Enjoying the peace & calm of the Indian Ocean
In our third year of marriage (2012) Mo and I were fortunate enough to be able to plan our dream relaxation holiday to the secluded Maldives. This was in fact my second trip (I had been with my parents) and after 10 days of ultimate bliss Mo and I knew we would both aim to return again in the future.
When it comes to booking, there are hundreds of islands and resorts out there all offering similar activities and lodgings. We looked at many tour operators, kuoni, thomas cook etc. But for the type of resort we wanted we seemed to be getting out priced and after losing a deal for not booking in time, I was starting to lose hope.
I threw myself into scouring the internet determined to find a luxurious hotel with all the trimmings and through sheer luck finally found a gem of a deal at the Veligandu resort with monarch. Exactly what we wanted and more, it almost seemed too good to be true but we took the risk.
It definately paid off. We booked the hotel and then a bit of shopping around for flights, kayak is a great comparison site, we had everything ready to go. The hotel website had enough information to advise us on things we needed and also about how to get there once we landed in the Capital.
Realising we needed a sea plane transfer I called monarch direct and they sorted our transfer tickets out quickly and efficiently. I had already researched the prices and I found the sea plane tickets to be a standard rate so we booked through monarch out of ease more than anything else.
There are no direct flights so the journey there is a long one but its all worth it when you touch down on Male the capital and see the indian ocean by the runway. The sea plane jetty is a bus ride from the airport, short trip, and the waiting lounge is well air conditioned and offer refreshments. The sea plane journey itself is a magical experience, a window seat is a must as the views are surreal. Its amazing how small the islands look from above and how people are able to live on them. Unfortunately my departing sea plane journey is more memorable than my arrival one, purely because it was so emotional to leave after such an amazing holiday.
But before I get all emotional about leaving, I should probably talk about being there!
On arrival we were taken to the reception, offered drinks in the comfortable seating area whilst they did all the paper processing for us. Our luggage and us were then escorted to our room. It was more spectacular than we could have ever imagined. Veligandu resort was listed as a four star hotel but I struggle to see how they were not awarded that final one. The room design was beyond perfection. If I go into it in too much detail its only because whilst walking through it in my mind, I can picture myself right back there.
We had booked a water villa so there was a short stroll on the jetty to get to our room. The entry way was covered, with an umbrella caddy for when they have the occasional down pour. On entering the room there was the tea and coffee station, (with a nespresso machine!) And then to the left was the open dressing room/wardrobe with accessible sockets and everything, definately designed with a woman in mind.
Following on from there was the bathroom, in immaculate condition might I add. Double sink and walk in double shower, a hand held power device as well as a wonderful rain shower. The bathroom had a full glass sliding door wall that led onto a private terrace which housed a couple of sun loungers and the hot tub. Normally I would find this addition pretty tacky but when there is a private Jacuzzi bath sunk into a deck with a double window that opens out to a full view of just the ocean, it was fabulous.
As you walk back through into the main part of the room we knew we had well and truly struck gold. The room was vast, the bed was almost double the size of our double bed at home, there was a seating area with TV and ipod dock station and then the piece de resistance, another full wall of glass. Glass doors that bifolded out to a terrace where the only thing you could see was masses of ocean and endless blue sky. And as if almost planned, as we gazed in awe at this breathtaking skyline in front of us a school of dolphins were dancing in the ocean not far from our villa. Of course at that moment I was a screaming mess of a person as I was overwhelmed at witnessing my first sighting of a dolphin EVER. Just a normal day in the indian ocean.
If you’re not sold on the room maybe the island will do it for you. Veligandu is quite a small island, only approximately 70 rooms, which when researching resorts seemed quite small. It is designed for couples but the adults only status was only awarded last year. Its a ‘no shoes, no news’ resort which was a real selling point for me as I don’t think there’s anything more relaxing then feeling sand beneath your feet at all times, even in the restaurants and bars. On exploring, it took Mo and I around 20 mins to walk around the whole island. The restaurant, pool and bar were all on one side by the long stretch of beach that separated the sunrise and sunset side. The beach area itself was spaced out and even though the hotel was pretty booked up, apart from meal times, there was always somewhere you could go and relax and feel like you were on your own private island.
Going all inclusive
When booking a trip to the Maldives all inclusive is the best way forward. The one meal we had to pay for was at a small café outside of the airport and we paid the equivalent of £20 for a simple cheeseburger meal. Our all inclusive option covered all main meals, afternoon tea, should we wish to have it, and all soft drinks throughout the day. the restaurant operated a 21day rotation menu so we enjoyed a different meal every night and we were not disappointed.
Of course being a muslim country, the meat was all halal and any non halal dishes were labelled clearly. The chefs did an amazing job of offering a great variety of food and we really did get our fill. The mini desserts in particular were a real treat.
The food display itself was immaculate, stylish and there was always a station preparing meat or fish exactly how you wanted it. Couldn’t think of a single time we went for dinner and didn’t find anything we liked. We also treated ourselves to the afternoon tea (ass if we weren’t eating enough already). We had the grilled chicken sandwiches, chips and drinks. Again, really delicious and in my eyes the perfect in-between-meal snack.
As we visited the Maldives just before the peak season had kicked in, there was a much greater chance of rain. Which we did get for a number of days. This is when the resort was truly tested as when you are marooned on a desert island and the sun has disappeared you are pretty limited to what you can do.
The staff at Veligandu did a wonderful job of making sure we were always entertained. There were a number of board and card games available in the bar area, the spa at the resort was fabulous (I shall delve into the Duniye Spa on a separate post), gym for those who wanted to use it and a games room with pool table etc. What I loved is how upbeat the staff were no matter what the weather and they always tried to cheer everyone up who was maybe feeling disappointed with the lack of sunshine, organising table tennis tournaments in the bar for guests, making conversation and offering to do what they can. It never felt like we were missing out, even in the sometimes heavy downpour.
There were many other great things we loved about the resort: the evening entertainment was always a good laugh; day trips were organised every so often to visit a local island as a change; theres a dive centre on site; snorkelling is a must the shallow waters have beautiful schools of fish and coral and we even saw reef sharks (this did actually scare me at the time but for those of you who don’t know they are ‘apparently’ harmless); a stunning infinity pool, sea kayaks for those who want to be adventurous and I’m sure theres much more I’ve forgotten.
I know, I know… this is a pretty long blog post, but I didn’t want to miss anything out. Going to the Maldives is not a cheap trip away and because of this I think it’s important to feel confident that you are staying somewhere you can rely on and that can live up to the expectations a place like Maldives has.
So if you are after a tranquil place to recharge during the day and kick back in the evenings, I can most certainly recommend Veligandu resort.
A few tips from our stay:
- We stayed on the sunrise side of the hotel, a lot of people wished they had chosen this side as in the evenings the tide on sunset side of the island can get quite choppy.
- Try and splash out on the water villa, its completely worth it! We spent many a morning and evening perched on the edge of our deck just watching the fish (and stingrays) swim below us.
- After dinner in an evening make sure you take a look over the deck and you will see the marching of the crabs, really sensational.
- The hotel organises a sunset cocktails evening, I’ve never thought much of socials in hotels, but on such a small island it was a really nice thing to do as you do get to know the people you are holidaying with. We actually met a couple who we made great friends with and have stayed in touch after our holiday.
Are there any other islands that offer the same peace and tranquillity as the Maldives?