Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa: why luxury all-inclusive is the future
This island retreat sets a new standard for package holidays
If you’re looking for the perfect place for a post-lockdown holiday, look no further than the Maldives. The South Asian island nation is a bucket-list destination for many and it’s easy to see why. With its signature overwater villas, white sand beaches and shimmering turquoise waters, nowhere epitomises luxury and serenity like the Maldives.
Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa, located on the island of Fasmendhoo in Raa Atoll, is reopening for guests on 1 August. With 60 beach villas and 60 overwater villas, the resort has one of the lowest densities of villas in the Maldives, providing guests with their own space and privacy - a major bonus in a post-Covid world.
The resort has all of the classic features that make the Maldives such a sought-after destination, but what sets Emerald apart is that it is all-inclusive - something that owner Ermenegildo Scarapicchia believes is the future of luxury travel.
The price of your holiday covers all food and drink - including anything from your mini fridge and the resort’s four restaurants. The package also includes non-motorised water sports, and twice-weekly guided snorkelling excursions.
I had the pleasure of visiting the resort in December, and it was every bit as idyllic as I had hoped.
To reach the resort, we took a seaplane from main island Malé, which is an experience in itself. Circling from above, we spotted the sandy golden dot of the resort, with its wing of overwater villas fanning across the water. Arriving at sunset, we were greeted with champagne and local drum music performed by the employees.
After that welcome interlude, we were whisked off in golf buggies to our overwater villas, which extended out from a long wooden jetty. Natural materials including bamboo, Langhi Langhi leaves and local cajan wood are largely used in the architecture of the resort, giving the villas a modern yet earthy feel.
Each stand-alone overwater villa features a spacious bedroom, bathroom and wooden patio with a ladder leading straight into the ocean - which is a vibrant shade of aquamarine that I have never seen anywhere else.
Indeed, the crystal clear water in the Maldives is beyond compare, and the island of Fasmendhoo is fringed by a wraparound reef, rich with marine life.
On one of our snorkelling excursions, we spotted five giant manta rays swimming languorously below us, and as we headed back to shore a large school of dolphins joined us, leaping in arcs above the water beside the boat.
The resort has a diving and water sports centre where guests can book scuba diving and snorkelling excursions and rent paddle-boards, kayaks and windsurfing equipment. Aside from water sports, there is also a yoga pavillion, offering sunrise classes, and a large sports centre which includes a gym and two tennis courts.
And each villa comes with bicycles for guests to use (although you can call for golf buggies if you prefer to take it easy).
No beach getaway would be complete without spoiling yourself with a spa treatment, and the Emerald Spa offers exquisite Balinese and Thai massages, as well as a steam room and sauna.
Food is also a key part of the Emerald experience. Each of the resort’s four restaurants offer a unique menu put together by chef Aldo Cadu.
The main restaurant, Aqua, offers extravagant buffets at every mealtime, encompassing cuisines from all over the world. The Beach Club Grill Restaurant is ideal for lighter, more casual meals including seafood and meat fresh off the grill and pizza.
If you’re in the mood for Asian food, the Asiatique offers sushi and Thai food, and a live teppanyaki show with magic tricks. And tucked within a forested part of the island, Amazonico restraurant offers various South American dishes including Brazilian beef and ceviche.
Emerald also take their wine very seriously: at most meals a sommelier will come around and suggest wines to pair with your food.
One of the most memorable moments of our trip was a wine tasting session on the beach, topped off with an elaborate spread of canapés and a golden sunset. Stunning views aside, I genuinely learned more about wine here than I have in any wine-tasting in a vineyard.
The island strikes the perfect balance between offering guests privacy and tranquility, as well as a lively social atmosphere. The resort is spacious enough to offer private nooks and crannies of the beach to relax, while on weekends the beach bar comes to life, with live music and dancing.
The Maldives is a popular destination for couples and honeymooners, but Emerald also caters for families. Parents can drop their children off to enjoy entertainment ranging from arts and crafts classes to video games at the Dolphin Club, which also has a large outdoor playground, pool and restaurant.
Everyone who heads to Emerald after the resort reopens in August can expect stringent safety measures during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Staff will sterilise public areas regularly, and guests will be provided with a hygiene kit with face masks, disposable gloves and disinfecting wipes.
Then all visitors have to focus on is enjoying the trip of a lifetime, at this luxury resort that sets a new standard for all-inclusive breaks.