Travel // The Residence Maldives, a babymoon.

March 13, 2019

Hello! How are you? We’ve just returned from the most incredible week in the Maldives, one last big long haul trip and babymoon as just us two and I still can’t quite believe it was real. Especially when going back through these photos, I just want to beam myself straight back there. We stayed at The Residence Maldives and I've shared alll the photos below along with a review. The week was made extra special by us choosing to find out the sex of our baby whilst we were there, and as such it will definitely be a week to remember forever even more so now. More below, if you fancy a read.

On flights and getting there // we booked the direct BA flight from Gatwick to Male this time {previously we’ve always gone via the Middle East on Qatar or Etihad} because we knew we had another flight to get to the island and being pregnant/more tired didn’t want the hassle of changing through the often hectic hubs in the middle of the night. The price was the same, it just meant we had to get to Gatwick instead of Heathrow. The benefits were having a night flight to get sleep on the way there but then having to leave our resort at 4.30am on our last day to then spend all day flying {whereas the indirect have later times}. I also feel the indirect with the Middle Eastern airlines are on newer planes that are a bit more spacious and you get a little bit better service. But on this trip, direct was the best option for us.

From Male, the main airport in the Maldives, we had another flight to catch to get near to the resort. It wasn’t a seaplane, just a small ish 1 hour domestic flight {where a Residence representative will greet you in Male and take you to a lounge to get some food until the next flight is ready. They have surprisingly good Maldivian fish curry here!}. It’s all very relaxed and not like the usual international flights. I love the views of the atolls below and the incredible sea as you fly over them, it’s such a beautiful part of the world to witness. You collect your luggage and then go to a waiting Residence van on the small island to be shuttled less than a minute across it to the boat dock to then get a 7 minute speedboat to the resort. What an adventure! When you land in Male after the 10 hour BA flight it does feel like a schlep when you can see people getting speedboats straight to their holidays from there, but the minute you arrive I promise that it’s worth it and the journey instantly melts away.

On how long to go for // we had 7 nights, but with the first and last day being cut short for travel, it worked out to 6 full days. I was a little worried at first if it would go too fast but just a couple of days in, basically doing the same thing everyday, we felt like we’d been there forever. And by the last day I think we were just about ready to go home {although of course it’s never easy to leave paradise and the minute you're home you miss it SO bad}. Whilst there are so many activities to keep you occupied should you wish {a water sports centre, dive centre, snorkel equipment loaned for your stay, daily snorkel trips, a gym, bikes to ride, the spa to visit, pools and the sea to swim in}, The Maldives is the ultimate place to flip and flop so take lots of books and enjoy the art of doing not a lot. It’s pure sunbathing and swimming heaven. Some people would want 2 weeks I guess but somewhere like this for us a week is always long enough.

There’s a 5 hour time difference ahead so jet lag isn’t too bad, we found we were tired on the first night from the travel and then felt a bit groggy when we woke up the next morning but after that felt fine. Besides, if you do sleep in then who cares! You’re in paradise with nooo agenda.

On the Zika risk // I had lots of messages about this on Instagram so thought I’d address my opinions on it all here. Note that this is just my experience and you should do your own reading/research/ make your own decision. Technically the NHS classes the Maldives as an at risk of Zika zone {which only really matters if you’re planning on trying for a baby within the next few months or if you are already pregnant as in some cases across South America it has caused baby’s to be born with birth defects}. But we did lots of reading about this and in reality there have only ever been 3 cases out of the millions of people who travel there every year, and none at all since 2016. Zika needs a population to establish from and the nature of the tiny Maldivian islands all separated from each other makes this hard to establish. We also travelled during the dry season and checked that our island fogs the resort each week {we actually saw them doing this one evening}. I still took 50% DEET spray with me and used it morning and night but I didn’t get a single bite, and nobody else on the island we spoke to did either, they didn’t even spray up. To be extra sure, stay in a water villa above the sea. The Caribbean and South/Central America has had a lot more Zika cases, even Florida has had a lot of cases. To us the Maldives didn’t seem like a big risk at all. Of course, it’s such a personal decision if you are pregnant/planning to be. But we’re so glad that we went. Spray up when you arrive at the airports as this is actually the time when you’re mostly likely to be bitten. Also, since the big epidemic globally a few years ago, cases have suddenly dropped and scientists are now trying to work out why! It's worth reading more into if it could affect you.

