The Maldives tops the list for plenty of honeymooning couples. Daniel Pearce and his wife, Stephanie, head to Kuramathi Island Resort to enjoy their newlywed status and find it ticks all the romance boxes.
An idyllic bungalow on stilts that lets you drift off to sleep with the stars twinkling in front of you and the sound of the sea lapping underneath? Check.
A desert island with no motor vehicles, save 10mph humming golf buggies, that you can walk from end to end while enjoying a coffee or a pina colada? Check.
Enough restaurants to ensure you can eat in a different venue, enjoying a different cuisine, virtually every night on a 10-night stay? Check.
And your holiday companion? Well, that’s just about the only thing that Kuramathi can’t arrange. But your customers should really have taken care of that themselves long before they arrive on this desert island, one of the Maldives’ leading destinations for honeymoons and vow renewals, sold exclusively by Kuoni in the UK.
Anyone travelling to the Maldives for the first time for their honeymoon will expect the classic desert island experience – as do my wife, Stephanie, and I. And Kuramathi certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Arriving at Velana International airport on Male, the honeymoon begins in earnest when we meet our Kuoni representative in the arrivals hall. But it really takes off from the moment we leave the dedicated Kuramathi departure lounge at the seaplane terminal.
We are unfortunate to just miss a flight but it is worth the hour-long wait for the next one. Customers have the option of a 90-minute sea transfer or an upgrade to the seaplane and the 30-minute air hop.
I strongly recommend the latter, as it really gives you a sense of the Maldives, flying over a wealth of tiny islands that seem to house little more than a handful of dwellings, dotted around the bluest ocean you can dream of.
The seaplane makes a broad sweep over Kuramathi before looping around and landing in the sea next to a tiny floating pontoon 200 metres from the shore that surely isn’t big enough for everyone on the seaplane plus luggage. Yet somehow it is. Following a swift transfer to our waiting cruiser, we are whisked onto a jetty and into the resort. Welcome to Kuramathi.
At just over a mile long, the island is one of the larger resorts in the Maldives, and is the largest of six making up Rasdhoo Atoll, 35 miles south-west of Male, owned by Universal Enterprises Limited. With 360 rooms – ranging from water villas and two-bedroom beach houses to garden villas and two huge honeymoon pool villas – you could be forgiven for expecting the island to feel like a packed paradise.
Yet even though staff claim it is at more than 90% occupancy during our stay, the island never feels even remotely busy. There is so much space to wander the palm-tree-lined sandy boulevards and beaches, from pool to restaurant or down to the sandbank tapering into the sea west of the island.
Following our seaplane arrival, the series of “wows” continues with our water villa, to which we are driven within five minutes of checking into reception. Featuring a hallway, large bedroom/lounge kitchen and huge bathroom, complete with freestanding bath overlooking the ocean, it feels like a studio apartment we could live in for months. The spotless, twice-daily service means that it is always immaculate too.
Our first dining experience at Kuramathi is at seafood restaurant The Reef, an overwater experience enhanced by the arrival of a giant heron, watching our dinner from just outside the window but keeping its distance respectfully all the same.
This is just one of many memorable dining experiences during our 10 days. Encouraging clients to upgrade to the resort’s Select All Inclusive package is well worth it, as it means they can eat a la carte in any of the restaurants throughout their stay. Both the Basic and Select All-Inclusive packages include alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, high tea, snorkelling and windsurf equipment, plus two excursions.
Other favourite dining spots include Inguru – Asian-fusion dishes enjoyed among the trees in the middle of the island – and the gastronomic world cuisine of Duniye. I’m not usually one for Instagram-style style shots of my food but somehow I can’t stop myself, especially at the latter. And the theatre of Kobe, an overwater teppanyaki experience, adds an entertaining aspect to our feast of Aberdeen Angus beef, seafood and Asian vegetables.
Do remind clients to book ahead in all restaurants though – despite the sense of quiet across the island, the eateries can get busy. Reservations can be made from 48 hours prior to dining.
As for other activities, the laid-back vibe across Kuramathi doesn’t give rise to too many options other than the obvious – snorkelling, diving and dolphin-spotting excursions at sunset.
Marine life around its shores includes everything from manta rays and moray eels to sharks and surgeonfish, and there are plenty of opportunities to see them if you take excursions available from the resort’s fully-equipped Padi/SSI dive centre.
Away from the island, Stephanie and I enjoy a fantastic sundown adventure, included in both all-inclusive packages, on which we find ourselves on the trail of a pod of dolphins.
Back on the island, the fabulous Kuramathi spa – with its blend of European health and beauty products and Far Eastern essential oils – makes for a relaxing way to while away a few hours. Recommend honeymooners try a couple’s massage in the oversea treatment room, an unforgettable experience.
Evening entertainment is livelier than I expected, including movie nights on the beach, starlit discos and karaoke, and some really professional live performers.
One of Kuramathi’s biggest selling points must be the customer experience – epitomised by a buggy driver who remembers how much Stephanie enjoys the scent of Jasmine and hands her a bottle of oil the following day.
It has to be said there isn’t a huge menu of island activities, but then again that’s not what many of us go on honeymoon for, is it?
If your clients want an intimate honeymoon experience coupled with a large range of dining options, incredible customer service and guilt-free relaxation – and a Maldives experience that will truly live up to expectations for first-time visitors – Kuramathi should be top of their list.
Book it: A seven-night, full-board stay at Kuramathi Maldives in a Deluxe Water Villa starts from £2,549pp for selected departures in September 2019 and including flights when booked by April 30. Upgrades to all-inclusive start from an extra £301pp.