It’s becoming a tradition for our family to spend Lunar New Year in the Maldives. Not a bad tradition to have, and it beats spending February in cold New York.
This time my husband decided to surprise our family by booking a place we did not know about. So far so good, I love surprises. The problem with surprises is that you cannot do your own research and prepare for unexpected. Unlike other hotels we have stayed at, Ayada was very remote. Set in the relatively unexplored Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in the south of the country just a few kilometers north of the equator, it took an international flight followed by a domestic flight and a boat to get there. Depending on sea conditions, the boat ride could take significantly longer and cause some discomfort to all but the most battle-hardened seafarers. I certainly didn’t foresee that and truth be told it wasn’t the best start to what I have come to expect of a few days in paradise. Once there however, Ayada delivered on all points. The island had amazing snorkeling, great restaurants, and lots of water activities for restless children. The staff was superb, being attentive without necessarily being overly visible and in your space. I was glad that I packed some nice clothes and accessories as guests generally dressed-up for dinner, respectful of the resorts dress code that I would describe as a combination of relaxed casual yet refined. For the Lunar New Year some guests made a real effort to stand out dressing very festively, which was really great to see.

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