AOL Travel reviews of a luxury all-inclusive hotel in the Maldives, Indian Ocean. For a Maldives holiday to remember, this hotel comes highly recommended.
Written by: Ruth Doherty
Lily Beach Resort and Spa
Date published: 06/13/2012
The Aqua Bar at the Lily Beach Resort & Spa
After being scarred by a "three-star" (I use the term lightly) all-inclusive holiday experience in Egypt, I was somewhat wary of taking the everything-included plunge for a second time.
But am I glad I did. Lily Beach Resort & Spa is exactly what this kind of holiday should be: value for money combined with high quality down to the smallest of details.
Stepping off the sea plane - a once-in-a-lifetime-experience in itself - the island looked more photoshopped in real life than it did in the brochure. Rarely have I been to hotels that look better than they do in the promotional pictures. I breathe a sigh of relief.
And from the welcome (albeit non-alcoholic) cocktail in the reception, things just got better and better.
We were whizzed to our Deluxe Water Villa (heaven on stilts - not a sentence I would usually say), by a handy buggy (at your service whenever you needed one) and stepping inside to a scene that could only be described as pinch-yourself perfect.
After a 10-hour flight (screaming baby included, not mine) and a two-hour wait at Malé airport before the 40-minute seaplane adventure, the pristine villa, glass floor, plunge pool, turquoise see-through sea, and two bottles of wine ready and waiting were a sight for extremely sore eyes.
"It's like having your own personal aquarium!" Mum cried excitedly - and she wasn't far wrong. Lying face down on the floor checking for exotic fish became a daily ritual.
Even an hour after arriving, sitting on the terrace sipping a glass of wine from one of the aforementioned bottles, we saw a small black shark drift past. A shark! We both let out delighted shrieks, before it suddenly dawned on me that tomorrow I'd be going snorkelling in that very same water. Or maybe not.
A nervous swimmer at the best of times, sharkgate had set me on edge somewhat, but the next morning my steely resolve not to go snorkelling disappeared after waking up to dozens of glittering, multi-coloured fish swimming outside and underneath the villa. It felt almost surreal to descend the steps from your own villa and plunge into the bath-warm water full of incredible, jewel-coloured examples of nature.
But, down at the silk-smooth white beach, the house-reef was even more amazing. Swimming outside the reef from the safety of the lagoon was a challenge for me, but seeing the mind-boggling marine life and multitudes of fish I had no idea even existed was something I'll cherish forever, and if you don't do it you're really missing out. We even had a close encounter with a turtle and an enormous stingray - and I still went back three times a day.
Lazy lunches with a glass of bubbles (or two), were followed by one of the three blissful daily must-dos: snooze, snorkel, spa. Usually in that order.
The food and wine were top notch - no rubbery fare with side dish of insects here (will I ever get over the Egypt nightmare?). True, buffet food, even when the choice is endless, fresh and varied, can be slightly tedious, but every effort is made here to make sure it isn't. Chefs will cook you food to order in front of your eyes, and there's a fine-dining option for at least one evening in a week's stay.
As I mentioned earlier, I decided to take my mum on this trip - instead of my fiancé - a decision that, as you can imagine, earned me a lot of light-hearted ribbing from hubby-to-be.
And, while this place is certainly perfect for couples or young families, it was truly special spending a magical five days there with the most important woman in any girl's life.
It was when mum turned to me with tears in her eyes and said: "Thank you so much for bringing me here, it's been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and I will never, ever forget it", that any feelings of guilt immediately dissipated.
Hubby and I will just have to go back for our honeymoon...
Details: Kuoni (01306 747008 or kuoni.co.uk) offers 7 nights on all inclusive basis at Lily Beach Resort & Spa at Huvahendhoo, Maldives in a beach villa, including return economy flights with Sri Lankan Airlines from Heathrow (via Colombo) with transfers in resort and access to the VIP lounge in Male airport on departure. Prices for May/June 2012 are from £2396 per person, based on two sharing.
Discover the delights of Lily Beach Resort & Spa here:
All-inclusive heaven in the Maldives