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Wednesday, 08 August, 2018, 16 : 21 PM [IST]

Lily Beach Resort and Spa - Ideal gateway for scenic views, leisure & a gastronomical affair

Maldives, the south-west island nation to India is as an ideal destination, where one can just immerse themselves in the Indian Ocean to swim with the manta rays and whale sharks, and enjoy the distinct cuisines from around the world in their peaceful villas of the resort. Akshay Nayak shares how The Lily Beach Resort & Spa sets the bar high to comfort one to delve deep into the destination’s serenity.
With the workplace in a prime location like South Mumbai, frequenting to and fro the city’s coastline is just a few minutes’ walk for one. However, while enjoying a serene view of the Arabian Sea from the shore, the hustling traffic swarming right behind doesn’t please to all of one’s five senses!

India, even though having a long and beautiful coastline, misses out on some aspects of which one includes the beach-side’s nearness to daily commutable busy roads. Making it difficult to hunt for places within the country for a comparatively calm beach location, The Lily Beach Resort and Spa came to my rescue to soothe and freshen up all the senses in the picturesque international island destination – Maldives.

Maldives, the tropical nation in the Indian Ocean needs the least of description for its marine beauty. One has to visit the nation to experience its mix, right from the busy capital of Male with a bustling fish market, and restaurant and shops on the road; to the calming resorts, spread out distinctly on the more than 1,000-coral-island nation, that feature scenic views of the ocean.

Beach Villa

Initiated by Explora, a boutique travel company, the four-day familiarisation trip to the Lily Beach Resort and Spa was all about relaxing, exciting activities & excursions, and an interesting culinary affair.

A Hassle-Free Transfer by SriLankan Airlines
Waiting for the 03:10 hrs flight from Mumbai to Colombo was a tad bit tiring, but while entering the flight, the warm ‘Ayubowan’ (Greeting in Sri Lanka) extended by the flight’s cabin crew, followed by the reclining seat facing a screen for entertainment, and fresh in-flight menu. All this ensured that the about 2.5-hour journey was a seamless one. Business Class has its own perks. This gets even better on the Colombo-Male bound transfer flight where I watched a movie only half-way through while savouring the fresh fruits before I could realise that the 1-hour flight even landed on Male International Airport.

A Rejuvenating Aura
The tiring overnight travelling had not yet ended, and the transfers still going on, the next we waited was for the Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) seaplane to take us to the vicinity of the resort which was followed by a 20-minute ‘Doni’ (sail boat) ride. However, waiting at the resort’s VIP Lounge at the seaplane terminal was more than comforting with adequate supplies of freshly baked breads, croissants, etc.; loungers and Wi-Fi connectivity on the go.

The Lily Beach Resort and Spa at Huvahendhoo Island is a familyfriendly resort marking 80% occupancy round the year in the total of 125 villas. Popularly known, for its Sunset Water Suites and Deluxe Water Villas which boast of an overwhelming glass flooring section; the four Sunset Water Suites – 182 sq mt each, are cozy enough to make a family of four accommodate easily with 1 bedroom + 1 living Room on offer. The other three categories are designed only with a bedroom. One can, however, also opt for the fairly spacious 126 sq mt Deluxe Water Villas to enjoy the breathtaking views while sunbathing on either of the two sun beds. Each 68 sq mt-beach villa out of the 69, on the flip side, enjoys four sun beds and an outside bathroom with only four walls, but no roof… the best I could stay in to get connected almost instantly with the resort’s calming aura.

Moving towards the culinary wonders at the resort, the three distinct restaurants - Lily Maa Main Restaurant, Aqva, and Vibes serve the best in their own ways. A select buffet of cuisines from around the world, be it sushi or the scrumptious pizzas with the best toppings, the restaurant has it all to get one’s platter piled up with each of everything on offer. Children are on top priority with a dedicated “Kids Buffet” Section at the Lily Maa. The delicious Teppanyaki on offer and the appetizing Teriyaki Chicken Wings from the à la carte menu at Aqva would leave one taking notes to try the same once they fly back home. The finger foods and B-52 shots at the Vibes Bar made the already interesting France vs Argentina match even more lively… pushing the FIFA World Cup 2018’s to be more unpredictable.

