I don’t even know where to begin with this post. At Easter of this year I was lucky enough to go on holidays to the Maldives. It was definitely the most spontaneous decision I ever made! It wasn’t planned at all, I booked it 3 months before I went and basically I’m just so grateful for my savings that I had been putting away for a rainy day. Literally, a miserable wet day in January! My fabulous friend had booked to go with her family and they ever so kindly invited me to join them.
Not a day goes by where I don’t look through a photo from that trip, trying to understand how it was even real. I will go through my experience now and all I’ll say is if you never get the opportunity to visit this South Asian country, create the opportunity for yourself!
How we got there:
We flew with Etihad from Dublin to Abu Dhabi and then hopped on a connecting flight which brought us to Malé, the capital of the Maldives. When returning, we did the same two flights. I upgraded to business class for the Dub- AUH flight, and the return flight. Coming home it was pure luck. I asked at the desk in the Etihad lounge of Abu Dhabi airport if there were any business class seats left (my friend and her family were flying business already). After an initial “no” from Etihad and an “are you reeeeally sure” from me, I was given the last business class seat at a promotional price of €190. Day made. In typical Etihad fashion, economy was overbooked so they were more than happy to allow me to upgrade to business and vacate my economy seat. Win win for everybody!
Etihad business class is my only experience of business class, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. Having said that, I give it 10/10. The most comfortable flights I have had and I’m definitely going to rebook with them.
Tip: if you are checking in for economy just ask at the desk if there are any upgrades available. Even if you’re told no, go to the airport lounge of that airline and ask there. Somebody may not turn up for their seat. Honestly for a couple of hundred euro you get such comfort in the airport lounge and on the flight itself. It also works out a lot cheaper than booking business class in the first place. You have to be willing to risk flying economy though if it is genuinely booked out (as was the case for my flight from Abu Dhabi to Malé).
Once in Malé airport, there was a boat waiting to take us to our resort. Each resort/ island seem to have their own boat and they are all lined up like a taxi rank on water. The boat trip was about 40 minutes, the flights in total were about 12 hours. When we arrived at the resort I was zonked! Literally sick with tiredness so I went straight to bed for a couple of hours (it was around 8am Saturday their time, we had left Dublin at 9am Friday Irish time). Not the wildest of arrivals to the Maldives!
Where we stayed:
We stayed at OZEN By Atmosphere, at Maadhoo island. There are over 1,000 islands in the Maldives and Maadhoo is the one we visited. When I say islands, they aren’t big. You could walk around our island in less than an hour. That is what makes it feel so special! You are literally so detached from normal life and it feels like you are on your own private island, just that you’re sharing it with a few other holiday goers!
Again, I don’t have any other Maldivian resort to compare OZEN to, but I would go back in a heartbeat. It’s the one and only holiday that I was on where I genuinely did not want to come home, and once home it took a good month to get over it and back to normality.
The staff were amazing, nothing was too much for them. Each villa gets a butler who is your point of contact for any queries no matter how big or small. We stayed in wind villas– again, completely out of this world. All I can say is that it is honestly just as incredible in real life as it looks in pictures. Our stay was all inclusive (no other option because the resort is the island, there is no public access, shops or restaurants other than those that are part of OZEN). This meant all you can eat and drink for 10 days 🙂
What was on offer:
So apart from the most beautiful beach (you can go for a swim in the sea then come out and walk across the resort and pop into the sea on the other side in two minutes), a swimming pool with beach bar and a selection of loungers and bean bags, each wind villa has their own infinity pool and an over-water hammock. There is also a step ladder from each wind villa to take you down into the Indian Ocean for a morning dip.
We visited the spa twice for massages and it was so serene and relaxing. The usual water sports are available, snorkeling tours and dolphin boat trips as well as fishing trips.
Each Friday they do a traditional Maldivian night where dining is on the beach and there are numerous stalls set up where the chefs cook a huge selection of food from seafood to BBQ, pasta to curry. Every guest is given a sarong to wear for that evening, and their was a DJ playing music, champagne on arrival…the sun was setting in the background and it was just a pinch-me moment.
I won’t go into detail here as you can follow this link to take you to the OZEN website which has all of the information you need. There was no shortage of food or selection. The best experience was dining in the M6M restaurant. It is 6 metres below sea level and you can watch all of the incredible fish (and sharks!) swim by as you eat your dinner. I would advise you bring snacks with you, as there is no shop to buy Lays! haha. There is a little fridge in the villas (which are restocked everyday at no extra cost) to hold stuff that you do bring. We brought chocolate and Easter eggs but they were completely melted by the time we arrived at OZEN.
Who should go there:
Everyone!! I’m not even kidding. The Maldives has a reputation for honeymoons but honestly every age was there. Grandparents, parents, teenagers, toddlers, babies, nannies, couples…it is suitable for everyone. In my own opinion I do think it’s wasted on anyone under the age of 16. Boredom might be a factor for children because there are no parks or shops to go to, so the chances of you getting much rest yourself is slim. But that is probably why those families brought nannies with them. If you have that luxury by all means go ahead, as far as I know there is no children’s entertainment but I could be wrong.
When to go:
We asked the staff when their off-peak season is and they said July and August and even at that it’s not even bad weather, it’s just more overcast/ rainy than usual. Obviously, peak time would be Christmas/ New Year, but it would be out of this world! They made a lovely effort for Easter Sunday so I can only imagine what Christmas and New Years would be like.
While we were there, we did experience a few thunder storms. The humidity is off the scale so the thunder showers are necessary to clear the air. After an hour or so it all clears and it’s like it never even happened.
I have waaaaay more images and videos saved to a Maldives highlight on my instagram (@clairejameson.ie) if you would like to see more, including the incredible M6M restaurant and a few more tips I have. Also, I could have written so much more about this trip but honestly I’d be typing for a week! I’m sure you get the main point though- it is the most amazing place with the sweetest people and if I won the lotto I would bring all of my favourite people there!