Why taking a solo adventure is one of the bravest and wisest decisions a woman can make

Editor in Chief Alison Tay turns her distant dreams of the paradise isles of Maldives into a reality, and embarks on an emotional voyage of self-discovery in the process
Why taking a solo adventure is one of the bravest and wisest decisions a woman can make

When it comes to making your dreams come true, ask yourself, should you wait for a certain set of stars to align someday or do you go ahead and do it today? With a suitcase full of rainbow Mochi jumpsuits, clutching my straw beach bag, I found myself on seaplane over the Indian Ocean circling the white coral beaches of the Baa Atoll north of Malé, minus the new husband, the future fiancé with a five-carat diamond hidden in an inside pocket ready for the right moment, or any of the other accoutrements we’ve been conditioned to believe are required before booking a trip to Maldives.

I chose myself. I chose today. And according to Dubai-based Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher, Helen Williams of Mindful ME (mindfulme.me), I made the right decision. “One of the wisest and bravest things a woman can do is embark on a solo adventure. It brings a whole new perspective about relationships, self, safety, security, and the wisdom that can only be found in meeting, embracing and exploring what scares us. The greatest skill a woman can have is the ability to trust herself to feel safe, be comfortable and enjoy being and experiencing herself. Self-companionship creates self-compassion, self-awareness, deeper self-care, self-trust, self-honour, and self-respect. This comes about through needing to depend and rely on yourself for all your needs – social, emotional, physical and spiritual.”

Helen explains, “For many, there is huge fear – fear of being alone, fear of being seen as unlovable because she is alone all of which stems from poor self-worth. There’s also anxiety around feeling awkward, of being attacked, of losing possessions, of feeling unsafe and of not having someone to sharethe experience with. The only way to conquer these fears is to do it, and to start off gently and slowly.”

For those not quite ready to pack their bags and run off to paradise just yet, Helen has this advice: “Begin gently. I often suggest that a woman just go experience a staycation alone in her local environment – just starting out with an overnight stay in a nearby hotel, spending time alone at the pool, eating alone, and at the spa. When this feels comfortable, then plan weekend escapes where it’s necessary to fly alone.” Although it’s worth noting that it’s not for everyone. Helen recommends that women who suffer from ill health, high anxiety and poor physical fitness should consider solo travel carefully. “It takes courage to be alone and to learn to relish it means being able to trust your own body to hold you.”

Proceed with vigilance, however the benefits make the strength it takes to be brave worthwhile. Helen concludes, “Personally, I feel the ability to be alone with yourself and to experience it as aloneness rather than loneliness is the beginning of a deepening, enriching, vibrant and tangibly invigorating relationship with yourself from which you never look back. I’m often still startled by the number of women I speak with who won’t even eat out or shop alone, yet alone try solo travel. I love how locals come forward more naturally to share their culture and beauty to solo travellers and how many different opportunities open up than would otherwise have gone unnoticed when a woman is travelling with a friend or a loved one.”

Editor in Chief Alison Tay highly recommends taking a solo adventure. Suitcase full of Mochi optional but encouraged

So where do I start? The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo on Miriandhoo Island, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site, is one of the newest additions to the roster of resorts adorning the 26 atolls comprised of countless coral islands surrounded by Tiffany-box blue waters stretching out into the horizon. This intimate island offers 70 suites and villas including: 29 Island Suites and nine Island Villas all with their own pools;12 Overwater Suites, a further 17 with private pools; two two-bedroom Island Suites; and finally, the pièce de résistance, a two-bedroom Island Residence, which even has quarters for your nanny/personal chef/ bodyguard – delete as applicable.

One of the 12 Overwater Suites. A further 17 have their own private pools as well as direct access to the Indian Ocean

What sets it apart from its white coral beach-fringed counterparts is not only its sleek minimal Japanese-inspired architecture – taking design cues from seashells, mantas, turtles, whales sharks – but also its visionary approach toward environmental sustainability. At The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo, traditional thatching found elsewhere in the archipelago has been replaced by smooth, rounded, double roofing in order to create natural ventilation which minimises the use of the energy for air-conditioning the entire resort.

Self-love goes hand in hand with self-care, which is where Westin Wellness comes in. A masterfully curated Eat Well menu, available at the resort’s Island Kitchen restaurant, has been crafted with your wellbeing in mind, offering options for portion size, and nutritional balance using ethically, sustainably sourced organic ingredients where possible. Meanwhile Westin Fresh by The Juicery boasts a mouthwatering menu of nourishing, revitalising juices and smoothies with zingy combinations including: celery, cucumber, lime, and coconut water; beetroot, carrot, kale, apple, lemon, and ginger; and strawberry, banana, goji berry, and coconut milk.

Recurring architectural motifs at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo are inspired my local marine life

A state-of-the-art, 24-hour Fitness Studio glows like a gleaming glass beacon, and The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo’s evil-genius workout Gear Lending programme in partnership with Stateside sports brand New Balance means there’s zero excuse not to keep up your gym routine. I, of course, am after an altogether more sedate sojourn and opt for sunrise and sunset yoga with the resort’s resident guru. Paradise island fact: each Maldivian resort sets its own time zone, delaying dawn and dusk at will to ensure the most Instagrammable views for Savasana and sundowners alike.

A 24-hour Fitness Studio that lends you gym gear? The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo really wants you to work out

Does skilfully skipping past the 24-hour Fitness Studio to head to the Heavenly Spa by Westin count as exercise? Situated on its own private jetty, expect treatments inspired local spa traditions including the 40-minute Miriandhoo Reviver using indigenous organic coconut scrub to exfoliate, soften and moisturise, and the Maldivian Bliss, 90 minutes that seeks to turn back time starting with a magnesiumrich exotic flower-strewn soak in the Jacuzzi – with 180-degree views of the surrounding seas, and The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo’s very own private island – followed by a dynamic massage promising to stimulate energy flow and restore vitality to tired muscles.

Would you like your massage accompanied by sweeping views of the Indian Ocean? You're in luck...

Looking to let your hair down? A live female DJ provides blissed-out beats as a soundtrack to your sundowners at Sunset Bar, accompanied by breathtaking views across the island, while Japanese fine-dining restaurant The Pearl serves sumptuous seven-course menus starring Wagyu Beef Teppanyaki, Tuna Tartar with Avocado, Yuzu and Caviar and an artful selection of sushi and sashimi. I’ve long been an advocate of packing my bags to chase the next adventure, and taking this trip of a lifetime, alone, has made me realise the power that lies in giving yourself permission to follow your dreams. What are you waiting for?

• Find The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo on Miriandhoo Island, Baa Atoll Reserve, Maldives. Prices start from Dhs3,000++ per night. Call +960 660 4466

Photos: Supplied