences the Wine Cellar is been fitted with Riedel glassware and decanters.

Learn to recognize and appreciate the subtle Flavors and aromas of different wines at the resort's wine academy, where the island sommelier welcomes guests for an informal tasting based on region, type and food pairing. Six different wines from different regions around the world to be served paired with Fine Cheeses selection.

The Spa by Thalgo

The Spa by Thalgo France has perfected ancient holistic traditions, blending its timeless wisdom with contemporary practices found both East and West. The resident Doctor guides guests on their own personalized journeys to wellness both during their stay and beyond. Meanwhile, expert practitioners – in traditional massage, authentic Maldivian-inspired rituals and world-renowned wellness practices – combine finely honed knowledge with a naturally healing touch.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi

Located among the unspoiled islands of Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, a scenic 45-minute sea plane journey from Male, The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is where nature’s simplicity and beauty is in abundance – it’s a world away from the everyday.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi features 221 luxury oceanfront villas, including 70 over-water bungalows, inspired by traditional Maldivian architecture. All rooms are equipped with the latest in-room amenities including 32” flat-screen TV and Bose home theatre systems.

In addition to 14 restaurants and bar choices, the resort’s unrivalled range of leisure activities and excursions include a fully equipped PADI five-star dive facility and a water sports centre, tennis and badminton courts, kids club and multiple swimming pools. The tropical spa comprises 20 treatments rooms, each dedicated to a different Eastern or Western wellness philosophy for a wide range of health, relaxation and beauty options.

Guests at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi will enjoy luxurious relaxation, while immersing themselves in the rich culture and heritage of the Maldives. Whatever kind of magical getaway guests are looking for; The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi has it all! We cater to every single need! We at The Sun Siyam Irufushi know what you need!

Outrigger in the Maldives announces special marine activities in July

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KONOTTA ISLAND, Maldives - Visitors to the Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort in July will be able to join the resort’s in-house marine biologist to participate on a range of activities such as PADI Women Dive Day, Shark Awareness Day, and International Plastic Bag Free Day.

In addition, the property is unveiling a turtle quest trip, st
argazing cruise and snorkelling with a marine biologist.

On 3 July, the island’s resident marine biologist Caterina Fattori of Best Dives Maldives will conduct a presentation on marine debris at the resort pool bar. Globally, 80% of marine litter is plastic. Around eight million tons of plastic is dumped into the world’s oceans every year. The majority of this waste comes from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

For Shark Awareness Day on 14 July Ms Fattori will do a presentation on sharks at the pool bar. Children at the resort will be invited to the Kid’s Club for shark-related ‘edutainment’. There are over 400 types of shark ranging in size from six inches (15cm) to 45 feet (13.5m) around the world. Sharks have been around for 400 million years. They predate dinosaurs.

On 16 July, Outrigger will invite all ladies staying to do a scuba dive, preceded by a free first breath underwater session in the resort pool for beginners.

Guests at the Outrigger can also join a new tour called Turtle Quest which visits a newly discovered Hawksbill turtle family on a nearby reef.

Snorkelling with Ms Fattori will become a regular feature. In each trip she will give a detailed pre-dive briefing on the barrier reef and help with identification of species. She has also introduced sunset snorkelling for insights into a different range of species that can be seen under water in the evening.

Ms Fattori has also been in charge of a coral restoration project at the Outrigger, which is part of Outrigger’s worldwide Ozone (Outrigger’s Zone) marine conservation initiative. Guests can also inspect this by snorkel or scuba dives, accompanied by the marine biologist.

“We can create marine excursions and study trips to suit all levels of interest and diving capability,” says Ms Fattori. “Indeed, quite a few of our guests don’t scuba dive but just enjoy our marine briefing sessions and some snorkelling. We have marine experiences for all levels.”

At the first annual World Luxury Restaurant Awards, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island wins seven awards

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Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, is delighted to be the recipient of seven prestigious accolades at the Annual World Luxury Restaurant Awards, held at The Grand Kronenhof Hotel in Pontresina on June 18, 2016.
In recognition of the resort’s outstanding food and beverage offerings, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island was awarded the following accolades at the World Luxury Restaurant Awards:

• Mandhoo Spa Restaurant – Country Winner for ‘Luxury Scenic Setting’
• Ufaa by Jereme Leung – Country Winner for Chinese Cuisine, Continent Winner for Best Head Chef
• Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – Country Winner for ‘Fine Dining Cuisine’, Global Winner for ‘Luxury Scenic Setting’
• Vilu Restaurant – Country Winner for ‘Best Wine Selection’, Finalist for ‘Fine Dining Cuisine’
• Koko Grill – Country Winner for ‘Ambience/Romantic Atmosphere’

Recognised globally for its excellent food and beverage offerings at its 12 restaurants and bars, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a true gourmand’s delight, providing an array of international cuisines in a truly inspired setting. Conrad Maldives is world renowned for setting benchmarks in resort dining in the Maldives, being the first to create an undersea restaurant, Ithaa, the first to build an underground wine cellar, the first to establish a cheese bar, and the first to invite world-class chefs and winemakers to its islands.

