Paradise found in the Maldives

By Amanda Statham, a Travel Professional

Read more on Maldives.

Overall rating:3.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
Recommended for:
Honeymoon, Romance, Winter Sun, Expensive

Tented resorts, drop dead gorgeous villas, and dining for two on a private sand dune – no wonder the Maldives is honeymoon heaven

The islands of the Indian Ocean are setting new standards for luxury resorts and service, leaving the rest of the world trailing in their wake. And of all of the thousands of islands scattered across the expanse of turquoise ocean, it is those in the Maldives archipelagos that are truly redefining the honeymoon experience. Nowhere on earth has more chilled-out chic retreats that are bursting with individual charm as well as all the latest mod cons. The archipelagos of 1,190 islands stretch 500 miles in 26 atolls across the Indian Ocean. The majority remain uninhabited and those that have been touched by human hand largely consist of a scattering of wooden villas. The result is a place on earth that really does appear to be a blueprint for paradise: tiny coral islands ringed by pure white sand, bright green palms and some of the cleanest, clearest water in the world, making it a number one dive spot.

The Beach House

Set on the private 35-acre Manafaru Island in the Haa Alifu Atoll in the northern Maldives, The Beach House, which opened its doors in December 2007, is all of your tropical island dreams rolled into one. Coral reef lagoons, perfect white sand beaches, 68 luxurious villas with private pool and butler service and gourmet meals in a swish thatched restaurant are run of the mill for the Maldives, but extras such as a huge trampoline to allow guests to jump as high as the palm trees, martial arts lessons, kite surfing and spa in a jungle setting make this a fun place to spend your time in paradise.

W Resort and Spa Maldives

The W Retreat and Spa Maldives caused a real stir in the Indian Ocean when it opened a couple of years ago, thanks to its contemporary design and gizmo-packed villas; think iPod accessories, high speed wireless internet, Bose sound systems, 42 inch plasma screen TVs and DVD players. There are over-water villas with glass floors, lit up for night viewing, and when guests can drag themselves away from their hi-tech pad they can chill out in 15 Below, the resort’s trendy bar/nightclub, with dance floor, trance DJs, projections and 30 types of vodka to sample.

Anantara Veli Resort and Spa

It’s all about romance at Anantara Veli Resort and Spa, part of the upmarket resort group whose other properties are scattered across Thailand’s Golden Triangle. From the moment you step on the speedboat that whisks you across 35kms of turquoise water from Malé you’ll be entranced. There are 68 tasteful beachfront villas, with enormous bathrooms with outdoor rain showers, but if you can afford to splash out we recommend the 38 over-water villas, which come with a private sun deck from which you can step down into the warm lagoon. The resort’s Aqua bar is a great place for sundowners, overlooking the infinity pool, which glows with fibre optics at night. The spa is excellent, using lots of indigenous botanical and herbal ingredients - the aromatherapy massage is particularly heavenly.


A short boat ride from Anantara, this chic resort has a more intimate vibe than its larger neighbour. The 19 oceanfront houses are named after Maldivian flowers and are very spacious at 225 sq metres, which includes a huge bathroom with tub that backs onto a private pool. Luxurious touches such as a housemaster (butler), antique writing desks and dining in your own private outside sala make this a gem of a getaway for sybarites and lovers alike.

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is the latest offering from the five-star Four Seasons chain and already an immense hit with the honeymoon market. A short seaplane flight from Male, the resort has 102 thatched beach and water villas with obligatory plunge pools and outdoor living areas. The two-bedroom Royal Villa is particularly impressive at 890 sq metres, with a 30-metre lap pool, outside dining pavilion and two massage beds in the garden courtyard. The Four Seasons Explorer, an 110-cabin, three-deck catamaran, is available to take guests island hopping and dine at sister property the Four Seasons Kudaa Huura.

Diva Resort & Spa

If you think the Maldives is a party-free zone, then check out Diva Resort & Spa, a cool new five-star property that opened in March 2008. As well as the usual Indian Ocean prerequisites - white sand beach, excellent reefs, 192 rooms including 52 water villas with 24-hour room service and a big spa – there’s an injection of nightlife to lift it above the norm. You can enjoy five mouth-watering restaurants, five bars and even a nightclub!

Banyan Tree Maldives

From the moment the Maldives’ first tented resort opened its canvas doors, it instantly became one of the top romantic retreats in the world. There are just six white tented pool villas, each comprising three individual tents housing huge bedroom with beautiful wood floor and rattan and leather furniture, living room, pool and bath tent with spa beds for in-villa treatments. An Island Host caters to your every whim (think butler but less stuffy), but if you want to venture out of your tent there’s Boa Keyo, an all-day restaurant and bar, or treat yourselves to an overnight stay on Banyan Velaa, the resort’s 30-metre yacht.

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Amanda Statham
Traveller type:
Travel Professional
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Average: 3 (1 vote)
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First uploaded:
22 January 2009
Last updated:
6 years 25 weeks 2 days 9 hours 1 min 49 sec ago
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Community comments (1)

0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Though this review does provide a reasonable overview of the Maldives island experience it lacks detail and useful comment. I'm guessing that most people considering a holiday to the Maldives will already be aware that is a potentially idyllic location for an island getaway but what sets it apart and what are the pros and cons of each location and resort? These are the sort of questions I would want answering together with which resorts would be best to consider for those on a budget, those with no budget, those into watersports, those just wanting to relax and make use of spa facilities, are children allowed? etc etc.

We have now visited the Maldives on three occasions and stayed at four resorts; Kuredu, Angsana Ihuru, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru (including a 3 night cruise on Velaa) and Diva. My wife and I both enjoy diving and whilst she is happy to relax in the sun and read a book or visit the spa whilst not diving, I love to snorkel.

Our first visit was to Kuredu on Lhavinyani Atoll. This was several years ago and I believe it has since been refurbished. At the time it was basic but inexpensive, great for diving and good value for money but not for those seeking luxury. However I believe it has been upgraded considerably so cannot give a useful review.

Angsana Ihuru and Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru are a few hundred meters away from each other and if you stay on either you may visit the other whenever you wish using the regular boat service. Angsana is tiny and whilst not as luxurious as Banyan Tree, it is comfortable and the service is very friendly, particularly from the bar staff and dive centre. For the price we believe this island offers the perfect small island experience and is excellent value for money. They don't generally allow children though there were a few when we were there.

Conservation is a prioity too, with both islands operating strict enviromental policies and running marine centres that breed turtles and reef sharks. You can walk around the islands in minutes and the surrounding reefs are a short swim from the shore, safe (shallow on the island side) and full of marine life offering excellent snorkelling and decent diving as they drop off to 30 meters plus.

The dive centre is superb and serves both islands with daily boat trips to the best dive sites on a modern and comfortable boat with the most friendly and experienced guides and boat crew you're likely to meet.

Both islands have excellent spa facilities and a various other watersports are available (sailing, widsurfing, kayaking etc).

The Velaa Cruise was excellent. Three nights on a yacht that sleeps 12 with only 4 of us on it. We travelled to various islands and dive sites (the best in the area) and activities included BBQs on sand banks miles from anywhere and visiting islands inhabited by the local Maldevians.

I noted that if you click on the Banyan Tree link on the review, it takes you to Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru (where we went) and not Banyan Tree Madivaru which is the tented villa resort in the review.

We had mixed feelings about Diva. The over water villa was great and the diving was fantastic (me being lucky to have encountered three whale sharks - though don't bank on this as you have to be lucky). However bear in mind it is a big island and not for you if you want the typical island getaway experience. Though it had just opened and may have improved, the service was overbearing, probably due to lack of experience of staff and poor supervision. We went half board and whilst the food all looked impressive, it wasn't always great to eat (undercooked pork for example). Also, whilst we were aware that the Maldives resorts are expensive, the price of snacks and drinks was over the top and the expensive cocktails were awfully prepared. We went half board and if I recall correctly, if you wanted a burger for lunch it was about $24! In summary, we would not visit here again. Yes the villa was huge and luxurious but how much time do you spend in the villa? It was too big, the service needed improving and whilst the boat diving was great, the house reef was poor for snorkelling. Also, we were not once asked if everything was ok during our visit. They need to visit Banyan Tree or Angsana and learn a few lessons in service. Also bear in mind that the pictures only show the best part of the resort ie the lovely water villas (which we stayed in) and the very tip of what is a large island.

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