This year’s annual ClubMed VIP reward trip saw thirteen superstar agents experience four days of luxe spoiling at Club Med’s Maldivian emerald jewels – Kani and Finolhu Villas. KarryOn Founder Matt Leedham went along to carry everyone’s bags.

“I’m just off to the Maldives on a work trip” is never going to go down well with friends and family, but this is why we love working in travel right? “You have to own the guilt” as someone in the industry recently shared with me.

So after flying into the Republic of Maldives capital, Malé via Singapore from our various Aussie ports (Thanks SQ), we giddily hopped onto our 30-minute speedboat transfer across to vibrant Kani island to kickstart three magic days of good times.

ClubMed Kani

ClubMed Kani

All of the reward winning agents were unquestionably passionate ambassadors for Club Med with most having already impressively notched up double-figure visits to ClubMed resorts all over the world.

Jean Summers-Reeves from Globenet Travel in Brisbane, for example, even got married at Tomamu Hokkaido ski resort in Japan and became the new ClubMed poster girl in the process after she zipped down the slopes in her wedding dress. Brilliant.

The next extraordinary three days and nights on Kani saw the group getting to vacay like rockstars in their own ClubMed ‘Exclusive Collection’ Five Trident overwater suites on stilts on that outdid everyone’s expectations.

My Villa! #52 – ClubMed Kani

My Suite! at ClubMed Kani

ClubMed Kani

ClubMed Kani and the pathway to paradise

With no roads or concrete paths on the private 2km atoll of Kani and only the caster-sugar coloured sand between your toes, the one essential rule you must adopt as championed by Adam Ferraro (ClubMed Vic BDM) is an “It’d be rude not to” approach to all of your decision makings. “Should I have another cocktail? Another glass of bubbles perhaps? Or what about a fourth Pain au Chocolat?”

Given ClubMed is truly all-inclusive, It really would have been rude not to.

Forget the brochure images – this was soooo much better. “Oh, look! Another reef shark is swimming past my bungalow” or “OMG check out that massive stingray!”. Mask and snorkel? The water was so clear you didn’t even need them. This was dreamland of the highest order, and we were loving every second of it.

ClubMed Kani

ClubMed Kani Aqua gym classes in paradise

The days were our own to savour (another fab perk compared to most trips) and saw many of us rising to catch the remarkable sunrises before getting active and heading off snorkelling or trying some yoga and the hilariously fun aqua gym pool classes.

While for the faithful sun worshippers of the crew, it was all about lazing around admiring the endless marine life show and sipping cocktails with plenty of great chat and laughs along the way.

Post sundowners saw us re-group to enjoy sunset cruises spotting dolphins and then sumptuous dinners together on the beach followed by checking out the nightly shows with the famously fun ClubMed crazy sign synchronised dances which put a smile on everyone’s faces.

“I do” – Jean Summers-Reeves & Zoe Gentle

ClubMed Kani

ClubMed Kani sunset cruise

ClubMed Kani

My ‘Ellen’ moment…

Did you know that Tony Soden (Head of Sales, ClubMed Australia) used to be a ClubMed G.O? (Gentil Organisateur aka ambassador of the Club Med spirit). Needless to say, Tony had the moves like Jagger on the D-floor and expertly guided us through all the songs including Club Med anthem ‘Hands Up’ (Give Me Your Heart) and many more.

The trip was also a valuable opportunity to hear from ClubMed Pacific GM Rachael Harding and the team on what’s next (tons actually – watch this space!) as the 69-year-old ClubMed brand continues to evolve and raise the quality benchmark across all of their new and existing resorts worldwide.

There were awards to recognise individual top sales and growth too and plenty of lavish praise from the agents on why they love ClubMed so much, with the general consensus being…

“ClubMed is a no brainer. The value and range of options, activities and destinations ClubMed offer make it a fantastic holiday for everyone. Being truly all-inclusive means our clients can forget logistics and daily budgeting worries and instead focus on enjoying the good stuff and all their precious holiday time together.”

Finholhu Villas

View from the bed… Finolhu Villas Overwater Villas

Our final night took us over to Club Med’s award-winning eco-resort Finolhu Villas via a 10-minute speedboat ride.

”No words” was the common theme here with the group in stunned silence after YES!, meeting their own private butlers and checking into their insanely beautiful beach and overwater villas complete with plunge pools and direct ocean access from their terraces.

Finolhu Villas

Finolhu Villas

Nestled on the tiny private island of Gasfinolhu, “nice and slow” is the only way to go here and so after relaxing welcome massages in the Spa, we were all feeling the magic of this enchanting spot.

The 22 beach and 30 lagoon villa (impressively 100% solar powered) resort is a hotbed for honeymooners and couples naturally, but a place so peacefully beautiful you could still go on your own or with friends and have a great time.

Escorted home by dolphins at Finholu Villas

Escorted home by dolphins…

The varied level of Marine life here was like nothing I’ve ever seen, with the snorkelling trips getting us up close and personal with turtles, rays, reef sharks and fish of all shapes and colours in the impossibly crystal clear, warm water.

A pod of dolphins even escorted us home once after snorkelling, playing with us at the boat as the bow cut through the glassy blue back to the resort. Were these remote control dolphins organised by Club Med too? It just all felt so, so unreal.

The only hard bit, of course, was always going to be actually leaving, so it was with great sadness that we all pulled our shoes back on after four feet buffing days in the soft sand.

The last sunset... Finolhu VIllas

The last sunset… Finolhu Villas

Swinging into the sunset…

ClubMed Kani

This was the sign none of us wanted to see

Back to reality already? Sigh.

After been waved off by team Finolhu on the jetty, the speedboat transfer back to Malé airport was a quiet, reflective one – did that all actually just happen? But soon everyone piped up once talk of where next years destination might be…

Japan? Bintan? Cancun? For now, that decision remains a work in progress for the ClubMed team, but the bigger question is, will you be there?

Start selling ClubMed now, and you never know.

Why? Because it’d be rude not to.

 

Pics: Matt Leedham.
Matt travelled as a guest of ClubMed Australia and Singapore Airlines.

 

Do you share the same passion for ClubMed? Share your thoughts below.