For sand scattered in purple and pink flowers that slopes gently into turquoise lagoons. Welcome to the Maldives, where peachy sunsets cast their spell over linen-clad couples, fresh from diving expeditions and afternoons spent wallowing in bath warm water. The 15 minute boat trip to Furanafushi island after a long haul flight is a real treat, and renders Full Moon the ultimate ‘click into island time’ stay before flying onto further flung isles.
If knockout sunsets, flawless beaches and undemanding afternoons interrupted only by the odd cocktail order and fruit platter are on the agenda, you’ve dropped your bags on the right island. The spa here is one of the best in the Maldives, with a rolling Indian Ocean soundtrack and head massages that send you into a delicious state of delirium. This hotel has a masters degree in honeymoons, putting on romantic experiences from sunset beach suppers with traditional Maldivian music to swimming together alongside majestic (and friendly) whale sharks.
Set the scene
Sheraton Maldives is unusually verdant for a Maldivian island. Palms, banana trees and wild, tropical flowers seem to spout and bloom from all angles (delightfully shady spots when the Maldivian sun reaches its peak). Tracing the resort is a stretch of perfect white sand which, to a European eye, appears photoshopped, along with the turquoise, flat water which licks the stilts of overwater villas and lulls sunbathers to sleep with its gentle wash. The resort was built in the Eighties but the Robinson Crusoe style has come full circle, giving it a barefoot luxury appeal, just with the air-con-and-latté luxury most haute Maldivian resorts are now expected to deliver on. Restaurants are dotted around a central pool area, where a waterfall and tropical plants form a cool oasis. Behind it, the bar’s deck along the beach is the island’s theatre seat for sunsets that brandish the horizon in vivid strips of berry and gold.
Honeymooners can either opt for the over the water villas or the beach villas. The former are stilted, Maldivian style suites with direct access to an inviting lagoon for snorkelling or simple floating during that long stretch between fruity breakfasts and seafood lunches. The latter may not be suspended over the water but they have their own private plunge pools and verandas, with direct access to the beach past palms, hammocks and a rush of purple flowers. Inside, dark woods, fans and alfresco showers recall Robinson Crusoe tales, but a Veuve Clicquot-stocked mini bar, deep bathtub and enormous ‘try-and-leave-me’ bed suggests an explorer’s quarters with lavish taste. Room service feels fabulously old world, with all the silver trimmings.
Food and drink
Those hankering after Asian cuisine can head to relaxed Chopstix for duck pancakes, pork dim sum and lobster Chow Mei (a favourite), or to Baan Thai for crispy vegetable rolls, curries and classic Pad Thai (this one’s worth dressing up for). The main restaurant, Feast, rises to its name with an extraordinary spread of curries, fruit, cereals, eggs-done-anyway and pastries for breakfast (the fresh watermelon juice is divine). By night, lanterns and Maldivian drums transform it into a buttoned-down ‘dive-in’ buffet of freshly-caught-and-grilled fish from the island’s shores, lobster, curries and barbecued meats. Masala Hut whips up hearty curries and kebabs and sundowners are sent to the Anchorage bar (cosy up in one of the round wicker beds and watch the sun blaze before it dips below the calm, tar-like evening water.
The Sheraton’s events team can easily arrange private dining on the beach, featuring the ultimate ingredients of romance: candles, lanterns and ravishing sunsets, or a safari-style picnic along one of the more secluded points on the islands, shaded by the coconut palms. The showstopper and, perhaps honeymoon obligation, is the floating breakfast, an Instagram-friendly ritual at Sheraton… our advice would be to work up an appetite in the water before it arrives.
Billed as a family-resort rather than a boutique island hotel, Sheraton is well-equipped for children of all ages. Jam-packed daily programmes keep sprogs and parents happy, with activities such as educational coral planting, sandbank family picnics and Mother & Daughter spa days. Family rooms are designed particularly well for young broods while a complimentary kids club (up to 12 years) buys deserving parents enough time to enjoy the spa or simply a cocktail, undisturbed on the beach,
The Sheraton Full Moon’s spa, Shine for Sheraton, is unequivocally the resort’s greatest asset. What it lacks in paradisiacal views, it makes up for with a list of holistic treatments and nimble therapist fingers (the view from the spa is heavenly but from parts of the hotel you can see Male’s high rise fringes). Ensconced in tropical palms and banana tree leaves on its own separate island, the spa’s hydrotherapy pool, steam room and open-air treatment rooms inhale the warm Indian Ocean breeze and have little need for music with the waves rolling metres from massage beds. Heavenly ingredients, plucked from the ocean and surrounding gardens, are pumelled into sun-kissed skin and worked into
While a 15-minute boat trip from Male’ airport is a boon for honeymooners weary from the flight (and possibly wedding build up), but it’s worth noting that, from one side of the island, high rise buildings surging in the distance have been semi-obscured by a make-shift faux greenery wall. Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is the perfect spot to recalibrate, sink into the new time zone, knead out knotted shoulders and ease into Maldivian Lady cocktails before seaplaning on to further-flung strips of sand, such as le Méridien.