16 to 24 June 2019
I was fortunate enough to be invited on an 8 Night trip to the Maldives with If Only…, visiting 4 of the Islands by Atmosphere Hotels.
I travelled out from Birmingham Airport with Turkish Airlines in Business Class, via Istanbul to Male. We flew out from Birmingham on one of their brand new aircrafts, the A321 which was a lovely aircraft with generous legroom in both economy and business, a very wide range of film choice and a good standard of food throughout.
We then arrived at Istanbul airport which recently opened in April 2019. I can honestly say it is the best airport I have ever been too, it is probably better described as a shopping mall with all the designer brands you could think of, huge duty free areas and enough eateries to please everyone. We then visited The Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge which was lovely, with a vast variety of food and drink options all freshly cooked in front of you and plenty of seating areas to chill out on before your ongoing flight.
Business Class was a great experience on the Istanbul—Male leg, with fully lie-flat seats that open into a 193 cm bed, including massage feature and power sockets. It was a lovely pleasant overnight flight and very comfortable! I found the staff were very attentive and the food choice was great.
4* OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli
On 17th June, we arrived into Male where we waited for our speedboat transfer to take us to our first island – the 4* OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli where we spent one night. This is a lovely small island with a very rustic feel and traditional Maldivian style. The staff here are superb and gave us a lovely welcome. The hotel benefits from an in-house reef which allows you to snorkel off the pier which was an amazing first time experience for myself! There are plenty of other water sports also available from the dive centre. Helengeli is a very simple but elegant resort with one main buffet restaurant and one a la carte option, one main bar and 2 pools including one adult only. There aren’t any children’s facilities at Helengeli so is more suited to couples looking for a relaxed atmosphere. The rooms are very simple but airy and clean with good facilities, I stayed in a Sunset Beach Villa which was great for being able to step out onto the beach from the villa and with lovely views, but other room types include Beach Villas and Lagoon Villas with Plunge Pools that are on stilts over the sea.
4*+ OBLU Select by Atmosphere at Sangeli
After our 1 night stay at Helengeli, we then boarded our second speedboat transfer for a 2 night stay at the lovely 4*+ OBLU by Atmosphere at Sangeli. This is such a beautiful island that recently opened in 2018, benefitting from 3 amazing restaurants, one buffet, one Vegetarian and one a carte which are included in the All Inclusive package (once per week for lunch or dinner). The bar area has a live DJ 3 times a week, which is great if you are looking for some entertainment of an evening. There are 2 lovely pool areas with one being adults only, a waterslide into the sea, kids club and stunning spa. Sangeli also offers various daytime activities including motorised and non-motorised water sports and also offers free bicycles for you to enjoy a bike ride around the island. The food at this island was particularly good especially at the buffet with a huge selection and live cooking stations with different themes every day. The a la carte – Just Grill, was one of the best meals I had whilst in the Maldives too, with steak and fish being the speciality. I thoroughly enjoyed this island as it has such a lovely vibe and great friendly atmosphere, appealing to young couples and families. Evenings tend to me more laid back in the Maldives so the DJ at the pool bar in the evening was brilliant and created a great atmosphere and is an added bonus. The Beach Villas here are clean and spacious with large bathroom and outdoor shower but other room types include Deluxe Beach Pool Villas, 2 Bedroom Beach Pool Suites, Water Villas with Pool and Honeymoon Villas.
