Of all the dreamy locations used in James Bond films. it’s remarkable that the Maldives hasn’t been among them, as the views are to die for.
But all that could change if the movie’s producers drop into Per Aquum’s latest luxury five-star island resort Niyama.
By day, swaying palm trees, shimmering turquoise waters and white powder sands offer a perfect backdrop, as Bond girl-esque ladies saunter beside the infinity pool, and their Russian partners slumber under bright amber parasols.
At night, the world’s first underwater nightclub glistens tantalisingly 500 yards offshore, hinting at clandestine meetings and shady goings-on.
It’s like living on a lavish film set; Bond author Ian Fleming would have been in his element. The only thing missing is a scowling villain.
Instead, the island is a sea of smiling faces as immaculately-dressed thakurus (personal butlers) ferry young honeymooners and loved-up oldies from their luxury hideaways to beachside bars via golf buggies.
It was a pleasure to be among them, as my wife and I chalked up 25 years together.
We’d heard there may be a treat or two in store for us to mark our silver anniversary, but our thakuru, Yoosuf, must have some friends in very high places.
After a delightful sunset champagne cruise on a traditional dhoni sailing boat, we followed a torch-lit route to a beach barbecue.
No sooner had we started tucking into our lobster and giant prawns when the band broke into my all-time favourite record, Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.
And if that wasn’t enough, a shooting star suddenly burst through the warm night air. Honestly, you couldn’t have made it up.
Unforgettable moments certainly came thick and fast. There was the first time we opened the curtains of our water villa and were met by a wall of warm ocean air.
Then there was the time we went snorkelling in front of our villa, while the rest of the resort slept.
The headline act is undoubtedly the small but spectacular Subsix underwater nightclub, which features windows looking out to colourful coral.
Twice-hourly speedboats whisk guests out to the Edge restaurant and bar, where they can chill out with one of Bond’s trademark Vodka Martini cocktails – shaken not stirred, of course – before heading downstairs to marvel at the tropical fish.
Much of the inspiration for the island comes from its sister resort Huvafen Fushi, a 30-minute speedboat ride from Male.
While life at Niyama isn’t exactly fast, the pace slows even further on this tropical spec of an island.
Those looking to get up close and personal with the sea and wildlife will relish the fact that the reef is just a few yards from the shore – much closer than at Niyama.
Guests can head for the underwater Lime spa, which offers an idyllic way to savour the spectacular colours of fish and coral while being pampered by masseurs.
Friends of ours also fell in love with the place. They saved hard for the ‘trip of a lifetime’ and yet, just six months later, somehow found the means to return.
And why not? After all, as Bond would say, you only live twice...
Chris Wiltshire was a guest of ITC Classics. Price, from £4,069 per person, based on two adults sharing a Beach Studio with Plunge Pool for five nights at Huvafen Fushi and five nights in a Beach Studio at Niyama, including daily breakfast, return economy class flights with Qatar Airlines from London Heathrow, speedboat and seaplane transfers.
For more information and to book, visit itcclassics.co.uk or call (01244) 355527.