Our travel patterns are changing. It’s less about chilling on a beach (though oh, how we love it!), and more about experiences. With this in mind, combining a trip to the idyllic Maldives with a stay-over in high-voltage Dubai offers you the best of two very different worlds… 

If someone had told me that I would have equally as good a time in Dubai as I would in the Maldives, I wouldn’t have believed them. The Maldives incorporates all my biggest loves: beaches, the ocean, paddleboarding, yoga, relaxation…  and, of course, sheer tropical tranquil beauty. Dubai, on the other hand, is fast-paced, overwhelming and, well, a bit flashy.

How wrong could I be? Dubai always wants to be the best that it can be and this is certainly something that leaves a lasting impression on you at JA Oasis Beach Tower. The glamour is second to none and the guaranteed dose of vitamin D makes this an attractive weekend spot.

A dinner cruise on JA’s Bateaux Dubai is a perfect way to see the entire city from the creek and take in the bright lights in pure luxury. JA Resorts makes these two very different experiences – city and island paradise – doable within a week, with the added bonus of breaking up a long flight to The Maldives (Dubai is only a six-hour flight).

It’s easy to see why the Maldives is considered the crème de la crème of honeymoon destinations – it is ridiculously beautiful. At JA Manafaru you are treated like royalty from the moment you land at Male International Airport – I handed over my luggage and chilled out in a private lounge with snacks until my seaplane was ready.

The water-villas are incredible, with a generous private decking area, infinity pool and steps leading directly into the Indian Ocean

Watching the hypnotising patterns of the ocean and the islands as they peer above the water from the tiny sea plane (driven by pilots with bare feet) was a ‘pinch me’ moment. It didn’t halt there, as I was greeted and transported to my villa by buggy – something you can arrange at any time throughout your stay.

The suites at JA Manafaru are stunning. The 47 water-villas are incredible with reception room, an air conditioned large bedroom and a partially open-air luxury bathroom, not to mention the generous private decking area with infinity pool and steps leading directly into the Indian Ocean.

The hotel offers a variety of activities from diving and snorkelling to water sports, and yoga classes overlooking the Indian Ocean. Having recently been signed off any massages due to an injury, the spa was brilliantly accommodating and knew exactly what to offer to relieve my aches.

The food on the island is delicious. Dine at White Orchid for a private teppanyaki experience and, if you want to learn more about the local cuisine, a cookery class is highly recommended.

You will learn so much from the Maldivians, especially in the way of hospitality as this is something that has been a part of their lives forever growing up on the islands. But they’ll also teach you how the beach moves with the seasons and you can discuss coral bleaching with the resident marine biologist, too.

Perhaps the best part of the Maldives is the lasting feeling of calm that you can take home. You’ll leave with a newfound ability to engage with your emotional wellbeing and a place to escape to in your mind when the hustle of city living becomes too much. This truly is a tale of two parts, each one allowing you to feel just that little bit more alive.


Stays at JA Manafaru start from £475 per night based on two sharing a beach bungalow on a B&B basis. Stays at JA Oasis Beach Tower start from £285 inc. taxes and service, based on a 2 bedroom apartment on a room only basis. See jaresortshotels.com