Stunning nature and unparalleled luxury make the Maldives a top contender for the world’s most romantic destination.
Between snorkelling, diving and other outdoor pursuits, plan a few quiet days to break up the pace and while the time away by indulging in the luxury of doing nothing.
As travellers touch ground at Malé, a great sense of excitement ensues even for those getting off from a long-haul flight, obliterating any fatigue as they are greeted by the warm smiles of Maldivians. This is an island country synonymous with tropical holidays, and even just outside of the busy airport, the palm trees lining the streets and the sapphire-blue sea are hard to miss. Also obvious at the airport is the clientele – while there are families and groups of friends, the majority of the vacationers are lovebirds – few other places on Earth grace the list of top romantic getaways as often as the Maldives.
Making the decision to fly all the way to the country is easy – the postcard-worthy vistas alone can persuade anyone; picking the right place to stay, however, will make or break your vacation of a lifetime. With serenity and exclusivity forming the basis of a romantic trip, it is perhaps wiser to put some distance between your chosen resort and the touristy humdrum; in fact, go as far as possible – the country’s only resort located south of the Equator, Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives is but a short flight away from Malé in Addu Atoll.
Affairs of the Heart
This crown jewel of southern Maldives is accessible by a five-minute speedboat ride from Gan, the main island of Addu Atoll, after which guests will be escorted to their villas: water and beach villas boasting direct access to the peaceful lagoon dot the atoll’s southern side. The tree house villas, on the other hand, face the Indian Ocean on the northern side and are unique to the Shangri-La resort. Whichever accommodation tickles your fancy, an attentive villa host will be on call round the clock. While resort amenities are plenty and thoughtfully arranged, it is the impeccable service that has won the hearts of many vacationers – most still recall fond memories years after their stay.
If, like many other guests, you’re drawn to the resort’s idyllic aura and ambience, special arrangements can be made to impress your significant other. Their Dine by Design service takes guests to a handful of secret sweet spots on the island, where they can enjoy a romantic dinner in complete privacy. It could be a candle-lit alfresco dinner on the resort golf course or aboard the luxury yacht Horizon – the options are limitless and you’ll be surprised what arrangements your resourceful (and discreet, should you like to keep your plans a surprise) villa host can put together in short notice. It is rumoured that a certain setup involving the resort’s presidential villa, a live band and tastefully arranged decorations has helped many a gentleman get down on one knee.
Under the Sea
Surrounded by the atoll, the Villingili lagoon is nothing short of magical, changing colours as the hours go by. However, its glistening waters are something you have to experience, not just admire afar from land because there are plenty more treasures to be discovered underneath the tranquil, reflective surface. The resort’s Water Sport Centre offers an assortment of water activities for guests to choose from. Needless to say, as a diving and snorkelling mecca, what awaits you in the resort’s house reef will not disappoint – the turtle quest snorkelling comes highly recommended. An expert dive staff will show you around the underwater garden, pointing out where sea creatures, such as turtles and stingrays, like to roam and look for food. If snorkelling feels like a mere scratch of the surface, the centre also offers diving experiences for all levels of ability, so you can get up close and personal with the awe-inspiring marine life in the surrounding waters, especially near the British Loyalty Shipwreck and Turtle Point.
With the myriad offerings on the island, it is very easy to get carried away and pack your itinerary with so much action that you forget to enjoy your amazing villa. Between snorkelling, diving and other outdoor pursuits, plan a few quiet days to break up the pace and while the time away by indulging in the luxury of doing nothing. Arrange an in-villa breakfast to start the day before jumping into the calming waters of the azure lagoon. Keen-eyed swimmers will notice colourful corals and tropical fish making the stilts of the water villas their home. Even if you’re not the type to spend a whole day in the water, what started out as a quick dip will easily extend infinitely to hours of fun exploration just near your villa.
The Art of Idleness
In the afternoon, when the sun is baking hot, dodge the heat and get ready for the ultimate pampering at CHI, The Spa on the west side of the island, facing the Indian Ocean. Its Hunu Henun Outdoor Hammam treatment is an unforgettable experience guaranteed to impress even the spa-goers who have tried it all. Designed to whisk you away to a land of pure bliss, it starts with a eucalyptus steam, followed by a deep cleansing Hammam and, more curiously, a giggle-inducing foam massage. The four-hour long treatment continues on to a body mask and a relaxing massage, where you will most likely fall asleep to the gentle touch of the therapist’s skilful hands. Couples will certainly appreciate spending time reconnecting with each other in the hot tub as they listen to the sound of waves caressing the sandy shores.
On a secluded paradise such as Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives, time is a strange concept – it seems to stand still whilst passing exceptionally fast at the same time. Whatever the length of your stay, as you board the speedboat once again and wave goodbye to your friendly villa host, you will come to the abrupt realisation that this glorious vacation is finally coming to an end. Rest assured the wonderful memories from the trip will never be too far from your mind and, before long, you will return to the peaceful sanctuary.
- Biking is the easiest way to get around the resort, but if after an all-day adventure you’re not keen for more exercise, ask any member of staff for a buggy pickup.
- Mas-Huni, which is made with Maldivian tuna and some chilli, lime and coconut, is a delicious Maldivian breakfast snack served with chapatti bread. You will find it at the breakfast buffet table at Javvu or on the room service menu.
- If you’re planning to surprise your better half for a special occasion, but haven’t got the faintest idea where to start, speak to your villa host for options and recommendations.
- Dolphin cruises depart earlier in the afternoon when the dolphins leave the lagoon to hunt in the Indian Ocean, whilst the sunset cruises leave closer to dusk.
- Those who are spending an extended period of time at this incredible resort can opt to stay at different villa categories for a comprehensive Shangri-La experience.
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