A Groupon Mystery Getaway Adventure, would you take the plunge?
The Maldives is a dream destination, a once in a lifetime, bucket list holiday for most of us
In a post Covid world, foreign holidays and staycations appear to be rather more expensive as the tourism industry gets back on its feet and bids to recoup lost revenue. If you’re adventurous like us, happy to explore and visit new places, why not try something a little different? We booked a Groupon Mystery Getaway, where you only find out your destination once you’ve paid for your voucher.
With a choice of around 60 global destinations, we thought it would be a great way to kick off our new venture into the world of travel blogging.
We were expecting a 2-night break to Amsterdam or maybe even Venice. We were astounded when Groupon confirmed we were going to the Maldives, one of our dream destinations, for a week!
Now, before you get carried away, whilst the voucher will cost from around £90, you’ll need to factor in additional costs. Check-in hold luggage, transfers, additional days, preferred departure airports and a few other additional extras may not be included. You may also travel off-season but if you read and understand the small print, you’ll probably still come away with somewhat of a bargain.
We had a pretty good experience with the whole process and have no complaints.
Our dream trip didn’t get off to a great start. An e-mail from Gulf Air advised our flight from Manchester was delayed by over 6 hours which meant we would miss our connection in Bahrain and onward flight to Malé in the Maldives.
Our unscheduled layover would mean missing a day of our holiday at the Malahini Kuda Bandos resort. Despite the seemingly interminable queuing at Bahrain International Airport, waiting for our luggage and finally a transfer to a hotel at 4:30am, we decided to try and make the most of our time in a new City.
After a few hours rest, we jumped in an Uber (BHD 4.05 / £9.00) and took a trip to the Qal’at Al-Bahrain: Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun, also known as the Bahrain Fort; a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The site is a typical “tell”, an artificial mound created by successive layers of human occupation dating from around 2300 BC to the 16th Century. Archaeological investigations show that the site was occupied over the years by Kassites (Babylonians), Greeks, Portuguese and Persians and was a key ancient trading port in the Middle East.
Malahini Kuda Bandos
Back to the hotel to freshen up and get ready for our 23:00pm flight to Malé. The Maldives is an archipelago of around 1200 individual islands grouped into 26 natural atolls where tourism is the largest industry welcoming 1.6m tourists in 2022.
The 5-hour night flight means you get to experience the most beautiful sunrise as you fly over the archipelago, make sure you get that window seat as the views are simply stunning.
We arrived at Velana International Airport to be greeted by our resort representative and shown to our speedboat for a quick 15-minute transfer to Malahini.
If you’ve never visited the Maldives before, it’s everything you would expect, and more. It really is a dream destination, islands emerge from turquoise-coloured seas, palm trees sway gently in the breeze, beach villas on the shoreline entice you in. A feast for the eyes and senses, your shoulders drop and chill-time kicks in.
We were warmly welcomed by the friendly team at reception; as we arrived at around 8am, our room wasn’t quite ready, but they provided us with a drink and cold towels to refresh ourselves. We were then able to dump our luggage, slip into our flip-flops and enjoy a leisurely breakfast overlooking the Indian Ocean.
As we had already been in touch with the Malahini team about a Social Media collaboration, we met up with Zimaam, the resort Marketing and Communications manager who warmly welcomed us to Malahini and gave us a personal tour of the island; you can stroll around the resort in about 15 minutes.
The 4 Star Malahini Kuda Bandos Resort is now 6 years old, and in a world where environmental and climate concerns are at the forefront of our minds, they strive to reduce the impact of their guests on the environment. From investing in solar power and water purification systems, the use of glass water bottles and reducing single use plastics, they have also left the natural foundations of the island largely untouched. The sand moves freely under the buildings; there has been no dredging or installation of artificial wave breaks and the island has been left as natural as possible.
There is rich, natural vegetation on Malahini, a beautiful pathway leads you from one side of the island to the other. As to be expected in the Tropics, there are a few insects, but even the mozzies are kept at bay with natural measures, no insecticide or fumigation is used at all.
Time to Relax
We stayed in a Sunrise Beach Pool Villa; located along the shoreline, these are 100 sq m luxurious modern villas with a blend of vintage Maldivian interiors, an open air shower and bathroom, a private pool, jacuzzi and a sunbathing deck whilst offering a fabulous view of the dazzling sunrise.
After such a long journey, we couldn’t help but feel relaxed and pampered in our new surroundings. The outdoor pool and jacuzzi were just what we needed to recuperate; the peace, tranquility and privacy of our own sun deck with just the sound of the Indian Ocean waves lapping on the shore was the perfect location for a recuperating snooze in the shade.
Although this is one of the Maldives’s smaller islands with 82 rooms, the choice of accommodation, restaurants, bars, amenities, and facilities is just about right. The main Maaga restaurant serves a good range of buffet style food, and the Bluu beach bar has evening entertainment and is perfect for watching the sunset with snacks and a long cold drink.
There is a decent sized gym, the fabulous Alizé spa offers numerous treatments and the Marine and Recreation Hub provides great water sport options from snorkelling, kayaking, jet-skiing, and scuba diving. You can enjoy anything from a 30-minute paddleboard to a full day’s fishing or scuba expedition with expert, Padi qualified guides. If you like swimming with sharks, turtles, and sting rays, this is a great location.
The beaches here at Malahini are as you’d expect for a Maldivian island. Gorgeous white sandy beaches, clear turquoise sea with plenty of sunbeds available for sun worshippers. The snorkelling just a few metres from the shore is amazing, you can expect to see all sorts of fish, rays and even sharks close to the reef.
The coral reef can be sharp and rocky underfoot in places, we found water shoes useful to help protect our delicate city feet.
There is a relaxed, Island Life vibe here at Malahini; you’ll spend most of your time in swimwear and beach attire, no need for formal wear, posh frocks or even shoes.
On our last night, we were treated to a private tree top Evening High Tea, featuring delicious cakes, cookies, savoury pastries, and fresh fruit all whilst watching a fabulous sunset.
As one of the smaller Maldivian islands, Malahini is perfect for a quiet, relaxed holiday; just 15 minutes from Velana airport, it is somewhere you can really embrace Island Life, lie back and switch off for a while.
Our heartfelt thanks to ALL the crew at Malahini Kuda Bandos, from the front of house, gardeners, cleaners, reception, restaurant staff and chefs we had a truly fabulous experience at one of our dream destinations and would love to come back and see you all again very soon.
Mark & Rachel Peru
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All photographs ©Mark Peru