20 September 2021

Constance Moofushi: You can shed your shoes
Barefoot chic in the Maldives
Richard Green is busy doing nothing in the luxury resort that is so laid-back even the gourmet restaurant has a sandy floor
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old towel sir?' asked a petite Filipina as I stepped onto the jetty of the Constance Moofushi Resort in the Maldives. It was the fourth cold towel in as many hours. Reaching my overwater bungalow, I kicked off my shoes, changed into swimming shorts and perused the room. It was posh-rustic with ethnic woodcarvings, semi-outdoor shower and a glorious terrace poised over the turquoise sea.

I walked down my personal steps, under my personal rainforest shower, and swam in my personal Indian Ocean. A small shark swaggered by, angelfish darted off and the ripples of white sand felt indulgent under foot. Back in my room, I grabbed a beer from the mini-bar. And began to fidget. 'I know,' I thought, 'I'll walk around the island.' Twenty minutes later, I'd explored the thatched main restaurant and circled the island. Back in my room, I sought a new distraction in a can of Carlsberg and some crisps.
The pool view at Constance Moofushi
Yoga at sunset at Constance Moofushi
pen-on-the-palm gesture to the barman. He wobbled his head politely: 'There is nothing to sign, sir.' There was nothing to sign in the restaurants either, where I ceased being sniffy about 'all-inclusive' on my second helping of sashimi. Smells to swoon over wafted across the Manta restaurant from the grill hut.

This restaurant is so relaxed that it has partial white sand floors. Barefoot dining is the norm, with views across the ocean. The resort has perfected the art of combining luxury with simplicity. The Manta buffet brimmed with sushi and salads, and mains such as Thai green chicken curry, Mongolian lamb, and reef fish with tarragon. Themes change daily so there are always different specialities available. To my surprise, the three novels I'd packed went unread. Instead I joined a yoga class, drank some Cosmopolitans, had a massage looking down at fish swimming under the treatment hut, drank some more Cosmopolitans and took a sunset cruise in a traditional dhoni.
Then I read pages on the Smart TV about Moofushi's all-inclusive package. No more wristbands, house plonk and sky-high mini-bar prices; just fine cuisine, premium brand beers and spirits and wine from Provence. After that, I padded barefoot to the Totem bar to put it to the test. At the cute beachside hangout, I polished off a draught Tiger beer and more nibbles, then made a
"Barefoot dining is the norm, with views across the ocean."
I had a try-dive too, right off the jetty, and explored the incredible house reef with just a few lazy flicks of my fins. For the experienced, I was assured the area has some of the best diving sites in the world, around the South Ari Atoll.

Big game fishing is available too, as well as snorkelling and dolphin-spotting boat trips. I paddled a kayak, enjoyed a wine tasting, and went on a boat trip to the neighbouring island of Himandhoo (population 750).

Here, sparky local lad Nazim showed me a 314-year-old mosque and the banyan tree he climbed up to hide in as a child. Lazy lunches and drawn-out dinners blurred into late-night cocktails.
"I was assured the area has some of the best diving sites in the world."
Go for a paddle in the sparkling waters
Take a drink the Totem Bar
Luxury on stilts: an Overwater Bungalow
In the Alizee Restaurant, the sommelier suggested a glass of Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2013 with my starter.'It's citrus and apricot with some honeysuckle at the end,' he said. I might have been at an elegant restaurant in Mayfair. My new best friend, though, was Goram, from India's Himalayan foothills.

He quickly came to know that I liked my Bloody Marys spicy, and introduced me to his award-winning concoction called Indian Snowfall. All too soon I was saying cheerio to Goram and the gang, before making the walk along the jetty for the seaplane to Male. Of course, I made use of one final cold towel.

Original article published in Jun 2015. All info and prices correct at time of publication.
0330·100·2220i 0330 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. X 0330 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. X