New gateway in Maldives a gamechanger for southern atolls

Loading Maldives Offers.... Gan, in the south of the Maldives, recently opened up to international airlines, a development that could translate to an estimated three hours in time saving for travel to resorts in the south.

The introduction of this gateway eliminates the need to connect with a scheduled commercial flight from Male, 545km away, to get to the domestic airports in the south.

On December 1, SriLankan Airlines started flying from Colombo to the upgraded Gan airport, which was previously only served by domestic carriers Maldivian and Flyme.

SriLanka’s 110-minute flight departs Colombo at 06.55 four times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) using a 150-seat Airbus 320.

“Since we consider the Maldives our extended home market, we will explore every avenue to make sure that Gan receives the attention and visibility that it deserves,” said Saminda Perera, general manager – marketing, SriLankan Airlines.

Resorts in the southern atolls are expected to benefit from this, with John Allanson, general manager of Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort, saying that Gan is “virtually on the doorstep” of the resort and others in Seenu, Gnaviyani, Gaafu Dhaalu and Gaafu Alifu.

Outrigger was quick to respond to the development, adding an on-demand 30-minute Trans Maldivian Airlines seaplane service from Gan, Seenu said.

Hoteliers in the southern atolls now hope that more international airlines, especially those with big feeder hubs in the Middle East, will also introduce flights to Gan.

PER AQUUM Niyama Maldives 3-night luxury romantic getaway Valentine's Day offer

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Valentine's Day is fast approaching, and Anantara & PER AQUUM have luxury romantic getaways on offer.

At PER AQUUM Niyama Maldives, the package, for stays of three nights or more, includes  a bottle of champagne on arrival, 90-minute spa ritual for two at LIME Spa, Dream Dhoni sunset cruise, the Destination Dining experience on a deserted sandbank, and a professional photoshoot in three locations, with makeup and wardrobe.

The price is $3407 a person a night.

Or at Anantara Kihavah Maldives, celebrate Valentine's with an exclusive Dining by Design package at SEA, the underwater world where guests can hire the entire venue to truly impress.

It includes an eight-course tasting menu, a vintage wine menu including a bottle of Cristal Rose 2006 and Chateau Petrus 1998.

The price is $19,313 a couple.

One&Only Reethi Rah review, Maldives: The resort that will ruin you

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One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives


One&Only Reethi Rah ("beautiful island" in Dhivehi, the Maldivian language) is an all-villa resort on one of the largest private islands in the Maldives. One of nine One&Only properties worldwide (including Hayman Island and Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains), it even has its own time zone: one hour ahead of Male, for longer evenings.


The 128 beachfront and over-water villas, some of the largest in the Maldives, fringe this lush 12-beach island and are linked by sandy roads canopied by palm trees; guests get around on bikes or in chauffeur-driven golf carts. There are all the facilities you'd expect at a big resort: pools, tennis courts, a fitness centre, a kids' club.

What makes One&Only special is its "one world" vibe – the 800 staff members hail from 35 nations and guests come from all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It almost feels like an island utopia, particularly when a waiter or massage therapist greets you with One&Only's Namaste-like gesture, right hand over the heart (which is oddly contagious).


My beach villa with pool is a high-ceilinged sanctuary of regal reds and purples and natural materials such as wood and coconut shell. Sliding glass doors open onto a large plunge pool, a hammock built for two, sun lounges and my own stretch of beach.

The bathroom has his and hers vanities, indoor and outdoor rainwater showers and an enormous sunken stone bath under a window, with bath salts, loofah and essential oil burner; there's an aromatherapy menu as well as a pillow menu. There's a yoga mat to use, a beach bag to keep and a mobile phone for making restaurant and spa bookings or for calling my villa concierge. The minibar includes an Illy espresso machine and gourmet teas.


There are six restaurants: Reethi Restaurant where the breakfast buffet has to be seen to be believed; the organic Chef's Garden, surrounded by its own living produce; Tapasake over-water Japanese restaurant with outdoor teppanyaki bar; Beach Club, where you can dine on fresh seafood and salads with your toes in the sand; Rah Bar, which stays open late; and the Arabic Fanditha, where you can lounge on giant cushions or in curtained cabanas beside the sea, flanked by hurricane lanterns and shisha pipes. There's also 24-hour room service.


Marine outings are a must in the Maldives and there are plenty of offerings, from whale shark swims and dive trips to day-cruises on dhoni (traditional fishing boats) and sunset sandbank experiences.

Terrestrial offerings include climbing (on the Maldives' first climbing wall) and tai chi and yoga classes – including aerial yoga where you can swing like a low-flying acrobat in an over-water pavilion. You could spend an entire day in the temple-like spa complex, which has an idyllic garden with wicker swings, fountains and hammocks under the coconut palms.


With its dreamy location, private apartment-sized villas and first-class service, One&Only Reethi Rah is the kind of resort that spoils you for all others.


Singapore Airlines flies to Male via Singapore with same-day connections daily; see One&Only Reethi Rah is 45 minutes by speed boat from Male airport. Villa rates start at US$1190 a night plus taxes.

Check Out Soneva Jani, An Exclusive Resort In Maldives That Lets You WaterSlide To The Ocean

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If you're planning an ultimate beach getaway, why not do it in style? There's a new luxury beach resort in the Maldives, and with all the hearsay and awesome features, we're sure it's going to be an ultimate travel destination.

Soneva Jani Resort, a subsidiary of Soneva Properties, already had a soft opening to the public last October 2016, but final development stages won't be finished until February this year. It's a luxury resort located on the virgin Island of Medhufaru in the northern Atoll of Noonu, and it is surrounded by a 4km long beach coastline, with lush vegetation and clear, turquoise waters.
Soneva Properties is renowned for their excellence in integrating "Eco-Luxury Hospitality" in all their resorts, and Soneva Jani will be no exception. Sustainable and eco-friendly, Soneva Jani is a sure-fire hit for nature-conscious travelers.

