Have we established I’m a fortunate person? Because I am. I’ve been able to visit each of these places in the past four years. While these locations might seem a great distance for many, they are also all obvious considerations for honeymoons, destination weddings, and vacations (especially given their distance from the GCC, where I’ve called home since 2007). While Hubs and I were recently traveling, I began to compare where we stayed, what made it work and why I would go back.
if not scientific, and thus have tried to break down my results in a more quantitative way.
How far (roughly from DXB, AUH, or DOH)?
- Maldives – 4 hours on direct flight, 30-45 minutes on small prop plane, 15-20 minutes on boat to actual resort (may vary based on property, but this is the general idea)
- Sri Lanka – 4.5 hours on direct flight, 2-3 hours driving through country (potentially longer)
- Boracay – 8 hours on direct flight to Manila, 1 hour flight to Boracay, car ride to boat, boat to island (it’s a hassle, but kind of a fun one, if you’re up for the adventure)
- Seychelles – 4 hours on direct flight, 20-30 minutes to resort by car
Winner? Seychelles. This is a very clear cut category. The flight times for the Maldives and Seychelles vary out of the GCC, but most tend to be an easy morning flight arriving afternoon. The Manila flights can be a bit hectic – I flew out at 2AM.
Properties? I will of course point out here that there are ENDLESS possibilities depending on your budget. I’ve outlined where we stayed and why we chose the hotels and resorts we did.
- Reethi Beach Resort, Maldives – while I REALLY wanted to stay at the Constance Moofushi, given we were traveling at a peak time (Christmas), the option to stay at this all inclusive resort was a good choice. If we went back to the Maldives, I would look for full board/all inclusive options only. The last thing you want to do on holiday is worry about $7 cokes (I’m looking at you, Le Meridien). Given the lower price point, we were able to spend our time in an over the water villa.
- The Fortress, Galle – literally one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. We opted for a bit higher standard of room – not only was it HUGE, but the whole experience was something I’ve not really experienced since. I completely checked out while we were on site.
- Shangri-La Boracay – after a bit of a snafu with the classification of room we were booked into, we finally made it into the 1 bedroom villa which I had initially reserved. We weren’t disappointed. This was the kind of room I could literally live in – beautiful, stylish, complete with an immense and secluded outdoor space, I really didn’t want to leave.
- Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles – I’ve covered this recently, but the service and room (especially in comparison with above) simply doesn’t compare. The property itself is nice enough with killer views, but is lacking.
Winner? It’s a very tough call between the Shang’s 1 bedroom villa, the right on the Indian Ocean water villa and the very spacious Fortress, but I’ll give the tip here to Boracay. The Shangri-La knows what they are doing.
Natural beauty? This is completely objective by me, your experiences might be different.
Remote island. Wildlife everywhere. Shoes optional.
Cool breezes, active surf, lush vegetation.
Another remote island. Immaculate grounds. Total privacy.
Stunning beach. Equatorial greenery. Water beyond compare.
Winner? In my mind, the Maldives squeak the win here simply because it’s such a unique experience. We literally landed IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WATER to access our hotel.
Cost? Here’s another place where you might be able to make points or connections work for you. However, here’s what I remember. I’m not going to list specific prices, because undoubtedly, they will change.
- Maldives, quite reasonable for an all inclusive.
- Sri Lanka, the cheapest option (easily).
- Shangri-La, the most expensive, but ultra luxe.
- Seychelles, outrageous for what you get.
Winner? Based on what is available not only where we stayed, but also across the country, Sri Lanka definitely wins this round.
- A big thumbs up to our bartender who hooked us up and looked after us the entire time. He made sure we were well lubricated and was happy to give us anything we wanted to take to our room. No judging if we wanted cuba libres at 11AM.
- In my travels, I’ve never net a nicer more hospitable culture than that of Sri Lanka. From our driver to literally anyone we interacted with across the country, I felt safe.
- Saved the day. The general manager was true professional and took care of whatever was requested. While I still believe he could have communicated before our arrival about the mix up, things were made right and all of the staff we interacted with (including our butler!) were nothing but wonderful.
- No. From the hustle of the driver from the MOMENT we got in the car to the lack of understanding and proactive attitude, I would not recommend.
Winner? Very close between Sri Lanka and Boracay, but it’s not every day you get a butler, so the win goes (again) to the Shangri La. Reethi was close, with the Le Meiriden a distant fourth.
So, to me, I think the ultimate get away would somehow involve the pricing and many elements of Sri Lanka, with the modern/luxe of the Shangri La. In putting this post together, I realized the importance and impact of a property upon your holiday. I think it’s really worth taking the time to do extra research in these areas (which I usually do, and still wonder why I struck out so hard in the Seychelles). While I tend to avoid negative reviews on TripAdvisor, it’s why I posted about the Le Meridien – I would hate for someone else to spend their hard earned money and be as disappointed as we were.
And looking forward, I would love to add Bali and Phuket into the mix!
What are your thoughts? Does one of these places or properties have a special memory for you?