Before I moved to Doha, my world was so small. I knew that taking a job in the Arabian Gulf would allow new opportunities and I am so grateful for the opportunities. Regarding Maldives, I was actually exploring a new resort in Qatar called Banana Island. I searched online to see when it would open and discovered the @Anantara_Hotels brand. When I looked at Maldives, I immediately fell in love and actually booked the room on the spot (my spontaneity is returning). I’d anxiously anticipated this trip for weeks and I am not disappointed.
So, I’m going to a honeymoon resort/destination wedding spot all alone. Yep, that’s me. Would I have loved to spend these five days with someone? Absolutely. I am still a woman whose mind can get wrapped up in romance and dream a little. But I made this trip alone and it’s been a rewarding experience.
From the time I stepped off the plane I was greeted by the Anantara associates and kindly shown to their waiting lounge. Soon after, bags were retrieved and a few others and myself were led to a speedboat. The thing I noticed first was how beautiful the people are on the island: their dark skin and beautiful hair…some with light brown or green eyes. The beauty of the people took me aback. This is true for my entire stay; they are beautiful people.
It was a thirty minute ride to Anantara Veli Resort. We were greeted by the welcoming crew, bongos and all. They greeted each of us by name (always a plus) and led us to our check in point. Welcoming drinks seem to be a thing in this region; and yes, I had one. It was mostly fruit juices…no alcohol yet. The kind associate checked me in, gave me a tour of the island, and showed me to my room. I was then oriented to the room and left to enjoy. As I sit here on my final morning in the Maldives, I am still appreciative of the room I was given and the phenomenal views. I’ve gotten some of the best sleep I’ve had in ages. My “room boy” took spectacular care of me and it was very nice to get his notes on a leaf on my bedside table each night. “Good Night” “Sweet Dreams” “Rest Well” –Signed Your Room Boy.
During this trip, I had plenty of time to reflect, read, relax, and most importantly try new things. Wednesday night, my first night, I went fishing. Why? As a child, my dad always promised to take me fishing. We never had a chance to go when I was a child and we all know that life happens once you become an adult. So I’ve wanted to fish for years and have always wanted to do it in memory of my dad. So I hopped on the boat with 4 men from Turkey and a young couple from Hong Kong. We rode out about 15 minutes and were instructed by our three Maldivian guides on how to fish. It wasn’t your typical fishing with a pole as we’re used to seeing. Nope, just a line, a weight, a hook, and some bait. It took me a bit to get the hang of it but Ali, my personal fishing coach taught me well. He was patient and corrected my mistakes. By the end of our two hours of fishing, I’d caught 6 or 7 fish. I also had the best catch of the night, a Green Job (if you don’t count the shark the other guy caught). What was even more exciting about the catch is that I had the option of having it for dinner the next night. I did, and it was quite delicious. So I enjoyed fishing and would have liked to go out again. It was a relaxing experience and I’m glad I had a chance to do it.
As I was selecting which water activities to do, Nabeel convinced me to take a private boat out to snorkel. There’s very strong language in the description about ensuring each participant can swim, float, etc. Yes, I can swim…in a pool! The thought of being in the middle of the Indian Ocean wasn’t sitting well with me. I was assured, however, that I would be well taken care of and I’d have a life jacket. So for all you snorkelers and divers, bear with me. Some of us are a little late to the game for these types of experiences. Anyway, Ahmed and Farrah picked me up and 15 minutes later, we were in the middle of nowhere. They told me to don my gear and I began to have a bit of a panic attack, just a minor one. I was geared up and I sat on the edge of the boat. Ahmed tried patiently to coach me into the water and after five minutes of convincing myself that I’d be okay, I jumped in…and boy it was ASTOUNDING! I had no trouble getting the hang of mouth breathing but you do have to consciously think about it. I spent the next hour exploring. Imagine the colors of tropical fishes, sea turtles, beautiful coral, and starfish. The change in the watercolor as the depth increased was incredible. It was all very beautiful and surreal. And there were small moments when Ahmed would reach his hand out for mine to lead me to another new discovery. It was a bit romantic. My future man will take me snorkeling, I’m just saying. By the end of my time in the water, Ahmed had convinced me to remove by life jacket and I did. It just made the experience even better. I can’t wait to snorkel again. Maybe I’ll even come back to dive.
