We sat back and took in the view. A palm fringed, blindly white, sandy beach spread before us, then nothing but the deep blue Indian ocean stretching all the way to the horizon and beyond.
We’ve always enjoyed celebrating birthdays and anniversaries abroad. We try for somewhere different each time to add to that memory bank and this year to celebrate my daughter’s 30th, we plumped the beautiful Maldives and boy, were we glad we did.
The string of idyllic islands spread down the Indian Ocean has always been on our bucket list but we had never quite got around to it before now.
It can be overwhelming to choose from the dozens upon dozens of islands. Some are family friendly, others exclusive adult-only escapes while there are also those for the adrenaline junkies and some for those looking for nothing but sheer escapism and pampering.
For us Velassaru ticked all the boxes and much more! This beautiful sapphire shaped resort is just 25 minutes from Male airport (some resorts require an additional flight by sea plane). The excitement mounted as we got into the speed boat which whisked us what would be our home for the 8 days.
And we weren’t disappointed as we were greeted by a welcoming team of staff, blue skies, azure seas and white sand.
The resort is contemporary and chic in style and complete with all the luxury amenities. It has five restaurants, a spa, a full-sized gym, a dive centre and even a tennis court. There’s also free WiFi throughout the entire island, though some areas had low signal.
With 129 bungalows on water and land to choose from, we splashed out on a water bungalow with pool, well, this was a celebration after all.
Wow, we felt like superstars as we bathed on our large sundeck with its steps down into the lagoon for snorkelling and its own private pool.
The floor to ceiling folding glass doors gave us views of the blue Indian Ocean, even from the bathroom!
Inside was a huge comfortable bed and a lounge area, additional luxury amenities include a personal wine chiller (cheers!), Nespresso coffee machine, home theatre system with Bluetooth audio streaming and my favourite L’Occitane bath products.
The island is truly idyllic and so, so stunning. We never tired of craning our necks to look at the various views as we walked around, wandering between the bungalows and villas, spotting lizards, fish and bats, and checking the amazing ocean from every spot on the island.
As you can imagine water sports are extremely popular, including my favourite, kayaking but here they have taken it to a whole new level – with transparent glass bottom kayaks. You can also rent snorkel gear and just walk right into the water, or you can arrange for private tours that will take you to various reefs and other islands.
In fact, you will soon find out anything is possible at Velassaru, whether you want to search for dolphins, go fishing, or escape to a private island.
But that wasn’t why we had come to the Maldives. We came to relax and our time was filled with snoozing on the sand with the occasional spot of snorkelling in the turquoise waters. Our daily companions were a baby blacktip shark (totally harmless) and a bird that decided to take our space one afternoon.
The Infinity pool, with a white sand break between the pool and the sea, which made it look like a sand bar, was just fantastic and a perfect place to cool down, have a swim and relax.
When it comes to dining, mealtimes blur into one another when you’re in the Maldives, as you get into a wonderful cycle of eating, sleeping, swimming and sunbathing.
Velassaru does not disappoint with regard to food especially when they found out that my husband was a vegetarian. Chef Nagi from Egypt went above and beyond and created some amazing dishes.
Vela, the main restaurant, is the perfect place to enjoy dishes from the interactive buffet and live cooking stations (open for breakfast and dinner).
But our favourites were Turquoise for lunch which serves International cuisine, Teppanyaki which is located on an idyllic spot over the lagoon and serves (surprise surprise) Japanese cuisine with a creative twist, and Sand, where you can enjoy dishes inspired by the Indian Ocean on candlelit tables dotted along the beach. Set right on the water’s edge, shoes are optional.
There are also two fabulous bars. Fen Bar is cool and minimalistic with mood lighting and chilled music, and the place to relax with a cocktail and shisha. But for drinks in an even more beautiful setting, head to Chill Bar at the water’s edge and grab yourself one of the chic daybeds overlooking the ocean.
Leave the expensive clothes and the heels at home, you can wear what you like anywhere in the resort. Be cool, relaxed and comfortable.
One afternoon we indulged in a couples’ massage and it was the perfect bit of extra relaxation. The spa area is set on over-water pavilions offering all the classic treatments in its ten treatment rooms.
After our session we spent some time in the hydro-pool just taking in the stunning views and splendour of our surroundings.
You might think this all sounds like heaven – and it was – and that it couldn’t possibly get any better. But then you haven’t heard yet about watching movies under the stars or enjoying a complimentary morning cruise, guided snorkelling tour and group yoga at the Chill Bar.
I still can’t believe this was our first time to the Maldives! But believe me with unspoiled luxury, glorious white sand beaches, turquoise water, excellent accommodation and food at Velassaru, it certainly won’t be our last.
This is one memory that won’t fade. Happy birthday Jazzy!