The island lagoon of Soneva Jani will comprise of only 57 villas. There would be 24 water villas and 23 beach villas. All the villas will enjoy all the amenities of the resort, and each would get their own personal butler as the same in all Soneva Properties, called Mr./Mrs. Friday.
The water villas are only reachable by boat, and the largest villa could accommodate a family of ten. According to dreamingofmaldives, "Each Water Villa will feature an amazing water slide and its private Pool, large lounge areas with open views on the blue, ample wooden decks, kids' sleeping area, a living area with sunken seats, top floor with seating and a dining sala and several other amazing living spaces."

What guests couldn't get enough of is the waterslide, which lets you slide your way to the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean. As if a private pool isn't enough!
The amenities for the beach villas are more or less the same, and all guests can enjoy the resort's exclusive amenities. Soneva Jani Resort has a cinema, a beach restaurant, a spa, and a water and sports center.

Already making headlines in the hospitality industry, it's not surprising if Soneva Jani will make it as one of the must-visit luxury resorts in the world. Forget the noise and stress of the city, and relax and slide all your troubles away, only at Soneva Jani.

Centara Grand Island Resort And Spa's New Menu Inspires Euphoria With Every Meal

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The Club at Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives launches colourful feasts, presenting an exciting new menu created by Executive Chef Yvan Marclay and Executive Sous Chef Ashish Domme. The resort strives to enchant all club guests with an extraordinary dining experience with these new creations that have bold and eccentric flavors, made with the freshest high-quality produce.

Chef Yvan Marclay, with more than 15 years of experience being in charge of professional kitchens in luxury hotels and resorts in the Middle East and North Africa, brings with him expertise and competence that shows in the exciting revamped menu.

These impressive dishes that distinctly portrays the essence of sophisticated dining were officially introduced on the 21st of November 2016. Dishes that were featured include; Quinoa Couscous with Goat Cheese, Filled Zucchini Flowers, Baby Fennel Tempura, Pomegranate Reduction and Coriander Oil, White Onion Soup Served with Pan Seared Scallops, Salmon Roe and Baby Spinach, Olive Oil Poached Barramundi with Chlorophyll, Dry Fig Risotto, White Balsamic Beurre Blanc and Herbs, along with desserts that were delicious even to the eyes such as Walk On Saturn, Nutella -Hazelnut, White Chocolate-Pistachio Croquet Ice Parfait Served with Trio Sauces.

Their first serving received remarkable reviews from guests who had the privilege of visiting the resort at that time. Executive Chef Marclay said “These comments on the new dishes are the best feedback we’ve ever received. Some English guests told us our new dishes were the best they ever experienced”.

The Executive Sous Chef Domme also added that “An Australian couple told me that they had never had anything this amazing before and this was like spending 500 Australian dollars to dine at one of Sydney’s top restaurants”.

The two notable chefs have explained that their focus is on trying to take a modern and healthy approach on creating the dishes. They aim to create dishes full of flavour that are also aesthetically pleasing - and they really are! The dishes are available all day at The Club, Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa Maldives, it is really worth trying.

Dusit Thani Wins Favourite ‘Hotel Or Resort For Families’ Award

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Dusit Thani Maldives on Mudhdhoo Island in Baa Atoll - the Maldives’ first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve - was recently awarded ‘Favourite Hotel or Resort for Families’ in the Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Readers’ Choice Awards 2016.

Operated by luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler, which prints regional editions in Europe, USA, Asia and the Middle East. The annual Readers’ Choice Awards was established in 1987 and today, it is one of the most esteemed programmes recognized in hospitality excellence. More than 300,000 international readers cast their votes online this year, resulting in a list of the world’s finest travel experiences.

Dedicated to readers in the Middle East, the Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Readers’ Choice Awards featured 21 categories this year. Voting opened earlier in the year and winners were officially announced at a gala dinner held on 14th November 2016 at the Park Hyatt Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Dusit Thani Maldives comprises 94 villas and residences, along with three restaurants, two bars, and Dusit’s signature Devarana Spa. The resort is ocated just 35 minutes by seaplane from the capital city, Malé, followed by a 10-minute speedboat ride from Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport in Baa Atoll. The resort is surrounded by a vibrant house reef, soft sandy beaches and a turquoise lagoon. A well-equipped Kids’ Club is an appealing factor to the resort’s guests who travel with children.

“We are extremely proud to win this prestigious award which recognizes the quality of the resort’s luxury accommodation and distinctive services,” said Mr Lim Boon Kwee, Chief Operating Officer of Dusit International, the Bangkok-based, global hospitality company which owns and operates Dusit Thani Maldives. “From our gracious, Thai-inspired hospitality, to our well-appointed rooms and esteemed dining experiences, we do everything we can to create memorable guest experiences. And we are delighted to know we are getting it right.”

The Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Readers’ Choice Award caps a successful year for the resort. Along with other accolades received such as; Gold Magellan Award, Luxury Resort Category – 2016 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards, Luxury Modern Resort of the Year 2016 – Luxury Travel Guide Global Awards 2016 and Asia’s Top Leisure Hotel – Now Travel Asia Awards 2016.

Where to go for a five-star family holiday in 2017

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Our sommelier suggests accompaniments for the entree and main course. "The Hawaiian red clay goes perfectly with the tuna, while the black lava matches the snapper," he says. Far from the fruits of the vine, these delicacies are earthy: a multitude of minerals composed of sodium chloride.

You guessed it – he's a salt sommelier.

Welcome to five-star family travel, one of the hottest trends for 2017. And the latest hot spot is the Maldives, an Endangered/Changing Destination, according to the Virtuoso Luxe Report Australia. "We are starting to see movement outside of the mainstream travel agenda with people taking the current global turbulence as a prompt to look all the way down their bucket list," Virtuoso Asia Pacific managing director, Michael Londregan, says.

We're at Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort, in some of the most spacious accommodation in the archipelago, a half-hour speedboat ride from Male airport.

The Two Bedroom Family Villa is – in our eldest's eloquent words – "frickin' huge". (That'll be $1 to the swear jar, thank you…) The outdoor bathrooms have rain showers and deep terrazzo baths; the front yard is decorated with beanbags, a daybed and hammock; and adult and child-sized banana lounges front the turquoise lagoon. Best of all, the rooms are dotted with kids' games, books, and skim boards.

