We had the pleasure of accompanying the maiden flight of a Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane from Malé in the high northern atolls of the Maldives: We landed in the luxurious Hideaway Beach Resort & Spa, where a full-blown reception committee, including a local “band”, was waiting for us. Here’s how that sounds like…
The island of Dhonakulhi, with the elegant Hideaway Beach Resort, lies over one flight hour north of the capital of Malé. Until now the resort could also be reached with a Trans Maldivian Airways domestic flight, with a layover and a half-hour transfer by speedboat.
Now that’s not bad, but… since April 2015 the island can also be flown to directly from Malé three times per day with a seaplane. The incoming flight over the many atolls is an experience in itself, as the 15-seat monoplane really flies closely above the scattered isles, thereby providing the best view of the turquoise spectacle.
Hideaway General Manager Carsten Schieck had personally taken the initiative to allow his outlying resort to be flown to directly. The fact that he has already been successfully working in Maldivian resorts for 13 years certainly helped. In any case local tourism managers envy the Hideaway for its busy German GM and his wife. Among other things, she works as the resort photographer and has a good eye for harmonious shots.
Island hopping in the DHC-6 Twin Otter
These planes originally developed by De Havilland Canada in 1965 are clearly not only designed to take off and land on remote Canadian lakes, but their STOL features (short takeoff and landing) make them an ideal method of air transport in the Maldives, too. The planes, which originally fit 19 passengers, only seat 15 here to make room for all the sunseekers’ luggage. However, hard suitcases are discouraged as soft travel bags are easier to stow away.
The pilots are especially a sight to see: Their uniform consists of highly fashionable sunglasses and white dress shirts, with dark blue Bermuda shorts, and sandals if necessary so as not to burn their feet on the hot landing jetties. But then, they always fly barefoot…
The sky at your fingertips, or rather the tips of your toes…
Celebratory reception of the maiden flight
The passengers of the maiden flight were welcomed with all the local pomp: A band provided the local musical colour in the elegant lobby while resort management gathered to greet the guests and pilots. Coconut milk and cool towels were handed out during the musical performance. It cannot get any better than that!
And the guests were then given this musical welcome: