Honeymoons are about making special memories in special surroundings. Whether that’s on the shores of Italy’s lakes or on the sands of the Maldives, your honeymoon needs to come with romantic extras (were talking champagne breakfasts, couples massages, and more). After all it will be the most important holiday you choose. Sovereign’s press officer Sophie shares with us her honeymoon in the Maldives.
Choosing the perfect hotel in the Maldives was not an easy feat. This was mainly owing to the myriad options available – almost all of which we had fallen in love with – as well as the self-imposed pressure that, since this was our honeymoon, it had to be a once-in-a-lifetime, better-than-anything-we’ve-ever-done-before experience. Working on the PR for Sovereign I spend my days researching and writing about dreamy holidays to stunning hotels around the world, and this should have given me a good grounding to be able to pinpoint the ideal idyll for me and my new husband to spend the first days of our married life. In reality though, the big ‘H’ word meant that all my rationale went out the window! So instead, I sought help from my Sovereign colleagues – the real experts – to steer me in the right direction. Eventually, with their tips and advice, we drilled down to what we both really wanted out of our dream Maldives holiday and decided that there were three things that were of the utmost important to us: a water villa (me), a house reef (my fiancé, Andy) and a sense of relaxed, barefoot luxury (both of us). In the end these criteria made clear one distinct winner for us – Constance Moofushi in the South Ari Atoll.
From the moment we were greeted by a concierge at the hotel’s check-in desk at Male airport, and whisked away to its private lounge while we waited for our sea plane transfer, we knew our decision was a good one. The sea plane journey to Constance Moofushi is a relatively short one (around 30 minutes), which was a welcome reality to Andy, who at 6ft 4 doesn’t tend to cope well with compact light aircraft. I, however, enjoyed the view as we glided over the opal waters, and tried to guess which island was which from its shape and size. We were welcomed on arrival by smiling and helpful hotel staff waiting patiently to tend to our every need. From that moment, in fact, this was a constant thread that ran throughout our stay. The staff at Constance Moofushi are extremely friendly, attentive and discreet in equal measure, and never overbearing, unless, of course, you want them to be.
We had done our research before booking and had requested one of a few particular water villas on the sunset side of the island. This meant that each evening we were able to enjoy a sun-downer from our personal mini bar on our private sun deck, watching as the sky turned a deep shade of pinky orange that we just don’t seem to see in the UK. The fact that Constance Moofushi offers one board basis only – what they call their Crystal All Inclusive package – meant that we never gave a thought to how many sun-downers we were downing and could do as the mood took us when it came to deciding on a time to go for dinner at the main Manta Restaurant.
I think, generally speaking, the perceptions once attached to an all-inclusive hotel offering have all but disappeared, especially when we’re talking about the world’s top five-star hotels’ all-inclusive offerings these days. The game has well and truly been upped and the word ‘buffet’ doesn’t really figure here. At Constance Moofushi there is an ever-changing presentation of cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner to choose from at Manta. There are live cooking stations, where the excellent chefs will grill fresh meat or fish for you on request, as well as pre-cooked Maldivian curries and stews, canape-style starters, salads, a whole station dedicated to fresh bread and, my personal favourite, a chilled cheese cabinet with an ever-changing selection of imported cheeses. That is not to mention the immense dessert buffet, with its own dedicated pastry chef on-hand to offer recommendations. Perhaps the best part of the food and beverage experience for me, however, was the wine.
Constance Moofushi offers its guest a truly extensive and well-rounded wine list, comprising of premium bottles that are included in the Crystal package. Each meal time, every table is dedicated a sommelier to help you choose the perfect wine to accompany the dishes you have chosen, and this is an excellent touch. There are plenty of seating options at Manta that mean you don’t need to book a table in advance and can dine as you prefer – either inside under the roof of the open-sided restaurant, along the edge of the beach among the palm trees or, our personal preference, on the deck overlooking the water. Of course, for those looking for slightly more intimate or rather more relaxed dining experiences there are other options available.
The Totem Bar with its lounge chairs in the sand serves salads and light meals throughout the day and was our usual pick for lunch. There is also an a la carte restaurant, Alizée, towards which guests have one weekly dining credit included in their package. We ate here one evening on the edge of the water by candlelight, and enjoyed choosing dishes from a menu to mix things up, but it has to be said that the quality of the food at Manta and Alizée is equally good. Guests have the option to book to dine at Alizée more than once a week during their trip for an extra cost, and on some evenings they have special guests fly in to create a unique dining experience. For example, while we were there, a wine producer from New Zealand visited to offer a wine-pairing menu with a set multi-course dinner.
We were fortunate enough that we had been gifted a honeymoon dining experience as a very generous wedding present and so arranged a private sandbank dinner by candlelight under the stars on the final night of our holiday. It felt like a really special and decadent experience, unlike anything we have done before. We chose the seafood menu and were dedicated our own personal waiter, who made sure our champagne glasses were topped up while we tucked in to two of the biggest lobsters I have ever encountered. Constance Moofushi offers a number of extra special experiences like this for those looking to go the extra mile and up the once-in-a-lifetime stakes. From couples’ treatments in the tranquil spa, to a private cinema experience on the beach, with a butler service and fizz – there are plenty of ways of creating the sense that you have the island all to yourselves. This, of course, was exactly what we were looking for on our honeymoon.
Overall, the highlight of the whole holiday for us was our proximity to the marine life. I have to hand it to Andy for insisting that we stay on an island with a house reef because it was absolutely incredible. On our side of the island, the reef lay a mere couple of metres from the steps of our water villa, making it so easy to pop out and commune with great shoals of big colourful fish, reef sharks, rays, turtles and moray eels. I was sure I even saw a dolphin jump out of the sea at one point as I was stood on our deck watching Andy obliviously snorkel off in the opposite direction! Snorkels and fins are available for free at the watersports hut on the beach and they’re yours to keep for the duration of your stay. It’s so easy to snorkel the entire circumference of the island, but you do have to check with the staff first to find out about the currents each day because they can be deceptively strong. It’s also quite easy to forget how long you’ve been mesmerised in the water for – I was more than a little burnt on my back after the first few days and so spent the rest of the trip snorkelling fully clothed! I’m not a diver, but Andy is and so he also took himself off for two half-day dives, which allowed him to venture into deeper waters and indulge in his fascination with sharks. The dive centre offer a range of different snorkelling and diving trips as extras, including full-day whale shark safaris.
As we waited for our return sea plane back to Male, I felt more than a tinge of sadness at leaving our island paradise. However, Constance Moofushi offers so much by way of entertainment and relaxation that we were both satisfied that we had really maximised our time there and made the most of it. Flying back over the pristine white spots of sand dotted across the turquoise blue of the Indian Ocean, I resolved that one day we would definitely be back.