Long-haul is for lovers. Not only do you have the comfort of sitting next your partner, but it takes you to your dream destination. In our case, the Maldives. White sandy beaches, crystal blue waters and magnificent sunsets have crowned it the top honeymoon destination in the world. But with so many exclusive five-star resorts to choose from, how do couples decide which barefoot paradise is the right one for them? My biggest fear was that my boyfriend would be bored. Although we were flying thousands of miles to gaze at nothing, I didn’t want there to be… nothing. When you’re madly in love, you want the world to know. Yes, even in the middle of the Indian Ocean!So, after much deliberation, I decided on Kurumba, the ‘island of choice’. It was a bit of a gamble, but one that paid off – we couldn’t have had a happier holiday. Kurumba is named after the coconut trees that grow in glorious abundance on this 30-acre tropical paradise. With 180 rooms including a Royal Residence, nine restaurants, three bars, two fresh-water swimming pools, tennis courts, gym, spa and water-sports centre, it certainly lives up to its promise. Kurumba was the first ‘one island, one resort’ to open in the Maldives over 30 years ago, and laid claim to an atoll not far from Male International Airport. After a 10-hour flight from London, Kurumba’s intimate white beaches are a 15-minute power-boat ride across a blue lagoon. Unlike some other resorts, the entire island is protected by a spectacular house reef which is easily accessible by foot. Wade a few steps into the turquoise sea and you’ll come across dazzling shoals of tropical fish, coral and shy baby sharks. There’s fantastic snorkelling, and even beginners can discover marine life at the fully PADI-certified dive centre. Being more girly than hearty, I laid claim to an over-sized sun lounger under the shade of a coconut tree for five fabulous days. With an attention span of 15 minutes, I was happy just to gaze out to sea – safe in the knowledge that my action man had plenty to keep him occupied between lengthy beer runs to the Beach Shack. Unlike Mauritius, the beaches are private and exclusive to guests, so nobody comes to bother you. Which is great, except when you’re thirsty and longing for a waiter with a colourful cocktail list. The only close encounter we had was with a German couple who corrected us for not using the corresponding beach-bed to our pool villa. With the beach just a two-minute walk away and our own swimming pool, jacuzzi, courtyard and flower garden strewn with orchids, this really was our own private hideaway.
Hospitality is second nature to Maldivians, and this is a country where service comes with a sincere smile – the toughest decision of the day was deciding where to eat. I’m ashamed to say we made it to breakfast only once during the trip, so lunch and dinner were our main attraction. With Dine Around options and over 170 wines to choose from, holidaymakers here are encouraged to wine and dine across most continents – if time and budget allow. We guzzled the house white wine most nights. Sadly, paradise comes at a price. Thanks to the hotel’s complimentary golf-buggy service, one affordable luxury was sitting in the back of the cart, feeling the sea breeze in my hair and saving my feet for the dance floor. The winding paths from the villas and bungalows leading to the restaurants are bursting with bougainvilleas, hibiscus and scented tropical plants.As you near the boutiques and nightlife, Kurumba’s orchid farm comes into view. Not surprisingly, orchids thrive in these humid conditions and their vibrant blooms blanket the island. In high season, the Maldives has a balmy temperature of 30C.A warm welcome and a wonderful blast of air-conditioning are the first things to greet you when you enter one of their gourmet restaurants. Call me old-fashioned, but I didn’t fly halfway around the world to eat Italian, no matter how fine the antipasti. Instead, we sampled curry and kebabs from the Royal Kitchens of India and Chinese from the Canton and Szechwan region.Although I love Lebanese, I lost my heart to the sashimi, sushi and teppanyaki in the Hamakaze restaurant. We gorged on lobster and steak in the Ocean Grill, but passed on pizza in the poolside Pizza Piazza. A live band played every night, so I was able to work off a few extra pounds on the dance-floor. The lead singer sang pretty love songs, but struggled with our requests for the Rolling Stones. The Aquum Spa was more in-tune to our body rituals. For 150 minutes we indulged in their Spa Escape for couples – a ‘signature foam dance exfoliation’, ‘intuitive body massage’ and ‘island nourishment’. Designed to de-stress your spirit using pressure point massage and still breathing, the therapists transported us to an ocean of calm. It may have seemed like a gamble at first, but Kurumba Maldives was a serendipitous choice.