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Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi: a destination in paradise

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By Matt G. He is a young professional from the United States with a background in arts and education. Matt loves to travel the world in search of beautiful destinations and unique travel experiences. He also enjoys cycling, writing and photography. He is also a writer for The Joys of Traveling.

Maldives Promotion House – Have you ever had a dream so real that when you woke up it took you a few minutes to realize it wasn’t? Well, as I sit here back in my day to day routine, having just come from the reality of the Maldives I have a similar feeling. It is not that my experience was imaginative, but kind of surreal. This is the first time that both prior to and after a travel experience I have vivid images of an unbelievable place racing through my mind. When speaking about the Maldives images of fantastic island destinations come to mind. The place is characterized by picture perfect scenes of the gentlest and soothing shades of white powdered sands and sea colors from deep blue to glowing sapphire. If one is tempted to think that photos like this are retouched, I can assure you they are not. The Maldives are thousands of little islands gathered into many atolls and each one offers scenes of resplendent beauty. That is why every hotel in these parts has developed its own piece of paradise. The setting in such pristine and surreal surroundings is the primary inspiration for the overall greatness one can expect to find. From these majestic views each of the hotels have created a sensorial journey all inside one compact destination. I had the pleasant opportunity to savor one such slice of paradise recently: The Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort and Spa.

The best way I can begin to describe this experience is by relating just how unique it was getting here. Maldives is not something you just up and go to. Even if you have the resources to decide to go at any time, it is a far away place and requires at least some planning to arrive. The flight to Male is quite far. I couldn’t help but realize that I was on a large aircraft headed for what seemed like tiny specks of land in a huge ocean. Upon arrival in the international airport, the journey was just beginning. The next step on the trip was a sea plane transfer to my destination of choice. Waiting in the Hilton lounge at the seaplane terminal was a great introduction to the hospitality and luxury I could expect at the destination. The lounge is spacious and has an atmosphere of relaxation and quiet. There are comfortable sofa beds on which you can enjoy views of the seaplane harbor or watch any range of television, all the while enjoying a wide selection of snacks and drinks. The attentive staff are sure to make you feel welcome and will even give you a massage to help you enter your next flight unburdened and carefree. The seaplane experience was a great thrill, especially if one loves flying like I do. In our modern age of jumbo liners and lengthy check in processes it was a delight to simply get on board and go. It felt like a real throwback to the early years of aviation, the golden years of just fifteen passengers and low flying over a tropical seascape. Forty five minutes later I had arrived to my first taste of heaven on earth.

Disembarking the seaplane I was immediately met on the jetty by an employee assigned to be my host. I didn’t have a single care for my bags as they were carefully whisked away to my room. After enjoying a complementary welcome drink in the Water’s Edge Bar by the lagoon, my personalized hotel representative (who would be my easily reachable contact for the entire stay) speedily checked me in and gave me an interactive orientation of the hotel, the island and all the facilities via ipad. I was then shown to my room, a deluxe seaside villa. What does a mansion in heaven look like you may be asking? Well, first there is a beach, you know the one you’ve seen gracing the covers of countless travel magazines since they were first put in print. And what a view it is. The layout is perfect from your beachfront gazebo to your covered villa porch right to the master bed, there is a clear line of sight to that iconic space where land and sea meet with overwhelming grace and charm. The villa itself is a large structure with a rounded shape. The interior has high ceilings made of delicate wood and the floors and walls are a series of relaxing shades of white and cream colors. The bed is soft and large and it is complemented on one side by a pillowed sitting area built into the wall and on the other by a spacious desk space and minibar. The room comes equipped with internet and a great entertainment system. Behind you villa is perhaps the gem of the whole masterpiece, your own private garden and relaxation area. This outdoor area is where the shower and bathroom facilities are located too. Indulge in your own backyard I spa as your open garden space is enclosed with high walls, a gazebo bed and a Jacuzzi for round the clock relaxation. The villa is a perfect getaway with all the pleasures one could hope for under one roof.

The hotel itself has an amazing layout. There is good use of space over the whole island of Iru Fushi without ever disrupting the natural feel of the dense tropical vegetation and the wide beaches and lagoons maintained by mother nature. Each morning I would savor the barefoot walk either along the beach or through the interior footpaths to the Iru Restaurant where a sumptuous breakfast was served. I found as well that there several lodging options on the island. There are beach villas, deluxe beach villas, overwater bungalows and a couple specialty retreats like celebrity, hidden and aqua.  The overwater bungalows are an exceptional way to enjoy a holiday by living above the calming sea.

