Finding My Place of Bliss in the Maldives
13 June 2014
Shangri-la is a hotel brand that needs no introduction. Yet not everyone knows that the term "Shangri-la" is a fictional place described in the 1933 James Hilton novel "Lost Horizon", as any place of complete bliss,delight and peace.
The book may have conceptualised it, but Shangri-la's Villingili Resort & Spa in the Maldives makes it come to life. Because the days we spent there were truly of complete bliss, delight and peace (and more).
Shangri-la's Villingili Resort & Spa Maldives is located in Gan (Addu Atoll), which is the southernmost island of the Maldives. In order to get here, we took a domestic flight from Male to Gan International Airport.
When we arrived at the airport, a staff from Shangri-la Villingili Resort immediately escorted us to Moonimaa Lounge, where we had lunch, and 2 hours of complimentary wi-fi. The staff did all the checking-in for us. We only came out when it was ready to board.
We then took Maldivian Air for the 1 hour and 30 minute flight.
Our plane hadn't even fully stopped when I saw the Shangri-la private transport waiting at the runway. We were welcomed in and were driven to Shangri-la Villingili Resorts' own private lounge at Gan International Airport
The private speedboat transfer took about another 10 minutes to get to the resort itself.
And let me tell you, with the domestic flight and speedboat transfers to get to there, it was all worth the transport!
We were welcomed warmly by staff and management as soon as the speedboat docked, and given fresh coconut drinks. We were then whisked away in a buggy by our personal villa host, Atif. He drove us to our room, a Deluxe Pool Villa (all rooms here are villa-types), and he did the check-in process in the room.
Every villa is appointed a personal villa host. Ours was a gentleman named Atif, and he was our first point of contact in terms of our itinerary, activities, and pretty much all general questions. We were given our own mobile phone so we could get in touch with Atif, reception, and all other key contacts wherever we were at the resort.
I'm definitely most impressed with their villa host service. Every time we had a scheduled activity or appointment, we would get a call or SMS from Atif to confirm and remind us of the time. And especially one evening, Atif personally visited us in our villa simply to say that he had the next day off, and passed on the business card of the villa host who would be taking his place. In turn, the very next day, the new villa host promptly paid us a visit and introduced himself to us.
The bed, a california king-sized one, is the most comfortable one I've ever slept in. It's a daring statement and it's absolutely true. At night, I would try to sit in the bed and do some reading and light work but I'd always end up sleeping. It's just that comfortable.
It is worth noting that the Shangri-la maintains its commitment to eco-conservatism. It is very green and lush throughout the island. We took their Ecological Tour one afternoon and were amazed to see the abundance of wildlife.
I'm a sucker for massage and spa treatments, and know a good massage when I get one. I took the Kadu Boli Ritual (exclusive to the Shangri-la Maldives) It was more than good. It was excellently-good, and quite possibly the best massage treatment I've ever had. It just trumped the one I had from the Intercontinental in Fiji (which until that time, was my top massage experience of all). I now have a new top notcher.
Massage experiences are very subjective, and the Kandu Boli Ritual just fit the bill of my perfect massage. Warm coconut oil inside cowrie shells, which are then poured (from the shell) to your skin, and the shells are used to gently massage. It's just too heavenly.
I think I may have cried a little when the therapist gently woke me up to say the massage is done. It was really good, and I would recommend this to add to your memorable experience when staying at the Shangri-la's Villingili Resort Maldives.
True to the definition of Shangri-la in "Lost Horizon", we found our place of bliss, peace and tranquility at Shangri-la's Villingili Resort & Spa Maldives.
The weather wasn't all sunny when we were there, it rained most of the time, yet we left the resort filled with sunshine-y memories and warmth, and with plans to return.