lazy life in fast times
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
Arab Today, arab today

The Maldives

Lazy life in fast times

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Lazy life in fast times

The Maldives
London - Arabstoday

The Maldives London - Arabstoday Do you like life in the fast lane, on the go 24/7, running with the fast crowd? Or do you prefer the subtler pleasures of life in the slow lane? At Six Senses Laamu, the latest luxury resort to open in the Maldives, you get a little bit of both. Outwardly, the pace of life is super-slow. Most of the thatched wooden villas are perched on stilts over the sea, like private islands, remote from civilisation. It's like living in a traditional Asian fishing village, predating the arrival of the motor car. When we were there, the sea beneath our bedroom was so millpond still we were hardly conscious of it. Honeymooners strolled arm in arm under the palm trees. Birds glided over the blue waters, their wings barely flapping. Even the few clouds seemed stationary, like stage props suspended over a cardboard sea. There was an air of primordial calm - as befits one of the most pristine holiday destinations in the world. Nobody ran, nobody shouted, nobody broke a sweat. Why would you? The island is tiny, less than a kilometre long. It is a pocket-sized paradise, outside time, with barely a hundred guests, all playing at being Robinson Crusoe. The snorkellers glided so lazily through the water that they look as if they have fallen asleep. At the beautifully appointed spa, with peerless views out to sea, some of the guests did fall asleep, soothed by soft fingers and salt breezes. The well-drilled resort staff were like so many oriental Jeeveses, appearing noiselessly at your elbow, just when you needed them. The dawn-to-dusk leisureliness of life at the resort is no accident. SLOW LIFE - the acronym stands for Sustainable Local Organic Wholesome Learning Inspiring Fun Experiences - is embedded in the DNA of the Six Senses brand, reflecting the environmental values of founder Sonu Shivdasani and his wife Eva. As you fade indolently into the background - lolling on your sundeck in the twilight or cycling through the bamboo groves en route to a romantic candlelit dinner under the stars - you start to feel the healing power of tranquility. What is decidedly not slow, and gives the resort its buzz, is the sheer pace of change in the Maldives. The first planeload of tourists arrived in the islands in 1972, but with so many islands - more than a thousand, spread over such a large expanse of the Indian Ocean - it was 20 years before tourism took off in earnest. In 2011, thanks to greatly improved transport infrastructure, Laamu and the other resorts are within a half-hour plane journey of the capital, Malé. The international airport is getting busier by the day (Etihad is launching a new route from Abu Dhabi to Malé next month) and restrictions on foreigners buying property in the Maldives have been eased. At Six Senses Laamu alone, there are over 20 villas for purchase, at prices starting from US$3 million (Dh11m). The environmental doom-mongers continue to caution that global warming threatens the low-lying islands' existence. But even if the doom-mongers are right, shouldn't one try to experience the islands before it's too late? Beauty is never more piercing than when it's accompanied by fragility. Doomed or not doomed, the Maldives are open for business as never before and, as with every new enterprise, going early is a great time to visit. You feel like a trendsetter, not someone who just follows the herd. At Laamu, which opened in April, many of my fellow guests were visiting the region for the first time and had the wide-eyed enthusiasm of newcomers. They stared enchanted at the blue waters, as if hardly able to believe the sea could be quite so clear, like a newly run bath. Their eyes sparkled with an excitement that belied the lazy pace of life. Barefooted, casually dressed and glowing with health, they ranged from honeymooners from Hong Kong and Australia to middle-aged couples from the UK and Europe. Their median age is mid-thirties and their choice of activities reflects that. The resort gym was busy and it was the same with the spa and the water sports centre.

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