A blissed-out getaway

by Aoife Stuart

This story is part of our 'Unforgettable hotel nights' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.

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Looking out of the aeroplane window as I touched down in the Maldivian capital of Male, I was greeted by the seductive sight of clusters of sand-fringed islands floating in the twinkling sapphire-hued waters of the Indian Ocean. One peek at the aerial view of the heavenly archipelago of more than 1,000 islands – of which around 90 are designated resort islands – and my towering in-tray was a distant memory, as I mentally switched off my Blackberry and prepared for a blissed-out beach getaway.

But if I was expecting a grass-roofed hut and a hammock under a palm tree, I was in for a surprise. Docking at the One&Only resort on the island of Reethi Rah – under two hours by private yacht from the airport – my boyfriend and I gasped as we took in the haven of luxury. With six kilometres of coastline, each of the 130 private villas scattered over the island has its own unique stretch of paradise – either on the beach, secluded by lush greenery, or perched above sparkling crystal clear waters.

A personal butler, or ‘villa host’ escorted us to our home for the night – an opulent beach villa, complete with a decadent sea-facing terrazzo bath, an outdoor rain shower and shaded veranda, and fluffy pillows (selected from an extensive menu) on a huge Egyptian cotton-wrapped bed.

Weary from the journey, we made our first stop the One&Only ESPA Spa. Set within tranquil gardens and manicured lawns, with treatment rooms straddling the glinting ocean, a couples’ pampering session was the perfect way to kick-start our island experience. After a relaxing massage at the hands of the expert therapists, stress was a distant memory in a few citrus-infused moments!

Feeling adventurous, we then took a short boat ride to one of the tiny desert islands nearby, surrounded by crystal waters and coral reefs, and experienced the famed Maldivian underwater life. Snorkelling hand-in-hand, we pointed in awe at the kaleidoscope of marine life, including Manta Rays, Barracudas and Turtles.

Back on land, with 12 beaches and 40 pools dotted around the island, we were spoilt for choice for places to top up our tans. We cooled off on the carved stone bed in the infinity pool, while the pool-side butler cleaned our sunglasses and served up cooling ice treats. Later, settling into an over-water hammock, the only sound was the gentle crash of the sea, as we pondered where to go for dinner.

While the luxe-boho surroundings of Arabic restaurant Fanditha, and the modern Japanese dining spot, Tapasake were both tempting, we settled on the signature Reethi Restaurant. Located in a thatched pavilion, perched on wooden stilts above the water, we dined on a delish fusion of Asian and European cuisine, watching the moon danced on the sea.

Afterwards, we skipped over to Rah Bar, where after-dinner cocktails and live music soon had us swaying to the seductive vibe of island life. And as we kicked back barefoot under the stars, my boyfriend turned to me and asked me to be his wife.

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