Cerulean waters, magnificent shorelines ringed with vibrant coral reefs, and friendly sea creatures... One of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, the sheer beauty of Maldives, an island nation, has to be experienced first-hand.
My destination: Adults-only Club Med Finolhu Villas on Gasfinolhu Island – blessed with all of the above, plus a private kilometre-long beach, a jewel of a lagoon, luxurious spaces, and plenty of opportunities to indulge, relax, take beautiful pictures, and then indulge some more!
After arriving at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Male, the capital city of the Republic of Maldives, the Her World Brides fashion team and I were whisked away to the Finolhu Villas by boat. We were welcomed by a multinational group of GOs (Gentle Organisers) bearing hot towels and mocktails on a lattice-panelled jetty. At night, it illuminates the chic, solar-powerd resort with vividly coloured, twinkling lights.
Life’s a beach – and a lagoon!
There are 22 Club Med Finolhu Beach Villas and 30 pod-like Lagoon Villas (also known as Overwater Villas) built on both sides of a walkway over the lagoon. The villas are 151 sq m to 168 sq m in space, and either face the sunrise or sunset. Both have stunning views of the Indian Ocean.
Designed by New York-based Japanese-American architect Yuji Yamazaki and dressed by French interior designer Meriem Hall, this Club Med concept marries beauty, nature, elegance and memories with contemporary interiors and high-quality, colourful furnishings.
Contributing Editor Steve Thio and I stayed in the Lagoon and Beach Villas (each with a king-sized bed, sun deck and plunge pool) respectively – and to which we retreated every chance we had.
Each morning, Steve woke up to a fantastic view of the Indian Ocean as well as the crystal blue waters of the lagoon that surrounded and flowed beneath his villa. I, on the other hand, got to step onto and wiggle my toes in beautiful soft sand before taking off on my morning runs.
During the day, we lazed about in airy living rooms, or on a daybed by the plunge pool. Another favourite pasttime of mine: Just before dinner, I would zone out to the sounds of crashing waves while taking a soothing soak in my outdoor bathtub.
Personal, discreet service
The Finolhu Villas experience truly is about those little touches that make a stay memorable, like a 24-hour butler – one for every villa! – to provide you with exclusive, luxurious, and discreet service that even exceeded my expectations. For instance, after returning home from a walkabout one afternoon, I was greeted with afternoon tea after a shower. I hadn't asked for it, but I really appreciated the there-but-not-there kind of attentiveness that respected my personal space.
I also loved the buggy service that took me and the rest of the team wherever we needed to be – and no matter what time it was.
Waves of fun
A couple of times during my stay, I snuck away for some much-needed me-time while my colleagues worked on the photo shoots you see here in the magazine. Of course, the gorgeous resort is ideal for laid-back honeymoons made up mostly of lounging in bed, lying round the pool, enjoying drinks from the mini bar (costs are covered), organic spa treatments by Club Med Spa by ILA, as well as room service (chargeable), and then maybe a little hanging out around the Pool Bar at night.
But I resisted my daybed on the sun deck to check out several activities available, like snorkelling (free), as well as water skiing, (chargeable). There is also free kayaking at Club Med Kani, which is just minutes away by boat.
About the Pool Bar, it is next to the Main Pool and serves great cocktails you can enjoy while chilling on a beanbag, listening to cool music and watching the sunset together before heading to dinner. Drinks – a selection of beers, champagne by the glass, wines, house spirits, cocktails and soft drinks – are free.
All meals are taken at Motu Restaurant & Bar, where you can see the water through the cocktail bar's glass floor. And, as it overlooks the sea, the views from Motu are much bigger and better, particularly during the spectacle of sunset.
The Motu has two dining areas, one of which is air-conditioned, and both offer first-rate service as well as Club Med's wide variety of international dishes, using top-grade ingredients, including the freshest seafood.
The team and I opted to have most of our meals at the restaurant instead of having room service in the villas. And, every day, one of us would bring up the possibility of returning for a honeymoon or anniversary trip.
Time for two
Truly a couple's resort, Club Med Finolhu Villas' honeymoon packages (four days, three nights) start at $2,321 (usual $3,291) per adult for a Beach Villa and $2,547 (usual $3,614) for a Lagoon Villa. Plus, you get goodies like fresh flowers everyday, champagne, Club Med T-shirts, complimentary spa treatments, a discovery tour for two on a sunset cruise, a romantic dinner in your villa, and a portrait.
If you’re thinking of doing your pre-wedding photo shoots here, you'll have many locations to choose from, starting with your villa, the beach, jetty and so on.
Whatever you decide on, be prepared for a really romantic time with your partner, where you set the pace and choose the memories.
Fun facts about Club Med Finolhu Villas
. The entire resort runs primarily on solar power. All the toiletries are organic and drinking water comes in reusable glass bottles.
. Staff are referred to as GOs, while guests are called Gentle Members (GMs). This applies to all Club Med properties worldwide.
. You have free access to the activities and restaurants at the adjacent Club Med Kani Premium Resort.
. The best time for your trip: January to April.
. The Maldives is three hours behind Singapore.
. The currency used is Rufiyaa but other currencies, including Euros and US, Singapore and Australian dollars, and credit cards are accepted at Club Med.
. Maldivians speak Dhiveli and English.
. As Maldives is a strict Muslim country, please dress modestly and avoid drinking alcohol outside the resorts.
The Her World Brides team flew to Club Med Finolhu Villas (www.clubmed.com.sg) with Tiger Airways (www.tigerair.com). Special thanks to the airline crew and Cindy, Nazreen and the wonderful staff at Club Med Finolhu Villas for their warm hospitality.
This article was first published in Her World Brides June - August 2015.