Trip Report: Sam visits The Maldives29.08.19 | Sam Cooper
As featured in J’aime Magazine
I have been very lucky to travel to some amazing destinations during my time at RB Collection, but this trip was a far cry from my adventures to Costa Rica, Thailand and South Africa where I focussed more on cultural and wildlife experiences. The Maldives has always been the ultimate beach destination where you can really unwind and switch off. For those who know me well, I don’t switch off, and I rarely unwind, so that in itself was going to be a new experience.
My journey began at Birmingham Airport where I would fly to the Maldives via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines. Check in was a breeze and on this occasion, I used the fast track lane (highly recommended during busy times). so, I could make the most of the VIP lounge before departure.
A comfortable 4-hour flight took me to Istanbul’s brand-new airport which covers 76 million square metres, which cost a staggering US$12 billion to build and transports 90 million passengers a year! Once the entire airport is complete in 2025, it will be able to handle 200 million passengers a year and will be the world’s largest airport. The airport is light, bright and very well signposted throughout. It’s difficult to get lost here which surprised me.
An 8-hour flight from Istanbul took me to Male Airport in the Maldives. The airport itself is very small and you are out before you know it. When you walk into the arrival’s hall, you are greeted by all the various hotel representatives ready to whisk you away by speedboat to your little piece of heaven. It had a magical charm about it with all the boats waiting to transport the arriving guests, a very different feel to any place I had ever experienced before.
I meet my hotel representative and he showed me the speedboat which would take me to my first hotel for the night, a 40-minute journey to Helengeli which was located in the North Male Atoll.
With zero expectations I arrived in style to golden sand beaches, and every shade of blue you could think of. From here I could experience 20 nearby dive sites as well as snorkelling on the house reef and even channel diving.
The next day, after breakfast on the terrace, I visited the PADI School and meet up with a diving expert who took me out to sea to see what was hiding underneath. I saw an array of sea life, fish of all shapes and sizes, the colours were breath-taking.
Later that morning, I meet with my speedboat crew who would take me to the next hotel, the OBLU Select at Sangeli, which was only a 20-minute speedboat. I was greeted in true Maldivian style, banging drums, horns blowing, I think all the staff turned up to meet me, I felt rather special.
The island didn’t seem too small or even too big. The staff were really friendly, everything was pristine, and looking fresh.
I was guided to my 1-bedroom pool villa where I would spend the next two nights. The rooms were spacious, warm, and the amenities were of higher quality. My room felt private with the foliage, plus I could hear the lapping waves of the sea as it was only a few steps away. That’s what I like about the Maldives, you are only ever a few feet away from the calming waters.
The resort also has a beautiful infinity pool which looks over the beach straight to the sea, this was the central point of the resort and they also have an adult only pool hidden away.
Some worry about ‘island-fever’ in the Maldives, but the resorts combat this by ensuring there is atmosphere in the resorts (without being too in your face). On this island, a singer entertained us in the evening during dinner and drinks and later a DJ gave the island a real lift. Not all hotels in the Maldives will have a DJ, especially as many couples are here on honeymoon, although when I looked around, everything one seemed happy enjoying the music.
It was great to enjoy my own private pool villa, and a must for honeymooners!
Here, I enjoyed their restaurant; ‘Simply Veg’. As the name says, its serves vegetarian dishes and the variety and quality of what was on offer was excellent.
As I was eating so much at this point, I made the most of the gym, which was adjacent to the water villas, so as you can imagine, when I was on the treadmill, I felt like I was running into the waves. It was the best gym view I have ever come across to date! As with the vast majority of hotels in the Maldives, you can choose from an array of water sports and here they promoted sunset fishing too.
I have never been on a seaplane before, so the journey to my next resort was an experience in itself. They are much smaller than I thought, but it’s a great way to see all the various Atoll’s and really take in the views from above. After 35 minutes, I landed at Kanfusihi. Once again, I was greeted to drums, horns and I think the whole island came out to welcome me.
My first impressions of Kanifushi is that it felt a much larger island and I certainly had that feeling that you were the only person around. The width of the island is 2.5KM whereas Male is 1.9km wide and so if you want a big island, with lots of bar and restaurant options this is the place to be.
