Asian Journeys

Magic in the Maldives

SARAH COOK TAKES US UNDERWATER AT THE FAIRMONT MALDIVES SIRRU FEN FUSHI.

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There are many options when considerin­g a Maldivian escape, but we chose the Fairmont because we had read about its underwater art museum, the Coralarium, designed by British artist and marine activist, Jason de Caires Taylor.

PROTECTING REEFS

Resident marine biologist, Sam, took us for a snorkel through this magical museum, explaining how the artwork highlights the fragility of the reef and the role humans play in protecting it for future generation­s. Each of the sculptures is constructe­d of hundreds of ceramic ‘starfish’ whose hard shells catch fish food. This encourages coral larvae to attach and thrive, while nooks and crannies provide a playground for a variety of colourful fish.

DIVING WITH MANTAS

Sam also helped arrange a dive tour with mantas in the protected nine-kilometre house reef, where the aquatic giants gather to be cleaned by smaller fish. The house reef boasts over 350 species of fish. Sam introduced us to some of the friendlies­t turtles who make the resort reef their home including Martha, who frolicked in the water right beside us.

ACCOMMODAT­ION

We stayed in a luxurious overwater sunset villa, a perfect confection of white and blue spaces opening to the vast horizon. The copper bathtub overlookin­g the sea was my favourite feature and I spent hours soaking in the view. We also had one night in a unique tented jungle villa, hidden amongst lush vegetation for a completely different experience.

TIME FOR PLAY

The resort is perfect for families as it boasts the longest pool in the Maldives at 200 metres, a kids club and teen’s retreat with activities that include an on-site art studio. Children can plant their own coral which they can see flourish if they revisit the resort.

For the adults, the gorgeous Willowstre­am Spa boasts a menu of curated treatments inspired by traditiona­l Maldivian culture. There’s even a jungle cinema. Another highlight was our sail on a traditiona­l Maldivian dhoni. We sipped Champagne while dolphins splashed about in the water and the sun slid into the sea in vivid shades of red and orange. Amazing!

FEASTS FROM THE SEA AND LAND

The food was incredible and blew us away, from the internatio­nal menu at Raha Market to fine dining in overwater Japanese restaurant, Kata. For something more casual, we loved Onu Onu, offering a poolside ambience with fire pits, but our favourite was Azure, an overwater restaurant offering fresh seafood plucked from local waters. Staff can also help set up a romantic dinner under the stars on the powder-soft sand for something truly memorable.

W: all.accor.com

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