The Maldives is one of those destinations you probably want to bookmark for a special occasion –think honeymoon or a wedding anniversary – and with good reason. After all, holidaying in this idyllic paradise in the Indian Ocean, with its picture-perfect islands and pristine blue waters, can be an expensive affair, given that it’s often billed as a reserve for ultra-luxury getaways.
So what’s encouraging millennial travellers to indulge in the quintessential Maldives holiday, without the hefty price tag? A string of new resorts are now opening up across the island nation, offering trendy, stylish accommodation, and designed with millennials in mind. These are premium, yet, relatively affordable on the pocket and offer a similar, if not equal experience as their luxurious counterparts – think, glass bottomed over-water villas, private plunge pools and Instagram-worthy set-ups. This is the new market for accessible luxury in the Maldives and it’s where properties like Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort, seem to fit in neatly.
Located on Kooddoo Island in the Southern atolls, fringed by some of the clearest blue waters in the Indian Ocean, the resort is the first property to be launched by French hospitality firm, Accor, in the Maldives. And in a departure from its global positioning (as a mid-scale brand), you’ll find that this all-villa resort is equal parts boutique and upscale.
Getting here requires a domestic airplane transfer from the capital city Male, but its secluded location is worth it. The open-plan property offers a clean, contemporary aesthetic punctuated by colourful accents and the use of eco-friendly, sustainable elements. Set amidst lush foliage are 25 beach villas, that are located just footsteps away from the crystal clear water and powder white beach, while 43 over-water villas strung across the turquoise blue lagoon, frame the infinite blue background. Take our advice and opt for one of the over-water sunset pool villas, from which you can enjoy sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. Whether you unwind on your private sundeck or soak in your open-air bathtub, it’s the perfect vantage point from which to watch blush-hued and fiery sunsets.
Your first agenda should be to get into the deliciously blue water for a spot of snorkelling with colourful coral fish, baby reef sharks and sting rays that find harbour in the tranquil waters of the lagoon. Or, if like some of us, you prefer whiling away lazy mornings by the poolside with a tall drink, you can do that too.
Let the slow pace of island life dictate how you spend your days. Whether it’s cruising with dolphins in a traditional dhoni, or island hopping as you watch the sea turn several shades of blue. The waters in this atoll are some of the most pristine in the Maldives, and there are several dive sites to explore, where you can encounter gentle whale sharks, manta rays and sea turtles. If you’re lucky, you can spot the elusive spinner sharks as well. The resort is home to a PADI-certified dive and water sports centre, so rest assured, you’ll have plenty of guidance beforehand. For the more serious enthusiasts, the island of Fuvahmulah, located further away, offers some of the best diving opportunities this side of the Maldives, where you can marvel at tiger sharks, beautiful coral gardens and shipwrecks.
Once you’re done with a day of adventure, grab cocktails and tapas at Vistas, the resort’s over-water restaurant for a laid back evening, unwind with a yoga session on the pool deck, or, get a marine body wrap at the Suvadiva Spa to pamper your senses. If the resort isn’t enough, you can choose to picnic or dine at a deserted sandbank in the middle of the ocean that will give you all the exotic island vibes you’re looking for.
And if you ever tire of the infinite blues surrounding you (trust us, you won’t) then head over to visit one of the local islands, where time seems to stand still. Here, the friendly locals will welcome you for a traditional home cooked meal and warm conversation.
There’s no denying Maldives’ appeal as a bucket list destination. And for discerning Indian travellers looking for a holiday close to home – the visa-on-arrival scheme, direct flights from major Indian metros (Airlines like GoAir fly direct from Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru) to Male, and year-round sunny, tropical vibes makes this island nation fit the bill.
So, if you’ve been wanting to book that much awaited holiday to the Maldives, now is the time.