You can snorkel off the beach to see manta rays, reef sharks, and tropical fish. But we book a family picnic on nearby Gulifushi Island, with a white linen tablecloth set-up on the sand. The sea's too choppy for snorkelling, so we suffer through the salads, sandwiches and cold cuts, washed down the fine wine and a frothy brew. (Well, someone's gotta do it!) Jase and Grace play on the over-water swings, while Taj and I doze in an egg-shaped hammock: this is sublime.

So is the subsequent massage in an over-water villa, as I watch the skittish triggerfish. And the private yoga classes conducted by Birj, who learned the practice from his grandfather in India. Our sunburned daughter is a string of raspberry liquorice as she eases into a backbend. Finally he lifts us up by the pelvis, so we relax like jellyfish.

Jellyfish are one of the few creatures we don't spot, seated on a deck over the Indian Ocean at Sea. Fire. Salt. restaurant. While couples dine on Beluga caviar and $5200 bottles of French wine, the children scoff $7 soups and $10 pizza. The staff here, and at the high-end Italian restaurant Terrazzo (seriously, the handmade ravioli dissolves in your mouth) speak to Taj and Grace as valued customers rather than unwanted appendages, which is often the case at five-star resorts.

After riding bikes, playing petanque, and making like dolphins on a Seabob, we check out the kids' club, a shaded compound containing a rock climbing wall, tree house, and cubby full of craft.

Despite the deluge of luxury, Grace prefers simple pleasures: soccer on the sand and splashing in the sea.

The night before we leave, a staffer delivers a handmade card, activity book, and jewelled bracelet spelling GRACE, courtesy of the kids' club. "That's so special, Mummy," she says. "I wasn't sure about the fancy salt, but this is what makes it really five star."

The Maldives New International Airport Boosts Tourism

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Maldives has been enjoying heavy tourists visit especially during summer. The opening of Gan Airport will further boost tourism in the country. Maldives' new international airport is located in the southern part of island. At present, it holds flight on board Airbus 320 from Colombo four times a week.

Gan Airport is adjacent to the town of Addu, and will serve as gateway to the southern part of the region. The first commercial flight took place last month flying from Colombo. Gan is an upgraded airport of a former UK Royal Force refilling base. In 1976, it became a domestic airport.
As of today, the airport only caters a flight from Colombo via Sri Lankan Airline Airbus 320 with 150-seat capacity. The flight from Sri Lankan capital only takes 110 minutes. It flies during Tuesday, Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays.

Sri Lankan Airlines, through its General Manager for Marketing, Saminda Perera, said that because their airline treats Maldives as an extension of their marketing strategy, the company will make sure that Gan will receive worldwide recognition. Resort owners have responded favourably to the opening of the airport near them.

Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort has its own on-demand 30-minute plane services from Gan to their luxuries hideaway. Using Trans Maldivian Airline, the resort is expecting more numbers of guests due to the convenience of travel they offer. The General Manager of the resort was quoted saying, "Whether vacationers travel here to enjoy our spacious over-water villas, varied water sport activities or Navasana Spa - we know that the journey here is part of the holiday experience, so we warmly welcome the new option".

Other resorts in the southern atolls of Gnaviyani, Gaafu Dhaalu, Gaafu Alifu and Seenu are also hoping for boosts of tourism in their areas. Hoteliers are positive that big airlines from the Middle East will introduce flights to Gan.


Loading Maldives Offers.... Poking precariously above the water, Mirihi Island appears on the horizon like a beached turtle. The pilot of the tiny seaplane that is taking me to the Maldivian resort, recently voted the seventh best hotel in the world, is sitting within arm’s reach. He is not wearing any shoes.

After a splash landing, a posse of islanders greets me on the pontoon. They also are barefoot. Before I have checked in, a staff member politely asks me to remove my sneakers and leave them lying in the sand to be picked up and taken, together with my bags, to my water villa, a straw-roofed hut suspended on stilts above the water 20 feet from shore.

I quickly learn why footwear is not just unnecessary but actually a hindrance on Mirihi. Sand is everywhere. It spills from the beaches that skirt the island, leaving a 2-inch-deep layer of white on the floors of the reception area, restaurant and bar. One waiter tells me he hasn’t worn shoes in more than four months, not since the last time he left the island to visit family in Malé, the capital city of the Maldives. “I hated it,” he says. “Shoes are like foot prisons.”

'Barefoot Luxury'

Going barefoot is part of the character that Swiss-born co-owner Amy Stierli has spent the past 15 years trying to create on the island. “Barefoot luxury” is how she describes it over a welcome drink (a coconut with a straw stuck in it). She calls Mirihi “a desert island but with a five-star service.” There is a definite Robinson Crusoe-feel to the place, albeit carefully choreographed: no bathtubs, no swimming pools, no TV sets in the rooms. Their absence means that, absurdly, Mirihi Island is classified as only a four-star resort.

With 157 staffers serving the needs of just 76 guests when the resort is fully booked, Mirihi’s motto is to deliver an experience “as unique as you are.” This cliché feels especially apposite when you consider the homogeneity of the guests. They are almost exclusively couples, ranging from the semi-young to the semi-old: Younger people might not be able to afford a resort like this, while the very old might find all the sand difficult to navigate. Everything is tailored for two: two loungers on the deck, two sinks in the bathroom, two bathrobes in the cupboard. Even the bats have made this a romantic destination, piercing the evening quiet with their mating screeches.

The island’s motto becomes less convincing still when you consider that it is one of more than 100 luxury resorts in the Maldives, spread throughout the roughly 1,200 similarly archetypal tropical island paradises. Yet somehow Mirihi does manage to feel unique. It has its own currency—the hotel gives shells to repeat visitors to spend on the island—and even its own time zone. Stierli has set the island’s clocks one hour ahead of the rest of the country, which allows guests returning from afternoon activities time to catch the sunset. Day excursions to neighboring islands, diving with whale sharks and dolphin spotting offer guests the opportunity to escape the island, which, at just 1,300 feet long by 165 feet wide, can begin to feel claustrophobic, especially because there are no independent shops, bars or cafés on its land mass. One restless afternoon I found myself doing laps of the island, first by foot (seven and a half minutes), then by canoe (18 minutes) and finally swimming (33 minutes, if you discount the time spent marveling at the fish and turtles wallowing around the surrounding coral reef).

