Travel Special: January - Maldives

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The Independent Travel

My sister-in-law and I fancy a week's break - a total break - so maybe something yoga-ish where we can get in touch with our inner selves. If it means ditching our menfolk and children, then so be it. We shall try to bear it, tough as it will be. Where to, though? After much discussion, we decide against Sheffield and Birmingham and opt instead for a spa resort in the Maldives, although I'm not sure why. After all, the Maldives only has dazzling beaches, a stunning turquoise sea and blissful equatorial sun to recommend it. But the Maldives it is, so we shall try to bear that too.

The Maldives is a nation of 1,200 coral islands lying in the Indian Ocean some 415 miles west of Sri Lanka. Although it is all up and running again now, it did receive quite a battering from the tsunami - which cost 82 lives and caused considerable economic havoc - and now needs all the tourists it can get. Mysteriously, I find I am happy to oblige. Certainly, it's a schlep. We fly from London to Qatar, from Qatar to Male, the Maldivian capital, and then it's a seaplane to One&Only Kanuhura, the resort where we'd be roughing it if it didn't have six utterly delicious stars. I like the seaplane. Arriving by seaplane makes me feel like the Bond girl I could have been if only I'd had the face and figure for it. (Minor handicaps, you would think, but Cubby Broccoli was not prepared to overlook them.)

We step from the jetty down on to the sand. The sand is a powdery, silky, white. We want to weep with happiness. We kick our shoes off and do not put them on again for the rest of the week. We have a paddle. The sea is as warm as the baby pool down the local swimming baths but crystal clear, rather than murky with pee. We are taken to our accommodation, which is one of those deluxe, thatched villas on stilts with a four-poster and one of those outdoor bathrooms where you can shower and look up at the stars. How sad that our menfolk and children aren't here to see this, we don't say, as we hug each other with glee. We're not sure what our inner selves make of it all, but our outer selves are feeling very good indeed.

"It's paradise," I say. "It's paradise," echoes my sister-in-law. The island, which is just half a mile long, and encircled by that white, white sand - is the resort. There is nowhere to go and nothing to see, beyond sea, sun, sand, papaya palms and the cute fruit bats who look like Beanie Babies in PVC capes. But all that means is that you can potter about, in a lazy, barefoot kind of way, without feeling guilty about that crappy old fort you really ought to see. "This is proper away-from-it-all escapism," I say. "Proper away from it all escapism," says my sister-in-law, who'll really have to start thinking for herself one day.

Nowhere to go, but plenty to do, if you want to do it. There's sailing and windsurfing, snorkelling and diving. There's the amazing swimming pool with waterfall and Jacuzzi beds. And then there is the spa to which we seem strangely attracted, again and again and again. Sometimes, when a resort says it has a "spa" what you get is an out-of-order hot tub and a bossy girl with cold, bony hands who never stops yakking. This spa, though, is exceptional. I have a Balinese Massage. Tough, but I find I bear up well. The deliciously non-talking therapist - hurrah! - uses thumb and palm pressure, working up to deeper, stronger strokes. "Your hands have been kissed by the angels," I tell her afterwards. "I love you and I want to marry you." She smiles graciously, which I think means we might be engaged.

Actually, the service, on the whole, is amazing. Each room comes with a personal butler, available for wild sex or, failing that, which is extremely likely, DVDs and a copious supply of fluffy white towels. One&Only Kanuhura is paradise, and we don't want to go home even though we've missed our families so much we've scarcely given them a thought. "At least we will always have the Maldives," I say as we climb into the seaplane for our return. "Yes, at least we will always have the Maldives," repeats my sister-in-law. You know, it's a good job I'm so chilled-out otherwise my inner self might have had to punch her.

ITC Classics (01244 355527, www.itcclassics.co.uk) offers seven nights at One&Only Kanuhura in a Beach Villa with breakfast, including flights and transfers, from £1,796 per person based on two sharing. www.oneandonlyresorts.com

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