With 78 categories, the World Luxury Restaurant Awards recognises restaurants across the globe for their culinary excellence and memorable experiences, as well as assessing the quality of the atmosphere and service. The awards aim to provide luxury restaurants with increased recognition, as well as introduce them to potential new guests, both local and international. Votes come from both guests and industry experts, thus providing a balanced and unbiased outcome based on the food experience as a whole.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is delighted to add these awards to its growing list of accolades received in 2016, with the resort’s commitment to excellence also demonstrated through its success at the World Travel Awards earlier this year, where it was recognised in two highly coveted categories: ‘Indian Ocean’s Leading Hotel’ and ‘Maldives’ Leading Water Villa Resort’. These awards were voted for by travel and tourism professionals worldwide and recognise hotel leaders across the globe.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island offers the popular Conrad Concierge mobile app, which gives global luxury travellers the ability to customise details of their hotel stay before, during, and after each visit via a smartphone or tablet. Whether it’s pre-selecting bath amenities or checking in while in-transit from the airport, guests can access a variety of features by using the app.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island also participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only guest loyalty program where guests who book directly through have access to benefits including the digital Conrad Concierge app and complimentary Wi-Fi at 26  Conrad hotels.

Celestial magic at the Amari Havodda Maldives resort

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Opened in February this year, the Amari Havodda Maldives hotel brings Thai warmth and hospitality to a desert island paradise.

I caught up with Rodolphe Bonnemie, director of marketing, who proudly claimed: “The new resort is the first one ever to open on time in the Maldives.”
“Our resort is all about mixing and encouraging interaction,” he said. “I was excited like a child to visit the resort and while watching the sunset on the beach something unusual happened: the moon was rising at the same time, intersecting the setting sun because of the proximity of the island to the equator. So our hotel is where the moon meets the sun!”
Coupled with celestial harmony, the resort also has a balance of the elements, with both land and overwater villas (60 on land and 60 overwater). A Duo Villa Experience Package (starting at £400pn) is available with Thomas Cook.
Guests are spoilt for choice with five restaurants and bars, from the main Amaya Food Gallery with open kitchens that serve Asian street food to the Ember Robatayaki restaurant, which specialises in Japanese food cooked on hot stones. There is also a popular poolside-dining experience by candlelight.
In partnership with Euro-Divers, the resort offers a guided diving or jet ski session for £105, windsurfing for £32 and kayaking for under £20, all at an hourly rate. Group activities include complimentary yoga and football matches against the staff.
As for downtime, gathering on the beach for a movie night has become Sunday evening tradition.
Bonnemie explained: “A trip to the Maldives is not complete without a romantic movie night.”

The simplicity of the island is part of Amari’s ethos. Even choosing one of the resort’s treatments is quick and easy. Guests are asked: “How do you feel today?” and then offered a suitable treatment at approximately £100 for an hour and £134 for an hour and a half.
Bonnemie stressed that preserving the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, where the hotel is built, is of utmost importance – guest communications are mainly digital, staff have a weekly reef clean, and recycled sea water is used for gardening.
All worth it for those envious holiday snaps featuring a backdrop of unspoilt nature and lapping turquoise waters, said Bonnemie: “Even with an ancient phone or with bad photography skills, you simply cannot take a bad picture of the island.”

The Majestic Maldives

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Imagine this. You’re ankle deep in the turquoise waters in The Maldives. Your feet sink into the sugar-white sand just metres from the beach. You gently climb into the overwater hammock. As you lay there, the sun’s golden rays glide across your body. A small wave washes over you and you smile. There’s nothing but the azure sea in sight. It’s unparalleled beauty, or perhaps paradise as some say. You begin to drift off to sleep. It sounds like the indulgent holiday that everyone has on their bucket list at some point, right?

Today I am savouring every moment.

Located just south of the Indian subcontinent, the Maldives are a gorgeous group of islands in the Indian Ocean area consisting of 26 atolls. Island holidays are all about saying goodbye to routine - and the Maldives guarantee you do just that. Days here aren’t dictated by timetables. They’re relatively uncomplicated and usually involve breakfast by the ocean, swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, more swimming and sleeping. There are an abundance of resorts scattered across the atolls to suit your budget and needs.

Here are two of the best:

Six Senses Laamu

After a short 35-minute flight from Malé, the capital of the Republic of Maldives, we’re on our way to highly-acclaimed and eco-friendly Six Senses Laamu. The speedboat cruises into the evening's horizon and within 15 minutes we have arrived at the awe-inspiring resort. Every one of my senses ignites with delight. The sights, sounds and smells are marvellous in every way. The many bars and restaurants are all made from timber and mostly set over water to take full advantage of the view. So impressive is the setting that it looks like it has been plucked from the Waterworld film set.

