The gal arrives back in the Maldives and she is met, airside at the main Male airport, by Mark Hehir, CEO of Small Maldives Island Co (last time of meeting it was at One&Only Reethi Rah, where Mark and his wife Napha had matching buggies, one pale blue, one pale pink). From the airport it is a hop, skip and jump by one of Blackstone-owned TMA’s 45 Twin Otters for the flight to one of SMIC’s two resorts, Amilla Fushi. As always, the plane cruises up to a landing raft about half a mile offshore, and a boat awaits, to take passengers to land, and ‘real transport’. And here it is, above, champion buggy of this particular luxury resort.
All of Maldives’ 110 resorts are unique. This one can be described as celeb-special with great food and lots of fun. Here is where two of the former Spice Girls, plus Naomi Campbell plus McLaren’s Ron Dennis visited over this last Christmas, and the entertainment that SMIC flew in rivalled the offerings of One Nation. Amazing. I have room 307, an Ocean Lagoon House with a big pool – see the video below. I wish there was time to take advantage of the half-hour free professional photography that all newcomers are offered, with one of the resulting images as souvenir – as Mark Hehir says, his professionals know where all the best shots are.
We take a tour of the island. I love the five treehouses, set high up on stilts, walk up 42 wood stairs to get to your private domain, which comes with a spa room and, out on your treetop-high deck, an outside gym with TRX ropes and a big infinity pool. This resort works with Bodyism – Mark Hehir is brilliant with brands. When it comes to food and drink, I am shown a brick wine cellar with 350 labels, the Japanese restaurant and Emperor General Store, described as the epicentre of fun and games. Here a wall-set blackboard describes what is on offer today. Nearby, a working juke box and a big pool table offer continual activity.
At this lovely luxury resort, no wonder celebs love the sleek white villas and what they offer (you get five pieces of free laundry a day, per villa, which always helps). There is a football field and lots of tennis and of course watersports galore. People come to the Maldives to chilll out and since they go through a lot to get here – though not everyone, like me, has had two consecutive nights on planes – they stay longer than in city hotels back home. Hoteliers like this, though customers can become a little demanding sometimes, and they want lots of food choices, which makes it such a help to have a boss of the calibre of Mark Hehir who started his own career behind a stove. And now to his other resort (but see the video below, first)…