Mirihi looks like a cartoon of a desert island: Each picture I take seems worthy of a postcard, largely thanks to the small armies of workers who meticulously rake and comb the sand across the entire island from predawn to dusk. The manicured sand is as soft and sanitized as talcum powder. Even the sun seems preset for my comfort, the bright wide sky as clear as the water. There are also no mosquitoes to worry about, nor mice or dangerous creatures. Though I don’t see any, Stierli tells me there is the odd rat, though clever rebranding means the staffers refer to them as palm squirrels.

Threat of Climate Change

This island paradise image, which helped Mirihi Island Resort earn the rank of seventh best hotel in the world in TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards, fits a broader notion that all this may well be too good to be true. It is a paradoxical paradise, one that conceals global problems that will almost certainly lead to its demise—if not within years, then in mere decades from now.

The most obvious and talked about problem is climate change, which environmental forecasters predict could make the lowest-lying country in the world disappear below the ocean it now peeks above. (At just under 8 feet, the highest point in the Maldives is 2 inches lower than the highest jump recorded by a human.)

In contrast to climate change activists in some other parts of the Maldives, Mirihi locals can occasionally seem apathetic about the risks. “You don’t really notice it on a year-to-year basis, but you can see in the last 20 years that climate change has affected the Maldives,” Stierli tells me. “Some experts say it will disappear in 20 years, some say 100. I don’t know—it’s something I try not to think too much about.”

If you look closely, you can already see its effects. Sand sucked up from the ocean floor by specially adapted ships tops up Mirihi’s beaches, while a wall on the island’s eastern side prevents more land from slipping into the sea.

To add to these woes, the Maldives also topped a recent list of the world’s 10 most unstable countries, owing to political upheaval and a rise in radical extremism. Estimates suggest the Maldives has the highest number of foreign fighters per capita to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), leading some to declare that climate change is the least of the Maldives’s worries. One attack on a resort from a returning jihadi fighter would be a disaster for tourism, which accounts for 80 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

It is a testament to Stierli’s utopian vision that one’s capacity for comprehending such profound concerns is so severely compromised while on the island. On this pristine Eden, you are Adam or Crusoe, barefoot upon unblemished sands as they slowly sink to join the turtles beneath.

Jennifer Hawkins Enjoys A Luxurious Vacation In The Maldives

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Former Miss Universe and TV Persona Jennifer Hawkins is spending her holidays vacationing in the Maldives with her husband Jake Wall.

Jennifer Hawkins is known for her title as Miss Universe in 2014 and also as the host of Australia’s next top model. The 33-year-old Australian model has her own line of swimwear that is recognizable around the world. She is also a model, entrepreneur and brand ambassador that has over 821k followers on Instagram. Her fans adore her and follow the trends she set, including the most recent vacation she is on in the Maldives.

Jennifer is reported to be staying in Amillafushi Resort and spa, a well-known property to host distinguished celebrity guests. Amillafushi Resort and Spa is among one of the most exclusive and expensive resorts in the Maldives, sources stated that she was occupying a room that cost 5000 dollars per night.

These rooms cost as much with reason. Resorts such as Amillafushi provides their most VIP guests with as much privacy and seclusion as they would require. Often times, celebrities find that it is a hassle to find a spot to vacation in without the paparazzi popping in.

Other celebrities that have visited the resort within this year include the Beckhams and Gordon Ramsey during New Year’s.


Loading Maldives Offers.... The Maldives was once a haven for honeymooners, but “there’s been a significant shift from loved-up couples to the high-end family market”, says Michael Flynn, chair and founder of The Small Maldives Island, which owns Amilla Fushi, a resort on Baa Atoll, 30 minutes by seaplane from Male’s Ibrahim Nasir airport.

Amilla Fushi features large villas as well as more mainstream resort-style accommodation, including overwater configurations with lagoon access and deck pools. “But families want to stay under one roof ... and have a high-end holiday villa experience,” Flynn says.

Amilla Fushi touts itself as “a home away from home”, but with its resident marine biologist, design magazine-worthy interiors and high ratio of staff to guests, this isn’t like any home we’ve experienced.

Baa Atoll is a World Biosphere Reserve, meaning it’s a protected marine haven rich in soft and hard coral, reef fish, manta rays, turtles and other underwater life.

And so to bed: There are six four-bedroom Villa Residences, including garden-level and upper-storey guest suites, beach courtyard, dining deck and staff quarters. The Amilla Villa Estate boasts six bedrooms, while the Great Beach Villa is the largest, with eight bedrooms.

Vibe: All villas are sleek, cool and contemporary and, given the location, each has a beachy, relaxed ambience. There are neutral colours, polished teakwood floors and glass walls that open to sand and sea. Attention to detail and family-friendly facilities such as a kids’ club are an attractive drawcard for the growing market of (mostly Australian) holiday-makers.

Dining: Each villa has a kitchen and katheeb (butler) on hand to prepare meals in-house but there are plenty of resort dining options along sandy paths, including Baazaar overlooking the infinity pool, which encompasses relaxed eateries such as Joe’s Pizza, Fresh, Fish & Chips, Grill and Wok. A recently opened Japanese restaurant, Feeling Koi, sits on stilts high above the lagoon. The Wine Shop and Cellar Door houses a deli and more than 250 labels from across the world.

Highlights: If turtles and dolphins swimming by the house reef aren’t enough, there’s world-class diving on Amilla’s doorstep, run by Dive Butler International, and Hanifaru Bay, a manta ray and whale shark hot spot, is a 10-minute speedboat ride away.

Tip: International music lounge franchise 1 OAK will open at Finolhu Baa Atoll Maldives, the nearby sister island “party” resort to Amilla Fushi, this year.