On the food // There are two main restaurants, a pool bar and a bbq that’s open a few nights a week. The Dining Room has a buffet breakfast every morning, where the fruit chef would ask what you’d like that day before bringing an expertly sliced selection to your table {we always went for dragon fruit, kiwi and passion fruit. Our favourite tropical fruit!}, then there are pastries & cakes, yogurts, cooked breakfasts, an egg chef, a waffle/pancake chef, Chinese, Middle Eastern and even sushi. We were on half board so went BIG on the breakfast knowing it would be a long wait until dinner {although we learnt on our honeymoon to pack some snacks from home for that mid afternoon hunger!}

Then, at dinner the dining room served a different themed buffet each evening {again with a couple of live chef stations} which we really liked. And it had an a la carte menu for if you didn’t feel like having a million puddings from the buffet and then feeling STUPIDLY full, always my biggest downfall, which was really good too - we loved the Maldivian tuna curry & the chocolate ice cream was like the best french mousse you’ll ever eat. It’s relaxed in here, men don’t need long trousers or shirts for dinner and you can eat on the edge of the sand.

One night we went to The Fulhamaa restaurant, the special restaurant at the end of a 250m jetty out to sea that you need to book ideally a day or so before going. The setting is dreamy, above the ocean lit so you can watch the fish swim past and under a million stars. The starry skies were amazing here away from light pollution. Men need to wear trousers here or get given a sarong to wear for the evening. Make sure you request an outside table.

A couple of nights a week there’s a special BBQ grill on the sand, which looked really fun {and had lots of lobster/seafood} but this is a hefty extra supplement on top of half board so we gave it a miss.

We saw lots of people having lunch so there are probably full board options if you feel like it but with the huge breakfasts and heat we nearly always go for half board. Just be aware that like all islands in the Maldives, drinks are expensive and something to factor in. Alcohol is prohibited to take into the country so you are captive to their prices and taxes.

On our room // we were in an overwater bungalow {request one in the 300s on the sunset side for the most sunshine, best water and dream sunset views} which was incredible. It was spacious, had a large private terrace with sunloungers and steps down into the sea and a dream huge bathroom with a freestanding bath next to the water and two showers {!}. One indoor and one out. More photos below.

Every room comes with a pair of bikes which we loved and it made getting around the island lots of fun. You can also request a buggy to take you to dinner etc if you didn’t want to walk/cycle but we welcomed the exercise and step count with the huge breakfasts we ate every morning and the lazy days!

If money was no object we would have gone for an over water pool villa as these looked even better, with a large private infinity pool right above the sea. But the beach villas all have their own terrace right on the sand too, it’s just that in the afternoons these were fully shaded. I think beach villas would be the best option if you had young children to avoid the panic of the overwater jetty’s and high decks and to have the sand right outside your room. Some of these have pools or their own hammocks or both.

On things we LOVED about the Residence Maldives //
Almost everything! It's pure paradise and you can't quite believe that it's real as you walk around and try to take it all in.
The staff were all so so gorgeous and genuinely lovely/couldn’t do enough for you which really made the trip. Even the gardeners when you walked past would stop and say hello. The people are just the best.
The pristine island, everyday the beaches were swept and paths cleared from even a single leaf. It’s such a beautiful island surrounded by white sand and the clearest, turquoise perfect water with a cool tropical jungley bit in the middle to walk/cycle through. There are multiple beach areas, every corner more beautiful than the last.
The size of the island. Not too small to go stir crazy, but not too big. The Goldilocks of atolls, this one seemed just right to us and with a couple of laps around it throughout the day, we could even keep up our 10,000 step streak ha!
The pool area will take some beating. We used to want to spend most of our time here just staring at the view and the set up of the tasteful lounger beds/pool bar/beach that merge into this paradisiacal scene. I took so many photos of this and honestly think it’s the most beautiful pool/beach area we’ve ever visited. Because every other room type has their own private pool, this was never too busy either.
The water. I think the photos do enough talking for this.
The spa is run by Clarins and we had the ultimate heavenly afternoon one day with a couples massage {mine was a pregnancy massage, the best I’ve had so far!}. I also don’t think you’ll find a better setting for a spa either in individual over water huts looking out to the ocean. We floated out, although didn’t want to leave!
One evening we booked a dolphin sunset cruise and it was such a memorable beautiful evening seeing some other islands, having dolphins swim at the front of our boat, spinning and showing off and then watching the sunset on our way back to the resort.

when the spa looks like this... each hut is a treatment room!

