I had seen dozens of photos, or hundreds even. Let’s be honest – thousands! Every time that I saw something that had the word Maldives in it, my heart skipped a little beat. Just a little one. Why? Because I really wanted to go there.
The adventured started right close to home, at London Heathrow Airport – on this adventure, Mr. O and myself were to travel for the first time ever with award-winning airline Qatar Airways (due to join Oneworld soon). A detailed review can be found here (as part of a new series here on the blog, where I will be reviewing different business and first class airline experiences).
It was my first time flying with a Middle-Eastern airline and a thought entered my mind – would the flight be dry? But as soon as I walked into the stunning lounge at Heathrow and was directed to the “signature cocktail bar”, I knew I didn’t need to worry. Flying with Qatar Airways also gave me the opportunity to stopover in Doha, a place I was curious about… but more about that part of the trip later!
Getting to the Maldives was not a problem – a 6.5h flight to Doha, and a speedy connection (via the Business and First Class terminal) and we quickly boarded our second flight, with a duration of around 4.5h, to Malé, the capital of the Maldives.
At the airport, we were welcomed by Kurumba‘s team (the same applies to any hotels, who have desks at the airport) and after a 10-minute boat ride we had arrived… pretty much to paradise!
After a warm welcome by the team at Kurumba, we were taken to our beach villa (#158) and where we uttered our first wow. The sea was really what I could only hope it would be – but the best bit? Knowing that that part of the beach was ours – each room has its own sunloungers, so there are no fights ever. I knew we were on to a good thing.
We spent 4 nights at Kurumba, and I can’t speak highly enough of the resort, which was Maldives’ first island resort (40 years ago), and which underwent a complete refurbishment very recently. We loved our room, and absolutely adored our outdoor shower. Needless to say, we were a housekeepers’ dream as we never ever used the indoor one.
I can’t tell you how quickly time went – I know it always does when you were having fun! We spent our days eating – the food and service were outstanding, and we were never bored as we had over 6 dining options (a grill, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Lebanese, Chinese and a buffet) to choose from, sleeping, having the odd cocktail and, of course, indulging in the spa.
I liked the spa so much, that after the complimentary treatment the hotel kindly offered us, we just had to go every day – the treatment rooms were fantastic, as was the team. Our favourite? This greeny ginger and lemongrass refreshing drink we were given pre and post massage. Ginger is something that this trip definitely brought into our lives. Treatments started at $100, which is outstanding value for money.
One thing we didn’t realise before we arrived, was that all prices were in USD. Which was a nice surprise, as cocktails (priced at $10+) were even better value than anywhere in Europe or the USA. And after working my way around the menu, which was incredibly creative, I can declare a winner:
Not quite why I never had a lychee caipirinha before – but I promise you, it will be added to my Top Cocktails list very shortly! One thing worth mentioning – you are not allowed to bring alcohol into the Maldives. It is illegal and your luggage is checked on arrival – the Maldives is a Muslim country and the only exception to this rule is at island resorts. Its capital, Malé, is completely dry (which is fine by me!).
Snorkelling was also outstanding and something I am delighted to have had a go at – every day the hotel organises a snorkelling “expedition”, which is great, especially for beginners, as you know you are totally safe. We saw the most incredible fishes and reefs and I can only wish I had a proper camera with me. Which obviously means I *simply* need to go back again.
After a lovely welcome – we were joined by other guests which we collected at the airport, we were shown our over water villa (#411). Are you ready for this? You have been warned!
And obviously the best bit… the view!
Velassaru was a dream of a hotel – completely rebuilt a few years ago, it was beach chic and understatement at its best. Fab design, coupled with great service. One thing I must add – I loved the idea of switching resorts midweek. It adds a bit of variety, and a change of scenery – I know most people prefer to stay 1 week in one place, but this really worked for us, and I can’t recommend it enough.
You can totally guess what we did for the almost 3 days we were in this island – we swam, read, ate and I twitted a little bit! WiFi is free at both hotels, which is great news.
We also tried and loved the spa – the signature massage was outstanding. But what I loved the most? Hum.. guess!
One thing I had no intention of doing was to get inside a pool – why would I if the sea looked like that? So perfect.. and warm! I have now forgiven myself as I simply had to try this beautiful pool… would you be able to resist? We weren’t!
And I can’t believe how quickly our three nights at Velassaru went. But we weren’t sad to leave. Why? Because we know we will be back for sure, and it won’t take years, I promise you!
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Kuoni, who have kindly organised this trip for Mr. O and myself. I would like to thank Kurumba and Velassaru for looking after us so well and also Qatar Airways, who have provided flights in business class for both of us on all 4 segments from London Heathrow to Malé via Doha. Opinions are, as always, my own.
Kuoni offers 7 nights with breakfast at the 5-star Kurumba Maldives in a deluxe room including flights with Qatar Airways from Heathrow and group transfers in resort. Prices for departures June 2013 are from £1,266 per person, based on two sharing. To book please quote: IO0021
Kuoni offers 7 nights with breakfast at 5-star Velassaru Maldives in a deluxe bungalow including flights with Qatar Airways from Heathrow and group transfers in resort. Prices for departures June 2013 are from £1,378 per person, based on two sharing. To book please quote: IO0021
A holiday like mine which includes 4 nights on all inclusive at 5-star Kurumba Maldives in a deluxe beach bungalow and 3 nights on all inclusive at 5-star Velassaru Maldives in a water villa including flights with Qatar Airways from Heathrow and group transfers in resort, costs from £2,799 per person, based on two sharing, for departures June 2013 in economy class. With flights in business class, from LHR to Malé, the total cost would be £4399. To book please quote: IO0004.
To book, please contact your nearest Kuoni store or call +44 1306 747008.