Dianne Lechner is a personal luxury travel concierge who specializes in travel exclusively to the Maldives. Katie Milton gets the inside
scoop on what to expect when visiting and how to get the best luxury Maldives deals from this destination specialist.
How many times have you visited the Maldives?
Too many to count! We first visited the Maldives on our honeymoon back in 2008 and have been returning at least twice a year since. This year we are lucky enough to be jet setting back four times! I think it’s safe to say we are Addicted to Maldives.
Why are you addicted to the Maldives?
Oh for so many reasons…firstly, it is just one of those places that truly is even more naturally stunning in real life than any photo or brochure you have seen. You have to experience it to understand. The quality and standards of accommodation, food and service etc is second to none. Not to mention the water and the incredibly diverse marine life there. It is also the only place that my husband and I truly do switch off from the daily grind back home, and a place where we always enjoy quality time as a family.
The logistical challenges that the Maldives face are incredible. As a country that is made up of 99% water, everything needs to be shipped in and logistically it is no easy task building a resort. After so many visits, I have been fortunate enough to witness resorts mid construction and have many conversations with a variety of management and staff of all levels. Understanding what is involved from conception to completion and what it takes to create a luxury resort together in the Maldives honestly blows my mind!
What is the advantage for Luxury Travel readers when using you to book their Maldives holiday?
Dealing with a destination specialist like myself offers so much more than an online booking system or other travel agent because I can offer you honest advice and recommendations, based on real experiences. It can be quite overwhelming when you start researching the Maldives, as there are so many resorts to choose from. We take the time to understand our clients likes and dislikes and what is important [for] each individual when on holiday, and then personally tailor a bespoke Maldives experience for them.
We have worked very hard at developing a strong network of relationships with our resort partners in the Maldives, and this means that we have direct contracts with these resorts. The benefit for clients is that we will always be competitive price wise, however it also means that our clients are given the VIP treatment and [are] very well looked after during their stay.
Is the Maldives a good family destination?
Absolutely! We actually have two children ourselves who we have taken on many trips to the Maldives. The beaches are calm with the most inviting water and I love that the kids can run and splash around in the lagoon, and that it is completely safe for them. Our youngest daughter actually learnt to swim in the Maldives last year.The Maldivian people are all so genuinely welcoming and so fabulous with children. I recall being in the Maldives when my son was only 9 months old, and we were out to dinner when he became really unsettled. Without any hesitation, one of the waiters came and offered to take him off me and settle him, allowing us to enjoy our dinner. It’s the small things like this that really can impact your overall stay and offer a wonderful holiday experience for parents and children alike.
Now even more so, the Maldives is a destination that is really catering towards families. There are a large variety of villa style accommodations offering two and three plus bedrooms as well as some amazing residences that offer larger groups of families and friends the perfect accommodation in paradise!
Kids Clubs are…wait for it…educational! There is no need to feel guilty about “dumping” the kids off at the kids club! Many of them offer a wide variety of experiences for kids including learning the local language “Dhievhi” or Bodu Beru lessons (traditional Maldivian drumming). There is also the opportunity to explore the local house reefs with on site marine biologists, learning how to identify different fish species and island survival courses too! Not to mention the huge variety of water sports and snorkeling and diving opportunities.
What does the Maldives offer luxury travelers?
The Maldives really does set the standard for luxury travel around the world. Personal butlers catering to your every whim, villas that are larger than most apartments here in Australia and most with private pools, a food and beverage team at your disposal to cater to dietary requirements and a host of dining options, many of them offering Michelin starred inspired menus.
But it goes well beyond all of that. Sure those elements are important in creating a luxury travel experience however it’s being able to bring each of those and the finer details together in one of the most magical locations, to offer guests a complete Maldives luxury experience!
Do you have any favorite Maldives properties? What makes them unforgettable?
I have many personal favorites and for different reasons. Gili Lankanfusi for example offers an amazing rustic chic getaway with villas suspended over the Maldives most beautiful lagoon. WOW is the word that comes to mind when trying to describe this place and THAT lagoon! A true 50 shades of blue, it’s hard to not be impressed! But honestly, I would return to Gili, just to be able to spend an afternoon lounging on an overwater hammock… with a frozen sorbet cocktail in hand of course! And spending a week barefoot is magic!
Amilla Fushi is also a personal family favorite of ours. The villas, the food, the service, everything is just so well balanced here and it has definitely lived up to it’s mantra of #myislandhome for us! They just do everything so incredibly well. We love it’s location in Baa atoll for it’s diverse range of marine offerings and our kids absolutely adore the kids club here. The staff seem to have a way with the children and rather than insisting that they participate in a pre-set activity schedule, they really do tailor the activities offered to suit the children on the island at the time. Our kids really enjoy the freedom they have at Amilla Fushi and so do we. It allows us to enjoy some much needed adult time by the pool or to escape for a couple of hours and relax at the hands of Laura – a therapist at Javvu Spa who I’m convinced has magic hands! I also love that whenever we return we are allocated the same “Katheeb” butler to look after us. He knows our routine and preferences and it makes for a seamless holiday.
Tell us something about the Maldives that our readers won’t find out anywhere else.
The Maldives as a destination is still growing and developing. Over the last nine years that I have been travelling there, I have seen many changes, from airport upgrades to resorts changing over to island time, which effectively means that they operate 1 or 2 hours ahead of Male’ to allow guests to enjoy extended hours of sunshine…great for those sunset cocktail sessions! Between now and the end of 2017, 20 new resorts will open in the Maldives!
Can you give us an insider tip on finding Luxe for Less options in the Maldives?
The Maldives offers two distinct seasons – the dry season running December to April and the wet season May to November.
The wet season generally offers some amazing discounted packages including stay pay deals, complimentary meals and discounted transfers as an example. As the Maldives sits close to the Equator, it benefits from warm temperatures year round of between 27-30 degrees. The wet season can absolutely still be a great time to travel and you get to take advantage of some great value discounts!
I also recommend booking in advance where possible as many resorts offer some fabulous early bird booking bonuses that can be very enticing. And of course by using a Maldives Specialist such myself, we will always offer competitive rates and at times, complimentary experiences for bookings made exclusively through Addicted to Maldives.