Maldives: Barefoot luxury – footprints in the sand
On the surface, my 2015 holiday choice looked like a Herculean challenge - a holiday destination for a two-week TOTALLY relaxing vacation. Preferably in Asia and no more than 6 hours from Bangkok.
On the surface, my 2015 holiday choice looked like a Herculean challenge – a holiday destination for a two-week TOTALLY relaxing vacation. Preferably in Asia and no more than 6 hours from Bangkok. (Spending all day on a plane is becoming a drag after years of traveling on business trips to all points on the compass. I enjoy really long flights and I can relax, but I suffer the rest.)
Add to that a venue that offers five-star deluxe facilities and exquisite beaches and clean seas. Finally, and somewhat lower on my wish list, a host of activities to keep me busy on a daily basis, to stop boredom from creeping in.
My choice…? The Maldives.
My journey started in Bangkok with a 4.5-hour flight with Bangkok Airways to Malé. From the International Airport it was a short 10-minute transfer to the TMA seaplane terminal.
I have traveled for over 30 years in wide-body jets, however, I have had only a handful of opportunities to travel by seaplane. I love it!
I adore the thrill and excitement, a great view of the de Havilland Twin Otter cockpit, and exciting take off and landings, flying over one of the most unique seascapes in the world.
Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) is a private airline headquartered on the grounds of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Malé, Maldives.
TMA currently operates the world’s largest seaplane fleet.
After a short 25-minute hop, we arrived at the 5-star Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa. As with many resorts in the Maldives, the Centara Grand is an island, with one-on-one occupancy. We transferred to the hotel’s dhoni along with our luggage. The boat trip was only minutes, but it’s a nice way to arrive at the small quayside reception area.
To meet us were a distinguished line-up of resort executives, meeting and greeting all guests arriving and departing from the resort. The executives make you feel like a million dollars, and it’s a great way to start the holiday.
One of the joys of this holiday is it is fully inclusive. Therefore, you can completely forget about money and how much everything is costing. It’s all included – drinks, food, everything.
For lovers of all things Thai, the resort reflects its Thai heritage with Lotus, the best Thai Restaurant in the Maldives.
Food is a very important component of any holiday, and the quality and variety of all the restaurants at the Centara Grand far exceeds your expectations. We particularly enjoyed the facilities of the Island Club, the executive club, with its private pool and private restaurant. It costs a little more, but it’s a great treat.
I strongly believe a holiday’s success is often about the people that you meet. The club is an ideal way of meeting new friends and certainly this was the case this year. This was our fourth trip to the Maldives, and we have forged many long-lasting friendships over the years.
The club is a true delight’ one of my favorite activities was afternoon tea and curling up with a good book in one of the many sumptuous armchairs and settees.
I was really pleased to see that many of the staff that we met previously were still working at the resort. The resort has undergone significant improvements, however, the renovations had not changed the basic fabric of the resort, so we really felt like it was coming home.
The resort has upgraded many of the rooms since last year, and we were privileged to have a sneak preview of both bedrooms and villas. I highly recommend the Luxury Sunset Water Villas. With completely private accommodations with sea access and now following refurbishment, and their own plunge pools.
Centara has a number of resorts in the Maldives, some are adult-only resorts; others like the Centara Grand are family friendly. It’s best to check with your travel specialist first.
Of the many memories that stay with me this year, my favorites are swimming with whale sharks and getting up-close and personal to turtles and dolphins in the open sea plus a few lazy days in the sun and an occasional trip to the spa… totally relaxing and really quite extraordinary.
|Photo © Andrew J. Wood|
The author, Andrew J. Wood, is a long-time resident of Thailand, a former hotelier, and Director of Worldwide Destinations Asia Co. Ltd., as well as Immediate Past President of Skal International Thailand and a travel writer in his spare time.