5* Atmosphere Kanifushi
We then transferred back to Male Airport ready for our seaplane transfer to our third island, 5* Atmosphere Kanifushi. Whilst we waited for our seaplane to come in, we were transferred to the Atmosphere Kanifushi lounge at Male Airport, where we had refreshments and were able to relax, and make use of the free Wi-Fi. The seaplane transfer was a wonderful (and slightly terrifying!) experience, which took around 45 minutes from Male, allowing you to see a bird’s eye view of the gorgeous Indian Ocean and the various islands below. The seaplanes themselves are very compact and get very hot and there is a strict 20kgs luggage allowance pp. We arrived at Kanifushi to a very warm welcome by hotel staff, providing us with cool towels and handmade garlands. We were then taken by buggy to our Sunset Beach Villa which looked straight out onto Kanifushi’s long sandy beach. Our room, which was a Sunset Beach Villa, was very spacious with a huge outdoor bathroom and a large bed in the centre of the room looking out to the beach. Kanifushi is a large island so the resort has golf buggies driving around taking you to the restaurants, pools, the spa, and even your villa. Kanifushi benefits from a wide range of restaurant choices including The Spice Buffet Restaurant, Teppenyaki Grill (not included on All Inclusive), Ceylon Bliss (street food dining experience), The Sunset and Just Veg. I dined at The Spice and The Sunset, with The Sunset being my favourite purely down to its relaxed atmosphere and stunning views! The adult’s only pool is located next to the Adults Only pool which was a lovely relaxed area with infinity pool looking out across the Indian Ocean. (This is also a great spot to watch the seaplanes coming in!). The resort has plenty going on during the day at the Clubhouse Sport and Recreation Centre, various water sports at the Dive Centre including a daily snorkelling excursion, as well as local island visits. Evening entertainment includes mini disco for the children, karaoke and live DJ nights. Kanifushi offers Sunset Beach Villas, Sunset Pool Villas, Family Villas and Junior Suites, with brand new Water Villas currently being built.
5* OZEN at Maadhoo
Once we had flown back from Kanifushi to Male, we then boarded our next speedboat to take us to our final stop – Ozen at Maadoo. I would definitely say that we saved the best until last…One word I would use to describe Ozen….WOW! We were welcomed with open arms by the management team, butlers and various staff members to a cold bottle of Champagne and fresh strawberries with cream. We were then taken to a check in area where our champagne was promptly topped up and we all enjoyed a foot massage by the spa team. Each room was allocated a butler at our disposal during our stay, who took us to our rooms. Again… WOW! I was lucky enough to enjoy a 2 Bedroom Earth Villa with Private Pool where you can step out onto the beach and enjoyed a sunset view each evening. The in room minibar is refreshed twice a day, with Moet and Tattinger Champagne included. Restaurants here are second to none, the main buffet restaurant – The Palms – offers fresh sushi, fresh fruit stations, vegetarian cart, live cooking stations and the widest selection of meats and fish freshly cooked to order. In the evenings, The Palms offers a menu to select your Starter and Main course from, with the buffet also available for extras and deserts should you wish. We also dined at the Indo Ceylon South Asian Restaurant where we enjoyed Sri-Lankan, Maldivian and Indian cuisine, whilst here our waiter selected a few dishes for us all to try which I thoroughly enjoyed and meant that we got to try a wide variation of foods. The Peking restaurant is one we didn’t get time to try, but offers Chinese cuisine and is open for dinner in the evenings. If you really want to be ‘wowed’ during your stay here, the M6M restaurant is a must. This is an underwater restaurant which is open for lunch and dinner, the restaurant has large sofa style seating made for 2 people looking out to the large windows at the marine life surrounding you. There is a lovely cosy and intimate feel here, definitely one for a special occasion! During the day, there is the option to dine at The Palms buffet or make use of the Pool Side menu if you don’t fancy a trip to the restaurant. We also visited the Gin Bar with many flavours on offer and a gin cocktail menu too. This is located above the main bar by the pool area, with the pool bar having a huge selection of cocktails, beers and spirits and of course as much Moet and Tattinger as you like! Daytime activities at Ozen include sunset fishing trips, snorkelling, non-motorized water sports and also Ozen’s very own submarine excursion available at an extra supplement. Golf buggies are also available constantly at Ozen, although if you wanted to walk you were never too far away from the restaurants, bars or pool areas. Evenings are more relaxed at Ozen, 3 times a week there is a live DJ but does not go on too late and created more of a chilled vibe. On a Sunday, the DJ plays during the day around the pool and so Sunday evening is a relaxed one. There are other room types here including Wind Villas with or without a pool and the most amazing room – The Ozen Residence. This is a three bedroom suite at the top of the pier with a stunning 35m2 overwater pool, gym, kitchen area, outdoor dining, private bathrooms for every bedroom and netted sunbathing platform over the ocean.
Jessica Williams – Hinckley Office –