Idyllic mini parcels of paradise in the Indian Ocean, total escapism guaranteed. And Thudufushi Resort will even appeal to those who have trouble contemplating a week of slothfulness...
I’d heard a lot about The Maldives from my partner, who’s been three times before and was determined that I should enjoy the Maldivian experience despite my trepidation, after all there’s nothing to do is there and I'm incapable of sitting down for more than an hour!
Well one day he announced he’d booked it! Yes all booked and including an upgrade to premier seats on the overnight Monarch Airways flight from Gatwick. Our destination was to be Thudufushi Island Resort, which is reached via a half hour flight by sea plane from the main island of Male.
Sea plane taxi
We arrived at the little airport on Male early in the morning and immediately transferred by bus to the sea plane terminal. Time to sit and have a coffee and watch the sea planes landing and taking off and just soak up the warmth and fresh air after being cooped up on a plane for 11 hours. The weather was a little bit humid but a pleasant temperature. We were called to board our sea plane taxi to Thudufushi, a twin-otter with 15 seats. It was a noisy but fascinating flight, the views are spectacular as you fly over some of the 1,190 islands that make up the Maldives. It’s a cliché but it really is like flying over a sea scattered with emerald jewels. Only 200 of the islands are inhabited, 88 of those are registered tourist resorts and the remainder are local Maldivian islands. The government does not allow the mixing of local Maldivian islands with tourist islands.
We landed on water and caught sight of our tropical gem, all palm trees and perfect white sand. A wooden dhow shuttled us to the island’s jetty and the resort’s reception staff were waiting to greet us with fruit cocktails and refreshing towels. A speedy check in and then a short stroll took us to our bungalow right on the beach. There are detached and semi-detached bungalows, simply but tastefully furnished with a private terrace and sun loungers on the beach. A sliding door from the bedroom connects to a very stylish ‘garden bathroom’ surrounded by a high white wall. The twin sinks, toilet and bidet are covered, the shower is open air. You know you’re on holiday when you can shower outdoors under the stars!
It soon became evident that the island was very popular with Italians. Guests generally made an effort to dress up for dinner (and the Italians are, of course, very stylish) but for the rest of the day you just need swim suit, sarong and flip flops. The resort boasts a chic boutique stocking designer beach wear, sunhats, flip flops and a selection of individual and original evening wear.
Activities / excursions
In addition to the charming local staff, there is an entertainment crew, known as animators, who were mostly travel and tourism graduates of various nationalities and all incredibly enthusiastic. Their job is guest relations and organising the programme of activities/events, including daily aerobics classes. The ones who spoke better English made a special effort to look after us and make sure we didn’t feel excluded being the only Brits on the island – we didn’t! The evening entertainment, no pressure to participate, included a karaoke night, a fashion show, a disco and a hilarious adaption of the Mama Mia play.
The resort has a couple of souvenir shops, a PADI dive centre, water sports centre, a large open sided restaurant, a bar (with live music each evening), beach bar and the Serena spa. Excursions include big game fishing and boat trips such as a visit to the local (non-tourist) Fisherman’s Island, where we were taken on an interesting guided walking tour of the island, learning a little about the daily life of the islanders and the political structure. The island wasn’t large but the facilities were good with a new mosque and school and some small shops. Excursions can be booked on the island on arrival.
Diving trips and diving lessons are available at additional cost and can be booked when you arrive. According to my partner, who dived a couple of times during the week, the diving is spectacular and the instructors very informed. But even if you don’t dive, the surrounding sea is so shallow and clear that you can watch amazing multi-coloured tropical sea life just by snorkelling (equipment is available free of charge) or even walking along the jetty at dusk.
A particular feature of the island is the gourmet food, which was consistently excellent. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are buffet style in the restaurant. Dinner and lunch menus changed daily and were very high quality with three to four courses and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. There was naturally a bias towards Italian antipasti and pastas and pizza but also some very good curries and Chinese dishes and most days there was a bbq for sizzling freshly cooked meats and fish.
For a truly romantic dinner under a starry sky you can have a private table set up on the beach and eat lobster with champagne! On one of the evenings there was a gala dinner with tables on the beach and mouth wateringly delicious food.
If you miss breakfast (which we usually did) there are pastries and croissants served at the beach bar mid morning and the same venue has afternoon tea of little sandwiches and cakes. They have thought of everything and there is no fear of starving on this island.
It was a surprise to me that I didn’t get bored at all, we did lots of reading and played chess and backgammon on the bar terrace in the afternoons. It was a truly relaxing week on a beautiful, tranquil island in a sparkling blue sea with staff who appeared to love their jobs and went the extra mile to ensure that guests had an unforgettable week. It was possible to use the internet in the office for an extra charge, I did make use of it a couple of times but otherwise it was an inestimable indulgence to have the opportunity to completely forget the outside world for a week. I can find no negatives about this holiday; the island was so well run, immaculately clean and with the perfect level of attentiveness without intrusion from the staff. There were plenty of activities available if you wanted to keep busy but there was also space and peace and quiet if you wanted to do nothing!
December to April is the dry season, where rainfall averages three inches (75mm) per month. May to November is the rainy season when 9.5 inches (215mm) of rain per month can be expected - we went in July and had just one brief warm rain shower in the entire week! The year round temperature is between 25 – 30°C.
Size and style:
The island is tiny, you can walk around it in less than 10 minutes, it has 47 detached/semi detached beach bungalows. All of the facilities and service of a 5-star resort but informal and understated.
According to the Kuoni brochure the island will be closed from May – December 2010 for building of some water villas. I hope this won’t spoil the island, at the moment it is perfect. Update: It appears that bookings are being taken from April 2011 via the Thudufushi website: www.thudufushibeach.diamond-resorts.com