Stepping ashore, we are welcomed by the team and greeted by our personal GEM (Guest Experience Manager), who is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week for any need or query we have. A beautiful overwater bungalow above the pristine waters awaits us. It’s complete with an outdoor rain shower and an expansive deck dotted with sun lounges and a double daybed that looks out to a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. When the last of the daylight fades, I slip into the netting hammock to watch the spectacular equatorial sunset – one that will no doubt imprint on your memory.

Fringed by palm trees, sandy pathways make the island easy to explore on bike. There’s no strict plan here and shoes are optional. Staff are friendly, waving to guests as they navigate between the bars, restaurants, spa and other facilities at their own pace. The reefs are serene and clouds of colourful fish are simply captivating as you snorkel or dive just metres from Chill Lounge and Bar – the perfect place to unwind after a taxing day of underwater exploration.

The bar is built over the water and on several levels. Here, many guests spend the afternoon sprawled out on the lounge, sipping cocktails and dangling their feet just above the waterline. Others prefer to indulge themselves at ‘Sip Sip’ at the sunken bar and adjacent poolside seating; or at the free al fresco ice cream parlour where 40 flavours tantalise your tastebuds.

One evening we are treated to a superb barbecue lobster dinner on the beach under the stars. The lantern-lights and delicious seafood make this dining experience simply unforgettable.

Be sure to enjoy dinner one night at LEAF - Six Senses Laamu’s signature restaurant. Perched above the organic garden, it’s five-star dining at its best. The service and food is faultless and watching the chefs cook the local produce in the open kitchen adds to the amiable atmosphere. For casual dining, head to Longitude; the resort’s international overwater restaurant. The two-storey dining space begins each day with a bountiful breakfast. Dinner is a la carte international menu of fresh catch, grilled meats, pastas and Asian flavours.

Any trip to Six Senses Laamu must involve a little pampering at the island’s magnificent spa. Set right on the beach, Six Senses Spa Laamu in Maldives offers four uniquely designed couple's treatment nests, four secluded couple's treatment pavilions plus one Ayurvedic treatment pavilion, all within the island’s natural vegetation. Highly-trained therapists use a variety of natural products to provide a comprehensive range of award-winning signature treatments, and rejuvenation and wellness specialties of the region. If you’re feeling up to it, an aerial yoga class overlooking the beach is highly-recommended. The soft parachute-silk fabric is suspended from the ceiling and helps support the body weight during a sequence of postures. The class provides an enjoyable introduction to stretching, breathing, meditation, gymnastics and aerial arts.

Stay at Six Senses Laamu.

Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives

Surrounded by a coral reef and powdery-white sand beaches, this luxurious island resort has something for everyone - honeymooners, families and those seeking an island escape. Accessible by plane from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, followed by a five-minute boat ride, Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa is the most southern resort in the Maldives. The remote location and the sheer size of the island make this resort all that much more secluded and special. In three days, I barely encounter another guest.

The elegant villas with thatched roofs and sundecks are modern and spacious. My overwater villa comes with an impressive freestanding bath, outdoor shower and beautiful deck with sun lounges. A few steps down the ladder and you’re submerged in the glistening waters of the Indian Ocean.

Perhaps the most impressive features of the island are the nine-hole golf course and CHI, The Spa. The spectacular sanctuary is located in its own spa village within the resort, with spacious individual treatment villas, complete with private gardens and steam rooms; and a yoga pavilion overlooking the Indian Ocean. The spa menu offers a selection of Asian massages and Indian Ayurvedic treatments, ranging from body massages to facials. The 60-minute Kandu Boli Ritual is simply divine. Kandu Boli, meaning 'sea shell', draws energy from the ocean. During the treatment, my masseuse uses a Cowrie shell to massage my body. This helps relieve tension, ease stress and relax my muscles. Warm, pure Maldivian then coconut oil is drizzled through my hair before a heavenly scalp massage. The sound of the ocean outside my treatment room makes my spa experience super calming.

Dining on the island is a gastronomic delight. Australian chef, Michael McCalman, has recently been appointed the new executive chef. The variety of cuisines available on the island is extraordinary. The restaurant, Dr Ali, leads the dining experience with three distinctive living rooms that focus on fine cuisine from the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Arabian Gulf. The quality of the seafood and local produce is impeccable, and guests are impressed with the authentic flavours and aromas.

Alternatively, if you prefer modern al fresco dining on the sand, Javvu is the place for you. The ocean serves as a backdrop to an international breakfast buffet, gourmet lunch experience or candlelit dinner. The M-Lounge is a perfect retreat for guests who want to watch the sun set with a cocktail in hand. The trendy beachfront venue features a contemporary white décor with comfortable lounges overlooking the waters of the lagoon.