QWhich are the key markets for the Resort? How do you rank India?
We see a lot of clients coming from Europe. Asia also marks a significant share where the visitors are majorly from Russia, China, Japan, India, etc. European clients often choose longer stays ranging from 8-10 days. Indian clients usually opt for 3-4 nights. Guests from China usually stay for 4 nights, while that from Japan prefer 3 nights. Currently, we record a minor market share from India as they prefer accommodation closer to Male for easy transportation.

QWhich are your target traveller segments? Why?
The Lily Beach Resort & Spa witnesses a varied set of patrons. Family vacationers are seen the highest round the year. One can spot 70-80 children at the resort at any given point of time. Moreover, the location is ideal for the fashion industry as the resort is well-designed. The Resort’s design aspect is also appreciated by the weddings clients as most places of the resort act as good natural backdrops. Apart from these, we receive a mix of honeymooners, couples and small groups of corporate travellers too. We received groups of delegates of some car companies last year.

QWhat are the USPs of Lily Beach Resort of Spa?
Lily Beach Resort and Spa is a family-friendly property. We have been following various trends since 2009 in the all-inclusive Platinum plan. Lily Beach is now known globally and people are aware about our brand.

The Platinum Plan is an all-inclusive plan which includes assist on arrival and departure by our airport team at Male’ International Airport;

Complimentary VIP lounge access at the Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane terminal; selection of 80 premium wines from all around the world available in our restaurants and bars and four brands of cigarettes available in all bars. Apart from these, our restaurants and bars including - Lily Maa, Tamarind Speciality Restaurant, The Spirit Bar, Aqva bar, Vibes Bar, etc., serve the best of signature dishes and beverages from across the world. One can select from a wide variety of cuisines. The guests can savour their favourite food and beverages unlimited, with a serene view of the waters at each restaurant.

QHow popular is the Resort for repeat clients and how are you promoting it to attract more clients globally and from India in particular?
We receive a total of 30% repeat clients from the entire market, and 5% from India alone. In 2017, we participated in several exhibitions including the GPS 2017 in India. We are expecting more market share from India and hence providing yearlong offers and promotions that are available both online and offline. People still believe the brand is lesser recognised, but we are gaining traction since we bagged five awards last year. At the resort, we have various offers including several food festivals, etc.

QWhat is the peak season to visit the Resort? What occupancy does the Resort record during this time?
We record an average of 80% occupancy round the year. The high season for business starts from October and goes up till March-end. We have various offers during this period and also the platinum plan complements a calculated holiday including exciting activities and excursions.

Aqva Bar

Marine Life
Following the good food, and some rest at relaxaing villas, we moved to experince the marine beauty. The resort’s Dive Centre is equipped with all the gear in all sizes, be it the snorkel to fit the face of a child, or the bigger feet to be covered with fins, necessary for snorkelling. With small sharks and other fish swimming around, the sight of the colourful corals is what one should experience at least once in a lifetime.

While cruising for a detour to Dhangethi Island - one of the most populated islands of Maldives, we were lucky enough to snap some really close pictures of the dolphins swimming by.

At the Resort’s shore, the fish feeding time (9 - 9:30 pm) sees the big boys coming to fetch their share. One can spot the swarming hefty black jack fish, sharks and sting rays swimming by at this time.

A 20-minute speedboat ride inside the ocean gave us a good view of the enormous manta rays and a turtle.

Way Back My legs didn’t feel like moving out of the cosy Beach Villa, but the trip was heading to its conclusion. With bags packed, I went right outside of my villa to the beach to feel the soft-textured sand, until next time.

After checking out, we joined at The Spirit Bar to relish on a glass of Aperol Spritz before hitting our way through the sunny day. We halted at the Maagiri Hotel in Male for lunch and lounging before boarding the night’s flight to Colombo. The menu at Faru - the hotel’s restaurant put a wide smile on all our faces as we saw Dal Fry and Butter Chicken.

With a bracket of about two hours handy to take a city tour, we saw the Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al Auzam, a library, and the fish market. One cannot bat an eye to the souvenir stores here, which have a wide range of pearl necklaces to wallets made from stingray skin.

Back to the Male International Airport, SriLankan Airlines’ Business Class was reverberating leisure at all the touch points, right from the reclining seats to the tender chicken breast, while the wide screen playing Black Panther was set right at a comfortable angle of sight.

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