Make for the Maldives - a Celebworthy Valentine's Treat
Join the Jet Set
Jet-skiing is among the motorised water sports on offer and nothing beats bouncing over the waves at 40 miles an hour with the wind in your hair.
INFO: $90 for 15 minutes or $150 for 30 minutes, plus a tutorial
Free Water sports!
Canoeing, pedalboats and stand-up paddleboarding are available free of charge from 9am to 6pm every day.
Get Constance’s ‘Oriental Touch of Romance’ four-course menu plus canapés served on the beach – or on your private deck by your own butler – on Valentine’s Day for $198 per person.
If you didn’t get a chance to work on your bikini body before your holiday, do it during your vacay. Halaveli boasts a tennis court, alfresco yoga sessions and a fully equipped gym with a Kinesis wall, an exercise bike, treadmills, cross trainers and weights machines. Private instruction is available in all activities – you can even sign up for your own personal boot camp.
INFO: Yoga costs from $35 for one-hour group sessions, tennis tuition costs $70 for 45 minutes for and personal training and boot camps cost $75 per hour (or $100 for a couple per hour)
Quench Your Face!
At the pool – lengthy enough to burn some calories – side tables by sun loungers are topped with devices that allow you to call for a beach butler at the push of a button. And, without even being asked, the friendly butlers will pop up with complimentary iced water and cans of chilled Evian facial mist!
Dancing with Stingrays?
The resort is home to a large family of sizeable stingrays – these graceful creatures float right up to the shoreline, rippling their circumference like skilled body poppers, but they’re so huge your initial reaction may be run away from them rather than dance with them.
Watch Fish at Uspa
Watching fish is therapeutic, which may explain why the massages here are so much more relaxing than usual; lie down on your massage bed to find a window to the Indian Ocean beneath your face.
INFO: $140 for 60 mins, $190 for 90 minutes
Swim with Sharks!
We signed up for a ‘swimming with turtles’ excursion and ended up swimming with sharks! Granted, they were small friendly ones, but our adrenaline was still racing. Snorkelling excursions are offered daily and are must-do in the Maldives for anyone wanting to get up close and personal with the local stars – that is the colourful eccentric-looking fish, several of which look like they’ve been styled by Lady Gaga’s wardrobe team.
INFO: $85 for 90 minutes
Catch Your supper
Traditional sunset Maldivian fishing is offered as an excursion. After a brief demonstration, you drop your weighted bait overboard and wait. If you catch a fish you can have it cooked for your lunch the next day for just $25 (highly recommended); if not, at least you’ll catch an amazing sunset at sea.
INFO: $65 for 90 minutes
Hang out at Jahaz Restaurant
Jahaz (try saying it without the urge to do ‘jazz hands’) is the main dining spot, taking prime location on the beach, serving buffet brekkie and dinner, included in the half-board package, and à la carte lunch. Breakfast highlights include super-fresh tropical fruits and miso soup with all the condiments, from wakame to crispy fried onion. Evening buffets are themed geographically: Euro, Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern.
Meat at Meeru
Adjoining Jahaz, Meeru is the local grill – feel the sand between your toes as you get your surf and turf here, but be warned, the lobsters are huge, so arrive hungry!
INFO: Starters from $11, mains from $39, desserts from $5
Splash out at Jing
Any place that serves yuzu sorbet with popping candy as a palate cleanser gets our vote. Perched on the pier, the romance is turned up a notch at the island’s signature restaurant. We became beef carpaccio converts after trying this starter here.
INFO: Try the degustation menu for $182 per person
Water or Beach Villa?
Decisions, decisions. Do you want an over-water villa on stilts with an eternity pool on the deck that seamlessly merges with the ocean, and stairs that lead straight into it, or do you want a tropical hideout with open-air shower and bathtub next to your pool and a garden that leads straight onto the beach? Either way, this is barefoot luxe with all the mod cons, from Nespresso machines to Apple TV.
CELEBS IN THE MALDIVES
Kate and Wills made a royal visit to the Maldives in 2014
Ivanka Trump spent Christmas paddleboarding in the Maldives with hubby Jared Kushner
Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively got along famously with staff at their Maldivan resort
John Legend loves the seafood in the Maldives
Villas: From approximately Dhs6,000 for a beach villa, based on two sharing, breakfast included
Flights: A return flight to Malé costs approximately Dhs3,285 per person with Emirates; return seaplane transfer cost $183 per person and take 15 minutes from Malé airport (you may have to wait for a seaplane and they don’t travel after dark, so keep this in mind when planning flight times)
Currency: $1 = Dhs36.7 (everything is charged in US dollars, billed to your room and settled upon check-out)