By Shereen Shabnam
There are very few countries in the world that come close to the beauty of my home country Fiji Islands and theRepublic of Maldives is one of few that does come close. Located in the Indian Ocean, Maldives has 1,192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls with almost 400,000 inhabitants.
We recently ventured into Maldives to visit the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, a paradise resort known for luxury, romance, water sports, picturesque clear blue sea and tropical bliss.
We started our journey as a group together at the Etihad Business Lounge in Abu Dhabi sampling delicacies and getting to know each other better. From Check-in to the lounge and to aircraft, our experience was seamless and the attentive service by the crew was a bonus.
Being an islander I love the sun, sand and sea when on holiday and the marine world in Maldives is known for its beauty, especially the coral reefs that are home to a variety of marine ecosystems.
During my first two days at the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, I explored the cool and contemporary spaces, stylish interiors, and beautiful gardens around the island. I was offered water based activities such as scuba diving, fishing, swimming, water skiing, wind surfing and snorkeling but I opted for a sting ray feeding experience and a boat ride to spot dolphins at play – both experiences were magical.
Guests at Iru Fushi can enjoy the unspoilt islands of Noonu Atoll, where Maldivian past life is reflected with boat builders working meticulously sanding wood to reveal a silken finish, children being educated about local marine species and farming of fruits and organic vegetables.
My room was a water villa on stilts with a small glass on the floor that gave me a view of the area below serving as personal coral garden and natural aquarium. The area felt like having a large natural swimming pool that protected me from the ocean waves and strong tidal currents beyond the villas. Close by, other guests enjoyed walking on the soft sand and sun bathing before jumping into the crystal clear waters.
Spas are my weakness and the resort offers a 20-room tropical spa with an enormous range of treatments, including massages, relaxation therapies and facials set in a tranquil environment. It is the perfect place for a beauty break.I enjoyed walking barefoot along the cobbled paths; the white sands and watched the palm trees as they gently leaned into the breeze after my massage session.
While waiting for my flight, I waited at the hotel’s private lounge near the airport where I tried a refreshing welcome drink, a quick snack and a short shoulder massage. Designed to be the one of the best airport lounges in the Maldives, the spacious private lounge can be used by guests arriving to The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi. The lounge also has a children’s play room, outdoor balcony, free WiFi, computer stations as well as showers and changing facilities.
The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi’s Deluxe Beach has Villas with Pool, Pool Beach Villas, Sunset Horizon Water Villas or Infinity Water Villas. The resort features 221 luxury oceanfront villas, including 70 over-water bungalows, 14 restaurant and bar choices with a wide range of activities.
The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is 45 minutes seaplane journey from the capital, Malé, where Velana International Airport is located. Guests are met by a uniformed team member on arrival and then taken on a 10-minute drive by shuttle to the seaplane terminal to the designated seaplane lounge while waiting for the seaplane boarding call.
Visit Sun Siyam Iru Fushi and take in its vibrant local life, which has been influenced by various cultures and yet remains unique and a perfect holiday destination with relaxing days that are long and sun-filled and nights that are exciting and energetic.
We flew to Maldives with Etihad Airways because of the convenient timings and premium service and took a domestic fight to the Island. I just wish I could experience this mesmerizing award-winning resort for longer.