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          The Maldives; A Naturally Self-Isolated Paradise

          Posted in Maldives by Jody Faulkner on 27th Oct 2020

          Our Prestbury Travel Consultant, Jody, discovered a small slice of paradise during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here she shares her experience of her recent travels...

          We were naturally a little apprehensive about travelling during the Coronavirus pandemic and not at all sure what to expect. The reason we decided to travel to the Maldives is because they are a naturally self-isolated paradise and have a one island, one resort concept, so we really needn’t have worried. 

          Flying Safely with Emirates

          Upon boarding our Emirates flight, we felt completely at ease knowing that all passengers and crew onboard had to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test before flying with Emirates. Everyone was wearing masks and passengers were distanced from each other on board as much as possible. 

          Arranging the test was simple. We paid online with Pure Health, who Emirates recommend, and once we had paid we were sent a reference to make an appointment. The test cost approximately £120pp and there are numerous places you can take the test and these locations are online, our closest being Boots in Manchester. 

          For entry into the Maldives, you need to have the test taken within 96 hours before leaving the UK. Our test was negative, and the results were emailed to us 24 hours later. This can take up to 48 hours they advised. 

          The test results are sent in a certificate format, which you can print as we needed to show this when we checked in for our Emirates flight. We also needed to upload the test results onto the IMUGA Maldives health declaration website within 24 hours of departure to the Maldives. 

          Transit through Dubai was smooth, everyone is issued with a box containing gloves, sanitiser and a mask. Everyone was using their gloves and masks through security, which made us feel safe. We did not have to worry about collecting our luggage as this was checked straight through to the Maldives for us. 

          On arrival at Male, immigration was quick, and we were soon met by the Soneva staff and whisked off to their seaplane lounge. The staff in the lounge all wore masks and gloves and we were offered juice, coffee and a cooked option for breakfast. We opted for coffee, toast and preserves - the coffee being just what we needed! 

          After a short rest, we were taken to the seaplane departure area where we boarded our 30-minute flight to paradise. Once we landed (at the smallest international airport I have ever been to) we were taken by the Soneva boat to shore where our shoes were placed in a No News, No Shoes bag and this was the last time we wore our shoes on this island until our departure! 

          Soneva Fushi - Robinson Crusoe Paradise

          We were met by our Mr Friday who took us to our amazing villa, where our check-in was completed and another COVID-19 PCR test done in the privacy of our island home. Soneva have their own testing facility and so the results are back within 24 hours and are provided on a complimentary basis. 

          While we waited for our test results to come back, we were free to use our own pool and the beach directly in front of our villa, and free to take a dip in the sea too. Not such a bad place to quarantine for 24 hours! As we were on half board, we were able to choose our three-course dinner from Soneva Fushi’s extensive in-villa dining menu. This was served to us in our villa and we ate this on our upper floor terrace, overlooking the crystal blue Indian Ocean. We had definitely made the right decision! 

          All contact with your butler, or Mr Friday as they are known at Soneva Fushi, is made by mobile phone. By 7am the following morning our Mr Friday had contacted us to advise us that our test was negative, we were free to go wherever we wanted on the island. We would have been happy to stay in our luxury villa longer, however I was keen to explore. 

          From then on, nobody we saw on the island wore masks and it felt like coronavirus was a million miles away from this secluded slice of paradise. Soneva Fushi really is a true barefoot luxury, Robinson Crusoe island experience and just how you imagine the Maldives to be.  

          Highlights of our Stay at Soneva Fushi include:

          Sandbank Cocktail Party – This takes place every Tuesday and guests are transferred by boat to Soneva’s sandbank where drinks and canapes are served. You get the chance to mingle with other guests and management. No masks required as everyone has tested negative. 

          Robinson Crusoe Castaway Picnic – We were transferred by 25-minute speedboat to our private deserted island with a gourmet picnic, including wine, beers and soft drinks. We were left here for the afternoon for relaxing, sunbathing and snorkelling and arranged a pick-up time. 

          Private Dinner with wine pairing – We were treated to a 9-course dinner, especially chosen and prepared for us at Once Upon a Table, by Chef Derrick. A true gastronomic experience! 

          Private Stargazing – Own our private astrology session in the observatory, giving us a true insight to the planets that surround us.  

          After our amazing time at Soneva Fushi ended we took a transfer to Amilla Fushi, just a 20-minute speedboat transfer away. The Ministry of Tourism in the Maldives are now allowing split stays and so we were able to experience two totally different island styles.

          Amilla Fushi - Chilled out Vibes

          We were warmly welcomed by the General Manager, Jason Kruse and his wife Victoria Kruse, who is the Sustainability Manager at Amilla Fushi. Amilla Fushi is a total contrast to Soneva Fushi and is modern and minimalistic. There is also a communal infinity pool, where DJ’s play at peak times, it has a cool, chic vibe. 

          On arrival, we were taken to our Lagoon Pool Villa, where we had another COVID-19 PCR test. Social distancing was then required, however, masks were not and we were free to explore. The results took around 30 hours to come back, but we were still able to use the bars and restaurants so long as we social distanced from other guests. 

          Service here was second to none and again we were allocated our own butler, or our Katheeb as they are called at Amilla Fushi. Snorkelling and diving options here are superb and only a 10-minute boat ride from the world-famous Blue Hole site. 

          The majority of villas here are overwater and all with their own freshwater swimming pools. They feature huge comfy beds and are extremely spacious. High-Tech Bose surround system and state of the art technology make these villas ideal for both couples and families. They even have Treetop Pool Villas and a trendy glamping option, where you can have a romantic night stay with champagne and stargazing, in a luxury bubble tent. 

          Guests are spoilt for choice with the dining options, which are located around the large infinity pool, they also have an overwater Japanese restaurant, Feeling Koi and amazing views from the Sunset bar above. 

          Highlights of our stay at Amilla Fushi include:

          Blue Hole snorkelling – Amilla Fushi has one of the Baa Atoll’s most unique reef formations right on its very own house reef. This is accessible by a short boat ride. The Amilla Blue Hole is a tropical reef wonder and the trip allows you to snorkel above the entrance to the mysterious hole.  

          Javvu Spa – The Spa is made up of 10 wooden treatment pods which feature either a sauna or steam room.  

          Sunset drinks at the Sunset Bar above feeling Koi overwater restaurant. 

          Riding our bikes around the island exploring.

          After a blissful three nights at Amilla Fushi it was our time to depart. We were given our printed documents for departure, which included our negative PCR certificate, which Emirates require, this had to be taken within 96 hours of departure from the Maldives. We also needed to complete the Maldives health declaration once again online, which had to be done within 24 hours of departure. 

          We were sad to leave these luxury islands of paradise, where the world pandemic seemed so far away. Never mind having to get used to the “ New Normal”, being on these idyllic islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean felt like the old normal and we would return in a heartbeat! 

          Please Note: Covid-19 protocols vary between each hotel and are regularly changing. Please check with a Prestbury Travel consultant for the most up to date entry procedures for a particular property.