Well, I just had to finally answer the question with a little “recky” mission and am delighted to advise that the Maldives passes the Jo Shayler test with flying colours...
I have been selling the Maldives as the perfect honeymoon, special anniversary or luxury fly and flop for several years, yet ridiculously I’d never manage to visit.
My husband isn’t a beach kinda guy and the thought of spending a week or more on a tiny island fills him with horror. Err… not me though!
Travel agents can be offered working trips to experience hotels and destinations first-hand, which are known as “fam trips” or educationals.
Such trips to the Maldives are incredibly rare and so when I was offered an opportunity to join a wonderful tour operator with whom I work for a 6-night tour of 8 different islands, I grabbed it with alacrity. I have never experienced anything quite like it...
Above and beyond doesn't come near covering it. The staff simply can't do enough for you. At Holidaysplease we have a respected policy to try wherever possible to promote only those islands who treat their staff well and it became a key box to tick during our stays on the various islands.
I was only there for 8 days but, politely of course, ate 3 meals a day at 8 different hotels. Incredibly, I didn't have a single bad meal.
Some of the smaller islands have only a single restaurant with live cooking stations and a buffet style service. The food was still sensational.
Most islands here are generally very small and so it's rare to find a huge choice of restaurants or a dine around package.
Most all-inclusive packages will include buffet restaurant meals with supplements to be paid at the à la carte restaurants.
Beach Villa versus Water Villa
Throughout my travel career I had thought that the be-all and end-all of a trip to the Maldives would be to stay in a Water Villa. I was wrong.
Ideally, it's great to have the opportunity to experience both, as fortunately I did. If you aren’t as keen on the beach then yes, a water villa, possibly with a private pool is for you.
If you are a beach fan and enjoy staring at little more than the sun, sea, gorgeous sand and the occasional crane or fruit bat, then it's a beach villa all the way.
At the five-star resorts you'll even get your very own sun loungers and patch of beach too.
My recommendation, if it's not too disruptive, is to split your time between both villa types. Wonderful.
Yes, I've been snorkelling before, but I didn't even need to actually snorkel to see the marine life here. A pair of eagle rays swam right up to me whilst I was in the shallows!
When I did snorkel, it was like entering another planet, especially if you venture to the island rim where it drops off like a cliff and you see all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures that you didn't know existed.
Speedboat and seaplane transfers
Both were totally pleasant experiences. You are given earplugs on the seaplane as it's quite loud. You get a great birds-eye view of the various atolls and if you transfer by speedboat you will very likely be joined by dolphins.
If the seas are a little rough and you're prone to seasickness then arm yourselves with tablets or bracelets or whatever works for you well in advance. It’s worth it.
My 6-night educational included the islands of Kuredu, Komandoo, Hurawali, OBLU at Helengeli Island, Ozen by Atmosphere, Atmosphere Kanifushi, Makanudu and Centara Ras Fushi.
It was no holiday, despite the inevitable protests to the contrary to friends and family, but it remains one of my most special trips yet.