It was with great excitement and pleasure that I caught up with Ferhin and Haseeb on return from their recent honeymoon to the Maldives and Dubai. They were only my third clients to depart these shores since March. Their approach was one of calm resolve when faced with changing their wedding and honeymoon plans multiple times and I was so thrilled to hear that all arrangements had gone to plan and that their well-deserved holiday exceeded expectations...
Haseeb and I were originally due to get married in April 2020 and had contacted Jo at Holidaysplease six months earlier and planned our honeymoon to depart shortly after our wedding day.
We remained optimistic but it quickly became clear that restrictions on gatherings and travel were going to scupper our carefully crafted plans. Our wedding finally took place at the end of September and whilst I was busy with the necessary logistics, Jo focused on the honeymoon and navigating the various forms, entry requirements and tests to enable us to finally head off to the Maldives and on to Dubai. Manchester airport was quieter than usual but the check-in process was long and it took two hours before we were able to head through to departures. All the facilities were open but sadly we had no time to enjoy the complimentary lounge passes which Jo had kindly provided.
Emirates Airlines asked us to wear masks for the flight duration, even when seated. It wasn’t too bad but there were times where I put a blanket over my head and sneaked my mask off for a while to have a break! The food and beverage service provided was as expected although notably lacking in the snack department!
On arrival into Male, the immigration queue was considerable as protocols required checks of all Covid results and proof of accommodation in the islands. I’d advise taking a hard copy of your hotel confirmation in order to avoid having to scroll through emails whilst masked and a little flustered!
We were met by personnel from Varu Island who invited us to take a seat whilst the remaining passengers arrived and 20 minutes later, we were whizzing across the Indian Ocean in a speedboat en route to the resort.
It was our first time in the Maldives and it fully lived up to our very high expectations for a dream honeymoon. The gorgeous white sand and clear blue sea are simply to die for.
On arrival at Varu, we were welcomed by hotel personnel playing drums and other instruments whilst walking us to the reception. Our temperatures were taken but no other health measures were necessary during our stay. We weren’t required to wear masks at all and it was a hugely welcome relief to be given this freedom and to temporarily forget about the pandemic and the past six months. Jo had recommended a water villa with pool which provided us with the most breathtaking scenery and tranquil surrounds. The room was beautifully furnished and cleaned twice a day at which point the minibar was also topped up. The staff could not have done more for us and even created different animals from towels and left them to be discovered on our bed. It was a cute touch and we looked forward each day to see what other creations they would make.
It’s a fair walk along the water villa jetty to the main island resort but to facilitate this we’d call a golf buggy which seemed to arrive instantly and take us to breakfast, the beach or to dinner. The hotel also acknowledged our honeymoon and helped us to celebrate by decorating our room with flowers and providing us with a romantic candlelit dinner and a cake on the beach.
Generally, the standards were high when it came to dining, but at times we felt that it lacked a little variety due to the low number of guests and unprecedented times. However, the head chef was a great guy, very accommodating, and was more than happy to cook us special meals on request which arrived within 15 minutes. Our favourite restaurant was The Grill where we ate delicious steak.
It was the most relaxing holiday we could have wished for and we will return one day. We stayed for five nights which was enough time to rest up, recuperate and reinvigorate ourselves in preparation for the second half of our honeymoon in Dubai.
We are frequent visitors to Dubai and not much had changed other than the requirement to wear masks everywhere, quite a challenge in 40 degrees of heat. There was a short delay whilst we waited for our driver to find his car which he’d lost due to car park closures but 20minutes later we were cooling in the aircon of The Oberoi’s lobby, where we checked in immediately for four nights of adventure and exploration.
We were impressed with the contemporary décor, overall cleanliness and the large welcoming pool area as well as a splendid view of the Burj Khalifa from our room.
Whilst in Dubai we had hoped to visit the Miracle Garden and Global Village but unfortunately, it wasn’t due to open until the end of the month, so we made up for it with other activities.
We spent an amazing afternoon at Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm. The relatively low number of guests meant that there were no queues and we were able to go on each ride multiple times.
We spent time shopping for gifts at the Dubai Mall and the Gold Souks and ate some great food at the likes of SALT (burgers) and PF Changs (Chinese). We also ventured to the very top of the Burj Khalifa and took some stunning pictures of the view.
Abu Dhabi is only a 90-minute drive from Dubai, and we decided to hire a driver for the day (£140) and make a visit to this lovely city.
Our first stop was at the infamous Emirates Palace Hotel where we experienced a magnificent afternoon tea resplendent with a 24-karat gold coffee.
Next up was the stunning Sheikh Zayed Mosque which must surely be one of the most beautiful in the world. Sadly, we weren’t permitted to remove our masks even for a quick picture despite a few sneaky attempts. Security levels were high and we were asked to delete any pictures that we had managed to take, although who knows if we may have inadvertently restored them instantly afterwards?!?
The day trip did end on a high note with a wonderful dinner at COYA, a Peruvian restaurant with the most amazing steak.
Jo went above and beyond to ensure we got the honeymoon of our dreams. We had to reschedule the trip four times due to restrictions but each time she happily made the necessary amendments and was there for us to answer questions and reassure us throughout. She has been more than simply our travel agent; she has become a good friend.
We are so glad we decided to go ahead with our honeymoon during these challenging times and we would encourage more people to travel, as it felt safe and everyone deserves some much-needed time out.
The Maldives and Dubai make for a particularly satisfying combination and we’d highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to combine a little desert island calm with some city adventure and fine dining.