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Smith trips: Amber does the Maldives

Posted by Lucy Fennings on August 5th, 2008

Lucy grills Amber about her recent research trip to the Maldives in the Indian OceanCocoa Island in the Maldives

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So, Amber, welcome back: tell us a bit about your trip to the Maldives – was it all lying about on beaches catching rays (my guess, judging by your tan, which is still astonishing after a week back in Grey Britain)?

Well it was certainly about catching rays (sun rays, not manta rays or sting rays, although we saw plenty of both), but we were there to check out Cocoa Island and Huvafen Fushi for Mr & Mrs Smith’s collection of boutique hotels and luxury resorts in the Maldives, plus my Mr Smith [DJ Rob Wood – also our TuneSmith] was doing music consultancy for Huvafen Fushi whilst we were there. Oh, and we were taking a bit of a holiday as well!

I see <jealous pause>. Did you have a favourite beach?

The Maldives isn’t a destination that HAS beaches. It’s a destination that IS beaches – each resort is its own tiny island. Cocoa Island is only 350 metres long by 100 metres wide; it’s not like you can ‘go to the beach’ – you’re already on it! All floors of all public areas, restaurants etc in most resorts are sand, and it is physically impossible to wear anything on your feet other than flip flops (I didn’t even bother with those).

Actually, my chosen sunbathing spot at both Cocoa Island and Huvafen Fushi wasn’t the beach but our own private deck. At Huvafen this featured our own freshwater plunge pool, but both decks gave us direct access to the aquamarine, bath-warm sea – it was so quiet and private: the ultimate luxury….

Amber at Huvafen Fushi in the MaldivesGreen. With. Envy. OMG, just look at the colour of the water in that snap of you… Go on, rub it in a bit more – are the Maldivian islands really as beautiful as they look in the pictures?

They really are – even after a long flight (it’s 10 hours in total, usually via Dubai), coming in to land at Malé is like flying over paradise. The Maldives are truly breathtakingly beautiful, even if you’re staying in a hut! Actually, having said that, I wouldn’t have been happy in a hut. Which is lucky really because both Cocoa Island and Huvafen Fushi are absolutely dreamy. That’s me at Huvafen Fushi, BTW.

Where exactly in the Maldives is that? Any bits of your journey there particularly intrepid?

The Maldives is actually quite difficult to find your way around – so many teeny islands (almost 2,000 in total) dotted across 19 atolls – but we were lucky to be spending half our time in the South Malé Atoll and half our time in the North Malé Atoll, neither of which is too difficult to reach from the airport and capital at Malé. We did all our travelling by luxury speedboat, and whilst I usually loathe boats, I surprised myself by really enjoying the journeys. Spotting dolphins on the way to and from Cocoa Island definitely helped, as did the hunky be-headscarfed Maldivian crew of Huvafen Fushi’s luxury launch….

Tsk, and what does Mr Smith have to say about that?! Moving swiftly on… Would you recommend island-hopping in the Maldives, or is it better to stick to one resort?

The two islands we stayed on (Cocoa Island and Huvafen Fushi) would make the perfect two-hotel pairing for a Smith getaway – they’re both half an hour in opposite directions from Male, so it only took us just over and hour to get from one to the other, and whilst they’re both beautiful and luxurious retreats, they’re a total contrast in style and ambience. Huvafen Fushi really has the wow factor, with high-tech gadgets for Mr Smith to fiddle with and private plunge pools in all the rooms. It’s very very cool, and the staff team on the island are great fun.

That whole resort is renowned for its luxurious atmosphere – any other particularly decadent features?

Vinum at Huvafen FushiHuvafen Fushi is the perfect place for those that take their hedonism seriously. Their spa is to die for, and has super-cool underwater treatment rooms. When you check in, you are introduced to your own Thakuru, or Maldivian Butler, whose mobile number is pre-programmed into your room’s phone. They’ll pick you up at the drop of a hat and zoom you wherever you want to go in a golf buggy, and generally help you with anything you need (even obtaining a replacement contact lens in my case – thanks Nashath!).

They have a fabulous underground wine cellar where GM Marc, who is a brilliant host, holds an amazing dinner every Thursday, surrounded by 6,000 bottles of wine. There are loads of other decadent aspects of Huvafen, but half the fun is discovering them for yourself, so I’m not going to spoil it…. Apart from to say, ask them about spending the night on a dhoni, stargazing from Lonu Veyu (a little sea pool) and eating in their ‘secret’ restaurant, Cardamom Lounge….

