The Amazing Maldives
Since we spent the better part of the summer either getting ready to move or getting settled after moving, we decided to take one last getaway before school started. We debated and debated as to where to go…and had thought we were settled on either Portugal or Croatia. We wanted to relax, though, since this summer had been anything but…and would we just be running on a schedule if we visited another European city?
My husband was playing around on the internet one day, trying to come up with a better idea than our initial thoughts when he came across a very cheap fare using AAdvantage award miles that would get us from Paris to the Maldives in business class on Etihad Airways. The Maldives have been on our bucket list for quite some time, so needless to say that after some quick research to make sure we could find a hotel, we jumped on this opportunity.
Our flight on Etihad was fun (I haven’t said that about a flight in a while). Our first leg was the “long” one…Paris to Abu Dhabi in about 6 1/2 hours. We watched movies, drank champagne, and visited the lounge onboard the plane. We had a very long layover in Abu Dhabi to connect to Malé (the main airport in the Maldives), so we did some shopping, and ate dinner at the Etihad lounge in the airport. Our next flight was a redeye, and since it was only 4 hours, it made the next day a little rough as we were all quite tired. Once we arrived in the Maldives, we were met outside customs by a representative from our hotel, the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, who escorted us to check in with Trans Maldavian Airways for our seaplane flight to Sirru Fen Fushi.
The seaplane was an interesting experience…and the scenery was obviously beautiful as we were flying. I was admittedly a bit nervous of the whole sea plane process, so I was very glad when we landed the plane, and were safe on dry land!
The Fairmont itself was lovely. We chose a Sunset Beach Villa (instead of an over water villa) because Belinda is terrified of fish swimming with her in the ocean. We figured if she could look down through the bathroom floor, or peek off the deck, and see thousands of fish swimming (or a shark), she may never get in the water! It turned out to be a nice choice…I quite liked having the beach just out our back door, without the need to go to the main beach area to enjoy it. In the over water villas, you still have your own pool and private entry into the water…but getting in the water is going down stairs into a deep part of the ocean rather than just wading in and getting your feet wet. We also had the “bonus” of hundreds of little hermit crabs living on the beach behind our villa, which provided hours of entertainment for the kids! Ha!
The experience at a resort in the Maldives is quite different than other beach resorts that we have been to. Obviously, you are on a private island, so everything that you do revolves around the resort. You do not have an option to travel to a different area for restaurants or shopping…you are limited to what is at the resort. As most of these resorts aren’t huge, you have a limited selection of restaurants (we had 3). We were only there for 5 nights, but I could see how if you were staying 2 or 3 weeks, you might get tired of the food options…even though the food was pretty good overall (especially the seafood and the curries).
The resort had a lot of activities for guests to take part in. Fern and Kenneth went snorkeling several times (Belinda and I didn’t join due to the aforementioned fear of fish). Kenneth and I rode the “fun tube” pulled behind the jet ski. Fern and Kenneth rented jet skis and explored around the island. We did a sunset dolphin cruise one night. We could have done guided snorkels or scuba diving classes, but we’ll save that for another adventure. We kept the trip short simply because we didn’t have a lot of time to travel (we had to be in Paris for appointments at the Prefecture to get my residence permit and the kids’ resident cards), but I definitely could have spent a few more days enjoying the island. No one was quite ready to leave.
Because of the location of the Maldives, you get an interesting mix of guests at the resorts there. There were Muslims, Europeans, Australians, Americans, Chinese, Indians…the list goes on and on. One night, the activities staff had all the families together playing games on the beach after dinner…and everyone got along. We were laughing, talking, getting to know one another and each other’s families. There was no tension – other than friendly competition between teams. No one pushed their views or ideologies on others. No one treated anyone as “less than” anyone else. We are often given the message in our world today that people who don’t fit our mold should be avoided…or worse, feared. But deep down, we are all the same. We love our families. We work hard and want to enjoy our vacations. We like to laugh. Differences only exist in the minds of those who want to divide us. Sure, my hair or skin color might be different. I might speak a different language. I might worship God differently. However, we are all much more similar than we are different. While the Maldives was gorgeous and an experience worth having simply for the beauty…the real lesson I hope my kids take home with them is to remember that.
This may have been our first visit to the Maldives, but it most certainly will not be the last. It is truly one of the most magical places on earth.