Idyllic Indian Ocean Retreats

Loading Maldives Offers.... Rumour has is that when Jean Michel Gathy was commissioned to shape the architecture of One&Only Reethi Rah, he said he wanted each guest to “feel like a king”. I’m happy to say that he failed... spectacularly... because from the moment we set foot on the island we felt like a god and goddess. In other words we were in Heaven. A cynic might dismiss this as hollow hyperbole, but I would challenge anyone to visit One & Only Reethi Rah and not feel as though they had transcended to a higher plain.

Even from the moment we touched down, I was aware that something very special was about to happen, not least because we were greeted by a band of merry men who promptly swooped in and ushered us on to a luxury private yacht with seasoned precision. Feeling like Jay Z and Beyoncé, we kicked back and pressed the start button on our Honeymoon. If first impressions were anything to go by, our marriage was off to a perfect start!

If you are brave enough to give yourself the title ‘One and Only’, it’s safe to say that you had better know your stuff, because customer expectations are bound to be pretty gargantuan. In a country where Island resorts are its primary income, there is going be a lot of competition to be the best. And by heck do One&Only Reethi Rah put up a darn good fistfight.

We arrived to warm and welcoming faces before meandering down the tiny, sandy “roads” towards our beach villa in a golf buggy - cars have no business in island life. Along the way, our personal concierge, Gizem, told us that staff outnumber guests by a ratio of more than 3 to 1, although you would never know, as the level of privacy made us feel like we were on a deserted paradise. When they were visible, staff pirouetted around us with balletic precision noting our requests and making them happen without ever breaking a sweat in the 30+ degree heat.

The Spa

Intricate carvings in wood and exquisite decor adorn the reception of the One & Only SPA. It is a haven of serenity and set amongst a beautiful expanse of manicured trees and grass leading to the ocean. You can practically feel your shoulders un-hunch and your mind letting go. There are chill out huts, a chi room, overwater treatment rooms, massive his and hers steam and sauna rooms with floor to ceiling windows overlooking a courtyard. It’s hard not to relax in a place where treatment rooms go by the names Devotion, Romance, Wisdom, Healing and Vitality....

So what is it about One&Only Reethi Rah that makes it an experience that stands out even for those who have been fortunate enough to enjoy luxury travel in the past? Well, I suppose it is the result of an overall vision to create paradise and then sheer determination to never lose it.

The Treatment

Once in a Blue Moon - A two hour experience for couples, starts by being guided to the romantic, private and secluded treatment area specially set up on the beach. Once there a hand ritual with sea salt and rose petals begins.

Side by Side - A 90 minute aromatherapy body massage will be performed and followed by a tea ceremony. Finally, back to your villa where you will enjoy a signature bath, a glass of champagne and a plate of exotic fruits. True Romance!

Other Treatments

One&Only Essence of Reethi Rah (180 minutes)
One&Only in Harmony (120 minutes)
Ultimate Lifting, Firming & Toning Facial feat. NuFACE® (90 minutes)
Hoona Herbal Massage (90 minutes)

To Stay

Of the 10 villa types on offer, we were assigned a beach villa with a pool. Let me get one thing straight, no matter where you end up laying your head, rest assured, it will be a den of luxury. Behind our large, wooden front gate, there was a distinct and blissful feeling of isolation. A secluded patch of beach to call our own, with two palm trees harbouring a hammock. This was more than a destination, it was a picture-perfect postcard.

Our digs for the next few days were a thatched cottage villa complete with high ceilings and a beautiful Balinese-style decor. We were spoiled with an unpacking service, a pillow and essential oils menu, a bathroom with two massive sinks complete with his and hers soaps and wooden shutters everywhere (which stayed open during our stay, as I didn’t want to miss one ounce of that view). Plus a second shower outdoors should you want to recreate a shampoo advert for fun (you know I did).

To Eat

There are four main restaurants to tickle your taste buds. The main Reethi restaurant is beautifully constructed of high ceilings and carved wooden pillars and doors, serving contemporary Asian and Mediterranean fusion food. This is also where breakfast is served. Warning: come hungry. We are big breakfast buffet connoisseurs, and by golly this is one to behold.

Another favourite for dinner is Tapasake that serves exquisite modern Japanese dishes with oodles of fish from the ocean that you are staring at from your dinner table. Fandita - which means magical in the Maldivian language Dhivehi - is aptly named, with its Arabian Nights-inspired restaurant and bar with beautiful sunset views.

And the Chef’s Garden also hosts a restaurant, which is a candlelit patch of the vegetable garden, designed with romance in mind.


You’d be forgiven for never leaving your villa, but it would be a foolish tactic. The 24-hour golf buggy service will happily whisk you to any one of the fantastic amenities of which there are many.

For the sporty guests there is state of the art gym, with knowledgeable gym instructors who put me through my paces in an outdoor circuit Jessica Ennis would be proud of. There is a yoga pavilion where you can partake in aerial yoga - not for those afraid of heights, a full size football pitch, a badminton court and tennis courts. There is also an art gallery, a Taylor Taylor hair salon, a mani-pedi salon, barber shop and a KIDS ONLY club - exclusive to the mini-me’s. The beach club is alive all day with tunes pumping from the DJ’s box.

A favourite pass time for us was to grab an afternoon ice cream straight from the club’s ice cream bar, before swimming off the sugar rush out on the hotels massive water trampoline. Big Kids Only Need Apply.

They take their sea excursions seriously at the Marine Concierge Centre where trips such as luxury yacht big game fishing, turtle adventures, sunrise handling fishing, reef snorkelling, sunset and dolphin cruises, and shark safaris can be arranged on a whim.

Don’t Miss

The buffet complete with a cold room in the centre. Enter at your peril, the food is exquisite.

Splash - The water sports centre offering fun and shenanigans in the Indian Ocean on banana boats, canoes, paddle board, water-skiing and windsurfing.

The Maldives’ only PADI National Geographic dive centre is also here at Reethi, and if you believe the local sharks are vegetarian, visit the country’s best shark site close by. There is also an opportunity to plant coral with updates after you leave, making you wish you could live there and watch it grow.

New Year's Eve In Maldives!