What I really liked about the hotel was if you were to walk from one side to the next, it would take you a while but every so often you could find an outdoor fridge full of drinks, so you never go thirsty.
I had a beach villa at the and if you are keen on a stretch of beach, and more privacy this is a good option for you.
The quality of the food and the setting was perfect, this was all I expected of the Maldives. I was sat outside eating traditional Maldivian cuisine, my taste buds were having a feast and so was my other senses, my eyes could see the blue waves crashing against the rocks, and I could feel a warm breeze, I really felt in my happy place.
A range of activities are on offer such as a sunset cruise, twice daily snorkelling excursions, and a PADI diving school for those who want to venture further into the sea plus other water sports.
My final resort stay was my favourite of all the luxury resorts. We travelled onboard a very swish speedboat which set the scene for this impressive, luxury resort.
Champagne and strawberries were handed to me while I took the short walk to reception, there was not a single cloud in the bright blue sky above, I had to wear sunglasses looking at the sand, it was bright white and the sea was clear enough to see fish close to the shore. I immediately felt like I was in a 5-star hotel, the attention to detail was excellent.
My home for next couple of nights was a 1-bedroom pool beach villa, the best of the entire trip. It was extremely spacious, warm and inviting, a little dark (which offered respite from the bright sky and sand), but once you opened the doors, I was only a few steps from the sea…absolute bliss!
This was the Maldives of my dreams and it was not disappointing at all.
Although at other hotels I could see the sunset from either the bar or my room, at Ozen I really got to experience it on three occasions. It might sound trivial, but there is something so beautiful about watching the sun go down on the horizon in a place like the Maldives. I would sit on my bean bag, no music, no books, just the sound of the gentle waves. I can still feel the warm breeze begin to cool as the sun went down, I never wanted that moment to end. For me, they were the highlights of the whole trip.
I found white sand that I thought was reserved only for dreams, it was like talcum powder, so soft. I walked to the other side of the island, which was only about 500 feet away and the sea here was like a pond, I could see the fish all round my feet.
Just before bed, I would walk along the beach in the dark and have a moment to think on my own. I’m a huge fan of space and what is beyond this world, so when I looked up and I could see a black cloth full of white lights, I couldn’t believe by eyes. The stars were out in full force, and what gave it the wow factor was when I looked in the distance, I could see them curve in the sky.
Ozen is an ultra-all-inclusive resort, so you will struggle to spend your money. Even some spa treatments are included. They have a huge array of water sports, sunset cruises, tennis courts and you can even visit local islands and see how the locals live.
The dining options here were excellent, a real step up in terms of quality and number of places to eat and drink. You could have anything from Sushi to Indo Ceylon which offers Maldivian, Indian and Sri Lankan fusion dishes and they even have an underwater fine dining restaurant, a real food and dining experience for all your senses.
Like all great trips, they have to come to an end. For me, the Maldives is definitely the ultimate beach destination, the best I had ever experienced. If offers great weather, clear blue sea, white sand and the resorts appeal to both couples or families (I can of course help you choose which is the most suitable for you).
For me, it will make you re-connect which in today’s fast-paced, digital world is the most important aspect of such a trip.
What made it so special for me is that for someone who can’t relax and is always on the move, this place makes you take stock, it slows you down without you even paying attention, and you leave with your stresses left behind.
My top tips for the Maldives
- If travelling with a family with small children, we can advise how shallow the water is. On some islands, I found the water was quite shallow for longer, and in other parts, it went quite deep rather quickly.
- I visited during the rainy season and I was lucky to have only one day of rain. During this time, my pool in the villa came in very useful as certain islands do not allow swimming in the sea for safety reasons.
- Find a good book that you want to read, and a pack of playing cards. They will come in useful!
- Sun cream! Make sure you cover up well. Even when you think you can’t get burnt; the UV rays can be high due to the lack of air pollution.
- Seek advice of a specialist; with so many resorts and islands to choose from you can quickly make a bad decision. It will no doubt be a special trip of a lifetime and so no one wants to waste their money. This is when me and my colleagues can help at RB Collection. Nathan and Nicola have also visited so you are in very good hands.