Hotel Review: Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, The Maldives
Travel writer Sally Meeson checks out the impressive results of a multi-million dollar makeover for one of the Maldives’ oldest resorts.
It’s lunchtime in the Maldives… and I’ve quite literally been plunged into Paradise. Perched at a picnic table, part submerged in the Indian Ocean’s turquoise water, the view around me is as extraordinary as the food being served. Sleek reef sharks glide past my toes followed by graceful stingrays and colourful tropical fish.
Waiters appear through palm trees and stride across the white sand a short distance away from me. They wade into the water in rolled up shorts to serve champagne, followed by seafood so fresh it practically melts on your tongue. The occasional heron or fruit bat flies over the table’s pretty white parasol and everything starts to feel like a beautiful dream. The Maldives is regarded as the ultimate place to relax and unwind… and so far I can definitely see why!
Just a couple of hours earlier I’d flown into Male International Airport, where I was promptly picked up by speedboat and whisked to Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa. One of the many great things about this resort is that it’s just 1 kilometre from the airport, so no need to waste time and energy on a bumpy seaplane. As the resort’s palm-lined, private island of Furanafushi began to emerge we were greeted by smiling, waving staff on the hotel’s jetty.
The resort is the third oldest resort in the Maldives – dating back to 1937 – and has just undergone a $20 million renovation. It already offered everything you would hope for in a classic Maldivian holiday. But the recent updates to its architecture, gardens, pools and restaurants now make it an upscale, contemporary tropical destination.
I was taken to one of their new luxury room categories: a ‘Cottage with Pool’. These gorgeous thatched villas are just a minute’s walk from the beach and have private gardens with plunge pools at the front. While at the back, beautiful open air bathrooms means you shower and bathe surrounded by tropical flowers while basking in sunshine. The perfect antidote to a long flight or a refreshing start to another magical day in the Maldives.
The next morning began with an energising breakfast at one of the resort’s 7 restaurants and bars: Sand Coast. With a choice of hot Maldivian dishes along with continental breakfasts and fruits, I happily set myself up for the day – dining al fresco by the beach while watching the sun rise over the lagoon.
Then it was time to grab a snorkel and jump onto another speedboat for an unforgettable day. Blasting across the waves we twisted around islands and private yachts until we spotted a sliver of pure sand in the distance, set with two simple white parasols and a picnic basket. This beautiful, remote sand bank was to be our base for the morning.
After checking out life under the sea, thanks to a splash around in our snorkels, we then spread out on the baking sand where we were served our picnic, which we washed down with chilled champagne. This ‘Sand Bank and Guided Snorkelling Excursion’ is one of many outings organised by the Sheraton Maldives which I would highly recommend for an epic and indulgent escape.
After heading back to the resort for some beach time it was time to head out on another watery adventure. As the sun began to set, we sailed out into the orange sky to cruise alongside some of the Maldives’ friendliest characters: dolphins! Watching clusters of them bobbing in unison to our boat and occasionally leaping out of the water was a magical highlight of the trip. Then it was back to the resort for a delicious fish market buffet on a fairy lit beach, accompanied by local musicians and the relaxing sound of the waves.
The next day was a chance to explore the other side of the island, which has the over-water villas for which the Maldives is so renowned. I relocated to a ‘Water Bungalow with Pool’, another new addition as part of the $20 million renovation. This luxury wooden villa, set on stilts above the ocean, has its own decked terrace complete with plunge pool and a staircase leading directly into the water.
Helping me with my move was Assad, my ‘Villa Host’. What I’d describe as a tropical butler come personal holiday buddy, Villa Hosts are a new feature at the resort and are available on request for all rooms. From transporting you around the island by buggy to escorting you on trips and excursions, the Villa Host stays on hand throughout your holiday to help it run smoothly.
Amongst the network of little wooden bridges connecting the water villas is a longer walkway which takes you out to the ‘Shine Spa’. Located on its own little island, this tranquil retreat offers massages, facials and body treatments in spacious rooms with views and sounds of the crashing waves.
I chose an Asian Journey Massage: a combination of Balinese and Thai massage which involved having my limbs gently stretched and pressure points kneaded until every knot of stress had left my body. Returning to the huge white bed inside my water bungalow that night, and drifting off to the sound of the waves lapping below, I enjoyed the most restful night’s sleep imaginable.
Fully recharged, it was time to explore the activities on offer at the Sheraton Maldives. I started my final morning with a refreshing beach yoga session then went to check out the Water Sports available at the Extreme Maldives Center on the resort’s Anchorage Beach.
After easing in with some gentle paddle boarding it was time to harness up for a once in a lifetime experience: parasailing above the Maldives islands. With a multi-coloured parachute behind me I sat on the back of a speedboat until the warm air gently lifted me gradually into the sky. Soaring higher and higher above passing boats, with an aerial glimpse of life inside the other islands, couldn’t have been a more perfect end to an unforgettable trip.
Nightly rates at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa start from $400/£315 per night based on 2 people sharing a Deluxe Garden View King Room on a B&B basis.
Water sports available through Extreme Maldives at Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa.
Address: Furanafushi Island North Malé Atol, 08240, Maldives
Phone: +960 664-2010