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Memorable or regretful, eventful or insignificant, 2016 has come to an end. Maldives welcomed the 2017 with a bang! New Year’s parties spread throughout the archipelago on New Year’s Eve. People say the way one starts their new year is the way they’d spend the rest of it. For those who were fortunate enough to be ‘stranded’ on one of the beautiful beaches of Maldives that hosted a New Year’s Party, their year would be filled with laughter, favorable music and the best hospitality.

W Maldives with their reputation for excellent taste in music, New Year’s Eve started with a Glamorous Cocktail Party along to DJ Ivan Zubo’s festive tunes. Sipping champagne and nibbling down canapés at the LIVING ROOM lounge until it was time for the final dinner that took place on FIRE beach. Appropriately named, The White Sensation Gala Dinner included endless choices of fresh local sea food, savory bites of oysters, prime meat cuts and unlimited canapés. ‘Let the Countdown Begin’ displayed a remarkable firework show at the stroke of midnight and the rest of the night presented an impressive line-up of DJs including a special guest performance by talented violinist, Céline Roscheck from Vienna.

To keep the party going, W Maldives continued the festivities on after 1 AM when guests withdrew from the beach to 15BELOW, the underground club to enjoy After Midnight Munchies. New Year’s day began with all the guests enjoying a late Hangover Breakfast which served till noon at KITCHEN restaurant.

The resort that has been building up one of the most hype this year in the Maldives is Amilla Fushi in Baa Atoll. Tabloids along with media's discovered that former English football superstar David Beckham and his family are in the Maldives for the third time to celebrate New Year’s. Prior to this, they had enjoyed seeing the end of the years 2012 and 2015 in Maldives.

It was also established that the power couple threw an exclusive New Year’s party that has got the airport packed with private jets. Exclusive guests such as Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana joined the Beckhams for the celebrations. Other guests include Mel C, Victoria’s former band mate and her partner Joe Marshall. Moreover, the destinations raised more attention when Tom Cruise landed in the Maldives, now holidaying at One & Only Reethi Rah, but the excellent privacy and exclusivity provided from the resort has not allowed the media to receive further information.

Jumeirah Vittaveli celebrated the new year with ‘Fire & Ice’ themed festivities. This included live entertainment, exquisite gala dinners and excess variety for guests of all ages. Entertainment was set for families or couples to enjoy. Live shows included a modern string trio ensemble, cabaret performances, belly dancers, a live band, DJs, a spectacular fire show, live dance performances, LED dance and a beach party. Guests indulged in the delights of the string band, had dance offs to the live DJ on the beach, admired the creativity of the resort’s resident sand artist’s display of holiday-themed sand images and sculptures. The guests who contemplated thrills enjoyed fire dancers perform the Art of Poi with flames dancing in the air.

Newly opened resorts such as OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo celebrated New Year’s in style. As a holiday treat, the resort offered a variety of limited edition services. The New Year’s eve count down party incorporated a special Gala Dinner, a DJ, LED butterfly dance, LED water drummers, the countdown to midnight and a face off party. Each activity for the festive season was planned to help inspire amazing memories for their guests.

The Sun Siyam Resorts celebrated 2017 with a bang on all three properties in the Maldives. As the New Year is a time of generosity, shared kindness, laughter and a time to share all things enjoyable with your loved ones, there is a unique feature each property provided; an incredible New Year’s itinerary.

The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Maldives put together the best of their culinary expertise with themed food and activities to suit all ages, Festive Wine Pairing Dinner and a Grand Seafood Buffet. For the spa enthusiasts, Limited Edition Festive Rituals are made available at the Spa by Thalgo. The year came to an end with the countdown to New Year on the beach, complete with fly board show and many more special performances for the guests.

An extensive program was offered at Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort Maldives, which included live cooking sessions, cocktail promotions, a themed dinner night or private dinners and special excursions scheduled for the new year.

Guests who visited Sun Aqua Vilu Reef Maldives with children enjoyed many activities throughout festive break, from Local Arts & Crafts, Face Painting, Treasure Hunt, Cookie Making and more that had the kids excited. Special events for New Year included a sumptuous grand buffet.

A fun-filled night for the whole family at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa Maldives where children and adults worked up an appetite, bowling on the beach with Maldivian coconuts. The resort’s Deep End restaurant prepared a five-course Surf & Turf Gala Dinner. Afterward, the party ramped up in the 24 Degrees Lounge with fireworks, festive music and all-night dancing.

With incredible promotional offers for the festive season, Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa celebrated a relaxed New Year and Christmas. New Year’s Day included plenty of chances to sip champagne at Gala Dinners, exquisite feasts and cultural activities while getting regular spa treatments at the Hideaway Spa and Beauty Palace in between celebrations.

Other resorts such as Holiday Inn Resort® Kandooma Maldives also gave out promotional offers such as ‘Stay festive’. The Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge winning resort’s culinary team came up with special festive menus for the New Year’s Gala dinner. For New Year’s Eve, guests were invited to dust off their dancing shoes and grab a mask in a unique, once in a lifetime ‘Carnival Party’.

New Year’s celebrations were not denied to the capital city of Maldives. Hotel Jen Male’, Maldives and Champa Central Hotel hosted New Year’s Eve Dinners and entertainment in Male’ City. Live music, exquisite dining and Roof top views were offered to their guests as they counted down to the end of 2016. The new year in Maldives began with a bang!

Dusit Thani Maldives wins Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Award

Loading Maldives Offers.... Dusit Thani Maldives on Mudhdhoo Island in Baa Atoll, the Maldives’ first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, was recently named ‘Favourite Hotel or Resort for Families’ in the Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Readers’ Choice Awards 2016.

Operated by luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler, which prints regional editions in Europe, USA, Asia and the Middle East, the annual Readers’ Choice Awards was established in 1987 and today is one of the most respected programmes recognising hospitality excellence. This year, more than 300,000 votes were cast online by international readers, resulting in a list of the world’s finest travel experiences.

