Magical, marvellous Maldives. So much more than palm trees and cocktails. And you could win our trip and experience it yourself.
Hands up if you’ve been dreaming about escaping to an island. A lounger under a palm tree. A fancy cocktail. A dip in the ocean when the sun gets too hot.
Sounds blissful, right? But what if you want to do more than laze in the sun. Then you go to the Maldives, where there’s so much to do, it’s a wonder anyone has time to sit on the beach!
Made up of more than 1 000 tiny islands, with an impressive collection of resorts to choose from, each with its own personality and surrounded by a private beach, and each with an amazing variety of activities, water sports, dining options and experiences. Think spectacular seaplane flights to take in the beauty from above, or scuba diving and getting up close and personal with creatures of the deep.
While all rather stylish, they’re also very chilled. Even in the five-star spots, enjoying a glass of champagne with your toes in the sand isn’t merely acceptable, it’s essential.
Looking for a romantic escape for two, or something for the whole family? Resorts like Dhigali and Finolhu don’t cut any corners on luxury, but also have amazing kids’ clubs and plenty of activities that are perfect for bonding and quality time.
You can opt for the tranquil route at one of the world-renowned Cinnamon resorts, or go wild … the Hard Rock Hotel Maldives is all vibrant nightlife, shopping, and live entertainment, and where you’ll find the fantastic marine discovery centre.
If there’s an activity you have your heart set on, do a little investigation before you book … there’s snorkelling with whale sharks at Radisson Blu, sleeping in a Stargazer Bubble room under the night sky at Finolhu, and an underwater fine dining restaurant and nightclub at Niyama, where there’s also a brilliant spa.
OVERWATER, GARDEN, BEACH?
We’ve all seen photos of idyllic villas on stilts, hovering over the sparkling ocean, and this is where they became famous. Every Maldives resort has a great selection of water villas, and there’s nothing quite like it.
You can also opt to stay a few steps from the shoreline, or surrounded by lush gardens where kids can run around and play to their hearts’ content.
If you’re travelling with a larger group of friends or family, you should opt for a celebrity-style suite villa with two or three bedrooms, sweeping sun decks, and swanky living areas!
You’ll feel the freedom of fresh air and open spaces wherever you stay, but some take it to another level. At Radisson Blu, for example, the smallest room is 220 square metres.
It’s all very romantic … many villas have spa baths or private plunge pools, some have outdoor showers, others are built for maximum privacy. (Top tip: if privacy is high up on
your wish list, book a villa at the end of a jetty.)
SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME
Snorkelling is a firm favourite, and these waters are home to some of the world’s most diverse sealife.
Jet skis, kayaks with glass floors so you can watch the world swim by, parasailing, kitesurfing, wakeboarding … each resort has its own great selection of water sports. (Top tip: Most all-inclusive deals available through Priority Escapes include non-motorised water sports, so you can dive right in any time.)
Scuba diving in the Maldives is legendary. Many resorts offer diving equipment and excursions, and some provide certified training courses.
All sorts of excursions are available, along with island favourites such as sunset cruises and deep-sea fishing.
If you’re comfier on solid ground, there are fitness centres, beach sports and games centres, and exceptional spa centres.
EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY
Resorts tend to have a main restaurant where there are seemingly endless breakfast, lunch and dinner spreads. The quality is superb, and there’s so much variety it’s impossible to try everything (no, that’s not a challenge!).
But be sure to try the other speciality bars and restaurants too. From gourmet, Michelin-starred creations to zingy street-food-style snack bars, from private beach dinners under the stars to glorious ice creams and colourful cocktails on the beach, the Maldives is a feast.
You’ll also find impressive wine cellars, and select suites even have their own wine bar – Finolhu’s Rockstar Villa has a wine bar that needs to be seen to be believed!
THE DREADED C-WORD
We’re a little tired of talking about Covid-19, but needs must. The Maldives government has taken steps to ensure the safety of visitors. While you don’t need to wear a mask on the beach or at the swimming pool, they are required in restaurants and public indoor areas.
The resorts are designed for distancing, and privacy has always been paramount. Spacious layouts and strict sanitising protocols are in place – down to someone on standby to wipe down your sun lounger before and after you use it.
All the resorts have all changed their seating plans and switched to table service wherever possible, to maximise your safety and comfort.
This celebrity destination is surprisingly affordable and easy to reach. Priority Escapes has secured unbelievable rates (from as little as R22 000 for a week) and direct flights that will get you there in less than nine hours from O.R. Tambo International. Some resorts are even welcoming kids free of charge! Whichever Maldives adventure you choose, we have no doubt it will be the experience of a lifetime. Details and bookings: priorityescapes.com
FANCY WINNING A WEEK FOR YOU AND A FRIEND OR PARTNER IN THE MALDIVES
Ridiculous question. We’ve made new best friends forever with Priority Escapes, and together this is what we’re giving away. A seven-night holiday for two adults – four nights at the Cinnamon Dhonveli, and three nights at the Cinnamon Ellaidhoo, both four-star resorts. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily are included, as are a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Read the small print:
- The holiday is for two adults, and includes return economy flights ex Johannesburg on Priority Escapes’ direct departures, which in 2021 are on the following dates only: 23 May / 26 June / 3 July / 7 August. The prize includes 7 nights accommodation in Maldives, consisting of 4 nights at 4* Cinnamon Dhonveli and 3 Nights at 4* Cinnamon Ellaidhoo, inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. It also includes a selection of local alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as airport tax and return airport hotel transfers.
- The prize excludes items of a personal nature, items not listed, green taxes of USD6 per person, per day.
- You will need to have a valid passport, and at this stage, a Covid-19 Test is required not older than 72 hours to fly.
- The prize cannot be redeemed for cash, has to be used on the dates above, is applicable on direct departures only, and subject to room availability. Should the trip/s need to be cancelled due to Covid, we cannot be held responsible and although we will try to reaccommodate in 2022, this is not guaranteed.
Compiled by: KYM ARGO