The last stop of our Katy Celebration Tour was the Ayada resort in the Maldives. This stop allows Katy to tick-off the “go to the Maldives and celebrate in an overwater villa” item on her bucket list.
Staying in a villa over the water in the Maldives automatically meant we would be staying in a resort a little more on the luxury end than we’re used to. Just how much more luxury started to become clear the moment we landed back in Male, before we even boarded our flight to the Gaafu Dhaalu atoll where Ayada is located.
Upon landing, we were greeted by a hotel employee, which we expected. What we didn’t expect was that he wasn’t holding a sign with our names on it, he just found us. In fact, he apologized that it took him a moment as he hadn’t been able to get our pictures to make identifying us more seamless.
Before we knew it, he had taken our bags, checked us into our flight and escorted us to the Maldivian Airlines lounge where we could get some breakfast. Having left Dhigurah at 4:30 that morning – without our boxed breakfasts due to a driver sleep-in – this was a welcome surprise.
Kaadedhdhoo airport in Gaafu Dhaalu is about a one hour flight from Male. When we landed at the tiny airport we, along with a few other guests, were ushered onto a golf cart for the 400 meter ride to the jetty and the waiting Ayada boat.
The water was a bit rough so the trip took an hour and a half rather than the planned hour, but we arrived safely and nobody was sick, though one woman looked like another 10 minutes would have done her in.
A hotel with it’s own time zone
As the boat pulled up to the resort harbour, we were greeted by a line of staff, including Ahmed who would be our butler for the stay. Yes, we had a butler. Yes, it feels incredibly pretentious to type that.
Never having had a butler, I’m not entirely sure what makes one a butler versus what I would argue would be a more appropriate title, assigned concierge. Regardless, we lucked out with Ahmed, who was very kind and helpful.
As Ahmed gave us a tour of the island – by golf cart of course, walking is for plebians – he asked that we turn our clocks forward an hour because the island works on a different timezone. When I asked why, Ahmed explained that it was to “ensure our guests get the most daylight hours”. Ignoring International Standard Time for more beach time?! This was a new level of luxury.
Mixing up our villa styles
There are three types of villas at Ayada; garden, beach and over-water. To keep the costs a little more manageable, we started our stay with a couple of nights at a beach villa, which wasn’t exactly a hardship.
After a few nights we packed up and headed over to our over-water villa. It’s hard to overstate how nice these villas are. First of all, they’re huge (and we were in the smaller ones), each with a view of the ocean and a private infinity pool.
To avoid agonizing over the cost of everything during our stay, we had booked one of the ‘all-inclusive’ packages, which was really ‘all-most-inclusive’ as there are plenty of excursions that cost extra along with more expensive drinks that require additional spend.
For the most part, it worked out well. We typically only drink wine and beer and were happy to spend a little extra for a bottle of champagne on Katy’s birthday.
The one annoyance for us was not being able to have drinks in our villa without paying the exorbitant costs for the minibar. We could have as much to drink as we wanted at the pool or a restaurant but not a single glass watching the sunset in our villa. We almost had one bartender convinced, but he was new and checked with his colleague about something who quickly put a stop to it.
Of course, sitting by the pool to have a drink wasn’t exactly a hardship.
Our stay at Ayada was certainly one of our more sedentary holidays but it wasn’t all eating and drinking by the pool. I mean, mostly, but not all.
Most mornings we managed to get ourselves out for a run (5 km was a little over 2 laps of the island) or visit the gym. Shockingly, the gym was not busy.
Knowing that excursions were very expensive, we’d done the big things, like swimming with whale sharks, while we were at Bliss on Dhigurah.
We went snorkeling in the house reef, conveniently accessed by the ladder from our villa deck.
We went for a sail over to a small nearby island and made a little drone video.
I even hopped in the ocean to save a run away inflatable clam shell that was blown off a neighbouring deck by the wind. As a side-note, we may have been the only guests without a flashy inflatable for our private pool. We had no idea it was a thing
Other than that we spent time walking or biking around, just enjoying the island.
Speaking of bikes
Though the island isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, the set-up designed for the privacy of the individual villas also meant that it can be a bit of a trek to get to the various restaurants and beaches. Conveniently, if you don’t feel like walking or calling your butler to pick you up in a golf cart – which is an option – the resort has bikes available.
They aren’t built for speed but they are fun. They’re super relaxed and each has a little license plate so you know which one is yours. Each villa has a rack for bikes outside the front door. Typically you pay for them by the day but Katy had managed to get them included in our booking.
The crazy thing is, one day we walked out of our villa and someone had stolen our bikes. We were both dumbfounded and amused. I mean, who goes on an expensive holiday then steals bikes from people. Especially considering, there aren’t that many guests, the bikes all have license plates, AND IT’S AN ISLAND. The chances of not seeing the people you took the bikes from are pretty slim.
We called Ahmed who dropped off some new bikes and we rode off to dinner. Sure enough, when we came out from dinner, our first set of bikes were parked almost immediately next to ours!
So, perhaps emboldened by a glass of wine or two at dinner, we decided to wait for these thieves. A couple of minutes later two kids (sure they weren’t technically kids, but we’re approaching 40 now so we can say that) walk up to the bikes.
They notice that we’re staring at them and Katy asks why they took our bikes. They say nothing but look obviously guilty. They get on the bikes and ride off. Now the chase is on.
We decide we’ll hop on our new bikes and have a slow speed bike chase through the dark paths. Eventually they abandoned the bikes on the side of one of the paths.
We sent Ahmed a picture along with the whole story, which he found quite amusing. Though I’m not sure who he thought was the crazier couple in this. Them for stealing or us for bothering to follow them.
Sad to go but happy to get back to Ella
Eventually our time at Ayada had to come to an end. We packed our bags into the golf cart and set off on the long, 36 hour journey home. The only consolation was that Ella would be waiting for us back at home. Besides, she was having too much fun with the grandparents and might start thinking about staying if we didn’t get back soon.
It was a great trip. One that even managed to live up to Katy’s grand expectations. The only problem? Not sure how we’re going to top it.