As a child of seven walking through the gates of Disneyland, I felt an immense sense of excitement, elation and a little trepidation. I felt exactly the same way when I arrived at Centara Grand Island Resort in the Maldives. For adults, this could very well be the happiest place on earth.
Centara Grand Island Resort
We’ve all seen those pictures that you’d assume were filtered and saturated beyond belief. I’m here to tell you, those blue hues; they’re the real deal Ladies and Gentlemen. Like Walt’s World, the Maldives is almost too good to be true.
Our magical Maldives tour began in the South Atoll at the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa. Pulling into the Centara Grand Resort wharf, I was fast and loose with the superlatives and the other guests in the boat, like us, struggled to wipe the childlike smiles off their faces (what I’ll now term, the “Disneyland Effect”). It felt in one moment like I was stepping directly into the pages of a luxury travel magazine, but at the same time, it felt like an intimate island home.
Barefoot luxury is the name of the game at the Centara Grand. From the timber board walks to the soft, white sandy walkways that connect the island’s restaurants, rooms and recreational activities, there is a feeling that every detail has been carefully considered to deliver luxury at its most unpretentious.
The island’s Ultimate All-Inclusive packages make it even easier to settle in to the idyllic island life. The daily rate covers everything from meals, to cocktails, a daily spa treatment, water sports, tours and even the in-villa mini-bar. The only extras you may want to splurge on are a longer, luxurious treatment at Spa Cenvaree, a Castaway style afternoon on your own private island, a picnic on a sandbank in the middle of the sea, or a little retail therapy at the island’s designer boutique. So the only thing you’ll carry around the resort is your camera, a little sunscreen and a satisfied smile.
Accommodation at Centara Grand Island Resort
The resort has been designed to take advantage of the lagoon’s wash of vivid aqua. Whether you stay in one of the white weatherboard over water villas or a beachfront suite just footsteps to the sand, water views are there for you to enjoy, virtually uninterrupted and the outside is brought in through carefully selected soft furnishings in colours reflecting the tropical beauty the envelopes the resort paradise.
Inside all the accommodation there is free wifi access (not the case with all Maldives resorts), satellite TV, nightly turn down service, indoor or outdoor bathrooms (both in some cases) and pool villas also come with a villa attendant (a butler of sorts). So, whether you’re staying for a honeymoon, a tropical holiday, a working getaway or some family fun, you won’t lose touch with friends, family and the office back home, unless of course you want to.
One tail of over water villas sweeps out from the lobby bar and reception area and that’s where a major renovation projection is finishing up as I write. While all villas have undergone a complete renovation, some now have their own plunge pool. Yes, that’s right, if snorkelling off your deck from your villa wasn’t enough, you can now take a dip in your own plunge pool and watch the sun go down afterwards.
Unlike many other Maldives resorts the Centara Grand proudly accommodates families. There is a range of family accommodation, both over water and on the beachfront, so you don’t have to miss that Maldives over water dream if you’ve got the kids in tow. Of course, child proofing and safety measures are in place in the family accommodation and there is babysitting and a kids club on hand for when you want to book a romantic dinner for two at one of the island restaurants.
We stayed in a beachfront suite, which had a mezzanine level, giving it the feel of a two-storey townhouse on the sand. White washed furniture, cosy pastel soft furnishings and casual beach inspired feel made it felt like an exotic home away from home. The downstairs living room featured a couch, coffee table and chairs, television (not that you need really need one in the Maldives), and sliding doors that open into a large dressing room and bathroom, open to the balmy Maldivian weather, with a huge tub where you can relax under the stars.
Just off the front patio and between the palms, the ice white sand and calm crystal waters were waiting. With the beach to ourselves, we could resist a quick dip on arrival, flushed with giggles at just what a magical place the Maldives is; it’s truly unlike anywhere else on earth.
For those who like a little extra space and exclusivity, there is an option to upgrade to the Club category which gives you access to the Club Lounge, a fine dining restaurant, a separate pool and beach access.
Centara Grand Island Resort, Maldives
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Centara Grand Hotels & Resorts for this stay. As always, the opinions, words and images are authentically our own.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller.
She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health.
As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her appetite for adventure.
Read more about Skye’s story here.