The easy-going Atoll! This Maldives retreat won’t break the bank and even has its own time zone

Thank goodness the Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat, a new four-star resort in the Maldives, decided not to compete with Mother Nature for show-stopping fabulosity.

Instead, Drift (a good name for a holiday destination of this kind) let the natural world’s sights, sounds and colours take centre stage, while the resort, on the southern Ari Atoll, blends into the background.

Not that Drift isn’t luxurious. There are 20 wooden villas with thatched roofs on stilts over the ocean (half of them face sunrise, half sunset) and ten villas, all of them huge.

Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat is a new four-star resort in the Maldives with 20 wooden villas over the ocean and ten villas on land

Mine is so well disguised among the glossy leaved banana trees and palms that even though the island is tiny (you can walk around it in the time it takes to listen to one song on your iPod) I still take the wrong sandy path – and there are only two – on my way back after breakfast. Twice.

That’s some seclusion, some drift.

The hotel hasn’t imposed international standards of luxury onto the island, such as marble bathrooms, personal butlers hovering outside your door to ferry you 12 yards on a golf buggy to your fresh sushi lunch, or Albert Hall-quality sound and light systems in every room.

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It has, however, opted for its own time zone.

When I arrive, the manager, Thau, walks the wooden gangway with me and says we are now one hour ahead of Male, the capital. 

‘It’s so our guests can enjoy an extra hour of sunshine,’ he says.

Fine with me. There are few distractions – no televisions in the rooms, no movie screens pulled down in the bar at night, no gym and no swimming pool.