As if the alluring desert oasis of Dubai wasn't enough, Travel Associates consultants Rachael Cloros, Peter Finch and Rachael Heelan were treated to five glorious days in the Maldives as guests of Club Med, Emirates Airlines and Arabian Adventures.
While the two holiday hotspots may seem a world apart in size and scale, there is a certain symmetry between the two glittering holiday destinations. Both offer the same level of style and sophistication, exclusive 5-star resorts in which to unwind, warm sea waters in which to frolic, and of course, picturesque beaches.
Add to that the many activities on offer, and each of these sunny beautiful destinations become more than just a restful place to unwind but a full blown adventurer’s paradise. We ask the three consultants why visiting the Maldives via Dubai makes for the perfect holiday itinerary.
Enjoying the Contrasting Character of Dubai
Today, Dubai is a major world metropolis, but not so long ago, it was little more than a sleepy fishing village, and it’s this Dubai of the past that Rachael Cloros and Peter found especially interesting.
"Experiencing the 'Old' Dubai on the City of Merchants Tour and visiting the first houses, the Dubai Museum, the spice markets and Gold Souks combined with the fragrant scents is really quite something to encounter,” explained Rachael Cloros. Peter also found the spice and gold souks to be quintessentially Dubai.
Rachael Heelan was drawn to the mystery and romance of the desert. "The Desert Safari is an authentic trip and gives you many of the natural desert highlights in one informative tour. There was dune bashing, camel riding, a falcon display, belly dancing, shisha pipe smoking and delicious Arabic food – and of course, the most amazing desert sunset!"
For Peter, Dubai presented itself as an adventurer’s paradise in other ways too, and one of his favourite was the observation level the Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest building. With a view from 124 floors up, the Burj offers stunning views of the city, the coast and entire Persian Gulf region.
Then it was on to Emirates Mall where Peter was able to enjoy some wintery diversions at the indoor ski centre. Boasting a ski and snowboarding run, the temperature controlled centre whisks skiers up the ‘hill’ on an actual resort style chair lift.
Not to be outdone, The Dubai Mall has its own form of entertainment. "I loved the Dubai Mall,” said Rachael Heelan. "It's the most amazing place and just huge! With an ice skating rink, aquarium, dancing fountain display that rivals Bellagio in Las Vegas and of course, incredible shopping, it's virtually a city within itself!"
Best of all, getting around the city is a breeze. With 'Hop On, Hop Off' city Bus tours, a city rail network and plenty of taxis to call on, visitors can easily navigate the expansive city without having to hire a car.
Soon, Peter and the two Rachael's were on their way to the Maldives on Emirates' direct service from Dubai. "This picture postcard destination offers some truly indulgent and exclusive properties whilst also being quite easy to get to with some quality, full-service carriers like Emirates," said Rachael Cloros.
While you won't find large urban centres filled with massive shopping malls or man-made entertainment facilities, the Maldives is no less as enchanting and in fact complements the holiday experience. This is definitely a destination with an emphasis on outdoor recreation, typically centred around the relaxing atmosphere of the 5-star resort.
Natural Wonders of the Maldives Impress
Snorkelling, diving, sailing and fishing in the crystal clear turquoise waters are some of the top highlights in the Maldives. "The marine life is quite incredible," said Rachael Heelan. "I haven't seen so many varied types of fish anywhere. A turtle and a huge eagle ray swam right past us."
The long white sand beaches are so pristine that they seem to be previously undiscovered. With scenes like this, it's no surprise that the most popular accommodation types are the beach villa and overwater bungalow. To their delight, the Travel Associates trio had the opportunity to stay at two Club Med properties – Club Med Kani and Club Med Finohlu.
Club Med Kani
With no time to waste, Peter wanted to take advantage of the many outdoor recreational activities provided at Club Med Kani. Impressed with the offerings, Peter found he could take his pick between sailing, jet skiing, even yoga and a twice a week cooking class. After working up an appetite spending a day in the sun, guests can choose between the restaurant and a more casual al a carte dining option.
Rachael Cloros found the pool to be on the small side for a resort of this size, but overall, appreciated that this was a well rounded family resort with evening entertainment and a child friendly atmosphere. Another highlight at Kani is their collection of 5-star overwater villas. The luxury appointments and stunning views provide a truly unique experience.
Club Med Finolhu Villas
Situated on the private island of Gasfinolhu, the trio spent the next several days enjoying the stylish tropical setting of Club Med Finolhu Villas. Conveniently located on an island not far from Malé, it’s just a 40 minute speed boat ride from the airport, and according to Rachael Heelan, well worth the visit.
"This is absolutely 5-Star accommodation. Whether it's a beach villa, sunrise overwater villa or a sunset overwater villa you won't be disappointed. You can organise to have breakfast delivered to your room which you can enjoy on your outdoor terrace or balcony as you watch an array of marine life swimming below. If you like, go straight down your stairs and join them for a swim!"
"For lunch, there are 4 stations each freshly cooking an entree and a main so you can choose whatever you want and have it prepared fresh. Dinner is a full degustation menu with choices for each course which will please all diners. It's a small island with just one restaurant, but it's a large space with incredible food and amazing views over the lagoon."
Rachael Cloros appreciated the villa amenities. "Every villa features its own terrace, private pool, super comfy king size bed, separate lounge and wet bar area and enormous indoor/outdoor bathrooms. The resort itself boasts a beautifully laid out pool and bar area, tennis court, fitness centre and of course a spa with open treatment rooms and amazing views.