Maldives is a tropical paradise

Friday, 24 July 2009 19:50

The Maldives is a tropical paradise. Andy Richardson lay back and soaked up the sun.

Diana couldn’t eat her petite fours. She picked up the chocolate brownie triangle and popped it into her mouth.

There was an indulgent, breathless sigh, followed by a gentle, helpless groan. Then a cloud formed and she sighed again. “It’s no good,” she said. “I am totally full.”

She beckoned a waiter and pointed to her plate of macaroons, chocolate ganaches adorned with gold and silver leaf, artful sugar work and harrummphhhed. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “But you’ll have to take these away.” Her shoulders slumped. She accepted defeat.

We’d been dining at the Cellar Restaurant at the Beach House Collection, on Manafaru, in the Maldives. It was the third successive dinner that we’d enjoyed and the menu was exceptional.

We’d started with a roasted duck margret served with a scallop capsicum relish and smoked salmon in horseradish. A chilled glass of Bird In Hand Chardonnay 2007, from Australia, had accompanied it.

The fish course was poached monkfish with vegetable ravioli and black truffle, alongside a South African Jordan Chameleon Rose 2007. A palate cleansing watermelon, raspberry and ginger granita had reinvigorated our appetites before the knock-out main course was served.

That featured wagyu beef sirloin with duck foie gras and a red wine sauce, with a glass of 2002 Italian Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto. For dessert, we’d feasted on a vanilla scented mousse in a cannoli tube with strawberry and peach compote alongside a 2007 Australian Kaesler Rizza Riesling.

Then it was the petite fours…. And Diana had to concede.
Similar culinary experiences had greeted us when we visited other restaurants and bars at The Beach House.

At Saffron, we’d enjoyed Asian fusion foods, like minced seafood satay on papaya salad followed by a Valrhona chocolate and wasabi fondue. At Four Seasons, we’d enjoyed wagyu beef steaks, lobster and gorgeously indulgent abalone.

At the infiniti pool, we’d watched in admiration as the sorbet butler delivered refreshing fruity ice to guests. And at the Amazon pool, we’d sampled knock-out cocktails and aperitifes.

The Beach House Collection is a world-leading resort in the Maldives that has won a string of accolades and awards since being opened two years ago.

It’s a tropical paradise with white sand beaches formed from crushed coral. Palm trees sway in the gentle breeze while the aquamarine waters are warm enough for year-round swimming.

Our group of six stayed in separate water villas, which were built out into the sea on giant wooden stilts. They personified comfort and luxury and were built in quintessential Maldivian style, with palm roofs and hard wood walls.

Each villa was equipped with high specification furnishings, state-of-the-art gadgets, glass observation panels fitted to the floor - allowing 24/7 views of the marine life, a vast lounge, giant bedroom, extraordinary bathroom, hot tub and jacuzzi and 146sq metres of space.

With year round temperatures above 25 degrees, and rain restricted to seasonal monsoons, there were plenty of time to relax. Secluded beaches proved perfect locations to while away afternoon strolls while brilliant, star-lit nights were also a highlight.

But, of course, with such extravagant food on offer, there was also plenty of time to enjoy sporty pursuits. Diving, water sports, land sports, excursions, fitness, a gentleman’s retreat, kids’ play area and boutique allowed us all to indulge our passions.

I took to the high seas, battling against the waves in a sea kayake during one downpour, then being pulled back to shore by Duncan, a fun-loving member of our party who proved his strength as a swimmer when he out-stroked my vessel.

We enjoyed day trips to fishing spots, where he hauled in red snapper and emperor fish, as well as snorkelling around one of the many Maldivian reefs that teemed with delicate, gaily coloured fish.

After our physical excursions, we repaired to the Shui Spa to enjoy yoga, beauty treatments, massage and similar delights from highly-skilled, multi-lingual therapists, who offered a wealth of experience and knowledge, along with their healing hands.

Tension and stress was expelled from our bodies as we relaxed in a cocoon on indulgent and exquisite pampering.

Prices for The Beach House Collection start at a ludicrously low £1,050 per person per week. That’s a small price to pay for a taste of Maldivian luxury. As our speedboat waited at the port to whisk us back to Sri Lanka for our flight to the UK, the resort manager asked whether any of us planned to return. Six of us responded, in unison: “Yes.”

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