It’s hard to know what to expect from a place as hyped up as The Maldives. As one of the world’s most luxurious archipelagos, it is the dream destination for hordes of googly-eyed couples, a regular feature on the must see before you die lists, heck even the name sounds exotic. You wonder (and we did) how good it can really be and surely, SURELY it won’t live up to its reputation.
As the boat pulled into Kurumba (stay tuned for more on the boat), it took all of about four seconds to realise, once again, we are completely and utterly wrong. Archetypal Maldivian paradise – 1. Clueless blogger – nil. We are blown away by the spectacular expanses of soft, white sand, not a straggle of seaweed in sight, the turquoise lagoons with water so clear you wish you could bottle it up and drink it. The skies are the bluest I have ever seen with the exception of a token wispy cloud, reminding us that this Utopia is in fact real. And this, my friends, is wet season – Lord only knows what dry season must be like.
I should have known I was wrong to harbour any doubts from the minute we stepped through the speedy airport exit onto the transfer boat. White leather sofas, cushions, eucalyptus-infused, refreshing face towels, ice-cold mineral water and service with a smile. You need sea-plane transfers to many of remote islands but for us, it was only a ten minute ride as Kurumba is one of the largest and nearest islands to the airport and is the original resort in The Maldives. Experience has served it well as we were greeted at check in with another face towel and a portion of the creamiest, dreamiest coconut ice-cream I have ever tasted. I devoured mine in record time, then half of Pumpkin’s and then back at the beach bar a mere four hours later for another serving.
After an easy and efficient check in, we are given a private tour of the island and resort facilities and then driven to our room in none other than a golf buggy. The thing to realise about the Maldives, which I hadn’t grasped before going, is that most of the resorts are exclusive to islands on which they are situated so the entire island is effectively one resort. We were given a map, not that it helped me find my way but then I’m hopeless at navigation – it took me 3 months of marriage before I finally mastered the route to Sainsbury’s. Thank goodness for Pumpkin’s in-built compass otherwise I’d struggle to make it to Heathrow Airport let alone The Maldives.
The rooms were enormous and we didn’t even pick a fancy one. Basically, with the posh rooms, your balcony is on the sand and with the peasant rooms, your balcony is 20 metres away from the sand. In designing the rooms, it seems Kurumba have opted for a minimalist but comfortable chic with an emphasis on environmental friendliness and they have homemade aromatherapy cosmetics. I loved the chocolate-brown bamboo laundry basket with a bow-like handle. This would look far lovelier in our bedroom than our white wicker, chain-store counterpart but Pumpkin reminds me laundry baskets are not complementary.
The bathroom was outdoors with a suitably discreet almost-roof so you never feel on display. With a large bathtub located centrally, an indoor shower cubicle in one corner and a large outdoor overhead one lined with plants and gravel; there was something to suit everyone’s bathing requirements. Twin sinks completed the set up and beach towels could be found there as well. The bathroom was like something out of a Zen interior design catalogue. I want it! I want the little white ceramic pots with the shampoo and conditioner, so much more graceful than the plastic miniatures you see in most hotels and I want the translucent coconut soap bar with long strands of coconut visible under the surface.
The walk-in wardrobe means that, ladies, there is no need to hold back on this holiday. Bring all the frocks, shoes and hair equipment you like. The balcony has a green day bed with an ocean view and although I could have happily passed the time reclining on it, writing, there was much more to discover on splendid Kurumba…
There is no shortage of food at Kurumba, home to an impressive eight restaurants, serving everything from Middle Eastern, Chinese and Indian cuisines as well as three bars and even an option to have a private, romantic dinner in the sand. You will be sure to leave that little bit heavier than you were when you arrived but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be too mesmerised by the Maldives to notice.
It was far from a difficult few days, alternating between soaking up the sun (responsibly) and immersion in the jade waters, exploring the enchanting underwater-world in these lagoons, which are a snorkeller’s paradise. I can swim but would never be seen in tropical waters without my life-jacket on so it was wonderful to be in a place where the clear waters stretched out at a depth so naturally shallow that even with my wee height, I could venture out feeling safe. I didn’t make it to the spa as I couldn’t get past the sea and sand but if I ever make it back, a facial would definitely be in order.
Before I came here, I was so convinced that The Maldives was “just a beach” and this trip challenged and taught me how important it is to be open minded in the world of travel, as I was completely blown away by its beauty. Do I have any regrets? Yes. I should have booked to stay a few days longer and I should have splurged a few more dollars to go para-sailing. But, these are minor details, that can easily be ironed out on a future trip. In the world of travel, there are those who lean towards discovering new places and those that lean towards returning to the places they love…..I tend to fall in the former category but The Maldives is, in no uncertain terms, a place I plan to return to. The only question is how soon is too soon?!