A private island resort is the ultimate honeymoon dream and the Maldives archipelago has more of them than anywhere else in the world, so you really are spoilt for choice. However, some of these amazing sunshine-soaked atolls lie hundreds of miles from Malé International Airport, meaning lengthy boat rides or seaplane transfers are inevitable. So what if you just want to fly and flop?
Step forward the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, a five-star private island just a 15-minute ride by speedboat from the airport – so you’re pretty much on honeymoon from the moment you land.
The first thing that strikes you as you step ashore, after being greeted by smiling, waving staff on the hotel’s jetty, is the vegetation and swaying palms. Far more than a ring of white sand, the Sheraton Maldives is a lush little oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The second thing is the crystal-clear water – it’s so translucent you can spot fish from the jetty, there’s no need to even grab a snorkel – and the third are the villas.
With more than 170 suites and villas spread across the island and into the ocean, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to a honeymoon hideaway. I stayed in one of the new luxury ‘Cottage with Pool’ rooms with a private garden and plunge pool, and just a few steps from the white sand beach. The beautiful open air bathrooms mean you can shower surrounded by tropical flowers while soaking in the sunshine – bliss.
However, it’s the ‘Water Bungalow with Pool’, where I stayed on the last night, that have real wow-factor. Styled like something from an interiors magazine, these thatched getaways have four-poster mahogany beds with white muslin drapes, polished wood floors, giant baths with lagoon views, plunge pools and large terraces with loungers and a ladder into the sea. Equally as decadent are the ‘Ocean Villa with Pool’, which overlook the beach and have a large pool, edged by deck and loungers, hammock and an egg bath surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows for the ultimate bathing experience.
With 24-hour room service and a mini bar, you have everything you need in your villa, but there’s much more to this resort than bedrooms so, in the name of research, I dragged myself away from my pool to go exploring.
It turns out that, although the Sheraton Maldives is a picture-postcard island escape, there’s also lots to do, including dolphin cruises, sandbank picnics, handline fishing, jet skiing, windsurfing, catamaran sailing and private dinners on uninhabited nearby islands. We were taken to a beautiful, remote sand bank by speedboat, where we enjoyed a morning of snorkelling followed by a picnic of champagne and canapés while soaking in the sunshine and tranquillity.
As the resort’s so close to Malé, it’s easy to take a day trip to the Maldives’ capital to explore the busy streets, see the mosques, lively fish market and shop for trinkets to take home. Who knew you could get a bonus city break on a Maldives’ beach holilday?
The Shine Spa, which is set on its own little island, offers massages, facials and body treatments. Book a couples’ massage at sunset (the spa’s open until 10pm) in a treatment room with one side open to the sea so you can hear the waves on the beach.
When it comes to dining there’s plenty of choice. Feast, an international buffet restaurant, is a hub for breakfast and dinner, while Sea Salt’s a beautiful seafood restaurant at the lagoon edge with live cooking stations and an intimate atmosphere (particularly the private pavilion for two). Baan Thai offers high-end Asian cuisine with delicious curries and noodles, while for toe-in-the-sand snacks, beers and juices there’s Kakuni Hut with picnic tables on the beach. Anchorage Bar is the spot for sundowners, with a colourful array of cocktails on the menu and a huge wooden deck with daybeds for chilling.
And for the ultimate in romance, try a private dining experience, complete with candle-lit table on the beach and a film screening on the sand. It’s magical and memorable and would be the icing on the cake of any honeymoon.
Go there! Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa (marriott.co.uk), from £315 per night based on two people sharing a Deluxe Garden View King room on a B&B basis. Water sports available through Extreme Maldives (extrememaldives.com).