Stay at Shangri-La's Villingili Resort and Spa Maldives

How to get there:

Emirates operates 77 flights per week to Dubai from Australia, with onwards connections from Dubai to the Maldives. Emirates’ 77 services operate from Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Prices start at AUD $1,716.40 in Economy class (ex Perth). Upgrade to business class and enjoy gourmet cuisine, delicious beverages, and even a spa treatment at the Timeless Spa while you’re waiting to board your flight in Dubai. There’s a range of massages and rejuvenating facial and body treatments available.

Could the Maldives be the new Ibiza?

Loading Maldives Offers.... Until now, booking a trip to the Maldives without a ring on your finger felt, well, a bit odd.

This sandy, sunny, tropical idyll in the middle of the Indian Ocean seemed to be solely reserved for smug honeymooners (hello, Mark and Michelle!). But what about the rest of us?

Well, it’s time for the loved-up lot to move over. Finolhu has just opened, and unlike absolutely every other destination in the Maldives, it’s less about Instagramming your left hand and much more about grabbing your mates, dancing in the sand until the sun comes up and posting pictures of your endless G&Ts…
What exactly is a Finolhu?

It’s not a thing, it’s a place! And an absolutely stunning one at that.

It’s a brand new beach resort on the Baa Atoll in the Maldives with a retro 1960s / 70s vibe. There are themed evenings and an in-house band from Tuesday to Sunday, while Saturdays are all about Be Wild – a DJ night at the pool side with a ‘Ring the Bell’ shot game.

So is this the new Ibiza, then? When we have a chat with the resort’s manager Rochelle Kilgariff, she puts it like this: “It won’t be a huge party destination in the sense of Ibiza or Thailand, but we would like to create that vibe that exists in those party places.”

Despite that, we still partied until the small hours amongst fire eating, live bands, a line-up of top international DJs, contortionists and acrobatics on the opening blowout weekend. So, basically, tres Ibiza.

Sounds interesting. What about the bars?

There are five to choose from at Finolhu, and at the heart is the Baa Baa Beach Club. There are no drinks menus, so order whatever you want from the hundreds of bottles behind the bar (Hendrick’s, Mount Gay, Disaronno and Chambord) – all guarded by the island’s sheepy mascot (this is the Baa Atoll, remember?!).
You’ll find live DJs cranking up the volume from 2pm every day as the Retro Pool Party gets under way. There’s a sunken booth, meaning you can swim up and request from a playlist of old tunes (think Jackson 5 and Barry White) and order a spot of lunch from an extensive menu of pizzas, platters, burgers and nachos. Or, if you need nature to give you a boost through the night, opt for the ‘energise’ bowl – a super health kick of blueberry, acai and brindleberry.
Which, by the way, you’ll definitely need. On the weekend we partied at Finolhu, it was practically frowned upon to go to bed before sunrise, while cracking open the Prosecco at breakfast was de rigueur.
And the beach?

Stunning. If the 1.8km sand bank doesn’t take your breath away, the gorgeous day beds scattered along the shore certainly will. For the more adventurous, Finolhu offers scuba diving, fishing cruises and dolphin trips – and we even saw a manta ray when we went on a snorkelling excursion.

But if the pool is your thing, simply grab a margarita, hop on the resident unicorn floaty a la Bella Hadid and post yourself crazy on Instagram.
What about the rooms?

Err, there are no rooms. There are villas. Big, beautiful, pinch-yourself-you’re-really-here villas. From the Nespresso machine to the gigantic super-soft bed, no detail has been left unluxurious. Oh, and you’ll also find a bottle of Smirnoff waiting for you.

Not to mention the super-fast complimentary Wifi (that was far better than the connection in our flat). Bearing in mind we were in the middle of nowhere, that was almost as impressive as the bath with an ocean view, private infinity pool and sun deck. Well, almost… Oh, and there wasn’t one but three showers – two of which were al fresco. #NBD

Is there more?

Loads! There are a ton of watersports at Finolhu like windsurfing and jet skiing, alongside more niche stuff like knee boarding. There’s also personal training and a gym at Palm Beach (yes, that’s what it’s really called).

Our favourite, however, was The Cove Club. Everything is a ton more easy-going with yoga, meditation and pilates on the menu at this spa hideaway. The massage will be the best you’ve had in years (trust us) and a kooky touch is that all 10 treatment rooms have been named after a classic icon complete with pop art of said diva on the wall (we were in Cher).

Choose from a Red Carpet Facial, Detox Massage or Body Polish, but don’t forget to check out the secret relaxation area. And it really is secret – you’ll have to ask your therapist where to find it. Here there’s a sauna, steam room, sun loungers and even a plunge pool.