Welcome to Heaven on Earth….think that needs to be all I should say as anything else and I don’t think I could do it justice…but I’ll try!
When you think of the Maldives you think of absolute luxury, crystal clear waters and many different shades of blue from the sea to the sky. Looking at the pictures on instagram you swear a filter has been applied but now I can officially say ‘no’ what you see IS what you get! The Maldives has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and it didn’t disappoint.
I opted to stay at the luxurious resort of Milaidhoo as after doing my research I decided to stay in a smaller boutique resort to really be able to enjoy some peace and quiet and a break from the crazy 24/7 lifestyle of London. I wanted something that would offer us a variety of activities and the flexibility and option to be able to create an experience based on our own aspirations and most importantly something authentic that allowed me to experience the Maldives in it’s true self rather than a resort that was too focused on pandering to the international crowds. This is something that Milaidhoo pride themselves on and it was the way they talked about themselves that really won me other. They refer to their experience as ‘reinvented luxury’ and say they like guests to write their own ‘story of a small island’ Now this is all lovely marketing talk but from the moment you hit their website to the moment you meet their representative at the airport in Male (we had the lovely Lee) to landing on the resort to the very last second before you board the seaplane home the message and experience remains the same. Every single one of their staff that we met, displayed a true passion for the island and also for the experience we were about to enjoy. When you arrive on to the island you’re introduced to your ‘island host’ (we had the brilliant Karen) who shows you to your room and becomes your personal go to person for anything. You have her mobile number to contact and again creates a relationship that is more personal than simply calling the front desk. I can honestly say I can’t compare Milaidhoo to any other resort. It is a stand alone and stand out life experience that has not just meant a tick off on my bucket list but it’s added a box I hadn’t even put on my list!
If you’re thinking about staying here, don’t think it, BOOK it! You will not be sorry.
LOCATION: UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve 126 km northwest of Male
HOW TO GET THERE: Only 35 min seaplane from Male.
A Milaidhoo representative meets you as you first arrive and escorts you and your luggage to check in for your next journey…the seaplane. This is normally a very quick procedure and then you’re driven in a private air conditioned car to their exclusive executive lounge with an offering of snacks, drinks, restrooms and wifi to allow you to wait in comfort. Once you’re your plane is ready to leave you’re then taken pretty much direct to the plane so the boarding is super quick. The sea plane seats about 15 people total as it is very small so make sure you adhere to the luggage weight restrictions as they do check! But this is the Maldives you don’t need much, just some swimwear and sunscreen and you’ll be happy!
The sea plane was one of my favourite parts of the trip, although noisy (you are given ear plugs) the views are spectacular. Seeing all the beautiful islands and the reefs from overhead is breath-taking and not to mention all the different colours of the ocean. Definitely not one to sleep through. Plus for those a little worried about the flight, it was effortless and the take off and landing were super smooth. When you land the plane is connected to a jetty where you disembark and wait for the resorts boat to come and meet you. You can see the resort from the jetty so the boat journey is literally only 1 minute and when you arrive into the resort officially, you are greeted by the staff with drinks and towels. A great welcome to the start of an even more amazing experience.
Water Pool Villas (245 sq m)
When you think of the Maldives, let’s be honest it’s the water villas that you conjure up in your head. These are actually the smaller and are the entry level villas on the island but let me be clear there is nothing small about this villa. The bed is ginormous and insanely comfortable, you have a walk in wardrobe room, a huge bathroom with his/her sinks, a shower that lets in the morning sunlight through it’s private floor to ceiling glass window and not to mention its lovely big oval bath that you can sit in with the glass doors fully open exposing you to your private terrace with a 42sq m private infinity pool overlooking the beautiful ocean – add a glass of champagne and this is a moment to remember. If you could press pause on any one second this is it!
Sleeping over the water offers you an amazing natural sound effect of the waves to gently lull you to sleep. We opted to keep the curtains open allowing us to be woken naturally when the sun came up around 6.15am (I have a 16 month old so this felt like a lie in!)
Beach Pool Villas (290 sq m)
We stayed in one of the Sunrise beach pool villa’s when we first arrived and wow were we blown away. As I’ve said before the pictures still don’t seem to do this island justice. The beach villas are larger than the water ones but still offer direct access to the ocean to enjoy the incredible snorkelling that this island has to offer. Their large floor to ceiling glass doors retract to showcase a 180-degree view where indoors and outdoors become blurred.
Waking up in the morning and being able to enjoy a cup of tea on your terrace watching the sunrise and then either taking a refreshing wake up dip in your private pool or taking a 20 second stroll onto the beach to jump into the ocean – the choice is yours!
All rooms come equipped with toiletries to get you through your trip and should you forget your toothbrush and razor it comes with that too! Ladies there are hairdryers and brilliant lit mirrors to apply your make-up for the evening. If you wish to partake in their complimentary yoga sessions they supply you with yoga mats or if you fancy taking an excursion then use their beach bag to take your camera, cover ups and sunscreen! What I love too is that they offer each guest 2 items of free laundry per day so you don’t end up back home feeling miserable and to add insult to injury, a pile of laundry to do too.
Milaidhoo really has thought of everything ! Practically speaking it’s great as they have UK plug sockets, brilliant wifi if you feel the need to plug yourself back into the life you left behind.
