To say this year has been a tough one is an understatement, which is why I started frantically planning a holiday when I realised that the heavy load that comes with Christmas was practically already knocking. I was going to need some serious, professional unwinding and hardcore relaxing to be able to finish this year. Deep breaths, we are almost there.
At the top of my bucket list sat Maldives and so we embarked on our first trip to the famous paradise islands. To the beautiful Falhumaafushi island on the Gaafu Alifu atoll to be exact, where the private island of The Residence can be found. The wow effect kicked in as soon as we took off with a small plane towards our final destination, after the direct London-Male stretch. To see the turquoise waters and sandy atolls from above is an experience in itself, so make sure to request yourself a window seat! Upon arrival to The Residence my first reaction was that those Instagram images you’ve seen, does not lie. The glittery, crystal clear waters is really that colour and the beaches untouched like we were the first to discover the land. The private island experience is what made this a trip like no other. The feel of being undisturbed but at the same time well looked after, really emphasised the luxury feel, as errands like restaurant and spa bookings were made by our own butler.
The water villa
Stretching out from the white sands, were the famous jetties with their amazing water villas. Built with straw rooftops, these are surely a Maldives signature but something I promise you’ll never grow tired off. The villas are located on two sides of the island, so you can request either a sunset or sunrise view. We stayed at a sunset villa which also meant we had direct access to the best part of the coral reef, in other words sea turtles at our doorstep.
The modern rooms were airy and spacious, with a private terrace and direct access to the sea. A luxury in my opinion, however should you wish for even more privacy, the beach villas might be a bit more up your stream as well as the safe alternative for families with kids. Getting around was part of the fun, bikes were provided to move through the barefoot friendly and immaculately maintained, sandy jungle paths.
The untouched sea life
The promise of an untouched sea life was how I lured my boyfriend away from his busy work schedule, an expectation that did not disappoint. Sights of turtles on every swim and for those who want to go further, The Residence has their own diving centre where everyone from rookies (me) to experienced divers (my boyfriend) can get a chance to experience the Maldives from underneath. What came as the biggest surprise was that I was able to kick my fear of sharks, as we swam together, unbothered by each other (!) I still don’t know how this came about but I’ll tell you - there is a eerie calmness when you dive into these waters, that quite literally sucks you into a whole new world. Mesmerising, to say the least.
The hotel has three main restaurants, of which the Falhumaa is for those who want to experience the finer side of Maldivian cuisine. The staff greets you will a rose water hand wash and gifts you with a local spice mix after your meal, so make sure to visit the water front restaurant either for dinner or afternoon tea. As the Dining Room on the beach serves breakfast and buffer dinner every night, we ended up spending most of out time at the and a Beach Bar (this is also where you find the best drinks). However, I must admit that the top experience was dinging under the starts at the weekly beach barbecue. A must try is the ‘seafood hotpot’ experience that includes paper aprons and excludes all cutlery!
The Spa by Clarins
My personal highlight was the Spa by Clarins, where I had hands down one of the best massages ever (a 90 min honey oil, deep tissue treatment to be exact) so good, I had it twice. The risk in a place like this is to somewhat ‘lay down and do nothing’ for a full week, although that I fully allowed (even encouraged) what gave a little structure to my days were the sunrise and sunset yoga sessions. Dolphin joined our morning sessions (I’m not even kidding) and to salute the day to that pink sky, I’m talking zen on a whole nother level.
Overall, a week of full relaxation - achieved. I’ve never felt such calm or seen such natural beauty, something that is rare nowadays. To be far away from home but yet experience such safeness and invulnerability that even sharks come across as adorable, marks our trip priceless.