Best of the Maldives: Transfer Connections – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah - transfer

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Internet transfers, one of my most productive surprises travelling around the Maldives was the One & Only Reethi Rah’s in-boat wifi service. Transferring between resorts on tour is one bit of interstitial time that I put to good use preparing notes and posts on the tour. Having access to the web en route was a huge windfall for me to make use of this downtime. It wasn’t that long ago that getting Internet in your room was a big deal. I still struggle to get reliable Internet connections (3g. 3G or Wifi) when I travel in Europe on a train or plane never mind a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Alternative title – “Best High Speed Connection”.

Best of the Maldives: Helipad – Anantara

Anantara helipad

A whole entourage of superlatives are emerging out of the headline royal visit of Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz to the Anantara this week. Most amount spent on a holiday. Most rooms booked at once. Tightest security (reportedly staff are not allowed to have their phones on them). But my favourite from all of the reports is the building of at least one helipad for the prince’s helicopter on his mega-yacht (see above). “Helipad” has long been on the “not seen yet” list ever since the surrender of the Maafushivaru Lonubo’s to the inexorable tides. I’ve seen them pencilled in on some of the extravagant resort plans like the one with the underwater golf course, but nothing “on the ground” so to speak until now.

Best of Maldives: Airport Terminal – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili Gan airport terminal

One of the best ways to see the otherworldly images of the Maldives is by taking a seaplane transfer to your resort. In the beginning, such transfers were cumbersome affairs where you sat in a sweaty, open-air hangar. But now, most of the 5-stars have developed their own swanky lounges at Male airport for seaplane transfers with cappuccino, tropical juices and other amenities. Shangri-La Villingili have gone one step further building an entire dedicated terminal…

“’The terminal, at Gan International Airport in Addu Atoll, is a five-minute speedboat ride to the resort and is for the exclusive arrival and departure of the resort’s guests. A private lounge offers one-stop immigration, custom and baggage screening services. ‘With Gan airport, we have found the ideal partner to provide guests arriving by private jet a unique experience, unmatched convenience and privacy,’ said Rene D. Egle, the resort’s general manager. Guests taking advantage of the new private jet terminal also can try the resort’s ‘Private Jet Experience,’ which features a stay in a 10,000-square-foot presidential villa with a butler and daily massage. Those who fly by private jet can now land five minutes from paradise. Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa is the first five-star resort in the Maldives to open its own private executive airport terminal.”

Best of the Maldives: Personal Water Transport – Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi - motor boats

 

 

Personal butlers,, mini-bars and wedding coaches. So much in the Maldives is catered to each individual. At Gili Lankanfushi, you not only get your own bicycle for exploring the island, but the residents of the Residence villas, get their own motor boat. They can be driven to their villa in the middle of the lagoon by a member of staff. Or they have the option of driving themselves. They are given basic instruction in its operating and navigating the low powered boats.

Best of the Maldives: Late Night Arrivals – Conrad Maldives Rangali

Conrad Maldives Rangali - flyme transfers

When you are coming in from all over the world, you can’t always hit the web of intra-atoll transfers just right. Sometimes people arrive in the evening (well, you can’t have every flight arrive in the middle of the day) and that can create problems for transfers with sometimes people having to spend the night near the airport until transferring the following day. Conrad Maldives Rangali has enhanced its transfer offerings, though, to avoid this problem…

 

“We’re pleased to announce that to make evening arrivals more convenient for international travellers, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has partnered Maldivian domestic airline Flyme! to launch night-time transfers from Male International Airport to an airport on Maamigili Island, near the resort. The new domestic flights are priced at US$466 for each adult and US$232 for each child. Guests will travel in comfort throughout the 17-minute flight and 20-minute speedboat ride to the luxurious resort. ‘The new domestic flight transfers are designed to eliminate the need for guests arriving from international flights to spend a night in Male, allowing them to arrive at the resort on the same evening,’ said Carsten Schieck, general manager, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Guests are welcomed upon arrival at Male International Airport and ushered to the domestic terminal where they await their transfer in comfort in a private lounge while the resort’s representatives assist with check in and luggage weighing. Guests can relax and board the aircraft at their convenience before takeoff, while still be assured of the best seats in the carrier and receive VIP in-flight service from the cabin crew. Arrival at Maamigili domestic airport is equally streamlined where guests will be greeted and have their luggage taken care of by the resort’s representatives while they are whisked away under a starry sky in the warm night air to the resort to find their villa and personal island host waiting to welcome them.”

 

 

Flyme! also has the coolest Maldives Flash animation on its homepage!

 

FlyMe animation

Best of the Maldives: Sea Plane – Beach House at Manafaru

Beach House at Manafaru Sea Plane interior

 

Donald Trump personifies the super-premium jet-setting crowd. He’s in the headlines a lot these few weeks with both his potential challenge to President Obama in 2012 and his ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ reality TV show now in full flow. Nearly all of the shots of him show him in him in his private Trump helicopter or Trump private plane.

If you want to travel in Trump-quality style, the Beach House at Manafaru this year launches a customised sea plane that looks like it has been taken straight off the set of an Apprentice victory reward.

One of the real treats to a Maldives visit is the view from above. I always try to get a window seat for my outbound journey so that when we approach the northernmost atolls I get a front row seat to all the dazzling colours and shapes. It really is the closest thing to feeling that you have arrived at another planet. A sea plane transfer is an added treat with a flight altitude even lower so you get an even better view. Charming though it is, the seaplane ‘air taxis’ are not big on the creature comforts. But Beach House has a remedy for that. Here is an excerpt from the Beach House announcement…

“A DeHavilland Twin Otter seaplane will be fitted out for the ultimate in aviation with comfy leather seats; custom-made tables and furnishings; and an utterly desirable amenities bag that includes an iPad and Bose noise cancelling headphones. The exterior of the plane will be painted a stylishly elegant white, gray and black livery.”

 

“Frederic Lebegue, General Manager of Beach House Maldives, A Waldorf Astoria Resort commented, “With the launch of our customised seaplane into the Maldivian skies, we’re putting the glamour back into travel, ensuring that our guests can begin their Maldivian holiday from the moment they reach the airport. The seaplane flight offers a ‘private jet’ experience making this an inimitable way to travel with picture postcard aerial views of the islands below.”

 

“All guests travelling to the ultra-elegant resort will be welcomed at Male International Airport, whisked through to a private lounge where spa treatments, refreshments and air conditioned comfort await them before transferring to the resort’s own seaplane for the one hour’s flight to the tropical retreat. To while away the time, guests on board will have a customised iPad, Bose noise cancelling headphones, a pair of binoculars, fan and pampering pack that includes face fresheners and hand wipes. The seaplane can be booked privately by individuals wishing to travel in complete privacy, and will also be used to transfer groups of guests to the resort from Male International Airport.”

 

“Beach House Maldives, a Waldorf Astoria Resort is the only resort in the atoll to offer seaplane transfers to its guests. Set in the far north of the country, Haa Alifu Atoll is usually reached by a domestic flight followed by a boat trip. The seaplane transfer reduces travelling time by half ensuring that guests can enjoy more time on the beach.”

 

I definitely wouldn’t miss the tiny hard seats of the conventional ‘air taxi’, but I do hope they keep the tradition of barefoot pilots. No shoes luxury is the Maldives.

 

Beach House at Manafaru Sea Plane exterior