TV presenter Amanda Byram samples aerial yoga and water trampolining in the tropics


Rumor has it that when the architect was commissioned to shape the One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives, he said he wanted each guest to ‘feel like a king’.
He failed spectacularly. Because from the moment we set foot on the island, we felt like a god and goddess instead – we were in heaven.
After leaving Male’s international airport, we were greeted by a band of merry men who promptly ushered us on to a luxury private yacht to take us to the resort.


Feeling like Jay Z and Beyoncé, my husband Julian and I kicked back and pressed the start button on our honeymoon. If first impressions were anything to go by, our marriage had just got off to the perfect start.

At the resort there were more warm and welcoming faces, before we meandered down the tiny, sandy ‘roads’ towards our beach villa in a golf buggy – cars have no business on this island.

Along the way, our personal concierge Gizem told us that staff at Reethi Rah outnumber guests by a ratio of more than three to one – although you would never know it, as the level of privacy made us feel as if we were on a deserted paradise.
When they were visible, staff pirouetted around us with balletic precision, noting our various requests and making them happen without breaking sweat despite the 30C heat.


Of the ten room types available, we chose the thatched beach villa with high ceilings, beautiful Balinese-style decor, and a pool.
But let me get one thing straight: no matter where you end up laying your head, rest assured you will be in a den of luxury.
Behind our large wooden front gate, there was a distinct and blissful feeling of isolation.
There was a secluded patch of beach to call our own, with two palm trees harboring a hammock.
We were spoiled with an unpacking service, a choice of pillows, an essential oils menu, a bathroom with two massive sinks complete with his-and-hers soaps, and wooden shutters everywhere (which stayed open during our stay, as I didn’t want to miss a single second of that spectacular view).


There was also a second shower outside should guests want to recreate that Timotei advert for fun (yes, of course I did).
You could be forgiven for never leaving your villa, but that would be a foolish tactic. The 24-hour golf buggy service will happily whisk you to any one of the amenities, of which there are countless.
For sporty guests there is a state-of-the-art gym with knowledgeable instructors – they put me through my paces on an outdoor circuit of which Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis would be proud.
There is a yoga pavilion where you can do aerial yoga (you are suspended in a low-hanging sling, so it’s not for those who don’t like being upside-down), a full-size football pitch, a badminton court, and tennis courts.
There is also an art gallery, a Taylor Taylor hair salon, a Mani & Pedi nail salon, a barber shop and a kids-only club. Meanwhile, the beach club was alive all day thanks to a DJ playing the latest tunes.


Most afternoons, Julian and I loved grabbing an ice cream before working off the inevitable sugar rush out on the hotel’s massive water trampoline. Big kids only need apply. 
Bouncing up and down on the giant inflatable, I felt like one of the contestants on Total Wipeout, the BBC series I used to co-present with Richard Hammond.
The resort takes seriously its sea excursions – trips such as luxury yacht big-game fishing, turtle adventures, sunrise fishing, reef snorkeling, sunset cruises and shark safaris can be arranged by Marine Concierge Center staff.
There are four main restaurants to tickle your taste buds. 
The main Reethi is beautifully constructed, with high ceilings and carved wooden pillars and doors, and serves contemporary Asian and Mediterranean fusion food. This is also where breakfast is served. 

Warning: make sure you arrive hungry. We are big breakfast buffet connoisseurs, and this one must be seen to be believed.
Another favorite for dinner was Tapasake, serving exquisite modern Japanese dishes with noodles and oodles of fish straight from the ocean outside your villa.
Fandita – which means ‘magical’ in the Maldivian language Dhivehi – is aptly named, thanks to its Arabian Nights-inspired restaurant and bar with beautiful sunset views. 
And the Chef’s Garden also hosts a restaurant – the candlelit area of the vegetable garden is designed with romance in mind.
In keeping with the romantic setting, the spa has massive his-and-hers steam and sauna rooms, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a courtyard. 
It is a haven of serenity, set among a beautiful expanse of manicured trees and grass leading to the ocean. 


During your time here, you can practically feel the stress in your shoulders dissipate and your mind let go. 
So what is it about the Reethi Rah that makes it an experience that stands out, even for those who have been fortunate enough to enjoy luxury travel in the past? 
I suppose it is the result of an overall vision to create paradise and then the sheer determination to never lose it.
On one of the websites about the Maldives that I browsed before our trip, I came across this quote: ‘We travel not to escape life but so that life doesn’t escape us.’


‘Inspirational’ quotes are not usually my cup of herbal tea, but here I found something that rang a bell.
Holidays which invite you to ‘get away from it all’ tend to be connected with the idea of taking a long flight somewhere and just plonking yourself on a beach for the rest of your stay. 
This doesn’t sound like an escape to me – it would be more like some sort of detention center for the soul.
What we discovered on the Maldives was an escape that took you away not just from your nine-to-five routine but offered an entree into another world – a life-affirming boost that lasted much, much longer than a suntan.
We can’t wait to return.

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