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People often think of the Maldives as a destination for couples or families, but it’s also absolutely perfect for a girls’ trip. You don’t have to wait until your honeymoon to head to paradise; you can enjoy it just as much with a good group of girlfriends. After the catastrophe that was 2020, I decided it was high time to head to my favorite destination for a well-earned vacation. We visited three luxury resorts during our trip and although they were all fabulous, they were very different from one another, too. Here’s an in-depth guide to the best luxury resorts for a girls’ trip to the Maldives.
If you’d like to find out what traveling to the Maldives during the Covid-19 pandemic was like, check out this article where I go into detail about that side of the trip.
The Maldives is a classic honeymoon destination but you don’t have to get hitched to go there. I love traveling to the Maldives with friends. You can share adventurous experiences, top up your tans and marvel at the beauty of a special part of the world relatively few people ever get to see. There were lots of couples and families at the resorts we stayed at, but we didn’t feel as though we stood out in any way. As long as you’re looking for a luxurious and peaceful vacation, you’ll fit in just fine. I see no reason to wait until there’s a ring on your finger to explore this beautiful country!
A trip to The Maldives doesn’t exactly come cheap, but sharing a villa with friends is one way to make it more affordable.
The Pullman Maldives Maamutaa is an all-inclusive resort where your every whim is catered for. This was the first all-inclusive resort in The Maldives I’ve ever visited and I have to say, I enjoyed that everything was taken care of. I didn’t have to worry about getting carried away and accidentally running up a huge bill!
Although it only opened its doors in September 2019, the Pullman has already garnered a stellar reputation for its fitness classes and bootcamps. There’s a big focus on health and wellness here, so it’s perfect for an active and adventurous girl gang.
One of the highlights of our girls’ trip to The Maldives was staying in an Aqua Villa at the Pullman. The master bedroom was entirely underwater which was a surreal and totally new experience, even for a Maldives veteran like me. It was like staying inside an aquarium. The best time of day to be inside the underwater bedroom was dusk, because of the sheer variety of marine life around. It felt as though the day and night fish were changing shifts.
The service at The Pullman was very attentive. Our butler, Mickey, even joked that it was “my job to know where you are at all times.” If you really don’t want to lift a finger during your girls’ trip to the Maldives, the Pullman is the resort for you.
The complimentary minibar was restocked twice per day, which was amazing since the Pullman is an all-inclusive resort. I will say that as we were leaving the island, we saw a lot of miniatures being confiscated. Alcohol is only permitted within licensed resorts at the Maldives, so smuggling is futile.
As an Accor property, the Pullman Maldives Maamutaa resort partakes in the group’s Planet21 sustainability program, which aims to reduce waste and provide nutritious food in a sustainable way. Plastic is kept to a minimum and all of the staff’s living quarters are powered by solar energy; hopefully, the guest villas will follow suit in the not-too-distant future.
As well as all of the motorized and non-motorized water sports you’d expect from a 5* resort in the Maldives, the Pullman also offers guests an array of unique fitness experiences. Often when I go on trips to beautiful countries such as the Maldives, my motivation to hit the gym slips away. I mean, why go all the way to the other side of the world to run on a treadmill when I could do that at home? But at the Pullman Maamutaa, there’s a huge variety of unique and memorable fitness experiences to enjoy. Whether you want to practice yoga on top of a traditional Maldivian dhoni, master the art of aerial yoga or explore the island’s challenging Fit Trails, fitness at the Pullman is a world away from your local gym. The activities here are fun, adventurous and perfect for a bonding trip with your gal pals.
As one of the best wellness resorts in the Maldives, there’s a big emphasis on fresh, nutritious food at the Pullman. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the pop-up food carts by the main pool area; they were perfect for a healthy mid-afternoon snack.
The resort features six restaurants, serving up cuisines from all over the world, from Italy to the Middle East. My favorite was Phat Chameleon, a vegan restaurant which uses organic, island-grown ingredients. When you make a reservation to dine at Phat Chameleon you’ll have the chance to join the picking earlier in the day and learn about the fresh ingredients that will later end up on your plate. You can then watch your gourmet meal being cooked right in front of your eyes and enjoy it underneath the fruit trees. The food is so tasty that the fact it’s vegan really becomes a secondary detail; even meat-eaters should dine at Phat Chameleon at least once during their stay!