On things I felt it lacked // 
  • Amazing snorkelling. We didn’t book the snorkel trip to a nearby reef {an extra charge} but snorkelled from our water villa after picking up snorkels from the dive centre and were a bit surprised by the lack of guidance for where to snorkel/what to see. We saw some fish and a huge ray but the reef definitely wasn’t the best we’ve seen and lacked coral colour {I guess partly a sad fact of global warming?}. We actually saw more just from our deck/the jettys when walking around as the water is so clear so you spot lots of baby sharks, dolphins, colourful fish, rays and even turtles just from the surface. 
  • Incredible food. This is a tricky one as we definitely didn’t have any bad food at all, everything we had was good, it’s just the breakfast dining room and variety wasn’t the best ever compared to some other resorts. Of course, I’m being SO picky here, and also logistically it’s incredible that they do have food from all around the world imported here, but I wanted to give our honest thoughts. 
There’s a 1km bridge linking this resort to the island’s sister resort which is due to open around April/May time and I’m so interested to see how the two islands will interact, it should give a lot more dining options and the chance to have two islands in one! 

On comparisons to previous resorts // one of the questions I got messaged a lot whilst we were in the Maldives was how we felt this resort compared to our previous trips and which has been my favourite. My husband and I talked a lot about this, it’s so natural to compare different holiday places isn’t it? I mean, they’re all so incredible. But in my opinion;
We’ve previously stayed at Baros, for our honeymoon, and the Shangri La as part of a press honeymoon trip a couple of years later. They were both incredible but actually I think The Residence wins overall. Baros definitely has the best snorkelling & house reef with a dedicated marine team who name the turtles and is amazing for being just a short boat ride from Male minimising travel, it’s a stunning island but it’s not cheap, it’s a bit too stuffy in a way, hasn’t been updated in a while and is almost too small. 
The Shangri La would win for food but it doesn’t have much beach, there’s not tonnes of marine life and is a bit too big, it’s also the most expensive and like the Residence needs an extra flight. 

The Residence we felt was the best size of them all - not too big, not too small just the most perfect Maldivian island, had the best beaches, water, atmosphere, pool and was best value for money {cheapest out of the three yet definitely didn't feel like we missed out on anything!}. 

In this blog’s, and my camera happy, style, lots more photos of our trip below;

A well travelled bump! Leaving Gatwick.

To then jump on our flight to Kooddoo Island.

2 flights and a speedboat later, we made it!

Hello paradise.

Welcome treats in our room.

Exploring the island, spotting baby sharks on our first walk along the beach and jetty.

Our room, a water villa.

That first night on our deck, finally opening the envelope to discover that we were having a girl! {see this post}

Waking up to this view and the calmest, most beautiful sea.

Our daily walk/cycle to breakfast.

The breakfast of dreams.

Followed by mornings spent here.

And afternoons back at our villa/on the deck. It's funny how fast you get into little routines on holiday.

Baby shark! {cue that song being in our heads all week}

Sunset from our room. Request a villa in the 300s on the sunset side if you can.

Walking across the bridge to the other island one morning. 

and spotting this sandbank which we later realised would be the perfect spot for our gender announcement video!

Just the most incredible place.

So, so much love for this guy and spending that dream week together - even more so knowing that trips won't be the same for a while! 

Our dhoni boat for the sunset dolphin cruise. {book this a day or so in advance, they need a minimum of 4 people to go}

Swimming next to the boat, and then showing off with their spinning flips!

The evenings were just as magical as the days were paradisiacal. 

Through the centre of the island or round the beach way? We loved both.

Hiring a drone for a shoot one day!

Can you see why I took a million photos?!

In the mornings the water was so shallow that you could walk all the way out to that rock! 

Afternoon walks around the island.

My friend leant me Michelle Obama's book before going away and it was such a great read. It was the first trip that I skipped reading the usual thrillers and instead read this and a couple of baby books, but mostly I just wanted to stare at that view.

Leaving a gap in the curtains each night so we could see this when we woke up!

These colours.

Our favourite part of the island.

Spot the stingray.

Dinner at Fulhaama, at the end of the jetty.

To sign the bill, you use a peacock feather dipped in ink!

One last day in paradise.

Coconuts as a sun-downer on our last night.

And then flying off into the sunrise as we left the island.

What a dream, dream trip. Can we go back already please?! 

You can find more on The Residence on their website here,

R <3 xx 

*disclaimer, I received a small media discount on our accommodation but we paid for everything else ourselves. There was no editorial control over anything I posted and as always all opinions are 100% my own. I hope you know me by now in that I only share places I truly love.

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