this is a certain look people give when they know you’ve arrived in the Maldives: like you’ve just got married or bought your first house. There was a little wonder, a little jealousy, but mostly caring anticipation as they waited to bask in the reflective joy of the experience. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll soon realize – going to the Maldives is truly like a lifetime event.
The island nation is scattered across the upper half of the Indian Ocean, bathed in a brilliant golden daylight rarely seen in Great Britain. They are famous for their exotic beauty; Think exhilarating azure waters, soft sands and palm trees swaying in the wind, all of which complement some of the most luxurious resorts on the planet. No wonder it’s such a hot spot for honeymooners.
While it’s undeniably beautiful, lately the Maldives feels less than pristine. It’s not uncommon to find bits of plastic litter drifting on sand as fine as talcum powder, a sad consequence of a growing global pollution problem.
One resort is leading the way in cleaning fees: the luxurious Fairmont Maldives, located on Sirru Fen Fushi (known as the secret water island), a short seaplane ride from the Maldivian capital Male.
Where is it?
Found on a six-mile wide lagoon in Shaviyani Atoll, Fairmont occupies the entire island, like most resorts in the Maldives. The lush 16-hectare island is surrounded by coral reefs rich in marine life and an hour ahead of Male: prepare to adjust your watch to the island time.
Waves break at the horizon where the reef begins; By the time they reach shore, the bath-temperature water will have softened under your feet.
The seaplane transfer, piloted by a barefoot captain, is a bare-knuckle ride depending on your thrill, but the boat ride takes up to eight hours, so by far, Airmail is the fastest route to your sun loungers. Besides, the flight offers stunning views over the turquoise waves.
Is it even a resort in the Maldives without an overwater villa? At Fairmont, they are arranged in a leaf shape at one end of the island and complete with plunge pools, hanging chairs and glass panes in the loo’s floor so residents can watch fish as they spend a dime. They are the top choice for couples, celebrities and influencers pursuing privacy and the ‘golden gram.
Meanwhile, the island boasts 120 beach and forest villas, popular with families and groups of friends with plenty of space to stretch out. Each room takes advantage of the sun with bright, airy interiors, vaulted ceilings, intricately carved wooden doors and plenty of marble – including a giant outdoor tub made from one piece stone. Each beach villa also has a swimming pool and direct sea access. Simple items like a Bose speaker, a yoga mat, and a bike at the door make it easy to do your job.
Food and drink
Sunbathing is hungry work. Fortunately, there are three restaurants in Fairmont. Raha Market sits on the beachfront and offers a laid-back buffet for all meals of the day, complemented by live cooking zones serving crowd favorites like grilled fish, Indian cuisine and the Maldives, all kinds of breakfast eggs and wood-fired pizza and more.
Both Kata, which specializes in high-end Japanese cuisine, and Azure, which offer the freshest of the day, made for anniversary meals with tables that make the most of the stunning views that stretch in all directions. We had the best sushi of our lives at Kata as manta rays and a reef shark swam at our feet, while dinner at Azure came with stargazing as a side. A golden hour stop for sunbathing at the beach bar, Onu Onu.
If you’re up for a little adventure, there’s plenty to fill your itinerary. Swim the length of the main pool, the longest pool in the Maldives, or sign up for a massage at the fabulous Willow Stream Spa. Sign up for painting classes in an art studio or wear an apron and try your hand at Maldivian cooking.
Whatever you do, don’t skip the snorkeling. Resident marine biologist Sam, as first known for local Tortoises, manta rays, (small) sharks and dolphins, will not only take you on an underwater safari, but he’s also will live art with your GoPro, bringing you-level content to take home. As well as swimming along the 9km reef, the group will lead you on a roller coaster around the Coralarium, a hybrid coral recreation and art installation project in the waters opposite the Raha Market.
Sam is the island’s key man for all things eco, heading the resort’s new Sustainability Lab, housed in old shipping containers. They are working with the Maldivian government to clean up trash (bottles and fishing nets crisscrossed) and turn it into a treasure trove of souvenirs. Visitors can participate in creating their own ecological masterpieces or simply help with the project by purchasing a turtle key or potted plant.
On top of that, the Lab also turns plastic waste into classroom equipment to give back to local schools. It’s an idea they hope to catch on other islands as well as locals and children as he promotes the need for recycling and ocean conservation.
It’s a particularly pressing problem in the Maldives, where more and more of the world’s trash is washing up on golden shores.
While the waterfront piers are impressive, the beachfront villas are also popular – plus, they’re close to restaurants, spas and other facilities. Ours come with sun loungers, not one but two cabanas, providing plenty of context to idle with a cold beer and watch hermit crabs wade along the beach. Tilt to the west to soak up the glorious sunsets and watch seaplanes drop twice daily.
Couples and families are loved to bounce on the trip of a lifetime.
How to get there
While there were direct flights to Male, we flew with Emirates with the assistance of the travel operator Luxtripper. They offer an option to offset the carbon cost of your trip for half the price – they’ll cover the rest. You can safely continue your vacation knowing that your carbon footprint will be offset within the next 10 years.
Seven nights’ stay in a Beach Villa on a breakfast and dinner basis, starting from £6,799 per couple. This includes round-trip flights from London Heathrow with Emirates Airlines and includes Seaplane Transfer with TMA (Trans Maldives Airways) luxtripper.co.uk