I’m no stranger to the tropics, yet I’ve never seen a location more beautiful than the Maldives. I had two days to unwind at one of the world’s top rated resorts, the One&Only Reethi Rah. Arrived and checked in on my first day by my private villa valet, it was the second day I can only describe as ‘the best day of my life’. Travel writers try to avoid clichéd descriptions, although in this instance I’m going to make a few exceptions, so here goes. The beautiful opaque sparkling tropical turquoise-hued waters were indeed lapping on the whiter-than-white sand. Now that’s a whopper of a cliché and I kid you not – the word ‘spectacular’ has a new definition.
I love to exercise when I travel, be it on a pushbike, walking, running or swimming. You cover plenty of ground and that combination of adrenaline and new sights are a great inspiration. I also love to eat and drink the finest offerings available and I’m certainly not alone there. Having enjoyed a delicious dinner of sushi and sashimi with some delightful international wines last night at the island’s signature Japanese restaurant, Tapasake, the one nightcap I had seemed like a good idea at the time.
It’s now day two and I’m up with the sun, slightly hungover, yet revived by fresh coffee and rehydrated with plenty of water. I’m now ready to swim 500 metres across my clichéd-stunning and impossibly beautiful lagoon, at the front of my very spacious luxury private pool villa. The water is warm and my cobwebs dissolve having found my stroke above the white coral sands; colourful schools of fish are unfazed as I glide by. Invigorated yet short of breath, I flip onto my back then wade a bit in the salty buoyant Indian Ocean. Ah yes, it is the life as I finally emerge on the other side and crash on the powdery white sand and rest for a while. The hypnotic rays of the early sunshine are blissful and the distant drone of a seaplane traversing the Maldivian skies is soothing. I start to burn so its time to stroll back around the lagoon’s shoehorn white beach as I pass by two Chinese children playing with shells on the shoreline. No language is required; just a warm shared smile capturing our holiday moment with an understanding we’re all in a very special place. Moving by, I find a crab on its back frantic to right itself. Leaning down I assist, careful not to be thanked by a nasty nipper. It scurries back into the water, and I feel heartened by our fateful encounter and good deed early in the day.
The sun is now higher against the truest of blue skies and I’m back at my luxuriously-appointed villa where a large sea bird is perched poolside, as if part of a Truman Show-esque script by management to enhance the guest experience. Skinks scuttle across the hot sand as I’m washing my sandy feet. Sunscreen now applied and hat affixed, hunger starts to kick in, so I set out on my villa’s pushbike for a lazy peddle through the shady palm corridors and sandy green laneways criss-crossing the island’s tropical interior. The day’s warm breeze slowly introduces itself as I arrive at the signature restaurant where genuinely pleasant staff offer Arabic greetings and service with a hand drawn to their heart. Coffee ordered, I look around at my fellow guests – a vacationing community of Arabic, European, Indian and Asian extractions – and I’m reminded why I love to travel. All have come to relax within quintessential tropical surrounds with exceptional service, food, wine and the world-class hospitality that One&Only Resorts is renowned for. Oh – and I shouldn’t leave out every aquatic activity available under the sun.
Relaxing again having enjoyed my favourite breakfast, a very fine Eggs Benedict, another cup of coffee arrives to wash down indulgent fresh sweet pastries. If you’ve been in this job for long enough, a ‘buffet body’ is inevitable. With that in mind and after I’ve read the morning’s international news briefs printed on the island, I’m back on my bike and it’s time to burn calories in the knowledge that lunch looms. I know, what a cracking pace today is and I wonder how I’m going to survive another hour of this intolerable paradise, without sending in my resignation.
The island is completely flat and dissected in the middle with an elevated bridge above a narrow, pristine canal. With my bike back at my villa it’s time to walk the beach again and soak up the blue sky and tackle the swift current of this 100-metre waterway.
Making it through, I find myself on Reethi Rah’s largest beach and watch catamarans with colourful sails slide by on a now stronger breeze. The sun’s rays start to burn again, as I float on my back, letting the current sweep me into the lagoon. A concerned staff member stops on the bridge with a double take as I float on by. With a small wave of the hand he is reassured I’m not in danger. The current has taken me well into the lagoon now, so I swim back to my villa and find shade.
