I didn’t mean to vacation alone in a honeymoon resort. I just wanted to go someplace far, far away — someplace I could never go to while working in finance where it wasn’t feasible to take large chunks of time off.
And so it came to pass, after having left a 15-year career in finance to start the next chapter of my life, that I found myself in the Maldives in 2015, on my own.
A Long Way From Greenwich Village
I had only even heard of the Maldives when I met a guy from there at a cafe where I was having a coffee. (Don’t judge me. I’m not a rock star or a royal, and it’s a long way from Greenwich Village in New York City where I grew up. We had Riis Park and Jones Beach, thank you very much.)
I was having a coffee and we got to talking. He told me what an amazing place it was and that I should really try and get there someday. I looked it up when I got home. He was right. It looked like an extraordinary place.
That was in 2005, and I filed it away for a future that I wasn’t sure would ever exist.
Planes, Puddle Jumpers and Boats
Fast-forward ten years. I’m in London. I got a short-let apartment for a few months and I was going to travel and figure out my next career move. But what I really needed to do was lie down. What better place to do that than somewhere beautiful and warm where you wouldn’t need shoes, like the Maldives?
I booked the trip for seven days. I was afraid I would get bored if I was there longer. (Boy, was I wrong about that! I could’ve stayed for at least a month.) To get there, I took a flight to Dubai, another to Male, then a puddle-jumper plane to an even smaller island, and finally a boat ride.
That was the longest it ever took me to get somewhere, and it was by far the most exotic destination. By the time we got on the boat, I was surrounded by couples. That’s when I started to realize that this was a super romantic place. Even the staff asked me why I was there by myself.
A Place to Lie Down
I told them the truth. I needed to lie down.
After swimming in water that was warmer and bluer than I thought possible, eating some unbelievable food and sleeping, I made my way over to the spa. It just so happened that an Ayurvedic practitioner, Dr. Gopal Govindasamy, was visiting. I wanted to book some treatments — I was thinking a facial or a massage.
I had a consultation with him and he said the famous last words: “Do you want to do a yogic detox?” I didn’t know what the heck a yogic detox was, but I was in this unbelievable place with no real plans so it seemed like a good time to try one.
We started on my third day there. He told me not to worry about anything; he would look after all my meals. The only thing I had to do was pick which restaurant I wanted to eat at and they would bring the food I was supposed to eat, as per his instructions.
My guest experience manager (GEM) — yes, they have one at this place; it’s awesome — tried to talk me out of it. To be fair to her, it’s a luxurious place where people go to indulge, so why do something that’s the antithesis of that in such a hedonistic place? My retort? “Why not? What if that was the luxurious experience, for me?”
The first day I went to breakfast, everyone in the restaurant knew what I was doing. The chef made me a special fresh fruit juice for breakfast and they brought me green tea. For lunch — again, I never looked at a menu — they just brought me what Dr. Gopal had told them to make for me.
The chefs were incredible and came out after every meal to check on me. In the morning, before breakfast, I went to yoga. After breakfast, I swam, had lunch, got treatments in the afternoon (crazy weird massages, acupuncture, wraps, etc.) and then read or wrote before dinner. I watched the stars in a sky that seemed to be moving as if I could actually see the earth rotating on its axis.
A Community Effort
By the end of the second day, random people at the resort were asking me how it was going. As it turns out, no one had ever done this yogic detox at the resort, so mine was like a community effort. I suspect there was some curiosity about the American woman who was on her own in the Maldives.
I won’t go into detail about the detox. Suffice it to say, my mind was never clearer. I wrote lyrics for two songs (I don’t write songs), deciphered a critical error in my interpretation of the Saint Francis prayer (it says it’s better to understand than be understood. It does not say it’s better to be understanding. That’s a big flipping difference). I had more energy and slept better than I had in 20 years.
On the fourth day, when the detox was effectively ending and I went into the dining room for breakfast, the chef ran out when he saw me. He said, “I heard you lost three kilograms!” I confirmed that fact, and we laughed. He actually gave me a hug, said he was proud of me and made me a juice.
On an Island, Everyone Knows Everything
I had dinner that night with a conservationist on the island who worked in the scuba department teaching people about the importance of the ecosystem as well as the plight of the manatee, and she knew about the detox as well. I asked her how the hell she knew and she dryly responded, without missing a beat, “It’s an island. Everyone knows everything.”
My GEM, who initially had tried to dissuade me from it, now wanted to do it. On my last night, when I ventured over to the ice cream bar to have a dairy-free, sugar-free sorbet, someone walked by and said, “Should you be eating that?”
The moral of the story: I went solo to a place built for couples and wound up having one of the best experiences of my life. I got married last year. My husband is the best person I know and we have so much fun together. But he hates long plane trips, so it’s a good thing I didn’t save that trip for my honeymoon.