The Pullman’s Phytomer spa uses sustainably sourced marine ingredients to deliver an ultra-relaxing experience. The spa experience here is all about promoting a healthy body-mind balance to help you connect with your best self.
“No shoes, no news” is the golden rule at this Robinson Crusoe-inspired luxury resort. After a tough year, Soneva Fushi’s back-to-nature policy was the perfect escape from reality. The laidback atmosphere was perfect for our girls’ trip to The Maldives. (I should mention that there is a TV in every villa, but they’re artfully hidden away!)
Soneva Fushi nails the concept of rustic luxury. There are no straight lines anywhere; even the cutlery is irregular. Nothing at Soneva feels artificial or manufactured. The resort blends in perfectly with the natural environment. Every last detail is perfect, but in a way that feels organic rather than meticulously planned. We loved kicking back and experiencing what life would be like as (very glamorous) castaways.
We stayed in an overwater and a beach villa during our time at Soneva. Personally, the overwater villa was my favorite because it’s the kind of experience you can only have in the Maldives, but my friends loved the beach villa. I have to admit, there’s something special about soaking in a bathtub just steps away from the ocean.
The overwater villas are a new addition to Soneva Fushi and they’re seriously impressive. The sheer amount of space is a luxury in itself. The indoor/outdoor bathroom, for example, featured a chaise that was definitely big – and comfortable – enough to be used as a proper bed.
One of the biggest draws of Soneva’s overwater villas is the slide into the ocean. It was so much fun but a word of warning: only use it during high tide. I learned that the hard way…
Another feature I fell in love with was the opening roof in the upstairs bedroom. It was very James Bond.
The beach villas were perhaps even more back-to-nature than their overwater counterparts – and just as spacious. Many of the beach villas come with wine cellars, which is perfect for those who fancy themselves as sommeliers.
I’d say that beach vs overwater villa is really down to personal preference at Soneva Fushi. I think perhaps the beach villas could be more suitable for families with young children, but if you’re on a girls’ trip like we were – take your pick!
Again, the service at Soneva Fushi was very attentive. The butlers here are referred to as Mr or Mrs Friday, in reference to Robinson Crusoe, and they cater to your every whim.
Soneva Fushi is wholly committed to sustainability; at present, the resort is considered to be 99% sustainable. The island is powered entirely through solar energy and all the herbs and vegetables you eat are grown in the garden, but conscious living here extends way beyond that. I took a tour of their eco centre and I was inspired not only by the lengths the resort goes to operate sustainably but also the genuine passion of the staff.
One of the things I learned on the tour is that coconuts can be used for virtually anything. Soneva Fushi produce their own organic coconut oil and turn the husks into sawdust and fertiliser. They also make their own glass packaging for their products and turn old polystyrene into pellets for bean bags. One of the most interesting – and squeamish – parts of the tour was learning about “worm tea,” which is not a drink but in fact a fertiliser made from worm excrement.
Soneva Fushi is truly the perfect choice for the eco-conscious traveler. The resort even offsets the carbon footprint from each guest’s flight, so this truly is a guilt-free vacation.
Snorkeling with manta rays was one of the standout experiences from our trip to the Maldives. The creatures were just so elegant; they danced together as one. One manta came so close to me that I could almost touch it. It was a sublime experience I’ll never, ever forget.
We also went dolphin spotting at sunset and were fortunate enough to spot some racing through the sea as we sipped champagne and munched on canapes.
Soneva Fushi also offers an eco-friendly surfing program, which is actually the first 100% sustainable program of its kind in the world. There’s no need to bring your surfing gear, as they’ll provide everything for you.
The food at Soneva Fushi was my favorite of the three resorts we stayed at; not least because there were designated cheese and chocolate rooms. Seriously, what more could you ask for?
Indonesia – Bali in particular – is another of my favorite countries in the world, so I was delighted that there was so much Indonesian food on offer, from curry to nasi goreng. And of course, it was extra satisfying knowing that it was all farm-to-table fare (or sea-to-table, in some cases).
The indulgent Six Senses spa uses local ingredients as part of their holistic wellness treatments and you can enjoy a traditional Maldivian massage in the open air. There are also personalized jet lag recovery treatments available, which is just the ticket for the weary traveler.
