It’s not often I’m inclined to stare at myself in the mirror, honest. But on this occasion I simply had to, because this particular reflection simply didn’t look like me at all.
It could have been the 90-minute signature massage with camomile and lavender oils, the Thai cookery lesson which had me wanting to stuff myself silly; the snorkelling trip where we swam with manta rays, or maybe the daily 7am beach-side runs I’d managed to fit in since arriving at the Dusit Thani resort in the Maldives four days ago.
Whatever it was (maybe I should also mention the wine lesson from the resident sommelier) it had wiped the cares of the world from my face.
I don’t do sitting around on a beach, but I had needed to relax. An imminent move away from my family, a wedding in the planning, a redundancy and my partner’s new high powered job had left me so anxious my GP had prescribed me tranquillisers.
Thanks to the hospitality of the Maldivians, not to mention the gorgeous beaches and oh-so amazing cuisine (and yes I did do healthy and gorge on seafood fruit and vegetables all week) I had been able to throw the packet away.
Facing my fear, and greatest challenge though was the diving, which certainly took me out of myself. At the Vivanta resort we managed to encounter, though not at too close a range, reef sharks and sting rays.
I even managed to make use of the underwater camera lent to me by friends. As I marvelled at the colourful parrot fish and took in the coral preservation work by the resort’s reef I took stock of why this place literally seemed a world away.
From feeling literally out of my depth, I was now embracing the open ocean without a care in the world.
At the Four Seasons in Kuda Huraa (meaning little island) I even managed to become a surf groupie for the day; we watched an international surfing championship there.
My sunrise room – great if like me you want a natural alarm clock but maybe not so good if you’ve over-done cocktails at the poolside cocktail bar the night before, was simply amazing.
Lulled to sleep by the lapping of the waves, not to mention a very satisfied stomach courtesy of the Four Season’s award-winning Indian restaurant Baraaburu, I was in some kind of heaven.
As I was packing to go home, an Eagle ray stopped outside my bedroom window; all the rooms are suspended over the sea. There’s not much that makes me gasp in amazement but that was it. Baby or no baby, move or no move, I was ready to embrace life’s challenges again.
Book at the Dusit Thani (www.dusit.com/dusit-thani/maldives). The Vivanta (www.vivantabytaj.com) The Four Seasons (www.fourseasons.com/maldiveskh/) British Airways (ba.com) flies three times a week from London Gatwick to the capital Male.
(A version of this article first appeared in the November 2012 edition of Zest magazine)