Oliva and Raul de Freitas, a recently married couple, set off to spend their honeymoon at one of the most luxurious resorts in the Maldives but as a result of the coronavirus pandemic they have been forced to extend their stay.
THIS may sound like the plot of a rom-com movie but this is the reality for the South African couple who had planned to spend six days at Cinnamon Velifushi, one of the most luxurious resorts on the islands to celebrate their recent marriage.
On March 22 they flew from South Africa, where they both live, to the resort and a few days later the Covid-19 pandemic caused rumours on the island stating that they would have to cut their holiday short to make it back home in time. After contacting the company who organised their honeymoon, they were assured that they would be able to fly back home without a problem, but the reality was from this.
Five days after arriving in the Maldives they were informed that the South African airport would be closing its doors and vetting all flights on March 27 at midnight. Although the couple tried to find a way to get back home, the only available flight was 17 hours with a layover in Qatar, making it impossible to return before the cutoff time.
The South African embassy’s solution was for them to rent out a plane to return home, alongside 40 other South African citizens who were in the same situation as they were. However, it would be up to them to foot the almost €6,000 bill, a price no stranded South African was willing to pay. Furthermore, they informed the couple that if they left the resort, they would not be able to return so the only viable solution was to wait out the horrors of the coronavirus crisis in a luxurious resort.
According to the New York Times, the cost of a nightly stay at this resort is around €800 but due to the extraordinary circumstances these customers found themselves in, they were able to strike a deal with management to agree upon a lower price. Once they made peace with having to stay in the Maldives, days have consisted of snorkelling, tanning and enjoying the crystal-clear waters.
Staff at the resort were also made to stay in quarantine therefore the couple received top-notch service whilst overstaying on their honeymoon. However, it seems like this fantasy cannot go on for much longer, therefore, the embassy has agreed to help them get a boat to another five-star resort in the Maldives where more South Africans have been ‘trapped’ as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Undoubtedly, this will be a holiday they never forget.