For our honeymoon, my husband planned a two-destination itinerary. His theme? The most amazing trip, ever! He narrowed that down to two weeks in the Maldives and one on safari in Tanzania. It is only fitting that the resorts we stayed at during that phenomenal trip are the topics of my first and second Special Stays posts. Here’s the first one featuring the Lily Beach Resort and Spa.
Secluded, romantic, and stunningly beautiful, the Maldives is a dream honeymoon destination. It’s not an easy place to get to from North America – it took us 33 hours to get there from Miami. But the long travel time just adds to its allure, making it seem that much more far away and magical. The last leg of the journey, a seaplane from Male that flies over the resort and a short boat ride from the offshore dock, is especially exciting – like arriving at Fantasy Island.
The Maldives, consisting of 1,192 islands grouped in chains of 26 atolls spread over 298 square kilometers, is like no where else in the world. The islands are actually the tips of a vast underwater mountain range. The average ground level is only 1.5 m above sea level. So everywhere you look, it’s a sparkling blue vista of sea and sky. It’s a place that doesn’t seem like it could be real, as if the hues were photoshopped from a cerulean colour chart. But to paraphrase the classic Seinfeld line, the Maldives are real, and they are spectacular.
Lily Beach Resort encompasses the entire island of Huvahendhoo – all 100 by 550 metres of it. Villas are situated at the lagoon, on the beach or overwater — 119 in total. There are seven restaurants and bars (which I will describe separately in a Magical Meals feature); a work-out centre with the latest gym equipment; two pools; a sports complex with flood-lit tennis courts, billiards and beach volleyball; a fully certified dive centre for beginners and pros; watersports galore including snorkelling and jet blading; and an overwater spa featuring a myriad of massage and beauty treatments.
The Tamarind restaurant
We had the pleasure of staying at one of the overwater bungalows which feature a glass floor and a private deck and plunge pool. Everything we needed was here including a fully stocked bar fridge and wifi. Basically we spent most of our time on our perfect bungalow deck.
Gilles and I pride ourselves on our ability to do absolutely nothing and enjoy every second of it. But if you like to actually do stuff, the Maldives is home to some of the world’s best snorkelling and diving. You can snorkel right off your own deck or head out to deeper water on excursions organized by the resort’s scuba centre. Both options were out for me due to my extreme fear of sharks (I saw JAWS when I was six and have been traumatized ever since. To this day I cannot swim in the dark – even in a pool). To be fair, according to Shark Attack Database (you bet I checked!) there have been ZERO shark attacks in the Maldives since, well, ever, but nonetheless, I preferred to stay on land.
I have to add here that during my research for this post I read that Lily Beach has introduced an amazing addition to their water repertoire – a semi-submersible submarine! From the surface, the Penguin, as it is called, looks like an enclosed circular raft with a cover for sun protection. But below deck it’s a real-life aquarium with glass windows. One can sit, drink in hand, watching all the spectacular sea life without getting wet. You cannot appreciate my bitterness about missing out on this nautical ride.
We did venture out of our villa to the Tamara Spa for a couples’ massage and facials. As you lie on your stomach you can relax to the sight of colourful fish and sea life through the glass floors in the treatment rooms. It’s a wonderful experience that I highly recommend.
I should mention that when you stay in any of the villas you must take the all-inclusive Platinum Plan. It just makes sense on this tiny island – it’s not like you can pop into town to try some other dining options. We liked the fact that we didn’t have to take a wallet anywhere as most food, drinks and experiences fall under the plan. Even many excursions are part of it. Our favourite one was the sunset cruise on a dhoni boat which circumnavigates the island at sundown. After taking our seats on the top deck we were served champagne and delicious canapes then watched the sun set and the full moon rise over the Indian Ocean. Pure magic.
It was hard to pull ourselves away from this romantic paradise (the fact that we were headed to Tanzania afterward did help somewhat!). I was truly one of the most Special Stays of all our travels and a memory I will relive forever.
As always, I received no compensation or discount from Lily Beach Resort and Spa for this post. The opinions here are strictly my own.