Now, imagine waking up without the hustle and bustle of modern life around you and instead waking to the sounds of exotic birds chirping in the trees and the sound of the Indian Ocean gently lapping the shore. Does this sound like your idea of heaven? Yes, no? Well for me and the Wife, its certainly a bloody good representation of heaven if such a place existed.
In this article I will showcase the islands I have been lucky enough to visit and then why it might be difficult ever to go there again!
We have been very very lucky for the last ten years or so having visited the Maldives seven times.
UPDATE: As of Oct 2014 we have added an 8th and are on schedule for trip number 9.
We loved it so much that we went the same island four times! Our list thus far is as follows:
1,2,3 and 4 – Maayafushi
Maayafushi was our first taste of what the Maldives had to offer and it was amazing! Small and friendly and the option to remove your shoes and not put them back on again until you left was unique to us.
The staff became personal friends and it was great to travel back and be welcomed by them by name!
We fell in love with Maaya and went back again and again until sadly all UK tour operators pulled out from this great little island. Why did they drop it? Not really sure but I’m guessing it was down to the prices that the resort were charging for rooms and of course profit margins are king for the tour operators and hence they pulled away. We were gutted to be honest along with a quite a few others (I had a Maaya UK forum running at the time). The only way for us Brits to go back here is to either travel with the Italian operator who offers this island or try and sort it yourself using Expedia.
Here are some of our videos from Maayafushi:
5 – Kuredu
Ah Kuredu! Our first taste of a different island from Maayafushi. Kuredu is four or five times the size of Maaya with over 300 rooms compared to the 70 or so we were used to.
We started off in a standard beach villa which to be honest was a little disappointing due to its worn out look, some call it rustic? We managed to get a decent upgrade to a Sangu Jacuzzi Beach Villa which were amazing to say the least. The room upgrade included a move to the Sangu restaurant which again was amazing even if the Chef asked me if I had been “Diving or Snorkelling today Sir?” every single time we ate.
Highlight for me was the opportunity to swim with a Turtle which just happened to appear one afternoon while I was Snorkelling. Here is a very blurry picture of said Turtle…
The good news is that Kuredu is still offered by some of the big operators (Kuoni and Thomson) to name but a few. Prices are expensive (more on that later) and there is alot of different accommodation to choose from.
I would go back to Kuredu no worries as it was an amazing island and one that is still very popular.
6 – Dhonveli
Flew over Dhonveli on the way to Kuredu but didn’t realise it until we actually got there!
This island was different again from the others we had been, its large and the beaches were not the best but it had a great lagoon and our Water Villa was fantastic.
Dhonveli is a resort that boasts a surfing club and you can spend your days watching the surfers riding the waves at Pasta Point.
Transfer is via speedboat which was a change from the Maldivian Air Taxi service we previously had used.
We rated this island highly and like Kuredu is offered still by all the major UK tour operators. Price of course is high now and like I said earlier, more on that shortly.
7 – Meeru
Wow, Meeru, amazing!
We went here shortly after my return from a lengthy spell away from home and it was just what we needed.
Meeru is an extremely well run island with fantastic surrounds. Our room was 10 second walk from the sea and we had great weather too!
Very popular with British tourists which congregate on the Meeru Forum which can be found here http://www.meeru.co.uk
The island management look after their staff as well as their guests here with facilities that some other islands could only dream of. Everyday the staff can be found playing Football on their amazing artificial pitch which I’m led to believe was brought in from Italy at huge cost. I thrived on the staff versus guests games that I played in even if we did get hooped on both occasions!
Have a nosey as these vids which go some way to showcasing this great island.
Now Meeru is an island I would have no hesitation in returning to however (here comes the rant) the prices are now through the roof!
When we first sampled Maayafushi in the beginning (circa 2003) it was well within price range. We are talking two people, all inclusive for no more that £3000. OK, so that sounds like a lot of money, it is yes but unless you have experienced these islands you will never know how much its worth every damm penny! Prices increase every year since and I fully expected that but the odd £100 quid each here and there is acceptable but in the last 12 months we have seen these 100’s turn into 1000’s!
If you paid £4000 for your holiday in the Maldives, you might now see that some operators will charge you over £5500 for exactly the same thing! OK so there are still good deals to be had and I’m not saying that its impossible to get a good price but there has been a massive mark up over this short period of time.
People will still pay the price on offer because some of us know how unique and amazing these islands actually are but there are some of us now that would not go back.
Finding that extra £1000 here and there is tough and I have seen instances of people waiting over 2 years to save up the funds, where they would of had no problem getting it together in half the time. Its tough to save this kind of cash and no I’m not minted and I don’t have money to burn, we save bloody hard for our holidays and we make sacrifices along the way for it!
Why the massive price increase then?
From what I have read in forums and on social media it seems to come down the the influx of visitors from Russia and China. Visitors to the Maldives from these two countries have increased dramatically over the last few years. We all know that there is new found wealth for individuals from these two countries as their economies thrive. Individuals have great earning potential and that new found wealth has got to go somewhere?
