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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Loama Resort Maldives: From History to Whale Sharks!

Hooray! A Maldives resort that genuinely showcases the cultural heritage of the country in a way that's interesting to guests! What's more, Loama Maldives Resort at Maamigili has something else up it's sleeve and the clue is in the name: Maamigili is one of the top spots in the country for observing whale sharks. 

Culture and sun-worshipping don't usually go hand in hand!

I don't know about you but just those two facts alone were enough to get me excited about Loama. And it gets better...

This is teardrop-shaped island lying in Raa Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane ride from the international airport. It's 100 hectares of a delightful paradise. The island tapers off into a stunning sandbank you can stroll along. If you're looking for a balance between luxury and culture, look no further.

The resort has all usual the trappings of an entry-level five star Maldives resort. By saying 'entry-level' I don't intend to sound condescending, what I mean is it has a high level of amenities and service but in the Maldives there can be a great deal of disparity between five stars, this is the country where you can pay $200 a night or $50,000 a night for a five star resort.

The colours really are this amazing in reality...
So, at Loama you can find luxurious beach and water villas, excellent service and superb cuisine, just like one might expect at any five-star resort. However, Loama offers a cultural experience currently unlike anything else in the Maldives, which is excellent for anyone wanting to see a new side of the Maldives.

Starting at the beginning...Accommodation

Very attractive interiors
The water villas fan out across the water, each with private direct access into the sea, while the beach villas are nestled on the powdery white sand, surrounded by lush tropical foliage. All of the villas are beautifully furnished with contemporary amenities, local artwork and the modern facilities including Nespresso machines, flatscreen TVs and DVD players. A few of the features, such as the room decor and main dining pavilion, seem to have been inspired by the villas at Four Seasons (in my mind anyway) and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. One of the nice features of the water villas is a hammock slung over the water.

The range of restaurants include a spectacular poolside dining venue, Iru Café, all-day beachside dining with flavours from around the world at Fazaa and the gorgeous fine dining restaurant, Thundi, featuring authentic Thai cuisine accompanied by wines from the adjacent wine cellar...

The juicy bit...History!

Loama Resort is the only place outside of the capital city with a licence from the government for a museum, packed full of fascinating artefacts discovered on the island and surrounding area, from 17th Century Chinese pottery brought by ancient traders; traditional clothing and even drinking tankards used by the Portuguese during their time governing the Maldives. 

One of the highlights is the archaeological remains of two traditional Buddhist ceremonial baths dating back to before the 11th Century (which was when the country converted to Islam). There are very few surviving Buddhist relics in the Maldives so this is really unique and rare. 

A traditional Maldivian home with carved wooden wall panels and a coconut thatch roof has been recreated to give guests a taste of how islands used to look centuries ago. There are also fascinating cultural tours to neighbouring islands where guests can discover about the way of life in Maldivian communities, and the Loama Art Gallery featuring work by talented local artists.

A lot of thought and care was put into all of these cultural offerings (unlike some other resorts which merely pay lipservice to them), so it's refreshing and exciting to see that Loama is unlike any others. 

The ancient bath from the Maldives' Buddhist days...

Back to the usual resort stuff...

For a change of pace, check out the Watersports Centre which offers a host of exciting watersports including jet-skiing, windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling. The attractive house reef is home to all kinds of colourful tropical fish, with the occasional stingray or baby shark gliding through from time to time. 

Adjacent to the Watersports Centre is the TGI Dive Centre, offering a five star diving service. Guests can book full day or half-day scuba diving excursions or learn to dive in the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon. The beautiful infinity-edge swimming pool provides further entertainment for water-lovers.

The Sunset Champagne Cruise
Other excursions available include fishing trips and a romantic sunset dolphin cruise, accompanied by glasses of champagne and canapés. I checked this one out and it was really fantastic. Romantics will also enjoy the private dining option, where a private meal for two can be set up on the sandbank under the stars (although all resorts offer this).

For the ultimate in relaxation, experience the Loama Spa. The skilful spa therapists are on hand to offer relaxing and revitalising massages, scrubs and other treatments using essential oils and natural plant extracts. They really do know their stuff and there's nothing like ended a day with a massage...

Days always end with stunning sunsets but this one was even better than normal

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