One of my favourite one-liners is Tim Vine’s “I went on a holiday of a lifetime - never again.”

The Maldives is definitely a dream destination that most of us will only ever get to visit once but the good news is, there’s no way you’ll regret it. The brochures don’t lie. The Maldives really are the ultimate desert-island idylls. Each has dazzling white sands, topped with a buzz cut of coconut palms and fronted by an iconic tiffany blue lagoon.

"The Maldives is definitely a dream destination - there's no way you'll regret it."

Susan D'Arcy, Luxury Travel Writer from The Sunday Times

And that’s not even the best thing about them - their crowning glory is that there is ridiculously little to do. There’s none of that usual tourist guilt about not having the energy to drag yourself out to visit that must-see museum or finding an excuse to cry off a three-hour stuffy coach ride to see some touching memorial. In the Maldives, there are no tourist attractions - a cultural outing is naming and shaming the Germans who sneak out first thing to put their towels on the sun beds.

"The hardest thing you will do is struggle into a wetsuit to snorkel or scuba dive for a couple of hours in the morning."

Susan D'Arcy, Luxury Travel Writer from The Sunday Times

With excursions off the agenda, you are free to relax. The hardest thing you will do is struggle into a wetsuit to snorkel or scuba dive for a couple of hours in the morning. I’ve been to the Great Barrier Reef, the Red Sea, Africa and the Caribbean and nowhere, other than possibly Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef, comes close to the Maldives for incredible corals and colourful fish. But Ningaloo has little in the way of stylish resorts whereas the Maldives is stuffed with luxurious hideaways that all offer top-notch pampering potential.

I’ve just visited 10 island-resorts with Kuoni, which takes my Maldivian tally overall up to 25. That’s still way behind Kuoni’s excellent destination manager Emma Woodward but enough for us to compare notes and agree that the spas here are first rate. One of the most impressive is at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru. Each treatment room is huge and so beautiful that just stepping inside feels like a form of therapy. All have an undercover area where you can have rubs and scrubs as well as an outdoor sala with its own massage tables, surrounded by pretty gardens. Its perceptive ayurvedic doctors will diagnose your dosha and advise you about what foods to eat and what forms of exercise would be most effective for you. Speaking of which, I loved its AntiGravity Yoga classes.

It is a hot new craze in the United States and I tried it first in Chicago but I was thrilled to have another chance to try it, especially as this time it was al fresco in a jungle setting. Students uses silk hammocks to help them achieve various yoga positions. Within minutes, I was suspended upside like a bat. It was amazingly good fun and I could feel it stretching my spine out too. If you see it on a spa menu, I thoroughly recommend you try it.

Landaa Giraavaru is a beautiful resort but it is pretty pricey. For a good, affordable spa experience, you could do a lot worse than the all-inclusive Kuramathi Island Resort (but excludes spa treatments, sadly). The spa here has 13 treatment rooms, all very pretty but bag the gorgeous overwater pavilion where you can have couples treatments, while looking out over a mirror-calm ocean, very soothing. The spa also has a steam bath, a Finnish sauna and rainforest showers, a great relaxation area and a hair salon because sea-swimming and sun equal bad hair days that can put the arrrggghhh into R&R if you’re not careful.


Islands of dazzling white sand and turquoise waters as far as the eye can see, the Maldives is everything you've seen in the brochures and more.

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Indian Ocean & Arabia 2020/21