A typical Maldivian sunset
From vivid scarlet sunsets to the sparkling turquoise ocean, Sun Siyam Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort recreated more shades than I could ever imagine. But with the warm Maldivian hospitality on offer, you certainly don’t have to do it yourself at this luxury resort.
I travelled to Olhuveli on honeymoon in March with my new wife Emma, arriving back in Britain on a British Airways flight just before the first pandemic lockdown (the archipelago is now in the Government’s coronavirus safe travel corridors).
Fresh from our wedding, we were looking forward to some rest and relaxation. This four-star resort on South Male Atoll, a 45-minute speedboat transfer from the airport, is at the slightly more affordable end of the plush Indian Ocean private islands that make the Maldives a holiday hotspot.
We picked a deluxe room rather than splashing out on a villa, and it far exceeded our expectations.
Our simple but airy double opened straight onto the velvety soft white sand beach, just yards from the ocean. Shielded by palm trees it managed to feel exclusive despite being in a block of four well-designed rooms.
With a comfy daybed outside, and a free mini-bar topped up daily, it was tempting not to venture too far away. But there was plenty on the island to lure us out.
First, the incredible ocean. Just seconds from our room we could dip our toes into the warm, calm, crystal clear water.
Villas at Sun Siyam Olhuveli Beach & Spa
It shelved out so gently that we could wade out to the reef perched at the end of the jetty that housed the dive school.
We brought our own snorkelling gear from home, but it could also be borrowed from here for anyone keen to take the plunge. And with a spectacular underwater world to explore it is definitely worth it.
We spent hours swimming through the rainbow of tropical fish just a stone’s throw from our room. Small and harmless black-tipped reef sharks also weaved around our legs.
But even more impressive sea-life could be found at night. Every evening bright floodlights at the end of the jetty attracted a family of giant manta rays. Wandering down after dinner to watch them majestically swoop through the water, surrounded by cruising tropical fish, was one of the highlights of our stay.
As part of our all-inclusive package, we were offered a choice of a snorkelling safari or a sunset dolphin cruise.
We chose the snorkelling and zoomed off by speedboat to a spot dubbed Turtle Reef in the middle of the ocean. It certainly lived up to its name, giving us the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim alongside a handful of these amazing sea creatures.
Back on dry land, our package also gave us several other perks. We enjoyed a free shoulder and head massage sat side-by-side next to the ocean in the Sun Spa.
We also had the opportunity to channel our inner James Bond – or Simon Cowell – with a 15-minute jet-ski ride each.
And if we could summon up the energy in the blazing sunshine, we could take out a kayak or windsurfer for up to an hour each day.
It is worth exploring the whole resort complex, which is pretty big compared to some tiny Maldivian islands. Our room was on the main island, home to a large buffet restaurant and two beach-front bars with infinity pools and an abundance of sun loungers.
A buggy shuttle service, or 20-minute walk, took us over the bridge to the newer Dream Island.
This housed many of the more luxurious water villas, and had its own restaurant, pool and bar area. We popped in for a few cocktails to check out the view from the other side of the island. It was also worth visiting for the chilled-out Ibiza-style vibe and the sumptuous double loungers, although the sea was a bit choppier than our usual lagoon.
Tim and Emma soak up the sun
With so many tasty cocktails on offer as part of our all-inclusive deal they became a mainstay of our trip, alongside ice cold Tiger beer.
We also had the choice of three restaurants. All meals could be taken at the Sunset Restaurant buffet, with themed international food nights and a wrap-around area to dine al fresco over the water.
Island Pizza offered paninis, burgers, ice-cream – and, of course, pizza – on the beach for lunch. If you booked ahead you could tuck into a five-course feast at the candle-lit, waterfront Lagoon Restaurant.
With so many options included you don’t need to pay more, but it’s worth carrying some small bills in US dollars so you can tip the super helpful staff.
All-inclusive guests are also given discounts on the island’s other restaurants, but as we were happy with the tasty options included we didn’t bother splashing out.
Cold drinks and a warm welcome at the resort
Likewise, there is a range of additional excursions and activities that could be booked, from scuba diving to parasailing, and an impressive, but pricey, menu of spa treatments. But we were in heaven simply soaking up the sun, snorkelling and sipping cocktails.
Although we did manage to squeeze in our own mini Olympics, with a competitive tour of the free pool table, badminton and tennis courts, and table football. Around the island there is also a series of photo props, from swings to a picture frame in the ocean.
We wanted our honeymoon to be the holiday of a lifetime, and with beautiful scenery, extreme relaxation and exhilarating thrills, Olhuveli did not disappoint. From the moment we stepped onto the speedboat from Male airport to the island, to be greeted with cold drinks and warm smiles, we were in paradise.
A long way from our usual life back home, but we’ll always have the paint charts at B&Q to remind us.
Tourists must present a negative test on arrival in the Maldives, issued no more than 96 hours prior to departure.
British Airways Holidays offer seven nights on all-inclusive atthe four-star Sun Siyam Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort on South Male Atoll, Maldives, from £2,259 per person for travel from Heathrow on selected dates in February. Includes 23kg luggage and speedboattransfers, book by December 6. ba.com/maldives
Published at Wed, 09 Dec 2020 11:46:00 +0000