The most important information in a text about the Maldives is that yes, the destination really is everything that appears on social networks. The water is the same color, a scandalous translucent blue, it is in fact almost warm, and there are practically no waves. Most of the hotels look exactly like the pictures, and the people are almost embarrassingly friendly.
What Instagram doesn’t show, however, is that the Maldives are, yes, ostentation, influencers and romance, but not only that. The archipelago in the Indian Ocean, south of Asia and southwest of India, goes far beyond scenography by offering extreme contact with nature – you can swim with sharks in the open sea – and fun not only for couples, but also for families.
The only flaw in the Maldives is the price. In the case of Brazilians, who need to cross the globe in at least two planes and a boat to get there, the air part accounts for an expense of R$ 8,000 in low season (navigation is usually included in the price of hotels ).
Once there, it’s time to shell out for the daily rates that, if the idea is to enjoy the comfort that appears on social media, will not cost less than R$2,000, even in times of low demand – at high times, the most luxurious accommodations can surpass the R$ 20 thousand per night.
Otherwise, it’s embracing the outburst. Already through the window of the (second) plane, when seeing the atolls and reefs, the tourist experiences a dreamlike sensation that will accompany him until the check-out. It sounds like a lie, but the Maldives exist and we can prove it.
The archipelago is made up of more than a thousand islands –about 200 are inhabited– and one of the differentials of the destination is that, for the most part, each of the islands is home to only one hotel complex.
Therefore, boarding at the Brazilian airport anticipates a step that, in general, only happens in immigration from other countries: the tourist needs to inform the airline of the name of his hotel, the reservation number and for which period he will stay in the Maldives.
It’s a destination for at least four nights, even though the general calm gives the impression that there’s nothing to do but relax — and there is, it’s just hard to give up the “dolce vita” that the place makes possible. In the Maldives, 90% of the time is spent in the chosen hotel, so it is important that this decision is well taken.
One of the most exclusive complexes in the country is the Naladhu Private Island Resort, about 40 minutes by speedboat from capital Malé. While other hotels have a number of rooms that start from 60 and can reach up to 150, this one has only 20 rooms —the “villas”, in this case.
They are like real houses, built on the sand and not on the water, as seen in the classic images of the archipelago. The most basic, with rates starting at US$ 1,200 (R$ 6,360) face the open sea.
In the morning, with low tide, all the corals and shoals are on display for contemplation —it is not possible to access the water through the villa. With the ocean full, in the late afternoon, the sound of the waves breaking takes over everything.
It’s 300 m2bathroom with bathtub, shower and sauna, and 8 m infinity pool2🇧🇷 There is a gazebo and porch with swing around the building. An outdoor shower, over a water mirror, reinforces the idea of complete integration with nature.
The second category of villa is identical, and has daily rates that start at US$ 1,500 (R$ 7,950) and the differential of offering direct access to the sea in its typical Maldivian presentation: a transparent and calm lagoon. From the house’s garden to the hot water, the guest has to walk an exhausting 50 steps. When you return to your room, you will find platters filled with fresh fruit and fine chocolates.
All the work of the butler assigned to watch over each villa 24 hours a day. “There are families who ask for a fried egg at two in the morning, and we are always happy to serve them”, says Aslam, who occupies the post along with another dozen colleagues at Naladhu.
In addition to the thousands of anonymous people, Aslam has also taken care of royal families, actresses and football players, who tend to prefer the only two-bedroom residence in the complex, measuring 600 m2.212 m infinity pool2kitchen, two floors and private beach — a night there costs US$ 5,000 (R$ 26,500).
In addition to its exclusive character, Naladhu is also distinguished by treats such as the sumptuous breakfast served at any time in the restaurant. The contemporary and fresh gastronomy, incidentally, is only possible because of a supply system that has perishables coming once a week from Australia, Dubai, Thailand and Europe.
All waste produced at the hotel is transported to a support island, the Marina, where it is separated and organized for final disposal. The complex recycles all types of cardboard, metal, glass and plastic that circulate on its premises. Part of the organic waste becomes fertilizer for the garden.
Using the local “Uber” —a motorized boat for shallow waters with a pilot available— Naladhu guests have free access to the facilities of the other hotels in the Minor chain: Anantara Veli, aimed at adults only, and Anantara Dhigu, with a family profile and resort-like on the Brazilian northeastern coast —daily rates there start at US$1,358 (R$7,197).
Children especially enjoy the outdoor movie nights and sports and play courts, as well as the bicycles included in the rate of all villas, which serve for transportation and recreation.
For those who embark without children and with a thirst for romance, the Maldives are keen to show their most famous vocation. From water swings to couples’ massage spas, hotels offer activities that would look great on any sentimental Instagram post.
At Naladhu itself, you can have dinner by candlelight on the sand on the beach, have a floating breakfast in the private pool, and even get married in a ceremony (without legal validity) facing the sea. The outcome costs around US$ 5,600, or almost R$ 30,000.
All hotels on the islands offer tours. You can enjoy from a humble kayak to playing family Roy, from the “Succession” series, sailing on a huge yacht. To experience the local nature, the coolest program is swimming with sharks, which costs about $400 a head.
Leaving Brazil, the usual route to the Maldives makes a stopover in Doha, not Qatar. When you leave Guarulhos (SP), the first flight takes about 14 hours, and the second, six. It’s important to check the time you have between one plane and another —because it’s huge, Doha airport requires long internal journeys from the traveler.
It is also worth paying attention to local immigration requirements, such as filling out a form that can be downloaded in advance, with the guidance of the airlines, or at the airport lounge in Malé. Anyone who arrives at the counter without him is mercilessly sent to the end of the queue.
It is necessary to present valid vaccination certificate against yellow fever if the destination of origin is a country with potential for transmission of the disease —as is the case with Brazilians, for example, who are among the top five nationalities occupying the major resorts in the Maldives, according to Giles Selves, general manager of the division at Naladhu Private Island, Anantara Dhigu and Anantara Veli.
In addition to them, tourists from Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Arab Emirates top the list.
“The Russians are the biggest spenders, and they come often because they’re relatively close,” says the butler Aslam. “There are families who come to spend the whole month, sometimes going to Russia just for a meeting and coming back soon after.”
Veligandu Huraa, South Male Atoll 20109, Maldives. Rates from US$ 1,200.
South Male Atoll 20109, Maldives. Rooms start at $1,358.