After our first trip to the Maldives in 2013 (you can read about it here), I promised myself one thing – I would go back, and sooner, rather than later. And then again and again. To say that I love this part of the world, would be an understatement.
We originally planned to go for a week, but then ended up extending our stay to 12 days and try 3 hotels. On our first trip, we split the week long Maldives holidays between 2 hotels (which I would recommend to anyone as you get a change of scenery, people and food) and I was keen to do it again. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and not having paid close attention to the transfers between islands, we ended up wasting valuable time. So a lesson learned: 2 hotels next time and with minimum connecting.
Maldives holidays: 3 Maldives hotels to try
We landed at around 1.30pm local time, following an overnight flight from London, connecting in Doha, with Qatar Airways. We were met on arrival by the Lux ground team, who took us to the Lux Lounge, where we were to wait for internal flight to the hotel. The lounge as lovely, but having to wait 3 hours (and not knowing about it) wasn’t so nice. We ended up arriving at the hotel just before sunset, which meant we lost a whole day.
That meant, of course, we had to make up for lost time! We loved our prestige water villa – it was bright and airy and was located on the west part of the resort. Lux South Ari Atoll stands on a relatively large island and we were a little bit lost for at least 24h – then, a sense of familiarity kicked in and we were totally at home.
After a first lovely dinner, we had an early night due to the travelling. We spent our second day enjoying the sun and just lounging around (and exploring the island) and spent the afternoon napping and at the spa. Despite the rain, which made further appearances during our stay, we just took the opportunity to catch up on sleep and relax. As one should, in the Maldives.
On our third day, we were in for a treat! The sun was out and we were to spend the morning on board the hotel’s catamaran, which can be hired with a crew by guests. It was the perfect opportunity to get a bit of sun and see many of the other islands – inhabited and not. We also got to snorkel and even swam next to a whale shark – it was absolutely fantastic and I will never forget it. Needless to say, it started to rain when we got back to the hotel – and guess what we did? We had a nap and went to the spa. Oh well!
We felt really at home at Lux – the staff were out of this world. Very approachable, nice and always smiling.
The dining options were fantastic – catering well for both Eastern and Western guests. We also liked that it was a lively resort, which meant that the bars were always busy and not everyone was on ‘honeymoon-mode’.
One of my favourite finds? The secret pop up bar, which moves around the island daily. I loved the concept and I am sorry to report that I only found it at 10am on my last day, so I did not indulge. I did however love our last meal, pictured above – how is that for a breakfast with a view? Tough one to beat.
We were due to leave the hotel early on a seaplane back to Male Airport and then on to our next hotel, the fab Constance Halaveli. And sadly (and predictably, apparently), the flight times just happened to change. I couldn’t quite understand the concept, but I didn’t have much choice either… so a few hours later, we arrived to our second Maldivian hideaway… at 4pm, instead of 11am, which meant we lost almost another day. I have to say that the fact that Constance has a lounge at the airport was particularly nice, and helped with all the waiting. We also checked in while we were there, so it saved us a bit of time when we finally arrived.
Our first impressions of Constance Halaveli were wonderful – it was a much smaller island, and also beautifully kept. I was particularly looking forward to seeing our room, which was a water villa with a pool (note that this is the starter room level at this hotel, which tells you something).
We had a few hours before sunset, and we decided to make the most of it. Because soon, it would be time for cocktails and dinner. And we were starving as we had skipped a meal!
One thing we found quite interesting, was despite the fact that the hotel was full, there were very few people at the bar after dinner. Which was quite interesting at 9.30pm!
The sun shined for us throughout our stay, and I must confess we hardly left our room, because we didn’t need to. We loved the breakfast buffet (the best we had in all 3 hotels), but on the last 2 days, we simply ordered in – I know it was lazy, but it was just so nice. We did leave the room to go to the spa which was also outstanding and dinner. And sometimes lunch.
We tried all the dining options (you have 3 restaurants), and our favourite was the one on the last night, the Asian-inspired Jing, which was located by the over water villas which was certainly different. That meant great views from the bar and I also found the food excellent.
Our four days went so quickly, we couldn’t quite believe it. We had an early flight the next morning, so we went to bed quite early (10pm). And guess what happened the next day? The flights were delayed again for hours, and instead of reaching our next and final resort, Iru Fushi at 10am… we arrived after 2pm, wasting another half day. This was very frustrating – and we weren’t the only ones disappointed. The fact that there is only 1 provider of seaplane transfers means that there is no option. Flight times change all the time – and there is simply nothing you can do. Worth noting that all hotel transfers are not point to point, i.e. you need to connect at Male airport, which means missing your onward connection (which is just a detail).
But good things come to those who wait – and we had only 2 nights at Iru Fushi, so the delay was the last thing we wanted. Sadly we needed to be back to the UK on a specific day, and were unable to stay for longer.
The Iru Fushi resort has recently opened and been refurbished to a very nice standard, and we were very keen to spend our last 2.5 days not on stilts, but on the ground. Our beach villa with private pool was nothing short of stunning – and don’t get me started on the bathroom. An indoor/outdoor combo which was hot, but really cool.
Sizewise, I would say the island was medium-sized (compared to the other 2) which meant much longer walks, which we did enjoy.
Dining wise, there were 4 options and we really liked the smaller restaurants – the fish grill was our favourite. The breakfast area and main bar felt too big and busy, and I would say a bit more mass market, in stark contrast with the rest of the offering.
One of the nicest surprises? The spa! It was absolutely fantastic and the treatment rooms were some of the best I have ever seen.
And before we knew it, our last day and come and gone, and it was time to head back to London, which we did again, via Doha (read my review of Qatar Airways’ new Dreamliner business class here).
We had a great time in the Maldives – the weather got better, the food was very good at all hotels, service was also friendly and the spas were possibly the best value I have ever seen (1 hour massages at $110-140), which was something I didn’t actually expect. It was very interesting to try different hotels, and I will do it again in the future – but will play closer attention to the geography and logistics, as we sadly did lose 2 days of our trip for no reason.
I feel at home in the Maldives – it seems that nothing else matters in the world, and it is perfect to rest and just enjoy the company of your loved ones. I honestly think that it isn’t just a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip anymore, as it is a lot more affordable than it was 10 years ago – and flights are also much better priced. If you are considering Maldives holidays, they are absolutely worth it.
And believe it, it is not just a honeymoon destination. At all. We saw groups of friends, families, couples like us and newly weds just happy to be in such a beautiful place. I actually looked at families and saw the children playing in the sand with no worries in the world – and I just smiled.
As for us, we left with a smile on our faces. Because we will go back. It is just a matter of when.
Maldives Holidays Fact box:
7 nights at Lux Ari South Atoll on a prestige water villa costs from £2,115 per person on a bed and breakfast basis, £2,590 on half board, £2,272 on full board and £3,005 on an all-inclusive basis.
7 nights at Constance Halaveli on a double water villa costs from £2,248 per person on a bed and breakfast basis, £2,600 on half board.
7 nights at Iru Fushi, on a deluxe beach villa with pool costs from £1,494 on a bed and breakfast basis, £1,910 on half board and £2,201 on full board.
Prices are based on 2 people sharing and include seaplane transfers to and from Male airport.
Flights with Qatar Airways cost from £695 in economy and £2200 in business class from London Heathrow via Doha.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Lux Maldives, Constance Halaveli and Iru Fushi on my recent trip to the Maldives holidays.