And how is Cocoa Island different from Huvafen Fushi?

By contrast, Cocoa Island is a much quieter, far more understated take on luxury: privacy is highly valued and respected. It’s a very special place. The rooms (all set out over the water) are breathtakingly beautiful – all white panelled walls and crisp linen awnings that float in the breeze. We stayed in a one-bedroom villa, the most spacious and private room type…

Ooh, get you!

It’s a tough job… but I had a nosey around rooms in all the different categories, and I can safely say they’re all lovely, but my other favourite was definitely the Dhoni Loft Suites, Cocoa Island’s second-cheapest room type….

I know you’re a beach bunny by nature, but did you get up to anything much other than lying supine on the sunlounger?

Hmm, not really! Although I treated myself to some gorgeous spa treatments (for professional research purposes only you understand). Cocoa Island features the Como Shambhala spa, where focus is on Ayurvedic influences and aromatheraputic treatments. And Huvafen Fushi’s gorgeous over-the-water spa uses a little-known range of products from Australia called Li’tya, which I loved discovering.

And just because I didn’t want to do anything particularly strenuous doesn’t mean you can’t: it goes without saying that water sports are right on your doorstep, snorkelling, diving, all boxes ticked.

Ok – I think we’ve heard quite enough from you about your ‘work’! I’m off to have another look at the Maldives collection (and maybe check availability for December!)

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17 Responses to “Smith trips: Amber does the Maldives”

  1. Looks beautiful, such lovely blue waters. I have always wanted to visit the Maldives. I was in the British RAF at the time they used to have a base there. The tour of duty was 9 months unaccompanied but never got to go. The island was Gan.

    By Orlando Villas

  2. @ Orlando Villas – That’s exactly right! We met someone who had grown up near to the base – it sounded like a perfect drop of pure Britishness in the middle of the Indian Ocean. FYI, an international airport is opening on Gan in the near future…

    By Amber

  3. Very pretty! I like the way you have your photos formated. What technique are you using or is it part of your theme?

    By Debo Hobo

  4. @Debo Hobo – thanks! Actually I knocked the polaroid mock-up together in InDesign, and then exported it as a jpeg to drop into WordPress; easy when you know how! Just fiddling about with drop shadows really – you could probably do something similar in Photoshop, if you have it.

    Loving your work, by the way: the inflatable church story made my day!

    By Lucy

  5. […] & Mrs Smith say ‘‘So, how d’ya like our dinghy?’ calls out Marc, upon our arrival at Huvafen Fushi, a boutique resort in the Maldives. Considering we are just stepping out of a seriously sexy motor […]

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  6. […] her ‘arduous’ Indian Ocean reviewer trip to Huvafen Fushi and Cocoa Island! Our post on Amber’s Maldives trip will add more fuel to your fantasy […]

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  8. Absolutely breathtaking! Looks like you had a wonderful time. With 2,000 islands to pick from I sure am glad to have your recommendations. Just wondering how difficult it was getting there, where did you fly into?

    By Simon

  9. @Simon – It’s getting ever easier to get to the Maldives. From the UK there are now several direct (10hr) flights to choose from. From elsewhere, most flights connect pretty seamlessly through the Middle East. We flew with Emirates via Dubai, but Qatar fly via Doha and have a very good reputation. The great thing about the two islands I visited is that they’re so easy to get to from the airport. They’re also easy to get between, so you can visit both and there’s no need to choose between them – I’m not sure I could!

    By Amber

  10. Thank you for this article, I really enjoyed this! I will definitely share.

    By Jacklin

  11. A beautiful place it is indeed. I vacationed there about 3 years ago and still remember it to this day.

    By Sammy

  12. That’s a really great observation

    By Mary Johns

  13. Just fiddling about with drop shadows really – you could probably do something similar in Photoshop, if you have it.

    By Aria

  14. Maldives is really really awesome, one of the best places of the world in my opinion.. everybody need to visit there…

    By Larissa Madeira

  15. Very good post.

    Thanks,
    Jayesh

    By Jayesh Mehta

  16. The Maldives sound just absolutely wonderful. Really need to put that trip on my “bucket list”

    By Elliot Pearson

  17. I will go to Maldives this week. Just searching around for good articles like this one so that I will be convinced that my trip will be worth it. Gonna ready my camera now.

    By Michael Jones

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