For an island so remote and relatively small the infrastructure is stunning and the variety is impressive. There are several restaurants and bars on the island and their menus are as extensive as anyone would find in a major city. There is even an impressive wine cellar with a sizable collection. Those who have a Hilton Gold membership can expect a complementary happy hour on the beach every night and a gift of a bottle of wine for the room among other benefits. The hotel facilities are varied and impressive. There is luxury shopping, recreation facilities, a library, a kids center, a family pool and a serene adults only pool as well. For sports there is a tennis and a badminton court, a golf simulator and a gym. The gym would be the one flaw that I found in my entire experience here. It is quite small and the machines are outdated, it could definitely use some upgrading.

Water sports are a must at the beach and there are ample opportunities for them here. It would be a shame to come all this way and not to get out into some of the world’s most pristine waters. If Maldives is beautiful above the surface then what’s below is certainly the other half of that equation. Here in the turquoise reefs one will find untouched corals and scores of fish and aquatic life. The dive center is a great way to suit up and head out to sea or even to learn to dive. One can also borrow snorkeling gear from the hotel here, something I enjoyed doing every day. The water sports center offers all non motorized sports like windsurfing kayaking and much more complimentary and one can rent any number of motorized excursions like wakeboarding, jet skiing and big game fishing during the day.

The Spa is a focal point for the hotel so much so that it makes up part of the official name. The Spa is like a resort within the resort. The setting is in the central area of the island where one can splash into refreshing privacy and undergo a real rejuvenation. The entrance to the spa is a unique pathway that winds through a mysterious garden and opens up into a tranquil atrium of pleasant smells and cooler temperatures under a lush canopy. There are steam and sauna areas, hot and cold plunge pools and a whole selection of private villas for massage and therapy treatments all in view of nature’s finest displays.

The best thing I have taken from my experience of the Maldives is that heaven can really be a place on earth. The reality is that there are lots of opportunities to experience the luxury and comforts of the Maldives, but every experience is unique and each island is heavenly not only because it exists, but because you are there to enjoy it. I am glad to have found my piece of heaven, a place that I was able to marvel at and experience all in one. The Hilton Maldives was my taste of heaven on earth and I can assure you that it is waiting to welcome and wow you as well.

 

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Utheemu Ganduvaru: Portal to Maldives’ national freedom

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The Maldives, often celebrated for its sun-kissed beaches and turquoise waters, also offers a rich tapestry of history and culture waiting to be explored. Among the islands of Haa Alif Atoll lies Utheemu Island, home to Utheemu Ganduvaru, a historical treasure that invites travellers to delve into the storied past of the archipelago.

Utheemu Ganduvaru, the ancestral home of Muhammad Thakurufaanu, stands as a poignant reminder of the Maldives’ fight for independence. Thakurufaanu, revered as a national hero, led a successful campaign against Portuguese occupation in the 16th century. His childhood home, Utheemu Ganduvaru, offers a rare glimpse into the life and times of this legendary figure.

In 1558, the Portuguese invaded the Maldives, killing the Sultan in battle and establishing their rule. Muhammad Thakurufaanu and his brothers, Ali and Hassan, left for Minicoy to prepare a campaign to liberate their country. The boat they built, Kalhuohfummi, was crucial to their efforts. Thakurufaanu and his brothers fought the Portuguese for eight years, landing on different islands under cover of night to evade capture, and departing before daybreak. Eventually, they landed in Malé and defeated the Portuguese leadership in the capital. Freed from Portuguese rule, the people chose Muhammad Thakurufaanu as their Sultan.

Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu ruled the Maldives for 12 years until his death in 1585. He is remembered as a considerate and just ruler, concerned for the well-being of even the poorest citizens. He is also credited with establishing the country’s first formal military unit.

Back at Utheemu Island, visitors are immediately struck by the island’s tranquil beauty and its lush, green landscape. The journey to Utheemu Ganduvaru is a step back in time, where the echoes of history are palpable. The residence itself, a traditional wooden palace, is meticulously preserved, showcasing the architectural ingenuity and cultural richness of the period.

As you enter Utheemu Ganduvaru, the simplicity and elegance of the structure are apparent. Built from timber, the palace is a fine example of traditional Maldivian craftsmanship. The intricate woodwork, with its detailed carvings and polished surfaces, speaks volumes about the artisanship that flourished during Thakurufaanu’s time.

