Echoes of paradise: the Maldives

Echoes of paradise: the Maldives

Echoes of paradise: the Maldives

By Shadiah Abdullah Al Jaberi

Is there a traveler or tourist who has not heard of the Maldives? Being there, of course, is better than hearing or reading about it. The richness and variety of the islands is astonishing, with whiter-than-white sandy beaches, thriving marine life and opulent resorts, all of which offer the ideal getaway.

From Ibn Battuta who landed there 800 years ago to the modern traveler looking for relaxation, the country has mesmerized all those who set foot on it. Nobody can forget the brilliant sunrise and aching sunsets that frame the atolls every day.  The blessings of nature and the hands of human creativity have turned the islands into a dearly sought after dream holiday destination.

Foremost amongst the places which offer a ravishing welcome to guests are the Velassaru, Kurumathi and Kurumba resorts. They are managed by the Universal Resorts, a 100 per cent Maldivian owned company, and the pioneers of tourism in the Maldives.

Velassaru resort is an upscale rendezvous, offering chic, private villas and bungalows, both on beach and on water, combining luxury and rest. It boasts five restaurants and two bars, offering gourmet flavours from around the globe.

The restaurants offer mouthwatering recipes to suit every palate, from the fresh catch of the day to the last kebab on the grill. Be amazed and let your mouth water at Teppanyaki, where master chefs show their skills. Go for the sushi and sashimi, and other daringly innovative dishes, while watching the stars come out.

Velassaru is located in the South Malé Atoll, a short 25-minute speedboat ride from Malé International Airport. Its spa is a pleasure palace where overwater pavilions, set on stilts, offer a variety of therapies. The expert touch of trained masseurs soothes the spirit and heals stressed bodies. Endless views of the Maldivian seascape add to the relaxing ambience, offering solitude that rejuvenates the soul.

With Velassaru as your home base, you can explore teeming coral reefs, cruise out beyond the horizon or just relax on perfect beaches. Trips to remote reefs, accessible only with an experienced guide, await snorkeling and diving enthusiasts. But you don’t have to go far to explore an astounding marine world. It lies just beneath the shallow waters of your residence.

For those who are aficionados of water sports, Glide Water Sports Centre awaits. A palette full of fun sports is available, including wakeboarding, water-skiing, fun tube adventures, kneeboarding and monoski. Those into adventure can avail of wind sports like catamaran, wind surfing, parasailing and kite surfing. If you want to exercise, you could consider kayaking, including Molokini glass kayak, Hobie Mirage kayak, stand-up paddleboard and ocean kayak.

Kuramathi, next on the traveler’s list, is one of the first resorts to open in the Maldives. With a reputation of being an emerald jewel in the turquoise Maldivian waters, Kuramathi is a stunning island retreat with acres of luxuriant vegetation surrounded by spectacular beaches tapering into an endless sandbank.

It is a village come to life. If Velassaru emphasizes exclusivity, Kurumathi prides itself on its open accessibility. Here laid back Maldivian life combines with customized rusticity. Located 56 kms west of Male International Airport, the island is over 1.8 kms long, one of the largest in the Maldives. Despite human habitation, the island is relatively untouched, allowing guests to take leisurely strolls amidst thick foliage and lush vegetation.

Set amongst luxuriant gardens or over water, the rooms on the island range from simply designed beach and garden villas, to deluxe water villas. Guests can enjoy open-air bathrooms, rainfall showers or jacuzzi, large outdoor decks with inviting daybeds or sun loungers. Dining options are diverse with many restaurants and bars and great value packages, topped off with Maldivian service – welcoming, genuine and friendly.

Snorkelling is recommended. It will be filled with moments you’re bound to cherish as a diver and as a nature lover. Diving in the Maldives, as connoisseurs will vouch, is a dream come true and Kuramathi does its best to extend the possibility of offering the beautiful experience. For those who cannot dive or snorkel, the semi-submarine in the resort offers them the opportunity to dive below 1.3 meters underwater whilst lounging in its state-of-the-art comforts.

Guests will find the excursion to be truly mind-blowing, as they delve into the underwater beauty of the famed dive and snorkeling spot of Madivaru with its vibrant coral gardens and shoals of fascinating fish.

Kurumba, very popular with Middle East visitors, has the honour of being the very first private island resort in the Maldives. Its brand has been boosted and its reputation enhanced among international tourists by the variety of choices available and its friendly service. The fact that it is just 10 minutes by speedboat from the airport and Malé adds to its allure.

It is an island with plentiful ocean views, ease of access to every destination and vast spaces. Dotted with coconut trees that are the island’s namesake, Kurumba is blessed with beautiful gardens, palm fringed white sandy beaches and a vibrant house reef – the hallmarks of this classic Maldivian resort.

Visitors will run into secluded sanctuaries, only steps from the shoreline. They will become familiar with rich woods and charismatic touches, both natural and manmade. They will be spoilt for choice: nine styles of accommodation beckon them.

It is a space to call your own with the array of accommodation, ranging from comfortable Superior rooms to the expansive Royal Residence, spread amongst the island’s bounteous tropical gardens with easy access to the beach. The perfect setting for a romantic retreat, family adventure or corporate get together. Kurumba was recognised as 2016’s Best Luxury Family All-Inclusive Hotel in the Maldives by the World Luxury Hotel Awards.

With eight different restaurants to choose from, Kurumba Maldives will charm you with its unparalleled choice of dining experiences and a wide range of attractive activities and nightly entertainment. Kids will be able to enjoy the many activities of Majaa Kids Club and the newly opened water Splash Pad.

Get set for spicy Maldivian cuisine and culinary treasures of the Far East, followed by Al Qasr Middle Eastern specialties with charcoal grilled meats, juicy kebabs, mezze and intriguing dips. Indulge your taste buds!

Kurumba is home to healthy coral reefs. Snorkelling and diving area are a pleasure and schools of fish will entertain you amidst shafts of sunlight that pierce from above. The colours are impossible, as is the excitement. Also, be prepared for something larger, as reef sharks glide by. It may send shivers down your diving suit. But not to worry; they are guests too, and keep their distance as hospitality demands. For those in search or relaxation, Veli Spa offers the exclusive Dhivehi Beys Maldivian treatments and Raalhu outdoor Spa Pavilion.

From the magnificence of Vellasaru to the rusticity of Kurumathi and the exclusive accessibility of Kurumba, Universal Resorts makes sure that in the Maldives, no man is an island!