Sabi Phagura visits the Maldives to experience the paradise known as Sun Siyam Iru Fushi
Getting to the Maldives from the UK takes dedication – a plane, a stopover, another plane and then a seaplane. It’s enough to put some people off and seek something closer home for the ultimate in some much needed R&R. But I can wholeheartedly tell you that it’s worth it. Despite being lethargic from my lengthy journey, as soon as I arrived at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, I knew I would be relaxing to my heart’s content including lying in a hammock suspended over the transparent turquoise waters.
This 52-acre island provides five-star accommodation in addition to a private beach, an infinity pool and a Jacuzzi. It has an outdoor tennis court, a kids club, a sauna and a fitness centre as well. But with nature in abundance on this little paradise, you will want to spend more time outside than in.
With this in mind, the traditional Maldivian architecture of the villas allows you to soak up the outdoors within them. All of the 221 beachfront and over-water lagoon villas allow in enough light, and offer masses of space within the confines of the property. In the Infinity Water Villa which I had the luxury of staying in, I made full use of bathing al fresco in the standalone tub, cooled down several times under the outdoor shower, and lounged around on the double swing seat. On the other side of the villa, I had my own private infinity pool from where I was able to watch sunrise and flaming magenta sunsets.
Discovering new skills and connecting with the Maldivian way of life is encouraged here, and one of the best way to do this is through food. And once you have tasted and sampled some of the freshest and delicious cuisine on offer at the island’s 14 restaurants and bars, you will certainly want to take some knowledge with you on how to recreate those pleasures at home.
Cooking in a fancy kitchen is great, but cooking al fresco is much more fun. Having tucked into lunch at Islanders Grill just a couple of hours before, you’d think it was impossible to salivate over more food. But this was not the case. And as soon as our chef started to make the dishes, the aromas had us licking our lips again. The spices here are a fusion of oriental and Indian influences with curry powder, turmeric and coconut milk featuring in many of them. The Bajiya – similar to a samosa, but with a spicy tuna filling – was fun to make. We all tried incredibly hard to make the perfect triangle, but I think it will be a while before we can call ourselves any type of experts in the field soon.
Another skill I was happy to get involved in was a spot of wine tasting at Flavours. In my opinion of wine tasting, it’s the sommelier who makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. And Xolani Mancotywa made it an incredible, fun yet knowledgeable experience. We were a lot more involved in identifying the flavours we could smell, finding out how wines can taste different in different glasses, as well as the best canapés to pair them with. It was incredible the change in taste of the Moet & Chandon ‘Imperial’ champagne, sipping it from a champagne glass, and then from a red burgundy glass. Swigging bubbles from the flute was much nicer and more refreshing.
All that wine and food – albeit truly delicious – can take a toll on the body, and so a massage is much welcomed. With Iru Fushi being such a small island, it’s hard to think that just a short walking distance from all the food and bar offerings, you can transcend into nature as you wander the natural landscape and winding pebble path at the tropical spa. Comprising of 20 treatment rooms, each is dedicated to a different Eastern and Western wellness philosophy for a range of health, relaxation and beauty options. Each is kitted out totally different that you feel you’re hopping from one country into another. There was even a munja – a traditional Indian bed – in one of the treatment rooms to give you the full authentic experience.
One of the essential things to whilst staying at Sun Siyam Iru Fushi is to have an excursion with a difference – a local island experience. Velidhoo Island is just a short hop away by boat, and it’s a great way of seeing local islander life. The experience is enhanced with a tour guide who can add meaning to buildings, the way things are done on the island and learning of the many traditions of the locals. With just 2,000 inhabitants, it can feel small and a bit lonely, but take one look at the community and you can see you couldn’t be more wrong. Everyone here works in harmony and often trades by exchanging skills. It’s almost an ideal utopian way of life.
So whether you’re a solitude-seeking couple, a family wanting to get away, or a group of friends wanting to fully relax, The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi really is a paradise which looks just as good – if not better – than it does in the pictures.
Seven nights at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi (www.thesunsiyam.com) staying on a half board basis costs from £1899 per person including flights with Qatar Airways from London Heathrow and return sea plane transfers. For more information, call 0845 543 6615, or visit www.travelbag.co.uk.
By Sabi Phagura