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Andrew Hobbs enjoys the service, the snorkelling and the spa at a five-star Maldives hideaway
The butler discreetly closed the door of our water villa, leaving our tray of afternoon coffee and cakes in the lounge. I put my novel down and took the tray out on to the sundeck, with its uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean, interrupting Lynne as she sat in the shade on the day bed watching the colours of the fish flash to and fro in the turquoise water beneath our villa. (Do tell me if this is beginning to annoy you.)
Where was I? Oh yes, coffee and cakes. That left just enough time for a spot of snorkelling from the deck, before cocktails in the bar at the end of the timber walkway, as the sun set on another day in the Maldives, at Coco Palm Bodu Hithi. A week at this five-star resort, on a private island 40 minutes by speedboat from the airport, was the closest well ever get to life in a Bounty advert. The only thing missing was the Bounty bars, but we made do with what the butler brought, and the excellent food in the four restaurants spread around the island.
This five-star resort opened under the name Coco Palm Bodu Hithi in 2006, and the 30 million spent on its creation is apparent in the high standards of design and fittings in its 100 villas, all with their own private pools, its restaurants and bars, and the sensitive approach to natural vegetation, seen in the delightful paths through the lush green foliage and the shady palm trees lining the beaches.
The resort is owned by four Maldivan brothers, rather than an international chain, and their third luxury resort is due to open this year, Kuda Hithi, an entire island containing only one villa, sleeping up to 11 people.
Back on Bodu Hithi, there are four types of villa, and we sampled two of them. The island villas are some of the biggest to be found in the Maldives, boasting 188 square metres of split-level open-plan floor space. The sun shone on the walled garden and pool in the morning, and on the beachfront deck in the afternoon.
We upgraded to a Club Coco Palm villa later in the week, which was different, rather than better. Instead of the tropical breeze sighing through the palm trees above our secluded garden, there were views to the wide blue ocean, the sound of water lapping around the stilts on which the water villas stand, and the extra benefits of Club Coco Palm, a hotel within a hotel.
Privileges include champagne on arrival, fresh fruit and designer bottled water every day, special toiletries, free laundry, afternoon tea, evening cocktails, free spa treatment and yoga sessions, and exclusive access to the clubs own restaurant and bar.
Not to mention our own butler, who buttled us within an inch of our lives, and exclusive access to the only vehicles on the island, the clubs chauffeur-driven golf buggies. That was one of the best bits, riding along the jungle paths, and especially on the boardwalks out over the sea, like a theme park ride that doesnt make you sick.
The hotel within a hotel concept is good, but for someone with an inferiority complex like mine, it made me wonder whether there was yet another hotel, unbeknown to us, within our hotel within a hotel. And maybe within that.
We tried two of the restaurants, the buffet-style Air and the clubs exclusive Stars, both offering good food, although limited vegetarian choices. However, special requests for particular dishes were quickly executed, including some delicious veggie curries. The other eating places are a sushi outlet and a seafood restaurant. The wine lists were particularly impressive, with 140 varieties.
Contrary to some friends warnings, we were never bored, mainly because of the snorkelling and the spa. You can borrow flippers and goggles all week, and the eerily clear sea, which really is turquoise, is always only a few feet away. Now I know what the little diver at the bottom of the fish tank feels like the number and variety of breathtakingly beautiful fish was astounding. From our sun deck we also saw a school of dolphins and a passing turtle.
Bodu Hithis spa is something else. Neither of us are the pampering kind, but our head massages, reflexology and an Indian treatment involving dripping warm oil onto Lynnes forehead left us giddy with relaxation. The staff were superb, providing the best treatments either of us have experienced anywhere in the world. So give your own butler the week off, and try Coco Palm Bodu Hithi.
Stay seven nights at the five star Coco Palm Bodu Hithi in the Maldives with British Airways from 2,029 per person departing April 25 to July 25, 2011.
Includes return BA flights from Manchester via London Gatwick, boat transfers and accommodation in an Island Villa on half board basis.
Subject to availability, based on two sharing and includes all UK taxes. For reservations visit ba.com/maldives or call 0844 493 0758.
For more information see www.cocopalm.com/en/bodu-hithi/location.