High and dry again and moulded into my shady hammock, tied between two palm trees, I start to read for 20 minutes then nap for a while until a text message from our gracious host invites me to lunch. Back on my pushbike, I meander through the palm trees finding myself again swirling along like a child who just discovered how to zig zag. I break into song, safe in the knowledge no one can hear my flat tones delivering Chicago’s classic, If You Leave Me Now, which is a sweet melancholic melody reminiscent of a great family beach holiday I enjoyed as a 10-year-old. It just popped into my head, an association of music with an old love or happy time gone by.
I find my fellow guests also smiling at lunch and why wouldn’t they be – we are all enjoying a similar day with nothing to do and everything to gain from our utopia. No question – I go straight for the wagyu gourmet cheeseburger, a rare indulgence I can’t resist, especially today. It hits the spot, in all its tasty glory, with a side of fries and an icy Corona beer to wash it down as we gaze at the blue horizon. Indeed, my second good deed for the day!
The sun is high in the sky now, after lazy conversation and more smiles amongst fellow guests, I’m back on my bike with a Spa appointment – my only fixed commitment that day. Phew, what a workload, how does one cope in such conditions? Lush lawn and ubiquitous shady palms surround the treatment rooms. I opt for a sports massage, and I’m twisted and prodded by an expert in the fine art of pleasure and pain who kneads me into soft dough from scalp to toe, then left to snooze a while. Moving right along, my hammock beckons after another lazy happy pushbike ride to my villa. It’s dreamy snooze time again, as I listen to a variety of bird life, one mellifluous song after another and charmed again by the Indian Ocean’s warm breeze.
Awake again and a few more chapters of my book later it’s time to witness the sun sinking into the pink and tangerine horizon, I can’t resist canapes and a cold beer, which appeared poolside as I napped. What a nice touch. The day’s sand and salt washed away in my villa’s well-appointed, twin-vanity bathroom, freshened and suitably resort attired, I’m ready for an Arabic-themed dinner by the beach, with an international smorgasbord of delights and delicacies and a belly dancer of distinct beauty. Impressed by a funky Arabic tune with an infectious base, she dazzles guests with her gyrations and shakings of every part of her body. It was a hypnotic performance and I remained her most dedicated audience.
It is very fitting that a perfect day should end with a full moon so bright it lit up the sky as we finished our last cocktails with the warm breeze still intact and some cool, soothing lounge music on the ear. Pushbike left behind as I never ‘drink and ride’; I’m chauffeured in a buggy back to my villa with turn-down service complete. All delicious sweets on both pillows consumed, my plush bed of the finest Egyptian cotton sheets ensured I slept blissfully through the night, in the knowledge my ‘lapping lagoon’ was waiting for me in the morning.
True contentment and happiness is rare in life and only a fleeting moment, however in my case, it lasted 24 hours. I am blessed. Reetha Rah’s very name is exotic and tropical ambience is abundant! Ok this is the last cliché. Dreams can come true. •
Photography by One&Only Reethi Rah and Shutterstock
Singapore Airlines has daily services out of all Australian major cities, connecting to Male via Singapore. singaporeair.com
From the airport it is a private transfer by luxury speedboat.
One&Only Reethi Rah
One&Only Reethi Rah is on Kaafu Atoll, one of the largest atolls in the Maldives. It has 128 Beach or Water Villas in varying categories including many with pools. All feature a dedicated Concierge and a thoughtful Villa Valet is just a phone call away.
• One&Only Reethi Rah: +960/664-8800; oneandonlyresorts.com
Where To Dine
• Reethi Restaurant: Casual open air, eclectic Asia Pacific, Mediterranean light cuisine. Also serves extensive buffet daily breakfast.
• Rah Bar: All day light healthy menu of salads, wraps and smoothies. Hip cocktails and suave martinis. Live evening music.
• Tapasake: Contemporised Japanese, innovative tapas style and Teppanyaki stations. Impressive list of Saké cocktails and full international wine list. Ambience: Elegance and sophistication so dress standards apply please.
• Fanditha: An Arabic chill-out lounge in the sand with day beds, hammocks and carpets. Chandeliers hang from the trees and there are shishas to smoke from. Select evenings, late night parties and DJ entertainment. Ambience: Cool exotica and relaxed.