My husband and I recently spent 10 gorgeous days in the Maldives. We spent our honeymoon there 10 years ago and returned to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary. It was just as beautiful as I remembered.
The Maldives are located South-West of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean on the equator and are made up of over 1000 islands of which only 200 are inhabited. Blessed with unbelievably blue waters, a near perfect climate and an abundance of coral and marine life, water activities are a key attraction for many travelling there.
We chose to stay at Kanifinholu, a small island about 30 minutes by speedboat from Malé the capital. The one resort on the island is run by Club Med, known as Club Med Kani. As food is an important consideration for us when deciding where to stay, we chose Club Med as they offer a diverse range of eating options including European, Asian and local cuisines. The other great feature Club Med offers is that everything is included in the package price, including food and alcohol. Like many exotic destinations, the Maldives is incredibly expensive for eating and drinking so to have food and alcohol included was definitely the way to go.
The resort boasted a buffet restaurant, and a smaller a la carte restaurant. Most evenings we dined at the buffet restaurant, as the a la carte restaurant was very difficult to get into as it only seated about 40 and the resort was at its maximum capacity of 400.
As far as buffets go, I would rate this one close to 10 out of 10. Each evening the buffet was a different theme – Ocean, Asian, International, etc. There were choices for every taste regardless of the theme, from pizza and pasta to curries and barbequed selections.
Quality produce was used, and this was reflected in the quality of the food. At lunch and dinner a generous selection of French cheeses was offered, and included my favourites Munster, Pont l’Eveque and Livarot. Served with real French baguette, they went down a treat! The seafood was plentiful, diverse and incredibly fresh. On most evenings raw fish (in particular tuna) was offered, in many forms including sashimi, sushi and marinated Tahitian style.
One evening each week the buffet restaurant is relocated to beachfront and we dined under the stars. The buffet theme that evening was “Ocean” and an amazing selection of seafood was available including local lobster. It was just divine dining en plein air listening to the gentle sound of the ocean.
Each evening we enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails either at the Beach Bar or the Terrace Bar. Most cocktails were included, so Caprioskas, Mojitos or Martinis were the order of most days.
Local fresh fruit featured highly on my breakfast plate – I particularly enjoyed the local papaya with local limes. For lunch every third day or so they had a beach barbeque, where the chefs grilled local fish as well as meats and vegetables. Very civilised, eating lunch on the sand in your bikini!
The only disappointing dining aspect was the complementary wines. Both restaurants offered a white, rosé and red – all French wines and very non-descript.
The dining highlight was the evening of our 10-year wedding anniversary, where we opted for the Romantic Dinner (at a considerable extra cost).
A beautiful table was set up on the beach and we assigned a personal waiter. The meal comprised of entree of a mixed cold plate of fois gras, smoked salmon, cured meats, fine cheese and other goodies. Main course was a whole large lobster, which was cooked to perfection. For dessert the Executive Chef (who I had befriended earlier in the week) arranged a beautiful anniversary cake – enough to feed about 20 people rather than 2! It was a perfect balmy evening with a gentle breeze, the moon almost full and the water less than 10 metres away – it truly was a memorable dining experience.
The local Maldivian waiters were absolutely charming and nothing was too much trouble for them. On our last evening they laid a special table for us, as can be seen in the photo below.
As part of their activity program, the resort offered cooking demonstrations 3 times per week. The dishes being demonstrated were Maldivian Fish Curry, Sushi and Creme Brulee. I opted for the first two (as I consider myself fairly competent in the Creme Brulee department). The Maldivian Fish curry was made with super-fresh fish, various spices and coconut milk and was rich and delicious. The Sushi Class was fun, as I put my hand up to roll which I had never done before and am now inspired to try it at home!
Maldivian Fish Curry (serves 4):
30ml vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely sliced
10g ginger, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
10g chilli powder
30g curry powder
15g ground cumin
10g ground turmeric
500g firm white fish (eg snapper) chopped into bitesized pieces
150ml coconut milk
Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a frypan or wok over a high heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and curry leaves and cook until the onions are golden brown.
2. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, chilli powder, curry powder, cumin and turmeric and cook until fragrant.
3. Add the fish and the coconut milk, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes or until the fish is tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Serve with rice or chapatti.
We managed to dine one evening at the à la carte restaurant and I must say it was lovely to be served a meal at the table for a change instead of queuing up at the buffet. The restaurant juts out over the water, and we were lucky enough to score the best table in the restaurant and watched the fish and the reef sharks circling for food while we dined.
Food highlights during our stay for me include fois gras, super-fresh tuna sashimi, lobster, excellent variety of French cheeses, beautiful French bread (made the way it should be), local fruits including mangosteens.
In summary, I can highly recommend Club Med in the Maldives. Apart from being an idyllic location with luxury accommodation, the food was first class for a resort of its size. The diversity of food offerings means that there is something for everyone, even the most discerning foodie.