I’ve always wanted to parasail too. So I geared up for my 15 minutes of flying and had a peaceful experience. I wasn’t nervous. It was freeing. The view from up there was incredible. I wish I’d had a camera to take pictures from up high because to see the changes in the color of the water is unbelievable. The photos online aren’t photo shopped. This place really is that beautiful. Finally, I went sailing. With Nabeel at the helms, I was confident that I’d be okay. He taught me some of the basics about sailing and when we finally made it out past the bungalows into the open water, it was wonderful. I wish I could have been out there for hours just relaxing on the water. I can see now, how people who sail, love it. It’s something I’ll do again.
One thing that I looked forward to the most when I booked my trip was my Dining by Design dinner. I’d been in contact with the associates prior to my arrival to make sure I understood my options and they wanted to make sure my experience was perfect. When I arrived, there had been rain so the dining manager and I had daily conversations about the perfect timing/day for my dinner. We finally settled on Friday night since the weather was good. Now, I love a great dining experience and this was one that I’ll never forget. I chose beach side where I could watch the sunset. The team was very accommodating and took some great photos to capture this for me. They chose my wine for me, with some parameters; a Vermentino from Italy. My menu was all about seafood: oysters, prawns, tuna, lobster, scallops, and crab. It was insanity! I had a spectacular cheesecake with strawberry ice cream and a plate of fruit for dessert. To top it all off, I had my very own waiter and my chef was tableside. I was in heaven! By the end of the night, I’d met quite a few people who’d made my dining experience one I’ll never forget. And to top it off, the resort manager extended an invitation to me to dine on their exclusive island for breakfast: Naladhu.
So breakfast in the Living Room at Naladhu was another great experience. First, I had the place all to myself. It was right on the water (as everything is here, duh) with rich dark wood and nice décor. The place is only open to the residents of the island so I really did feel special. I ordered café mocha. What I got was: a shot of a refreshing smoothie, a glass of champagne, a glass of water, and of course my mocha. As I looked through the menu, a beautiful plate o fruit and a basket of pastries were brought out. I had enough food to feed at least four people and I hadn’t even ordered yet! I ordered French toast and bacon. It was excellent! Then I just sat….read….sat some more….it was awesome! So a big thanks to Andrea for allowing me to experience breakfast away from the hustle and bustle of the buffet. He mentioned that they don’t often have single guests here so when they do, they have to make sure we’re taken care of and are having a good time. I love it! It’s all about the experience. Overall, #Ananatara_Hotels exceeded my expectations.
I’ve written quite a novel this time around. And I’ve not had a single bad thing to say about this trip. There is one minor detail: Mosquitos! Since leaving Oklahoma five years ago, I haven’t had to deal with mosquitos. Well, the Maldives has mosquitos. The first couple of days I was only getting bit on the left side. I was beginning to wonder if the left side of me was more appealing. But then, they discovered the right side. I have terrible reactions to mosquito bites; all 12 bites will eventually look like 12 bruises. It’ll take weeks for the discoloration to go away.
Lastly, to all the women reading this blog and the men who either want to get a better understanding of women or if you’re a man in touch with your feminine side, I recommend you read What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins @EllynLetters . It’s a very quick read with some great insight. It’d make a nice Christmas present for any woman on your list as well.
I hope most of you have had an opportunity to look at my photos from the Maldives. If you haven’t seen them, check out the photo album in the tool bar. This was done at the request of many so thank you for coming along during my journey.
Living life…and it’s good.