Dedicated to readers in the Middle East, the Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Readers’ Choice Awards featured 21 categories this year. Voting opened earlier in the year and winners were officially announced at a gala dinner held on 14 November 2016 at the Park Hyatt Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Located just 35 minutes by seaplane from the capital city, Malé, and 10 minutes by speedboat from Dharavandhoo Domestic Airport in Baa Atoll, Dusit Thani Maldives comprises 94 villas and residences, along with three restaurants, two bars, and Dusit’s signature Devarana Spa. The resort is surrounded by a rich house reef, white sandy beaches and a turquoise lagoon. A well-equipped Kids’ Club adds to the resort’s family friendly appeal.

“We are extremely proud to win this prestigious award which recognises the quality of the resort’s luxury accommodation and distinctive services,” said Mr Lim Boon Kwee, Chief Operating Officer of Dusit International, the Bangkok-based, global hospitality company which owns and operates Dusit Thani Maldives. “From our gracious, Thai-inspired hospitality, to our well-appointed rooms and esteemed dining experiences, we do everything we can to create memorable guest experiences. And we are delighted to know we are getting it right.”

The Condé Nast Traveller Middle East Readers’ Choice Award caps a successful year for the resort, which, amongst other accolades, also received the following:
• Gold Magellan Award, Luxury Resort Category – 2016 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards.
• Luxury Modern Resort of the Year 2016 – Luxury Travel Guide Global Awards 2016.
• Asia’s Top Leisure Hotel – Now Travel Asia Awards 2016.

5 Things Newlyweds Shouldn't Miss Out When In Maldives

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Maldives is probably one of the most popular honeymoon destinations out there. But there are just a lot of things to do in Maldives that sometimes you can't decide what to do first. For those couples planning for their honeymoons, here are 5 things newlyweds shouldn't miss out when in Maldives.

Underwater Adventures

According to Travel Triangle, there's nothing more enjoyable than to swim with whale sharks and manta rays with your loved one. There's also a lot of stunning coral reefs and beautiful marine life in Maldives so it's something that should be on your list.

Island Hopping

Maldives has about 1192 coral islands so why not go island hopping during your stay. Each island is unique on its own with so many attractions to offer so try to stay at different resorts in each island. According to Overwater Bungalows, there are lots of island resorts like the Cocoa Island resort, Baros Resort, Mirihi Island Resort and Veligandu Resort.

Spending The Night At The Glowing Beach

If you want a magical experience with your loved one, the glowing beach of Vaadhoo Island is a must see. You could just spend the whole night staring at the glowing tides of the sea. The island is just next to the airport so it should be on your itinerary.

Country Cruisin

There are different kinds of accommodations when you're in Maldives and one good option is to try a cruise with your partner. The ship will take you to destinations that are also worth seeing while you enjoy your stay in a classy cruise on the sea.

Try The Dhoni Cruise

If you prefer a more traditional kind of cruise, then the Dhoni Cruise is a must try. It's a boat made out of coconut palm wood and it will take you to places where you can taste delicious seafood and enjoy bird watching with your partner.

These 5 things newlyweds shouldn't miss when in Maldives should be on your itinerary if you're already booked for a stay in this beautiful country. It's definitely an unforgettable experience that you will enjoy with your partner.

Maldives is ‘Best Remote Beach Destination’

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The 'Best Remote Beach Destination' award at the 29th Annual Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards Middle East went to the Maldives. More than 300,000 travellers took part in this year’s Reader’s Choice Awards Survey, which led to the short listing of the nominees. A great honour any destination to be featured among the shortlists, and Maldives was pitted alongside Seychelles and Zanzibar.

From January to September last year, there was a 23.9 per cent increase in visitor arrival from the Middle East to Maldives, as compared to 33,675 numbers of visitors in same period in 2015. The Maldives has been seeing an increasing number of Middle Eastern travellers over the years; and it is a popular destination for travellers from the region as it gives them the perfect combination of luxury, privacy, adventure activities for an unbeatable holiday experience.

Apart from winning the Best Remote Beach Destination Award, Dusit Thani Maldives won the award for the Favourite Hotel or Resort for Families. The resort’s BaanSanook Kids Club is a runaway favourite among kids.

Maldives continues to see more developments, and prestigious brands descending on the exotic islands. The latest in the line of prestigious properties is the Four Seasons First Private Island Escape at Voavah, Baa Atoll.

It is the world’s first exclusive-use hideaway in a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve, a secluded five-acre (two hectare) haven transcends the private island experience: 'entirely yours' from the moment of booking, seven bedrooms, a Beach House, dive school and 62-foot (18.9 metre) yacht extend the oceanic spoils of the Maldives’ only Unesco Biosphere Reserve for to up to 22 guests at a time.

What’s more, guests decide the schedule, staff and services, redefining Voavah with every visit as somewhere to retreat, explore, connect, celebrate, and dream with one’s eyes open. A 62 foot (18.9 metre) private yacht – Voavah Summer – invites exploration of a dazzling and undisturbed UNESCO domain. Experiences focus on the Unesco territory, guided by a team that has already spent a decade protecting it: diving with whale sharks, snorkelling with manta rays, swimming with neighbourhood turtles, fishing for dinner, visiting local islands, surfing unknown breaks and cruising into breath-taking Baa Atoll sunsets.

Spice Girls Reunion! Victoria Beckham and Mel C Perform Song in the Maldives

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Things are looking up for 2017! At Gordon Ramsay's Maldives New Year's Eve Bash, Victoria Beckham and former Spice Girls band mate Melanie Chisolm (that's Mel C aka Sporty Spice for those who didn't know) reunited on stage to perform their smash hit, "2 Become 1" for the lucky party goers.

As Mel C belted out the vocals, "Posh Spice" appeared on stage in a gorgeous red dress and wrapped her arms around her friend as a surprise. Beckham had a hand in organizing the party and wanted to get her former band mate in the mix. Now we can all let out a collective cheer that that former Spice Girls creed definitely still rings true, "Friendship never ends."

RELATED: Victoria Beckham Is Receiving a Special Honor from the Queen

Mel C even shared an Instagram of her and Beckham to show their forever love and admiration for one another. She captioned the pic from their time on stage together, "candle light and soul forever  A wonderful start to 2017 xxx". Good thing someone took a video of this sweet performance as Beckham and Chisolm will not be joining the rest of their band mates for the Spice Girls Reunion concert in 2017.

