As if Velaa didn’t have enough golf course on the island, they have added a green OFF the island. With their special inflatable golf hole, guests can have a wedge masterclass on the beach with the floating green. The resort uses biodegradable balls which dissolve into fish food. This “Best of the Maldives” ticks another “finally seen” (#17, Post 19) and one step closer to my dream of a hole in the Maldives where the tee is on one island and the hole is one a neighbouring one. Like the Maldives, such a hole would be 90% water hazard. (I’m especially lovin’ the Piero-like effects on the shot below.)
The rain in the main drains plainly down the chain…at Dusit Thani’s Devarana Spa. Their buildings are fitted with decorative rain chains. Instead of boring pipes to channel the rain water of the roof and away from the structure, the rain chains provide a colourful cascade. They become a soothing water feature during the infrequent rain showers in the Maldives providing a bit of a sliver (or copper) lining to such passing storm clouds.
No fans needed to dry your swimsuits at Athuruga and Thudufushi. And no draping them over shower rails, retractable clothes lines, setting them out on deck settees (where the breezes blow them onto the sand or into the water). Diamonds has these ingenious drying boxes on the deck (see above). The grates allow the wafting ocean air to dry your garments naturally, safely and discretely (without being hung and strewn all over your lovely villa.
I have a few pet likes – I like the natural cooling wafting of a ceiling fan, I like distinctive design details, and I like natural fabrics and materials. So there wasn’t much for me not to like about Soneva Fushi’s canvas ceiling fan. With its distinctive rough-hewn ceiling timbers, Soneva has one of the most aesthetically pleasing sights for lying flat on your back in your room.
With this post, I’ve added the topic tag “Fan” for other guest with plafond propeller propensities.
Selecting possibly the most distinctive wardrobe in the Maldives wasn’t hard. In fact…it was amazingly soft. Ayada’s villas are decorated with white cloth armoires are a part of their soft, breezy décor styling. Sort of a Bedouin-chic befitting its occi-oriental crossover motif. Even the shoe holder and vertical storage pockets are cotton.
You’ll need a day alone just to acclimate from your plane journey if you want to do some scuba, but you will have plenty to see if you head to the Dhaalu atoll. The atoll appears to have more caves and overhangs compared to other atolls. And the resort at the centre of it is AaaVeee whose dive centre visits the following caves sites and has shared these photos with Maldives Complete…
- Aaaveee caves – south west of the island, reef is formed like a wall slopes to 35M covered with small and big overhangs depth from 8 to 23M.
- Dhonbileh hoholha (Dhoorees kuda gaa) – long pinnacle overhangs from 4 meters to 25meters, reef slopes to 37 meters. More over hangs on south, north half of the pinnacle slopes and another half like a wall covered with soft corals and over hangs.
- Rinbudhoo hoholha – south west of the island, reef is formed like a wall slopes to 35M covered with small and big overhangs depth from 8 to 27M.
- Rinbudhoo corner – north east corner is also a wall with overhangs and there is swim through start from 12 meters to 22 meters.
- Vommuli caves – near the spa end of the island have a big overhand on the corner.
One of my top 10 FAQs is “where can transient visitors to the Maldives (eg. flight and cruise stopovers) visit a resort island for a single day (no night stay)?” By and large, the resorts have not had this offer for part time guests. The fear is that the island gets overrun by low margin guests just cherrypicking some of the sunshine and beach space without spending money in the restaurants, bars, activities or lodging.
One resort, Anantara Dhigu, is making day visits available. They are managing the risks by tightly containing the number of passes issued. The pass is not a standing offer, but is issued on a case by case basis, mostly when the resort is at lower occupancy. At the moment price is USD 150++ per person (10% service charge, 12% GST) and out of this USD 100 will be used as F&B credit which is non-refundable. I think Anantara is clever thinking that many people stopping in will love the resort so much that they will make it a point to come back for a proper stay Also, by keeping the offer to lower occupancy periods, it can help the overall resort experience for all because the resort can run at optimal efficiency (eg. there’s not a lot of food waste on the buffets with few people there, but the resort wanting to maintain the choice and options for the guests).
In the traditional travel market, the term “all inclusive” often connotes a bit of a down market, budget holiday with white-label booze and tired buffets. I often get enquiries that are concerned about the quality of a resort because it has all-inclusive offer. As with so many aspects of luxury, the Maldives destination re-writes the conventional wisdom and the “AI” package is in many cases a cornucopia of luxury.
All-inclusive got its reputation catering to budget travellers who had saved up precisely a certain amount for their vacation and not a penny more. They couldn’t chance facing some big check-out bill of extra charges and still hope to pay the rent the next month. To some degree, the same dynamic takes place in the Maldives…but at an entirely elevated level. For many, a trip to the Maldives is a trip of a lifetime. Celebrating a special occasion like a honeymoon or anniversary or milestone, people splash out their life savings for this bucket list adventure. Despite spending thousands, they too want some bounds on just how much the trip will set them back. So a number of the finest resorts offer AI packages to help plan and contain their expenditure.
And it’s not just about financial planning. It’s also a handy convenience. Write your cheque and then don’t worry about prices or money or signing things at all for your entire holiday. Just let the resort pamper you with all they have on offer.
What is on offer is becoming a bit of an escalating arms race in its own right. When I visited the World Travel Market in London this year, I go around to the resorts exhibiting and ask about their distinctive features and offers. Two properties – Centara Grand and OZEN – claimed to have the “most luxurious” AI package in all the Maldives. And that’s no small claim given some of the extravagant packages on offer including a previous Best of the Maldives post on Lily Beach as well as an impressive rival I uncovered at Kandolhu this summer.
As the various inclusions are a bit of an apple-to-orange comparison, I’ve decided to assemble the summary table above to let you all figure out which opulent omneity best suits your tastes. I haven’t included the pretty standard stuff that many if not most resorts provide FOC to all guests like snorkelling equipment, wifi and use of non-motorised sports facilities.
I’ve also now added the Tag “All Inclusive” to track all of the best AI offers.
If you are pinching your pennies for a luxury yacht cruise, then you might want to check out The Points Guy’s comprehensive post on flying to the Maldives on frequent flyer points. While the piece is USA-centric, it still has lots of rich, detailed information that any world traveller looking to spend points could use (as most major carriers serve the USA, but the points required from, say, a closer embarkation would likely be different)…
- “The Best Ways to Get to the Maldives on Points and Miles. Not too long ago, it seemed like the Maldives was one of the most remote spots on earth; an island paradise reserved for honeymooners or empty-nesters on the trip of a lifetime. In recent years, though, the island nation has seen a veritable flurry of flight options materialize as more airlines like the ME3 — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways — as well as Chinese and other Asian carriers have expanded their route networks to include Malé (MLE).”
The piece’s comprehensiveness, analysis, and completeness is a website after my own heart. The outline of the post is…
- Maldives Basics
- Airlines That Fly to Malé
- Mileage Table
- Airline and Mileage Options
- Bottom Line (summarised in the paragraph quoted above)