Travel

By Meghan Rose

Problem: It was ‘The Perfect Storm’ really – I was overly stressed at work, my on/off relationship was ‘off’… way off, and I had a 30th birthday looming above like a thunderous, dark cloud acting as a constant reminder of all of the things I had yet to still accomplish.

Solution: Planned an amazing solo beach vacation to decompress, reassess and relax. I just had to narrow down when and where….

Feeling like a pressure cooker with the top about to blow high into the sky, I did what any normal Google searching person would do – I turned to the internet and typed perfect beach. I kept it simple and focused on ‘images.’ I was looking for the popular desktop wallpaper of the long boardwalk that jets out into the turquoise blue ocean with a water villa at the end (mainly to see if it really existed because if I did that was where I wanted to go- or someplace like it). What I wound up finding was a Shangri-La Utopia called the Maldives.

This trip was the first real vacation I had been on in nearly fifteen years, so I made sure I covered all the bases – location, cost, amenities, etc. I utilized internet travel websites such as Expedia (http://www.expedia.com), Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com) and Travelocity (http://www.travelocity.com) to research nearly every resort in the Maldives. I read every single review and would definitely recommend that any traveler does their due diligence prior as well. For instance, even though the tragic and deadly tsunami hit that area in 2004, there were many resorts (per the reviews) that had not completely rebuilt and/or still had a lot of debris on their beaches. The reviews also mentioned if the city skyline of the capital, Malé, could be seen from the resort. Personally, that was something I did not want, because if I were going to splurge I wanted everything to be perfect. I was seeking a refuge in the form of an ocean paradise millions of miles away from civilization.

After much deliberation and thought, I settled on a resort called Diva Maldives (which has since been renamed – Lux Maldives). A friend suggested I try Agoda (http://www.agoda.com) to book the accommodations, and I am glad I did because it was a money saver as opposed to booking directly with the resort. Since I was originating from the Middle East, I booked a non-stop flight from Dubai to Malé on Emirates (there are less expensive flights that connect through Colombo). I also had to make a reservation for a separate flight from the capital city to my resort via seaplane (which was a very cool experience). While waiting in the resort lounge for my seaplane to depart, I had an inkling this was going to be an amazing experience. The lounge itself was pristine and impeccably decorated. It reflected a relaxed island theme, and there was free food and ice cold beverages put out in a beautiful spread. A Diva Maldives representative had all my information ready in hand upon arrival, and all I had to do was relax.

The seaplane was filled with three other couples, two of whom were dropped off to their resorts that were on the way. The views of the different Atolls from the plane were incredible and literally breathtaking. I had never seen water that blue, that clear or beautiful before in my life (granted the only comparison I had to reference was the Caribbean). From the sky, each resort looked more grand and spectacular than the last. Approximately thirty minutes later we approached my resort. The water bungalows were on full display and it looked like a picture perfect postcard to paradise. Far away from the war torn desert I had left was a tropical dream… and I could not wait to enjoy every minute of my much needed vacation.

I reserved a private beach villa which included the some of the following: a furnished covered patio with direct access to the beach and ocean, a large king size bed, his/her sinks, built-in desk with direct internet connection, and a private outdoor open-air bathroom with stone lined showers and very large full soaking bath tub. (There are also other basic amenities which can be referenced from the resort website). If you are a beach person and crave privacy, I would definitely recommend this type of lodging. Based on the reviews, while the water villas seem amazing they tend to lack privacy; but, both have different pros and cons. The room was exactly how it looked online if not better, and for once I was not disappointed by false advertisement.

I spent the next six days wining and dining, getting spa treatments and practicing the ‘art of doing nothing’. Even though I was a single female traveler vacationing amongst honeymooners and couples, I never felt awkward. When the dining staff would ask me “only one” as I arrived for each meal, I just smiled graciously and confidently replied, “Yes!” By the second day they knew my beverage of choice (some blue cocktail) and had it waiting for me upon arrival. It also helped that there were no Americans at the resort; so, needless to say there were no prying questions or inquiries from ‘friendly’ strangers. It has been my experience in the past that our culture usually likes to ask the surface level questions to include: where are you from and what do you do. Everyone, including myself, seemed to just be in awe of the resort, the island, and the scenery of this magical place.

Per my review on Agoda, the entire wait staff was incredible. The Spa personnel were sensational and the Front Desk Manager was more than accommodating. He offered me a free excursion in return for writing a review on the discount hotel website where I had booked my reservation. Below are also some excerpts from my review:
• The staff is superior! Everything went smoothly, from the transition upon arriving in Male’ to departing the resort. I was in heaven upon arrival and was floating on cloud nine until I flew away.
• The spa is amazing! Go see Ati – she is truly gifted in her craft of Balinese Massages and reflexology.
• I utilized room service and laundry service (they put a bow on my socks, SOCKS!)… a luxury to have as well.
• The water sports were in abundance – jet skis, snorkeling, boat trips, etc.
• The food was very good. The tuna tartar with glass noodles at Pure restaurant is so delicious! The wine lists were great (I opted for the all inclusive meal plan which was well worth it! Wine and some alcohol were included as well). Diva offered a variety of cuisine appealing for everyone… but don’t miss breakfast at Noo!
• I was seeking a private island for relaxation and serenity… I found it at Diva Maldives. I traveled alone and am under the age of 30, however, while the resort definitely caters towards couples… I never felt uncomfortable. Go, no run to Diva Maldives!
• Everything you see on the website or other travel sites pertaining to photos of the resort are 100% true! It’s simply gorgeous and a hidden gem!

Looking back, this special 30th birthday present to moi was well worth the money. It was a little pricey, but I will always remember this vacation fondly. And, I am proud that I had the guts and confidence to go solo. It was a liberating feeling to be able to treat myself and do it on my own. I will definitely be back someday…

For more information about the resort, please visit:

https://www.atollparadise.com/maldives-465-DivaMaldives.htm

http://www.agoda.com/asia/maldives/maldives_islands/lux_maldives.html

*Purchasing a meal plan is optional, but if you are trying to budget I would recommend it.

Originally published August 2012
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