Siobhan contacted me for some help with her honeymoon after seeing a recommendation on the excellent EGG (Edinburgh Gossip Girls) Facebook group.
She and fiancé Andrea wanted somewhere post-wedding to chill on a tropical beach and recharge with a bit of luxury thrown in. Although they had previously visited the Maldives, I felt that Ozen Life Maadhoo would tick their boxes and as a professional photographer, I couldn’t wait to see their pictures...
With the demands of planning a midsummer wedding and our desire to make the most of my husband's time off work by immediately heading off on honeymoon afterwards, it was a huge relief to find Gillian who helped reduce our stress levels considerably.
We had specific dates and a list of ideals that included turquoise water, a good reef for snorkelling and diving, a decent spa and as fine dining enthusiasts, somewhere with good food options was important.
With the idea of staying in an overwater villa also appealing and the rainy season making it a little cooler and more affordable, the Maldives appeared a great option and having visited before we also had an idea of what to expect.
Gillian took care of everything. She was always quick to respond and answer any questions, keeping us updated with all the required information including any potential restrictions and made the entire process extremely smooth - exactly what we needed.
After a wonderful wedding in June, we jetted off from Edinburgh to Malé via Doha with Qatar Airways. All the flights went smoothly and as scheduled with the final transfer to reach the island by speedboat.
The resort looked after us magnificently. The check-in process was seamless and the beautiful display of flowers on the bed wishing us a happy honeymoon was a lovely touch.
We had an exclusive butler, Mujey, who had pre-arranged a daily restaurant schedule and boat excursions, saving us loads of time planning when to go where. He was on hand via WhatsApp and would regularly check in to see if we needed any help.
The island itself is beautiful, easy to navigate and there are free bikes available to travel around. It was kept extremely clean and there were always gardeners and workers out making improvements.
We spent seven nights in an Earth villa and five in a Wind villa, both beautifully decorated, spacious, and always kept clean.
The beds themselves were super comfy and large, with big fluffy pillows. I’d read that the side of the island with the Earth villas had a much calmer sea which I’m pleased to report was true, enabling us to swim next to our villa daily.
The large baths in both were fantastic - it was so relaxing just chilling with a book while looking out to sea in the Wind villa.
A special shout out to our cleaners - Rashid, Mohamed and Salim - who visited twice per day but always made sure to ring the bell first and weren’t intrusive at all.
Culinary options were a big consideration when choosing a resort and we weren’t disappointed. We didn’t have a bad meal; everything was always fresh and delicious with plenty of variety available.
We loved the inclusion of the Peking and Indoceylon restaurants as they added variety both with the type of cuisine and location. Pritam at the latter was extremely helpful in suggesting dishes and even gave us a selection of starters and desserts to try.
There was a wide selection available at Palms during breakfast and lunch, and it was nice to be able to order from a more refined menu at dinner with lots of Italian influences - my Sardinian husband was delighted to find Fregola Sarda on the menu for our honeymoon dinner.
Andrea also loved the Maldivian breakfast with Chandra helpfully explaining what each dish was, and I enjoyed the freshly cut fruit every morning, watermelon being my favourite.
Other Palm highlights were the focaccia, soups, sushi station, tuna steaks and the charred black Angus. Every Friday is gala night with live food stations enabling us to sample lots of different cuisines.
The best part of Palms though was the amazing staff, who are a total asset to the resort, always greeting you with a big smile and super attentive to guests’ needs. We enjoyed chatting with them every day and they presented us with a beautiful bon voyage dessert on our last day which made us both tearful.
The underwater restaurant, M6M, was spectacular - being able to watch the fish and sharks while enjoying a lovely dinner was a new experience.
Lonu is a new Maldivian restaurant and undoubtedly provided the best meal and one of the highlights of our holiday. It’s impossible to pick a favourite dish as they were all so delicious, but we still dream about the Kanamadhu cake.
Our server, Shan, was so enthusiastic about the food which made it even more special, explaining about the dishes when serving them in addition to the lovely touch of making the table decoration himself.
It was handy being able to order food at the Joie de Vivre bar during the day if we found ourselves in need of a tasty and freshly cooked snack.
There were high-quality beverage options to choose from. We regularly enjoyed a mocktail or cocktail during the day/ evening and a milkshake for breakfast.
The brilliant staff at Joie de Vivre were attentive, knowledgeable, always made us feel welcome and were happy to chat (especially about my husband’s magic tricks). They made us a delicious “goodbye” Baileys cocktail on our final day, which we’ll always remember.
We joined bartender Arjun’s mixology class one day which was extremely interesting and had great fun making cocktails. We also enjoyed an insightful gin tasting and found it fascinating how adding different garnishes drastically changes the taste.
We enjoyed several activities, with some courtesy of friends and family who were able to contribute to our honeymoon using the gift registry through Holidaysplease.
The resort offers free daily snorkelling excursions which we did three times, seeing amazing sea life plus a fun private one where we saw a turtle close-up and swam with sharks.
We made use of the complimentary fins and non-motorised water sports equipment, including the kayaks, and used vouchers to try jet skiing which was amazing fun although harder than it looks.
The included boat excursions were excellent, with the sunset one a highlight, with dolphins swimming at our feet at the front of the boat.
We indulged in three different spa treatments including a first Maldivian sand massage and both felt incredibly relaxed afterwards. It was beautiful being right on the water and listening to the ocean during the treatments and the spa staff were brilliant.
The honeymoon was perfect in every way, and we had the most amazing time. Maadhoo island is truly magical with many special touches and delightful moments.
Our return journey was pretty exhausting due to missing a night’s sleep and not hydrating ourselves well enough but that was minor in the overall scheme.
Thank you, Gillian, for an awesome job piecing everything together and ensuring it all ran smoothly from start to finish - we really appreciate it.