Seth decided that it was time for a do-nothing, lay-on-the-beach vacation. As we started to look through brochures, one place stood out - The Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean. Tiny oasises of green surrounded by white beach, crystal clear blue water and living coral reefs. Real life definitely lived up to the brochures.
The choice was made since Hilton was opening a new resort in the Maldives and Tara had enough Hilton Honor points for 6 free nights. The opening date was scheduled as November 28, 1997. So, Tara started calling nearly every week trying to make a reservation. Hilton international said it wasn't taking reservations yet, then that the hotel was not open as scheduled. Finally, in late December, Hilton International was taking reservations and we reserved seven nights.
We were actually excited about the journey since we'd heard very good things about Emerites Airlines. The sea plane was also going to be an adventure. For weeks before, Tara kept saying "the plane", "the plane" in a Fantasy Island voice. Emerites Arilines proved to have an economy section with many standard business class perks. The touch screen video for everyone kept us entertained. We especially liked the camera mounted on the nose of the plane and the route map showing the plane's position as we travelled across the Middle East. Tara was just the right size for the footrest and we both enjoyed the hot towels. Yet again, Tara said "I really have to do this at home."
Our first view of the Maldives was from the 747 window and it looked JUST like the brochures. Little tiny islands with white sand beaches in beautiful, blue water. Tara must have taken 10 pictures before we landed.
We weren't sure when we landed at 8AM if we'd have to wait or not for the sea plane. The hotel had told Tara: "Either the sea plane will be there or you will wait." The sea plane was there for us and with 10 others, we were on our way! The plane was larger than we'd expected with 16 seats. . Tara took another 10 pictures and wasn't scared at all of crashing. The one disadvantage of taking off on water is the splashes on the window. Seth noticed that the pilot had no shoes on.
After a nice welcome drink in the lobby, we were shown to our room. It was 21 steps from the ocean! It was a detached house with a front terrace that we spent lots of time on.
The toughest daily activity was ordering room service. Seth refused to order since it was such a chore, so Tara had to have patience and speak VERY slowly and clearly. Still, over 90% of our orders were incorrect: no silverware, pastrami instead of roast beef, tomato sauce steak instead of black pepper steak, American breakfast without the specified meat, potato and tomato on the menu, etc. Here is a copy of our letter to the hotel. Overall, a minor inconvenience in paradise.
When: January 14 - 23, 1998
Tourist Office: Maldives
Web Sites: http://www.maldives.com
Airline:Emerites Air 44-171-555-555. Dnata Travel for discount airline ticket 44-171-555-555
Travel Times London - Dubai, ~7 hours
Dubai - Male, 4 hours
Male - Rangali Island via seaplane, 25 minutes
Rangli Island - Male via helecopter, 40 minutes
Hotel:Hilton Hotel, Rangali Island, Maldives