Looking like you’ve just stepped into the pages of a high-end architectural magazine, showcasing some of the world’s most luxurious designer over-water bungalows framed by stunning white sand beaches, warm clear azure blue waters and perfectly manicured lush foliage, it’s no wonder that the Maldives sits at the top of most bucket lists. It’s also fast nearing the top of the gay bucket list.
Comprising 26 atolls of around 1200 islands, though this country is under strict Islamic law which criminalises homosexuality and alcohol, within its over 100 private resorts – each its own island – gay tourists are warmly and respectfully catered to.
Indeed the resorts may be the only places where gay locals are accepted within the country and feel safe. Many employees hail from Europe, Asia, the UK and the US and are trained, with the entire staff, to be sensitive to all guests and demonstrate tolerance. So though there are not any exclusively gay resorts, most are gay-friendly as the Maldives heavily depends on tourism.
However, when in the capital Malé or at the airport it’s advised to exercise discretion, ie no PDAs ( which would be frowned upon whether gay or straight ) and a degree of modesty ( especially regarding women’s dress ) as it’s a conservative society with no real gay community or gay scene. Of note, in 2013, openly gay Maldivian blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed had his throat slashed outside his home in Male after years of campaigning for free speech and religious tolerance. Fortunately he survived and now lives in Sri Lanka.
Speaking of the airport, its $450m upgrade is due to be completed soon ( 2017/18 ). And getting to the Maldives is easy from Hong Kong ( around 4 hours ) and only an hour-and-a-half from Colombo in Sri Lanka with Sri Lankan Airlines.
This island nation with wonderful weather year-round, offers top diving, snorkelling, surfing and a variety of water sports and beach activities. As well as a choice of fresh delicious cuisines, the Maldives offers the world’s first under-water nightclub, underwater spa and underwater restaurant.
The latter is found in the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island which, upgraded from a Hilton but still under that company umbrella, celebrates a diversity and inclusion initiative.
Only 10 minutes from the airport is Bandos Island which has been awarded the 2017 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence. Recognised as a leading family and diving resort, special offers include: times when children can stay free; diving packages with 10 free dives included; and a complimentary romantic candlelit dinner by the beach.
Also close to the airport is the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, located on one of the Maldives’ largest lagoons. Offering a 24-hour speedboat service and business centre as well as baby-sitting and an In-house Ayurveda Physician, families as well as couples are catered for.
Another well-known gay friendly resort is the trendy W Retreat And Spa which has its own nightclub while Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa mixes luxury, romance and relaxation while its house reef showcases lots of fish, small sharks and turtles.
Flagship and award-winning resort Gili Lankanfushi features some of the country’s largest suites, some of which are only accessible by boat, as well as top facilities including a tennis court and seaside restaurant. With a personal guest officer available 24/7, and a direct line to the chef and spa, it’s no wonder this resort continually features on Condé Nast Traveller’s Gold Lists. Its luxurious Private Reserve, reputedly the largest over-water villa in the world atop a sapphire lagoon, is popular with gay couples while the Anantara Dhigu kids’ club is ideal for gay families.
Adaaran Prestige Vadoo offers a personal butler as well as guests’ own indulgent plunge pool while snorkelling unveils the vibrant aquatic life of its exotic reef.
On-call travel consultants and public relations are offered 24/7 by Crown Tours to answer any questions, provide information and ensure all visitor requirements and needs are met. CT’s top-notch customer service begins with a personalised meet and greet service by its airport handling team who assist with inbound and outbound journeys. Excellent local knowledge, expertise and years of experience in the hospitality industry plus a wide network of partners enable CT to arrange premium holidays in some of the Maldives top resorts that cover exciting experiences such as adventure or leisure diving, snorkelling, cruising, sailing, renewal of vows, ensuring an unforgettable holiday, which really shouldn’t be otherwise – in this veritably perfect paradise for all.