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Sri Lanka vs Maldives beach

If you look at a map of Sri Lanka (earth view) you’ll see the number of beaches it has is pretty spectacular. But, then again, just one hour away by plane is The Maldives – with picture-perfect white-sand shores. You’ve got a dilemma: which one should you experience? Here, I weigh up all your options, and discover that it really depends on what you want from your relaxation time.

Soneva in The Maldives: beyond the surface of ‘luxury’

Matt recently visited Soneva Fushi and Jani, two luxurious resorts in The Maldives. On returning to the office, we found it interesting to think about the various kinds of ‘luxury’ available, and also what the word actually means.
It’s really tough to capture what ‘luxury’ actually is; we all talk about it quite a lot, especially in the travel sphere and I’ve often wondered how to quantify and explain it, especially when talking to other travellers.
As my experience has grown over the years, and I’ve been lucky enough to stay in many “luxury” hotels, I’ve realised how difficult it is to define a luxury hotel, let alone categorise it. Ultimately it’s all about the individual experience you have and how it fits with you as a person. This is when hotels like Soneva Fushi and Jani come into their element; here, the accommodation and service blend to provide an incredibly personal, relaxing and awe-inspiring experience.
If I can’t get to sleep at night, sometimes I just think of my time in The Maldives. It is one of the most relaxing places I have been on this earth and, for me, no other place can quite compare with it. Everyone in the office knows this all too well, and when I was planning my most recent trip to Sri Lanka I just couldn’t resist adding on 5 nights in The Maldives, only this time I was staying at a particularly special place.
The Maldives has over 250 resorts, nearly all of them on private islands, and it just seems to be an unstoppable force in terms of growth; about 10 resorts have opened this year alone, many of them 5* or above. It’s becoming more difficult to choose between the options and ever more important to be able to discern between the different types of luxury on offer.
I’ve been a fan of the Soneva luxury concept from the beginning. Co-founders Sonu and Eva opened their first hotel in 1995 in The Maldives and have honed their unique philosophy over the past 20 years. They have a brand that values understated touches of luxury, stunning architectural design, barefoot living, making the most of the beautiful natural world surrounding their properties and placing environmental protection at the forefront.
I have to say that I keep my finger on the pulse with travel news and about two years ago I first heard about Soneva Jani being built – this was something on a new scale, even for TMaldives (which is already mind-blowing in what it has to offer): 5 islands with 25 water villas and the biggest overwater structure, plus a 5.8km beyond-imaginable lagoon. Just outrageous even on paper, I dreamed about going.
It all starts with the ‘no shoes, no news’ concept. As soon as you step onto the resort your shoes are taken from you and, for however long you stay, you go around the resort barefoot. Does it sound gimmicky? A little, but all you can do is relax with soft sand between your feet, glorious sunshine and turquoise ocean everywhere on the horizon – with no worldly worries to distract you.
There’s no plastic on the island; a special glass blowing factory recycles glasses and the resort grows as much food on the island as it can to cater for the guests. The retractable rooves in over-water villas are incredible and the slide down into the ocean from your bedroom is the stuff of childhood dreams.
Luxury is so much more than just a picture-postcard image of a stunning resort and Soneva resorts prove this. It’s about attention to detail, personalisation, and providing an experience of dreams. For those looking for a particularly special place to stay, I’d certainly recommend either Soneva Fushi or the newly opened Soneva Jani – both would make for a spectacular experience.

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Best places to travel for some winter sun

When the British winter has you wondering if the sun actually ever existed and you haven’t seen your own skin in weeks, you know it’s time to jet off in search of winter sun.You need somewhere exotic, somewhere sunny and warm, somewhere with beautiful flora, palm tree-lined beaches, smiling people and delicious food. Here are our best places to travel across this season:

What’s it like to stay in a Maldives guesthouse?

Guesthouses in The Maldives are the latest accommodation style to arrive in the country and they allow visitors to stay on local islands, gaining insight into Dhivehi culture. There are a large variety of them on offer, from basic rooms in simple houses, to grander hotel-like constructions, each providing very different experiences. They’re not homestays as such, but usually run by locals who’ll provide home cooked food and various insights into the heritage of this thousand-isle country.

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Best family holiday destinations for Christmas

If you’re looking for an unusual, sunny and exotic destination for your Christmas holidays, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent are ideal places to go. With their incredible array of experiences be they wildlife, foodie and or cultural, there’ll be something for everyone. Here’s a list of our best family holiday destinations to consider:

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Best value Asia country combos for the summer

There are some fantastic deals and lush landscapes away from the crowds when travelling in low season throughout Asia. When there is rain, it is often short and sharp and we can try to make sure you get fantastic weather by incorporating a beach stay in a region with glorious sunshine. This short guide will give you some great ideas about combining the best value destinations with the superb beaches.

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10 dos and don’ts for a multi centre holiday

Multi centre holidays offer an incredible array of cultures and experiences to the inquisitive traveller. The problem lies organising transport, working out how much you can fit in, to balancing costs. To help you in your planning stages, here are our 10 dos and don’ts for anyone thinking of a multi centre holiday.

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Best Family Holiday Experiences

The key to a good family holiday is making sure everyone is happy. It’s sometimes difficult to balance everyone’s interests and excite older kids wanting a bit more independence and exhilaration, so I’ve put together some of my favourite experiences that would work well for families with older children.