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The Maldives: The ultimate luxury island escape

The Maldives has a bit of a spectacular reputation - and it’s well-deserved. Jewel-coloured water, acres of creamy white beaches, a wind strong enough for windsurfing but not quite strong enough to muss up your hair...

Okay, enough with the superlatives. Here are eight reasons why this island archipelago can easily claim the status of ‘ultimate luxury holiday’.

1. Getting there in style

Travelling to the Maldives is where your adventure begins. International flights generally arrive at Male Airport on Hulhule Island, but it’s the transfers that happen in style. The journey to your – often private – island could be by speedboat (where you’ll be welcomed by staff with fresh towels and cold beverages) or some resorts even fly you in by 13-seater seaplane, à la James Bond. However you travel, you can bet on attentive service like you’ve never encountered before, and some of the broadest smiles this side of the Equator. Direct flights to Male are available from some of the UK’s major airports including London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Cocktail in a pineapple

2. Pack for endless sunshine

What to pack? Not that much! Remember, you’re going to be in a warm, reliably sunny climate, and one of the Maldives’ great pastimes is simply basking on the beach. It’s a great excuse to don that sun hat and sarong – but don’t forget the sunscreen, including when you are snorkelling, as you’ll hardly notice the sun on your back when you’re chasing fish along the sea floor. To make the most of your experience, bring a disposable underwater camera or a good-quality waterproof housing for your camera. Come evening time, all you’ll need is a bit of sparkle on your strappy dress to accompany those romantic sunsets – just keep that insect repellent handy to ward off pesky mosquitoes.

3. Five-star service

There is one stand-out reason why people treat themselves to a holiday in the Maldives: it means a different type of break altogether. Your every need is anticipated, from the quality of your silk sheets to the luxury products in your bathroom – even extending to a personal concierge ensuring the rose petals are arranged just so on your pillow, whilst running your candlelit bath in anticipation of your return and making preparations for dinner as relaxing and stress-free as possible. Hotels are typically located on individual islands, so you never have to walk too far before a golf car driven by the friendly hotel staff will pick you up. Physical effort? What’s THAT?

4. Natural beauty

It’s very easy to connect with nature when you are constantly surrounded by it. It starts with spectacular sunrises, which you can admire from your terrace, with shades of coral and turquoise lagoons that stretch out for miles. Maldives resorts are typically built on the water, so you’ll hear the waves crash against the pillars of your private balcony, and watch shoals of tropical fish shimmer below. When you’ve enjoyed the perfect temperatures both in the water and out, you can head out to enjoy a magical sunset between swaying palms. If you are lucky (and staying at the Taj Exotica Hotel on Emboodhu Finolhu) you can also catch the school of stingrays heading to shallow water for an evening feeding.

5. Limitless relaxation

Landscaped swimming pools, paradise-level surroundings and endless varieties of pampering make for a supremely relaxing visit. Families, couples and friends alike come here to rest, recharge and, well, do as little as possible. Spa hotels like W Retreat & Spa offer everything from open-air hot stone massage next to the waves to simply floating away on the Indian Ocean on your own personal catamaran. Bliss in every sense.

6. Luxury design

Luxury is a combination of both service and product excellence, and many places in the Maldives tick both boxes. Bungalows are often constructed using indigenous materials, natural colours and local building expertise. Vivid tropical foliage surrounds sun decks, luxury beach lounges, romantic viewpoints and plunge pools, and everywhere brands itself a little differently. Stay at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort for some novel aquatic attractions, including dining below the waves in an all-glass underwater restaurant.

Luxury villa with infinity pool and sun loungers
Image: ©Lezaan Roos

7. Activities to dive into

If you do want to stir yourself and get the blood pumping, you’ll never be short of an activity to suit your mood. Windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayaking, beach volleyball – the list is quite literally exhausting. But it’s underwater where the real treats lie here: go snorkelling and enjoy the luminous rainbow coloured corals, or dive deeper with the shipwreck scuba services. The variety of marine landscapes over the 26 atolls here is what turns the Maldives from a honeymoon destination with frills into a fully-fledged professional diving destination. Expect to see whale sharks, manta rays and even hammerheads down below, and if it all gets too much like hard work – there’s always the infinity pool.

8. Dining your way

If you’d rather explore gastronomically instead of geographically, you can enjoy many high quality restaurants or personalised dining experiences, from sunrise breakfast on your own private beach at Jumeirah Vittaveli Resort to a beach BBQ with your own personal chef and server. Round everything off with a tailor-made sunset cruise or a paradise picnic at resorts like Velassaru Maldives.

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