The dress code for Kurumba Maldives’ 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner was ‘resort formal’, and while the idea of spending a week in a barefoot tropical paradise with the sand beneath my toes was irresistible, so was the chance to pack a ball gown and unveil my wedding shoes again.

So with suitcases laden with sunscreen, silk and taffeta, and my husband’s dress suit, we boarded the Emirates 11-hour flight to Male (via Dubai) with enough luggage to see us through any number of the 110 resorts that are now dotted across the 26 atolls of the Maldives.

Once considered a once-in-a-lifetime destination, thanks to its white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and glorious sunshine, the Maldives is becoming a more accessible and affordable holiday option. More than a million tourists visited its ring-shaped coral reefs in 2011.

In recent years a number of new resorts have opened, and the local Maldivian population rely on tourism for 80 per cent of their income. But the history of this archipelago, which dazzles like a necklace embellished with turquoise stones, goes back much further.

In the early Seventies, a couple of hotels gambled on the Maldives being a success. Universal Resorts,who now own numerous properties in the archipelago.

Getting there

Sam Wylie-Harris was a guest of Kuoni (01306 747008 or who offer seven nights with breakfast at the 5-star Kurumba, Maldives in a deluxe room, including flights with Emirates from Gatwick and group transfers in resort.

Prices for December 2012 are from £1,335 pp, based on two sharing.

To book please quote: IO0021