When I thought Milaidhoo couldn’t get even more luxurious I then found myself in the Spa. What an experience and this was before the treatment had even begun. Behind 2 large blue doors lie this small oasis of calm and serenity. A beautiful garden of exotic flowers align the short path up to the entrance where we are met by one of the therapists who offers us a cold towel and refreshing drink whilst we fill in the forms. He then takes us through to one of their waiting rooms, which is located on stilts over the water and feels like the treatment has already begun. A small cosy room with floor to ceiling windows showing looking out onto the beautiful mixture of blues in the sea below, which is simply mesmerising. Before we fall into a trance our 2 lovely therapists arrive and then escort us to our treatment room – another beautiful chamber overlooking the serene lagoon.
In each treatment room there is a separate bathroom so that you can change into your disposable underwear and branded fluffy gown in privacy. They even have a beautiful handcrafted jewellery box to keep your valuables whilst you’re otherwise occupied. It’s all the little touches like this that really do make Milaidhoo stand out from the rest. They have really thought of everything.
Once you’re suitably undressed and robed up you’re invited to sit on the terrace and dip your feet in a warm basin where the therapists wash and massage them to get you ready for the full body healing that you’re about to experience.
Laying on the massage bed with a beautiful flower display in water in my eye sight to help me relax and drift off into that magical place between sleep and awake.
My husband someone who claims to not enjoy massages, was soon nodding off having succumbed to the delicate yet powerful touch of his therapist. It was one of those experiences that when it was all over you’re not sure if it’s been 5 minutes or 5 hours. But then when you’re left floating out of the room you know the treatment has delivered exactly what is was meant to.
FOOD & DINING
You absolutely can not visit Milaidhoo without visiting their signature restaurant Ba’theli. Unbelievably the only traditional Maldivian restaurant in the whole of the Maldives as international food has been historically more prevalent! Plus not to mentioned it makes for a great picture spot as it’s located on three dhoni (traditional Maldivian boats) and serves an “ocean to plate” menu of authentic local dishes. You can sit outside on the decks and stare into the dark sea by candlelight or you can opt to sit inside and look at the sealife directly below the boat through the windows on the floor adding to the incredible ambience that awaits you on the boat.
There is a vast a-la carte menu where you can pick and choose the dishes that spark your interest. However if you’re appetite allows for it, they offer a full 6 course Maldivian tasting menu costing $250 for 2 people.
This restaurant isn’t included in evening dining package unless you added their Milaidhoo gourmet plan the but each guest is offered $65 USD towards their bill as a way of an incentive to experience the restaurant. The staff are all so passionate about their food and truly know the menu inside and out so can offer you a personal recommendation
As it sounds this restaurant offers front row seats to the lapping waves of the ocean. This is where all meals are served that are included in the gourmet packages. Breakfast is served just after sunrise when the deck is in full sunshine. You can opt to sit right on the decks edge enjoying the early morning sun or cool down in the restaurant that has all it’s doors open so you can still enjoy the feel of alfresco dining.
There is what they called a ‘small’ buffet, which I can assure you is anything but. There is the fail safe toast and cereal, warm dishes such as eggs, sausages and hashbrowns, to the healthier fresh fruit and smoothies. They have the indulgent pastries and cakes that are a must for any holiday not to mention the cheese table! I know I’ve missed a lot of other options out but I could go on for too long. If none of that takes your fancy they also have an a la carte menu where you can order your favourite dishes such as eggs benedict, avocado on toast and a crab omelette! Trust me there is something for everyone.
Compass Pool Bar
If you feel like being sociable and can manage to tear yourself away from the serenity of your own villa then head to the Compass Pool Bar. Here you can grab a bite to eat to tide you over till dinner, although if you’ve made full use of all the wonderful food at the breakfast buffet then this won’t be necessary or possible! They offer everything from salads to pizza to burgers and panini’s so again something for everyone.
They have a great offering of cocktails and if you don’t see what you like then just ask the bar staff as they can pretty much create anything you like! As the pictures show there is a large infinity pool that captures both the sunrise and sunset and makes for a great picture spot. The bar has sand as flooring really enforcing their barefoot ethos and allowing you to really feel removed from the hustle and bustle of city live. They have the most comfortable ‘swing seats’ in the lounge too which encourages that sense of freedom that I was beginning to become accustomed to….leaving Milaidhoo was going to be hard!!
If you’re stay and budget allows you then they also offer some destination dining options as detailed below. Definitely a way to make this extra special resort EVEN more special and unique to you, just contact your island host to arrange or in advance of your stay you can email [email protected] for more information on their rates.
- Sandbank picnic lunch
- Sandbank BBQ lunch
- Sunset Champagne Cruise
- Night Adventure Cruise
- Milaidhoo Moments Dinner
- Beachside BBQ Dinner
- Romantic Sand Bank Dinner
ACTIVITIES & EXCURSIONS
If lounging by your private pool starts to wear thin, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. From the 24/7 gym which is small but has everything you could need; running machines, cross trainers, bikes, weight machines and free weights. There is a games room with a pool table and chess. If you fancy something a bit more outgoing you can rent some water sports equipment from snorkel kits, stand up paddle boards and windsurfers to transparent kayaks and catamarans. The resort also offers planned excursions at a cost but going with an expert really makes a difference. We opted into the Turtle expedition which included a 35 min boat ride to the destination and then once all kitted up we jumped into the blue abyss and followed our guide to find the turtles and discover all the other amazing fish that the Maldives had to offer. On the trip back we were treated to some juices and fresh fruit and sat on the top deck and enjoyed the journey back to our own little paradise.
The Maldives is known for its great diving spots and not far from Milaidhoo around Hanifaru Bay is one of the best places in the Maldives for Manta ray sightings. I’ve never been diving before but for those of you that are staying out for longer and have also never dived then this is definitely the place to try it out as they have a five star PADI dive centre where you can learn everything you need to know and have the safety of an experienced dive team to support.