The Irishman and I desperately needed a break from ALL OF IT, so he booked us a holiday at the gorgeous and swanky One & Only Resort at Reethi Rah in Maldives.
This was a considerable surprise as the last time he organised a “romantic getaway” was 9 years ago shortly after we first met. Back then, he brought me to a very dodgy island called Batam which is only famous for housing a major crude oil refinery, hordes of prostitutes and verdant tracts of industrial land.
Back then, Irishman had thoughtfully booked us into a Ticky Tacky Resort where we stayed in a hut with a floor so perilously sloped that if you dropped a pencil it would roll to one corner of the room in a jolly manner. The white PVC toilet seat in our bathroom had crude oil stains embedded in it, and so did I after I went to the beach.
And to top it all off, we saw bites on 3 year old Sean every night (yes, he brought a toddler AND A MAID along to our first romantic sojourn!) and kept on wrapping him up tighter in under the covers, and then later discovered that they were bed bug bites, so the wrapping him up like a spring roll definitely did not help!!!
(The Irishman will now claim that it was all part of his cunning plan to test my true love for him but the truth is that he got BATAM mixed up with BINTAN!!!!!)
So it was with considerable trepidation on my part that we embarked on this holiday. Luckily, it was a HUGE improvement. In fact it was off-the-charts on the Irishman’s scale. The weather was amazing and the waters were absolutely pristine and warm with shoals of fish every where you looked.
There were many thoughtful touches such as the staff member who cleaned your sunglasses while you lazed by the pool, the organic fruit slushies served at 3 p.m., the ergonomically curved sunken granite relaxation bed in the swiming pool etc. but my favourite was the bicycles outside our villa which we used to get around the island. There’s something profoundly childlike and uplifting about riding a bike in flip flops along sandy paths lined with coconut trees….
The food was actually good – a major surprise because the last time we went to the Maldives 8 years ago, the food at the Four Seasons was so terrible and overcooked that we were dying to get off the island after 3 days. This time we had scrumptious fusion japanese dinners at the Tapasake restaurant and a private seafood beach barbeque at sunset. Nothing like eating steaming hot mud crabs with tamarind sauce with your feet buried in soft warm sand.
The only gripe that I had with the resort was that the staff were evidently unfamiliar with the finer points on how to treat a woman guest as they lavished attention upon the Irishman to the point of obsequiousness but treated me as if I were merely a child, bothering only to ask the Irishman about his preferences for food, entertainment and other opinions. I got so pissed off that I started making an unofficial tally – number of times I heard “Sir” or “Mr. Leahy” – 498 , number of times I heard “Madam” – 3.
I brought this issue up with the hotel manager who was actually a rather perceptive German chap, but while he admitted that he had problems training the staff in this regard because they were “Muslim” and of a strongly chauvinistic culture, he did not seem to have any remedial suggestions. I pointed out that I have much experience traveling and doing business in Muslim countries and I’ve never experienced that level of sexism before. The argument just doesn’t hold. Even within Maldives I have had better service in other resorts. And furthermore, not all the “sexist” hotel staff members were natives, several were from other non-Muslim Asian countries and a few offenders were Caucasian. I’m starting to think that they named the capital of Maldives “Male” for a good reason.
Luckily there were certain areas of impeccable service in the resort, like at the superlative spa, where we enjoyed 2 days of massages and came back for a private kundalini and yoga meditation lesson held in a bale with a breathtaking view over the reef.
The Irishman certainly redeemed himself on the Romantic Holiday front and he did such a good job that I am considering putting him (and the good people at Centurion’s travel desk) in charge of all future Date Holidays. Good job honeybunch! And not a single bed bug bite!