Returning to somewhere you absolutely loved first time around can be a little risky, even if that place is absolutely dreamy!
When I was invited to speak at the first ever World Travel Writers’ conference in the Maldives I jumped at the chance. (Who wouldn’t, hey?) But it wasn’t until I was powering towards my first resort in a speedboat that I realised I had so many happy memories tied up with the Maldives that might be about to get messed with.
My first, and I thought potentially only, visit to the Maldives was for my honeymoon last year. The Maldives and honeymoons go together like brie and cranberry. Our experience was everything we hoped for our honeymoon and more and, in my mind, that was going to it for me and the Maldives. We had that once-in-a-lifetime experience so by definition it cannot be done again.
But then this conference came up and the chance to go back to these jewel-like islands was just too tempting.
Messing with my memories of the Maldives?
I had a little wobble on my first evening in the Maldives. I arrived at my resort close to sunset and was feeling woozy with jetlag. I grabbed a quick dinner alone and just before bed checked in with my husband back home.
“I’m worried,” I told him, “that this trip will take the shine off our Maldives memories’. I was slipping into the comparison game, thinking about how (high with relief that our destination wedding was over!) Justin and I quickly slipped into the champagne and sunset routine of our honeymoon last time I was here. Now here alone for a different reason entirely, I realised there was only one way to stop comparing and that was to make this trip as far removed from the last one as possible. That turned out to be surprisingly easy.
Not just for honeymooners
Rising at sunrise on my first morning (something we did not bother to do on our laid-back honeymoon) I started to notice the other guests around me. Sure, there were couples enjoying a romantic break but noticeably more than that were groups of friends. I met a group of women from the UK who proudly told me they had read more this week than for the last 10 years. I met friends celebrating a big birthday with fresh coconuts that had been cut open and filled with rum (yum) and at my next resort (Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi) I met more Aussie surfers than on an average day in Bondi. (Yes, that’s right, you can surf in the Maldives!)
Over the next few days I threw myself into all the activities I didn’t have (*make*) time for on honeymoon. I visited local islands, watched blogger friends flyboard like superheroes rising from the Indian ocean and joined in traditional Maldivian dances that started teasingly slow and then sped up to break-dancing pace.
I had a whirlwind 5 days, visiting 4 resorts, staying in room types ranging from beachfront bungalows to overwater villas, speaking at the conference and swapping travel stories over cold beers with blogger friends. I had a totally different experience and it was just as awesome in its own right.
Dreaming of staying in an overwater villa? Check out 16 of the best overwater bungalows in the world.
Expanding the Maldives travel market
At the conference, we had the honour of hearing from the Minister of Tourism for the Maldives who spoke about the country’s wish to open themselves up to more than just the luxury/honeymoon market. Part of the reason we bloggers and writers had been invited for this conference was so that we could discuss the ways the message that there is more to the Maldives can be spread to travellers from all ages and budgets. Based on what I learned this week it’s a message I whole-heartedly stand by and am more than willing to spread to all who will listen!
If you’re someone (like me) who thought the Maldives was out of your reach or somewhere that should be saved only for special occasions, I’ve got some posts lined up for the next few weeks that may make you reconsider. I’m looking forward to sharing all the things you can do in the Maldives that you probably haven’t heard about as well as sharing tips for planning an affordable luxury holiday here. Let me know if you’ve got any specific questions about travel in the Maldives and I’ll be happy to answer them over the coming weeks.
Thanks to Maldives TV for inviting me to speak at the first World Travels Writers’ Conference, Qatar Airways for flying me to Male and to Adaaran Resorts for hosting me during my trip. My travel was sponsored for the purpose of this conference but all content and opinions are my own, as always.