I’m now guessing that some resorts are choosing to capitalise on this and start to really ramp up their prices because they know damm well that they will still get the guests flocking in?
I’m not saying that this is the only reason for the increase, there are undoubtedly other factors that we simply don’t know of?
This is a transcript of an email from one of the Maldivian island resorts-
Please be informed that as of Monday, April 28, 2014, TUI UK will no longer operate a flight to the Maldives. The last flight from Male’ will depart on Monday, April 28, 2014. Hence, TUI UK will stop selling holidays to the Maldives for dates after that. However, the following Tour Operators from the UK, will still be selling holidays to Maldives; Hayes & Jarvis Kuoni UK Cosmos Holidays Thomas Cook UK Stellar Travel Services
TUI are a big operator and is this a snub from one of Europe’s biggest tour operators?
This all remains to be seen and I will be following this to see if any others stop services to the Maldives.
As I said, there are still good prices to be had but let me tell you this, you get what you pay for in the Maldives alot of the time. You might think that only paying 3 or so K is a good deal, be aware, there are some crap islands out there! Do your research like you would do anywhere else and make sure its what you want.
Seen the Thomson ads on the TV, wonder how I got involved with it all?
Here is the full story from the start.
During the 1970’s and 80’s, going abroad on holiday was a regular thing, something we kinda took for granted. Not may people went away in the early years, well, not overseas anyway.
I was very lucky indeed, my Dad worked two jobs so that we could afford to travel overseas on holiday every year. My earliest memory was getting on a boat in Southampton while suffering from Mumps. This would have been 1974 and one of my first trips to Australia to see the relatives.
Grandad and my Dad had always had an interest in film and it was to be my Dads 8mm cine camera that recorded some of our most wonderful childhood memories, and thank god he did!
Here is my first ever holiday, bit too young to remember much tho.
And here is one of my first ever trips to Spain! It’s a lengthy bit of footage but some of it was used in Thomsons commercial
And so on………….
All these reels were sent off at the end of every holiday and we waited for them to be processed before being posted back. Imagine that, waiting weeks to watch you own holiday films!
Once the packaged arrived, Dad would set up the projector in the living room, we would draw the thick velvet curtains and then watch ourselves projected onto the large white screen that would hang over the fireplace.
These evening were great events, they didn’t happen that often either but as the years went by, the more footage we had to watch. When Dad finally went over to VHS, we had a large box full of 8mm which then would have sat in a cupboard for many years until recently that is!
In the early part of 2011 I decided to get the old 8mm films along with the original projector and have a go at putting a few of them on my YouTube channel. I crudely set up my small Sony camera and projected the films onto the back of one of the Wifes shoe boxes. Once capture, I then uploaded the results up to my channel. After posting the links to family so they could see some of the stuff that had not seen the light of day for years, I kinda forgot about them until one Friday afternoon I got an email sent to my YouTube channel.
It read along the lines of, we are looking for 70s holiday footage film for a BBC documentary with Melvyn Bragg, I did a search on the net and it came up with yours, please get in touch, regards, BBC.
Well well well, I thought, I’ve got to get me some of this and I promptly made a few phone calls, send and received a few emails and bingo, sent a load of the original films to the Manchester Film Institute who then put them onto DVD and sent copies to the BBC.
A few weeks later, me and my Sister (Les) were invited down to Bristol Airport to film.
Here is the results from that day….
We never expected such a length feature of our films, it was great to watch and a great tribute to my Mum who sadly can’t be with us today.
Then, in the Summer of 2012, I was contacted by a large advertising agency who were putting together a commercial for a large tour operator and wanted to know if they could use my 8mm footage? Of course I said, and once again sent off the 8mm films for conversion.
Then eventually after a few months, during the X-Factor of all programs, the first Thomson commercial aired!
And here is that first advert….
Now, I’ll try to list the bits from my 8mm footage.
5 secs – Les with a camel in Tunisia
6 secs – Mum on the back of a camel
16 secs- Mum on the balcony of our let in Malta
23 secs- My first ever dive (Yeah I know Jenko and Sam, it was crap)
34 secs- Me on a pedalo in Spain
38 secs- Me and my Mum sat on a boat in Malta (She salutes)
And then in December of 2012, the second advert was released
Advert opens with my Sister being carried by my Dad on the beach.
5 Sec point, my Dad falling back on a deck chair.
8 Sec point, me as a toddler with my red trunks on
18 Sec point, me sliding down a slide into the water
So there you have it, a bit of background to these adverts and from my travels as a youngster.
Those holidays inspired me to keep on travelling and to keep on filming as well. I always take a video camera (now HD of course) on all the trips we go on.
I hope you enjoyed dipping into the past and all the very best for the future.
Oh, here is the direct link to my YouTube channel if you wanna have a browse at some more stuff.