Maldives: This is What Heaven Must be Like
When I travel, I like the recognizable "Great Walls" of the travel world. However, the types of destinations I truly love are the more remote or unique places. I have always been a beach baby, and the allure of staying in an overwater bungalow was a dream I’d had all too often. Naturally, I’ve been obsessed with the Maldives for years! Maldives are what I would consider a “trend” destination right now (not that I’m complaining!) because it is absolutely picturesque. This is due in part to its extremely low elevation: the highest point is a mere 8 feet (2.4m), so it's at a high risk of erosion or being swept away by a tropical storm. I remember tearing out a photo of the Maldives from Conde Nast Traveler back almost 10 years ago and hung it on my wall. That dream came true in early 2017!!!
The Best Kept Secret in Travel
Gilt Travel is where you find fancy-people trips for real-people prices. (You have got to subscribe NOW!) So when I got an email for 72% off an overwater bungalow with a private infinity pool, I immediately called my dearest friend Jeff, with whom I’d always talked about the Maldives with. Actually, wait - people don’t call each other anymore. Who am I kidding? I forwarded him that email. After what felt like forever, he finally said yes!
We planned the trip for February right after Fashion Week, leaving the day after the Oscars!
After lugging my baggage around LA to two nail clients, (Nominee Ruth Negga for her role in Loving, and Viola Davis who WON for her role in Fences!) I left straight to the airport, ran through security and was the last person onboard the redeye back to NYC. What a day!
Flying to the Maldives
We knew flying to the Maldives would be a long trek, but we didn’t care. I actually set a timer from the moment we left my apartment, to the moment we set foot into our weeklong heaven-on-earth. Any ideas on how long the journey took us door-to-door? Read on to find out!
We decided to fly on Emirates. One reason is that it flew through Dubai (another city I love) and its notorious for fantastic service and food too (I wasn’t blown away, but whatevs). Flights from NYC to Male were $950, a shockingly low entry fee to heaven on one of the world’s top airlines. If you don’t live near a major city, flying through New York is an easy choice along with 10 other US cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. (Also Toronto!)
Beating Jet Lag
We had a 6-hour layover in Dubai on the way over. It wasn’t enough to do anything so we just ate Indian food and took naps. We were scheduled to land in Male in the morning (around 11 pm New York time) and I was not about to waste any of the first day jet-lagged! By the way - here's my video on how I pack my bag for a long flight!
Speaking of jet lag - I want to share my personal anti-jet-lag secret with you! Here it is: It depends on where I am going, and the time of my flight. For example, when I have flown from NYC-Hawaii, flights usually depart at 6 or 7am, and you arrive around 3 pm. Since I am a night owl, I stay up as long as I can (a bit of coffee helps), and head to the airport around 4 am. Its nearly my usual bedtime anyways, and I sleep easily on the airplane so that when I arrive, I feel right on track.
Other things I recommend: As soon as you board the plane, set your watch or phone to the destination time and force yourself to get on their time immediately. For me, this means taking a little Sominex to help me sleep or drinking some coffee from inside the airport (never from on the plane!) to stay awake. This technique hasn’t failed me once. I realize that not everyone can sleep on an airplane, but put some noise-canceling headphones on with some Tchaikovsky or bossa nova, and at least you can rest your body, which helps a great bit.
Our Gilt package included everything but lunch and the flight to Male (I love when things are made easy). We stayed at a resort called The Residence Maldives, on the island of Falhumaafushi. Good thing that door-to-door taxi and boat service was included because I would have butchered that pronunciation to a cab driver!
As the speed boat got closer to the resort, I’m pretty sure the saw my Cheshire grin before they saw the rest of me. We were whisked via golf cart (no cars on the tiny island!) and were shown around our suite, pool and the Residence grounds.
It's no surprise that when I travel, I head straight to the hotel's spa. Hotel spas are some of the best spas I've ever visited and the Clarins spa at the Residence was no exception. The spa is actually home to the only Clairins spa in all of the Maldives!
I didn't waste any time booking a 90-minute massage (which was out of this world) and on the way out, I met the spa director. In our conversation he asked what I did and I told him I did nails! So he asked me if I would consider teaching his team some manicuring tips and tricks. Of course I said yes! How cute are we? (Later I went back for a facial too!).
Some things to know about Maldives:
1.) It is pronounced Mal-DEEVES, not Mal-DIVES. Still not sure if it's just “Maldives" (like Hawaii?), or "The Maldives" (like 'The' Caribbean). Does anyone know? Tell me in the comments, please!
2.) Every single employee would say hi to you, and when they did so, they stopped what they were doing, put their hand over their hearts, and lightly bowed and smiled. I loved this as it truly was genuine and welcoming.
3.) Maldivians are Muslim, but at the resorts, it is okay to wear bikinis as you would in the States.
4.) Bring slippers! Like in Japan, do not wear shoes in your bungalow. I didn’t bring any slip-ons and had to buy some flip-flops for $40 in the gift shop!
5.) There are absolutely NO INSECTS in the Maldives! I wrongfully assumed the warm weather meant tons of bugs and I brought four (yes, FOUR) different types of insect sprays and didn’t even take them out of my suitcase.
6.) The employees live there on a contract (about 2 years!). There are no houses on the island, just the resort and their living quarters. Which brings me to…
7.) Because there was no “town” to explore, no excursions to decide on (and pay boatloads for), you can TRULY RELAX. Guys, I had never been happier in my life. Even Jeff commented how happy I looked.
8.) Free wifi in the rooms. And it was STRONG. So you can post those perfect IG shots till your heart’s content.
Basically, I can never travel again because the Maldives is just THAT GOOD. And check out Gilt Travel to get on their mailing list. They have Maldives sales on the reg. (I’m actually going back again in March!).
P.s. - it took 32 hours door-to-door to get there. Still, it was worth every. single. minute.