The Incredible Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort!
When Charlie Chandra and Peter Bloomfield announced me as the winner of the Paradises Maldives competition last year I could hardly believe that it was my name written on the screen in front of me! But I REALLY could not prepare myself for just how incredibly lucky I was to be to be able to visit the Maldives for the first time in my life and stay at the incredible Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort!
We flew from Australia to Malé (the capital city and most populous island in the Maldives) with Singapore Airlines. At Malé’s Velana International Airport, we were met by Outrigger Konotta staff who took care of everything while we waited in the guest lounge, and after an hour long domestic flight and 25 minute speedboat, we’d arrived in paradise.
First impressions: “Wow”! We were speechless. Words cannot describe just how magnificent the island is, but hopefully these photos will give you some idea of the true beauty of this incredible place!
Days on Konotta started with beach yoga, sunrise fishing (where one morning we caught two spectacular red grouper fish which were later cooked to our liking and served for dinner), or our favourite activity – walking the few footsteps from our villa across the cool white sand to welcome the huge tangerine sun rising over the Indian Ocean. Absolutely breathtaking! What a treat it was to be so close to the action, yet feel completely ‘away from it all’ at the same time. It certainly doesn’t take long to convert to ‘island time’ on Konotta and have the delightful pleasure of switching off, forgetting what time it is, what day it is, and abandoning your whole busy life back home.
A short walk to breakfast and we’re greeted by Chandana, our cheery, hardworking breakfast host with a wide smile and sparkling eyes who offered us fresh pastries, tropical fruits, freshly-squeezed juices (or perhaps a cheeky champagne or Bloody Mary), yoghurts, cheeses and cold meats from the buffet, followed by an a la carte breakfast served at Blue Salt overlooking the emerald lagoon. Every morning, he placed a plate of smoked salmon, dill and capers alongside my hot meal (he’d heard it’s my favourite accompaniment) along with a generous serving of smoked mango which we couldn’t get enough of!
Sunshine hours were filled with as much or as little as you feel like. Sit in your own cabana lounge by the pool and enjoy a signature Konotta ginger iced tea (which we quickly become addicted to!), or spend some time in the complimentary hydro spa, take a dip in your own private plunge pool, enjoy a peaceful paddle board or kayak around the island, or collect shells on the beach – all whilst marvelling at the great beauty of this magical island. We took a JetSki with a guide from Best Dives Konotta (the resort’s activities operator) to visit the biggest pod of dolphins I’ve ever seen in my life – hundreds of spinner dolphins swimming right up and alongside the JetSki, jumping meters into the air with acrobatic prowess. An unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience I know we’ll cherish forever. We also boarded a traditional dhoni boat to spend a morning on a remote uninhabited island for the ultimate castaway experience. Our very own slice of paradise. There’s so many activities to choose from – paragliding, sunset cruising, learning to dive – the list is endless.
But it was in the impossibly clear sea which glowed iridescent turquoise straight in front of our villa, and the pristine reefs that surrounded the island, and the relaxed island lifestyle that I found the very reason everyone dreams of visiting the Maldives one day. The surrounding Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll is home to what is considered some of the best hard coral fields in the world and it was unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere in all my travels. For me, the greatest pleasures came in being able to slip off the edge of the jetty and swim with reef sharks, clown fish and rays on a whim. To take a leisurely snorkel around the island and find yourself swimming alongside a graceful sea turtle. To witness the most colourful corals and diverse marine life I could possibly ever imagine. To see for myself all the beautiful shades of blue and green and to feel the warm Maldivian sunshine on my back. To have the feeling that I’ve stepped into a postcard – and realising that in fact that postcard had not been photo edited – that the scenery really is almost too perfect to believe. To have time to just be happy. On a remote island. In the middle of the spellbinding Indian Ocean.
Arriving back at the villa – which, by the way, was exquisite (and expansive) – there’s the choice to sit back in the spacious lounge area and enjoy the complimentary cheese and wine platter, or take a bubble bath in the luxurious bathroom, or (my personal favourite) climb the stairs to the top deck, hidden amongst the thick foliage of several coconut palms, and lay comatose on a sun lounger before spending some time in our own rooftop spa pool. Total barefoot luxury.
And every afternoon we wandered around the island just before sunset, gin and tonic and camera in hand, capturing moments that we’ll cherish forever and feeling like we had the entire island to ourselves. Despite it being Christmas time and all the rooms being full, the island felt far from crowded and we could always find a quiet spot with no one else in sight.
Dinners are served under a sky full of stars, and the food is utterly sublime. Being so close to India and Sri Lanka, the cuisine certainly has been influenced by regional flavours – the fresh seafood combined with spicy coconut curries are a delight for the senses. The perfect end to another perfect day.
After dinner, there’s a chance to mingle with the other guests and staff on the sand and enjoy a complimentary wine tasting. It was so lovely to spend time listening to fellow Aussie Amanda (the resort’s Spa Manager) talk about her extensive travels around the world, and chat to Executive Chef Chris about the flailing English cricket side, and get to know Guillaume – the attentive Resort Manger who generously went out of his way to ensure that we had the most wonderful time and that our every need was catered for. And of course, Kim, our host for the duration of the stay. Throughout our entire Konotta experience, we were very well taken care of in the gentle hands and beaming smile of Kim. It doesn’t take long to realise this island is a very special place made extra special by the people living and working there. They all had an uncanny ability to make us feel right at home, and in the same breath feel like royalty.
It’s the small details and personal touches that sets Konotta apart – the complimentary sweet treats delivered to our door every afternoon, the offer to borrow a pair of sunglasses when mine went missing, the spontaneous invitation for a quick night cap with the staff in the evening – it just goes to show how much they value their guests. Considerate is the best word to describe it. It was so refreshing to encounter people who actually listened to us and took a genuine interest in us as people, and we would now consider them friends. There’s no doubt we have experienced the Outrigger Resorts spirit of warmth, generosity and kindness.
It goes without saying that we had a truly unforgettable stay. There are few places in the world we have visited that are as impressive as Outrigger Konotta and we feel extremely grateful and lucky to have had the pleasure of experiencing all the facets of this wonderful place. A visit to the Maldives really is one of the most amazing and unique life experiences that everyone should add to their bucket list, and I can’t thank Charlie Chandra, Peter Bloomfield and the entire Paradises community enough for making my Maldives dream a reality!