The Maldives can offer an even warmer welcome to holidaymakers

Wednesday, 5 November 2008 15:10

While all eyes are on the US presidential election, another election in a much smaller country on the other side of the world will also have a significant impact on British tourists. After 30 years in power in the Maldives, the dictatorial Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has been defeated in the first democratic presidential election by a friend of Britain.

Mohamed Nasheed, leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party, was educated in England. He is an ally of David Cameron and his election campaign was orchestrated by a Conservative Party adviser. The new President has promised much needed reforms in the Islamic state, where opposition parties were oppressed for decades. Tourism is certain to benefit and visitors, who have been heading there in increasing numbers, especially for honeymoons, can expect an even warmer welcome.

An added advantage is that Sri Lankan Airlines has just introduced direct return flights to Heathrow from Malé, the capital. Until ten days ago the airline flew direct to Malé but return journeys went via Colombo, Sri Lanka. That involved three separate flights for some visitors because many of the islands in a chain that stretches 800km (500 miles) from north to south are only accessible by seaplane from Malé.

Each resort in the Maldives is on its own island, surrounded by white sand beaches with turquoise waters bordered by coral reefs. The best prices are generally to those within a boat ride of the airport, such as Kurumba.

Only ten minutes by speedboat, this was the first resort to open in the Maldives and has been modernised into a five-star destination with six restaurants, two pools, a fitness centre, spa, tennis, watersports and diving centre. A week's B&B with Kuoni costs £1,297 with a Sri Lankan Airlines flight from Heathrow on December 6.

Monarch Holidays has a good deal at the Giravaru Tourist Resort, 15 minutes by boat from the airport. B&B for a fortnight costs £870, with a Monarch flight from Gatwick on November 23. The resort has a restaurant, pool, disco and windsurfing, and offers divers the choice of 20 excellent sites to explore.

One of the best times to visit is January, especially for those who are looking to start the new year in style thousands of miles from the British winter. Kuoni offers savings in January at some of the finest resorts in the Maldives, including a £450 discount for a week at the Sheraton Full Moon resort, 15 minutes by speedboat from the airport. The holiday now costs from £1,199 for B&B, a room among the palm trees a few steps from the beach, and a Monarch flight from Gatwick on January 11.

A week at Baros, one of the most magical resorts 30 minutes from the airport, is from £1,408. There are three restaurants at the water's edge, watersports, a dive centre and sunset cruises under sail. Flights are from Heathrow with Sri Lankan Airlines and the price includes access to airport lounges.

Discounts are also available with Kuoni for an early new year all-inclusive holiday at Thudufushi on Ari Atoll. Guests will fly from Gatwick on January 4, transfer at Malé airport to a seaplane for a 30-minute flight to the resort and pay from £1,649. About 400 yards square, Thudufushi encompasses a popular beach bar, open-air restaurant, boutique, spa, dive school and watersports centre.

Source: TimesOnline, UK


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