The main hall, with its open layout and cool, shaded interiors, offers a sense of serenity and reflection. It was within these walls that Thakurufaanu spent his formative years, and each room tells a story of his early life and the influences that shaped his destiny. The residence includes living quarters and storage spaces, all arranged in a manner that reflects the daily life of a prominent Maldivian family in the 16th century.

One of the most compelling aspects of Utheemu Ganduvaru is its connection to the larger narrative of Maldivian resistance against foreign rule. Guides at the site often recount tales of Thakurufaanu’s daring exploits and strategic brilliance. His knowledge of the archipelago’s intricate waterways and his leadership in naval battles are celebrated as key factors in the successful expulsion of the Portuguese in 1573.

Beyond its historical significance, Utheemu Ganduvaru offers visitors a deeper understanding of Maldivian culture and heritage. The site is a testament to the resilience and unity of the Maldivian people, embodying values that continue to inspire. For travellers, a visit to Utheemu Ganduvaru is an opportunity to connect with the soul of the Maldives, experiencing the essence of its history and the spirit of its people.

While on Utheemu Island, visitors can explore other points of interest, such as the island’s beaches and vibrant local community. Engaging with the locals offers additional insights into Maldivian traditions and hospitality, enriching the overall experience.

For those seeking a journey through time, Utheemu Ganduvaru in Haa Alif Atoll is a destination that should not be missed. It is a place where the past comes alive, where the legacy of a hero continues to resonate, and where the true essence of the Maldives can be discovered. As you walk through the halls of Utheemu Ganduvaru, you are not just a visitor; you are a part of a historical journey that defines the Maldivian identity.

So, when planning your next visit to the Maldives, venture beyond the beaches and dive into the rich history of these islands. Let Utheemu Ganduvaru be the highlight of your cultural exploration, offering a meaningful and memorable connection to the heart of Maldivian heritage.

Cover photo: Andreas Faessler

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Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives among the best hotels of 2024

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Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives has been named one of the world’s best hotels according to TripAdvisor, placing it among the top 10% globally.

This island paradise boasts a prime location just 13 kilometers from Malé, the capital of the Maldives. Reachable by a quick 20-minute speedboat ride, Cinnamon Dhonveli offers both accessibility and an abundance of activities.

Surfers flock to the world-famous Pasta Point break, while divers and beach lovers can also enjoy the vibrant underwater world and pristine sands. This exciting island caters to a variety of interests, making it a popular destination in the Maldives.

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts’ summer campaign is the perfect opportunity to experience this paradise. Whether you crave adventure, culinary delights, or encounters with marine life, there’s something for everyone. Bookings of four nights or more come with a complimentary transfer and your choice of two exciting benefits:

  • Explore the vibrant capital with a Malé City Excursion.
  • Embark on a Dolphin Watching trip for an unforgettable encounter.
  • Savor a romantic four-course Beach Dinner under the stars.
  • Relax and rejuvenate with a 45-minute Spa Treatment.
  • Create lasting memories with the “1 Kid Stays Free” offer.

Don’t miss your chance to tick this dream destination off your bucket list. Visit Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives and discover why it’s among the best hotels in the world!

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Nika Island Resort & Spa offers unmatched privacy with private beach villas

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Nika Island Resort & Spa is redefining the tropical getaway with its exclusive private beach villas. This luxurious resort stands out as the only one in the Maldives offering all guests who book these exquisite accommodations direct access to a secluded stretch of beach.

Nika Island Resort’s allure lies in its unwavering commitment to providing an unparalleled experience. Their private beach villas cater to the most discerning travelers, offering a sanctuary of tranquility and luxury against the stunning Maldivian backdrop.

Guests choosing these exclusive villas are treated to unparalleled privacy and personalized service. From the moment they step onto the pristine sands of their private beach, meticulous attention to detail ensures every whim and desire is catered to.

The resort’s private beaches transform into secluded havens where guests can unwind and soak in the Maldives’ natural beauty. Imagine romantic sunset strolls, refreshing dips in crystal-clear waters, or simply basking in the sun on a plush lounger – all in complete privacy.

While these private beach villas may come at a premium, the unparalleled level of luxury, exclusivity, and personalized service they offer make them a worthwhile investment for travelers seeking an unforgettable escape.

Nika Maldives sets itself apart with a truly unique experience by seamlessly blending unparalleled luxury, exclusivity, and privacy with the Maldives’ natural beauty.

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