Designed by Singapore-based American architect Edward David Poole, our final resort was beautiful and modern. It featured the largest communal areas of the three resorts we visited and, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach. It was also the most Covid-conscious of the three resorts; for more on that, check out this post.
The bathrooms at Emerald truly had the wow factor. In fact, I’d say they were the best modern bathrooms of any resort I’ve stayed at. They were absolutely huge, with beautiful, ornate mirrors, marble flooring and gorgeous iridescent shower tiles that gave off serious mermaid vibes. I’m not much of a bath person and I usually prefer to shower than soak, but I couldn’t wait to get in the deep standalone tub every day at Emerald.
The Presidential overwater villa really blew me away with the indoor/outdoor swimming pool that came right into the living room.
We made the most of it and enjoyed a beautiful floating breakfast with buttery pastries, fresh coconuts, champagne and yogurt drinks styled to look like martinis. It was a truly luxurious way to start the day.
The resort’s biggest property is the two-storey Royal beach villa, which features three bedrooms, a sizable balcony, a fully-stocked kitchen and truly stunning private stretch of beach. There’s an indoor outdoor pool similar to the likes of the Presidential villa; only the beach version is an eye-catching shade of emerald green. There are also spa beds in the master bathroom upstairs, so you can enjoy a massage from the comfort of your private villa.
As for the overwater vs beach debate… Well, again, I’m a complete sucker for an overwater villa but I can’t deny that the beach properties at Emerald were equally beautiful.
I’d say that the service at Emerald Maldives is more catered to European and American tastes. The staff are very attentive, but give you plenty of space. We loved our butler, Dave. He was so friendly and really helped us to make the most of our stay.
The housekeeping staff made up our rooms just how we liked them, without being asked. For example, I don’t enjoy being tightly tucked into bed. After I pulled the sheets out from under the mattress on my first night, the staff made the bed just to my liking for the rest of the stay. Another touch I loved was coming back to find my curling iron cord arranged perfectly, since I have a tendency to leave it in a tangled mess. Small, thoughtful touches like these made our stay at Emerald feel really special.
Emerald Maldives is an eco-conscious resort which aims to limit waste and environmental degradation. The villas are built using long-lasting natural materials to extend the time between renewals. The resort reuses water waste for irrigation, keeps single-use plastic to an absolute minimum and converts food waste into organic fertiliser for the gardens. If you’d like to find out more about environmental preservation at Emerald, you can request a bespoke behind-the-scenes tour.
On our first night at Emerald, we watched a traditional Maldivian dance performance on the beach, and of course, we had to get up and join in ourselves.
One evening, we took a dolphin cruise at sunset on a traditional Maldivian dhoni. Sadly, we didn’t see any dolphins this time around. There are no guarantees with this kind of thing but taking a boat ride at sunset is always a pretty spectacular experience by itself.
On our last night, we attended a wine tasting in the sea. It was a gorgeous experience and the perfect end to our trip.
There are four restaurants at Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa. We started each day with the breakfast buffet at Aqua, the all-day walk-in dining buffet. We ordered ginger shots every morning to wake us up for the day and before long, the servers started to remember our order and bring them over without asking.
The resort offers Maldivian food every Thursday night. I would have loved to have tried it but unfortunately, we weren’t there on a Thursday. That being said, I really enjoyed eating the local Job fish at the Beach Grill, with lots of fresh veggies and creamy mashed potato. Our favorite meal was definitely the teppanyaki show that we enjoyed on our last night. It was so much fun and the chef was very interesting to talk to, as he’s worked all over the world.
We ended up drinking quite a few custom cocktails during our stay at Emerald. If we were indecisive over what to order, the bartenders would ask us to name a couple of ingredients we liked and then challenge themselves to whip up something new.
What is a girls’ trip to The Maldives without a visit to the spa? The spa at Emerald is a beautiful collection of pale yellow Southeast Asian-style buildings centered around a gorgeous koi pond. It’s an oasis within an oasis. The spa draws on Thai, Indian and Indonesian treatment styles to provide you with the ultimate relaxing wellness experience.
To be honest with you, I’m already dreaming of my next girls’ trip to the Maldives. For more articles, why not check out the country’s best spa resorts or this comprehensive packing list?
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Your Luxe Lifestyle was founded by luxury world traveler Isabella Garofanelli bringing you the very best the globe has to offer in travel, lifestyle, and wellness.
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