Experience ‘intelligent’ luxury at Soneva Jani, Maldives

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Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, the creators of Soneva, made the modern Maldives and now they’re doing it again, making intelligent luxury even sharper, writes John Arlidge.

New. It’s what we want and what all manner of purveyors of snazzy, shiny things want to sell us. Sadly, it rarely lives up to its billing. How many times have you been promised a fresh experience, only to find it’s a half-hearted re-bake of something same-old, same-old? But occasionally just occasionally something genuinely refreshing does come along.

Before most people had heard of intelligent luxury, Sonu Shivdasani and his wife, Eva, who grew up variously in India, England and Sweden, combined their names and talents to create it. Soneva resorts are not flashy. The dress code is ‘No shoes’ (they kidnap your footwear). They are green. Rooms and villas are made from sustainable wood, including local coconut trees. Motor vehicles are banned in favour of bicycles and electric buggies. Boats run on electric motors where possible. Even the fire engines are electric.

Sonevas serve largely organic food, grown locally, sustainably caught fish. Standout dishes include savoury mango gazpacho, tandoori feta cheese salad, yoghurt and basil sorbet with fresh passion fruit. Thursdays are meat-free. (No exceptions, burger addicts.) The resorts make their own drinking water, instead of importing expensive bottled stuff.

Activities and experiences offer simplicity, quality and ‘wellness’ nature walks, dolphin cruises, diving, including freediving, fishing and picnics on deserted islands, plus more kinds of massage than you ever knew existed. Service is personal and hop-to-it, with a twist. Each guest has their own ‘Mr Friday’ or ‘Ms Friday’ butler-cum-concierge.

Soneva started in the Maldives at a time when tourism there was three star at best. Thanks to the success of the first Soneva (Soneva Fushi, in the Baa atoll), it is now mainly five star. LVMH (under the Cheval Blanc brand), St Regis and Four Seasons have all opened recently. It’s time for Soneva to respond and update the barefoot chic it pioneered. And that’s what Sonu and Eva are doing.

About twenty minutes by seaplane from Soneva Fushi and 40 minutes from Malé, the Maldives’ capital, is Soneva Jani, in the Noonu atoll. Jani means wisdom in Sanskrit, and this place is smarter than the average resort. It comprises one island, 150 acres (or half as big again as Soneva Fushi), plus four other, smaller, deserted islands, all set in a lagoon 3.5 miles by one mile. Thirty-odd villas, a more modern take on those at Soneva Fushi, are rising on the island. Meandering off one end are 24 of those villas on stilts over water that are obligatory on all advertisements for the Maldives.

Look closely at those promo shots and you’ll notice that the villas are tiny and, to save money, cheek by jowl. Not at Soneva Jani. One of the water villas has four bedrooms and a 20-metre swimming pool. Many have water slides that run from the upper floors straight into the lagoon. They are all at least 20 metres apart.

The interiors are modern rustic, with sandblasted pine from sustainable forests in New Zealand, offset with plenty of glass. The bathrooms are inside and outdoors. You can swim under a screen straight into the bathroom for a shower after a dip.

There’s simple fun. The mini kitchens have popcorn makers. There’s natural fun. Glass panels cut in the decks allow you to peer down at the rays and the odd reef (i.e. safe) shark swimming underneath. There’s hi-tech fun. Press a button on the bedside table and the roof above the master bed opens, Bond villain lair-style, so you can stargaze as you fall asleep. (Rain sensors close the roof automatically if the heavens open during the night.)

The most powerful telescope in the Maldives in the new observatory offers pin-sharp stargazing. Images are broadcast on to screens that form bar and restaurant table tops, so you can dine on the stars, under the stars. After dinner, you can watch a private screening of your favourite film at the overwater cinema.

Halfway along the string of water villas is the biggest building ever built over water in the Maldives. The Gathering is three storeys high and has restaurants, bars, a wine cellar, library, gym and spa and den, plus Soneva’s signature ‘rooms’ for cheese and cold cuts, chocolate and ice cream, where you can help yourself any time. ‘There will be a real buzz here but you will still be able to come barefoot,’ Shivdasani told me when I visited in October.

Like Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani will have its own time zone to make the days as long and sunny as possible, without having to get up at 6am. Sun-up is always at about 7am and sundown at 7pm. The vibe will still be ‘it’s OK to do nothing at all’. One of the ‘activities’ listed is ‘lying on the beach’.

Maybe it’s these touches. Maybe it’s the warmth and sense of mischief of general manager Olivia Richli, who was tempted away from running the Aman in Venice. Maybe it’s simply the blissful absence of golf. Whatever the reason, the de-stress is instant and complete. You want proof? Look at the gym. If Soneva Fushi is anything to go by, the gym at Soneva Jani will be deserted. You’ll be hard-pressed to see mobile phones, either. Most people stop using theirs a day or so after arriving.

Soneva is now not only over the water, it is on the water. Soneva in Aqua is a new Maldives-based 65-foot yacht, which is half Asian-inspired sail-powered junk and half hi-tech motor yacht. There are two large bedrooms and kids’ rooms so that the whole family can set sail. The bath has a glass bottom for au naturel fish fancying. The crew comprise the captain, a Mr or Ms Friday, an engineer, a divemaster and a spa-therapist-cum-housekeeper, so you can dive and have a massage on deck, all before breakfast.

Expanding so heavily in the Maldives is risky, thanks to the island nation’s fraying democracy, short leases for property ownership, and rising sea levels. But Shivdasani reckons the super-rich will continue to prize the area above its rivals, notably the Caribbean, thanks to its superior location and far better service and food. Current performance certainly supports him. Sonevans are even more dependent on their fix than Aman junkies. More than half of visitors to Soneva Fushi are repeat customers. The top 100 clients spend between $80,000 and $1 million a year.

Even if you’re not super-rich, I’d go anyway. I’d recommend a few days in a water villa at Soneva Jani, a few days on Soneva in Aqua, and a few days back on the mother ship in a beach villa on Soneva Fushi. If you’re not relaxed after that, seek medical advice.