“It’s pronounced Moldeeves…or paradise” was the response I got when I first landed on the island and even though, out of habit I still refer to it with more of a maal and diives, that gentleman was absolutely correct about the second part, paradise it is! All that you know about The Maldives being idyllic & picturesque is absolutely true and then some!
As I sit here and reminisce over our glorious week of ‘workationing’, the first thing I’m struck with, is how much I miss it. But yes of course you’re thinking, ‘why wouldn’t you’?!
Well, we live a few hundred meters away from the ocean, so that’s not that part I miss. What has me wistful is the complete serenity, the total lack of cars, the smiling faces, the rainbow of ocean blues and an unhurried schedule the island moves to. That’s what I miss the most.
In a world that has become so small, and interconnected, the Maldives is still very much uncharted territory by the masses – it retains it’s elusiveness through it’s remoteness. It took us almost 24 hours of traveling to reach Ayada from Sydney, but unlike all the other times I’eve traveled that kind of distance, I woke up to the sounds of the ocean lapping below us, threw open the doors to an endless turquoise and cobalt ocean and shared a moment with a turtle we named Roger, who was not even 3 meters from our (over-sea) hammock. Roger just bobbed his head in a knowing way, while I marveled at all that was before me.
The island of Maguhdhuvaa is located 30KM’s from the Equator and so far from civilization that you can’t help but feel like you’re a modern day Robinson Crusoe. Except where Crusoe had to fashion his shelter, scrounge for food and occupy himself so as not to go mad, at Ayada, your shelter is a 5 star suite or villa with a private infinity pool, the food is varied and excellently prepared and occupying yourself is the furthest thing from your mind.
Traversing the entire island will take you approximately 20 minutes or you could have your butler chauffeur you in a golf cart to and from your meals and massages. We, however, chose for most of our time to ride the island’s simple white bicycles, peddling our way through palm tree lined avenues and down boardwalks suspended over a coral reef teeming with all manner of fish, reef sharks and sea life.
Incredibly, 99% of the Maldives comprises of water and at no point in the Maldives are you above sea level by an average of 1.5m, but I don’t think at any point on our ‘workation’ were we further from the water by that same distance! The azure hues of the water are like nothing any of us had ever seen before, the spectrum of colours are almost like a painting, perfect and clear and never-ending.
When one heads to a tropical island you are generally accompanied by your nearest and dearest, in this case Jem and I we’re joined by four of ours, and having done so we would highly recommend turning this romantic destination on it’s head and making it a friends-in-tow getaway. Where, as a couple you may lounge by the pool, sip your cocktails, read a book or two and just ease into relaxation. We spent a lot of the time laughing together, mastering our jumps off the infinity pools edge (shhh don’t tell Ayada), biking from one side of the island to the other and and topped it all off with couples massages for all at Ayada’s fully equipped spa retreat.
For a couple of days we ventured off the resort and took a jet boat trip over to neighbouring islands and sand banks where we explored rough terrain, met up with Roger’s buddies while snorkeling a reef drop off that spanned at least 3 KM’s. We also got into the spirit of it all and kayaked half the way round the island, well Margo and I kayaked – the boys occupied themselves with taking photo’s of us and everything around us. We also spent some time surfing one of the Maldives infamous over-reef breaks and then back to Ayada in time for a hearty afternoon lunch.
Since arriving home, oddly enough everyone has asked us about the food and we can absolutely say it was plentiful and sumptuous. Tuna is the Maldives 2nd main source of income (after tourism) and happily it is in abundance on the island. The sashimi lovers in our group we’re so spoilt with the freshest tuna we’ve ever tasted! On our last night we had a celebratory dinner at the Mediterranean themed restaurant Ocean’s Breeze, like everything else on the island it’s all focused on the ocean and as we sat on the deck watching the sunset and the lights of the bungalows twinkle onto the water, the food just did not stop arriving – we we’re quite literally drowning in excellently prepared and presented sea fare. The standout was the scallops, they were soft and buttery and, well, simply the best scallops I’ve ever had.
Ayada offers a varied array of accommodation, from a beachside villa or suite and of course the quintessential over water bungalow, and having now experienced this slice of bungalow life, I don’t know how I will ever be able to stay in a villa that doesn’t’t have a glass bottom lounge room to watch as the underwater world swims by, or for that matter doesn’t have an infinity pool that stretches over and into an endless blue. I have been totally spoilt by the vistas and serenity of Ayada.
Every suite and villa island-wide has a private pool (of course) and so we found that through the day most of the guests chose to vacation in their secluded spaces – who wouldn’t’t! Which left the main pool area, swim up pool bar and restaurant, well, quiet – which is an absolute first for any resort I’ve ever been to and we relished the opportunity to do some lazy laps and partake in a couple of in-pool cocktails!
As the term ‘workation’ implies it wasn’t all long lunches, sashimi, cocktails and working on our tans. Our team we’re there to shoot our Pre Fall campaign, which will be released in Mid-May and I say without hesitation that it is the best campaign yet. So much so, we’re having a very tough time choosing from the thousands upon thousands of images we created, but this is the best problem to have after any campaign shoot.
The Ayada team went above and beyond and catered to all our needs, and then some, our model Margo celebrated her birthday with us on the island and the the staff marked the event with a cake and a song! There’s one thing for certain, besides the tan lines and endless memories, the Maldives has left an indelible mark on us all.