It is a long way, though, from the small, natural islands with beach and reef that first come to mind when one thinks of Maldives.
The island has been redrawn and remade by man. To protect the extended land from erosion a substantial wall of coral rubble and sand was built in the lagoon around half the island. It is unsightly and blocks the views of 100 rooms (241-341), though half of these (241-286) are some 200 metres away and, facing west, they enjoy the afternoon sun.
With 260 rooms in all, there are plenty with clear views (particularly 174-240). Of the total, 220 are Beach Bungalows and 40 are Waterbungalows. Half the waterbungalows face north and half face south. They are spacious, well-appointed rooms in great demand. Steps drop down to the lagoon, which is fine for swimming (though it gets very shallow at low tide) and there are little bits of snorkeling here and there.
The beach bungalows are similar in size and decor (slightly less ‘grand’), only they step out to beach rather than water. A beach that is not uniformly good. This is due to the fact that it is man-made and needs to be re-covered at intervals with new soft sand. A line of trees gives shade to the rooms and between it and the beach is a flat, open area with space to manoeuvre the lounger to follow the sun. Even this is not always the case, so some negotiation to change rooms may be desired.
One of the resort’s strong points is certainly the management and staff. The long-time general manager, Shujau, is a calm and very capable guy who is himself responsible for several guests returning here for their holidays again and again. The same would be true of a number of waiters and room boys for this is one of the keys to Paradise Island’s success. A rapport is often struck up with the staff and this sets an easygoing atmosphere that encourages friendliness between the guests.
Your waiter at breakfast will detail the list of upcoming excursions and special events, and take your booking after you’ve chewed it over. The options are many and varied. Fishing comes in 4 varieties: early morning, sunset with a group, trawling for tuna and big game fishing. Being close to Male and the airport gives you the option not only of shopping and sightseeing in the capital but also of photo flights and a trip on a mini-submarine.
The food in the main restaurant is fairly good but it’s much better in the other outlets, so be prepared for a bit of an overspend here. A quiet seafood restaurant faces out to the open ocean and a Japanese restaurant looks authentic, but the star is an Italian restaurant at the end of the arrival jetty. This has such a reputation that guests motor in from Male and nearby 5 star resorts.
Sports give you more options still, with floodlit tennis and indoor squash and badminton (non air conditioned). The watersports centre has all the usual kit in very good condition, plus parasailing and kitesurfing. And there’s a fine little spa on the quiet northern tip of the resort. As is now usual, each pavilion has twin treatment tables so couples can enjoy the pleasure together.
The swimming pool is small for a big resort but the decking integrates smoothly with the main bar and the whole works well, particularly in the evenings as the fun fills up and spills out of the bar. A large number of nationalities make up the guests, with many East Asians in particular, but the pub is mostly the domain of the Europeans, particularly the British and Germans.
There is some good diving around although, as the longest established and busiest resort region, the sites are well used. There is almost no snorkeling on the resort unfortunately, just a patch beside the arrival jetty, but there are daily snorkel trips organised.