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Home Vacation Why you should consider a two-destination holiday in 2024

Why you should consider a two-destination holiday in 2024

by Staff

I grew up loving holidays. My parents prioritised experiences over sensible savings and, as a family of four, we road-tripped America together, shared many golden hours on the beach and took more camping trips than I can remember. Every day I thank my lucky stars that we did: since losing my dad nearly 10 years ago, those memories last forever. He lives on as the man who cliff-dove while water-rafting down the Grand Canyon; who gleefully gobbled sandwiches atop Yosemite’s Half-Dome; who danced in the night away with Elvis in Las Vegas; who insisted on Welsh campfire chats until the early hours; and ate his bodyweight in seafood platters in the South of France.

So when my mother and I decided to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday together – our first big trip, just the two of us – I knew it would have to be something extraordinary. Just before we left, my friend told me about ‘glimmer moments’, a phrase I’d never heard of before. She told me these were the opposite of triggering moments; instead, they’re occasions that feels so special, they’re movie-like.

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It’s safe to say, our holiday was full of glimmer moments, mostly because we opted for a twin trip: in other words, a getaway split into two halves, for maximum enjoyment. Carving up your holiday may sound stressful, but it’s actually a great way to ensure you’re getting the most from your time off. For example, we headed to Sri Lanka for the first half of our trip (cue adventure, culture and the chance to spot an elephant or two), followed by an indulgent stint in the beautiful Maldives, where we could unwind, enjoy ourselves and feast on fine dining.

Intrigued? Here’s exactly what how we made every second count – and why you should consider a twin trip for 2024, to make your precious holiday go even further.

First-half: Adventure in Sri Lanka

a forest of trees

Courtesy of Aarunya

Arriving in the Sri Lankan jungle at Aarunya Nature Resort & Spa

We landed in Colombo to a rich green blanket of palm trees and thick jungle and, immediately, I was at ease: I’ve never felt so welcome by a country before, and the warmth and kindness of Sri Lanka is like nowhere else. Our wonderful guide, Gayan, drove us to our first hotel, and we passed so much beauty on the way: rivers, mountains enveloped in the clouds; rice farmers hard at work; vibrant street stalls selling beautiful handmade pottery; street dogs hiding in the shade.

a group of buildings surrounded by trees

Aaruyna Resort & Spa

After snaking up the twisting mountain trails, we arrived at Aarunya Nature Resort & Spa, nestled high in the jungle treetops. Our ‘villa’, home for the next few days, felt more like a tent in Tarzan, and afforded us the most breathtaking view I’ve ever seen: the Sri Lankan sky turned a delightful shade of raspberry and candyfloss, and we could hear the crowds of exotic animals in the jungle below welcoming the night.

a house with a view of the ocean and trees

Courtesy of Aarunya

Cultural highlights and traditional cuisine

After freshening up in our outdoor shower, we made our way to a neighbouring mud hut, from which we were led by an oil lamp into the forest. There, a local chef cooked us a traditional nine-course dinner, featuring traditional dishes such as crab soup, cuttlefish noodles and a showstopper crab and coconut broth with sweet cornbread. We fell asleep, full and happy, to a soundtrack of tree frogs, birds and the Sri Lankan rain.

a wooden covered patio with a waterfall

Courtesy of Aarunya

The next day, we headed to the city of Kandy – the former capital of Sri Lanka – to visit the historic Temple of the Tooth, one of the country’s most famous landmarks. Carrying beautiful pink flowers to give to the Buddha, there was so much colour and vibrancy to take in, as the smell of incense swirled through the air. Around Kandy Lake, we were suddenly surrounded by an excited small group of schoolgirls, who shouted “Barbie!” as they pointed at my blonde hair, making heart shapes with their hands.

a person sitting on a stool next to a bus

Inna Rabotyagina

Afterwards, we headed to the Bahirawakanda temple, from which we could see for miles across the bustling city, all the way to the neighbouring mountains concealed with incoming rainclouds. Back at street level, we hid from the humid downpour in a colourful food market, again blown away by the friendliness and warmth of locals as we tried exotic fruits (I’d never heard of a red banana before) and bought spices to take home.

Journeying to Sri Lanka’s south coast and Malabar Hill

a building with a pool in front of it

Malabar Hill

After a few days, we journeyed south to Weligama to stay at Malabar Hill – which was a real slice of heaven. This boutique hotel feels like home, with its friendly staff, beautiful interiors (local villagers have crafted much of the furniture here), large pool and relaxing beds on which to soak up the sunshine. With just 12 exclusive villas (each with its own private terrace and salt-water infinity pool) the hotel feels private and luxurious, almost as if you have the place to yourself.

a beach with trees and buildings

Inna Rabotyagina

Here, dining is treated as the most important moment of the day. At the Hill House restaurant – in the main building with a 360-degree view across the forests, where you can watch the bats fly in the moonlight and spot fireflies dancing – the menu showcases Sri Lanka’s plentiful ingredients from local daily markets. We tucked into dishes made using local buffalo curd, milked just a stone’s throw away; alternatively, we’d order that morning’s catch, line-caught straight from the Indian Ocean.

a large room with a bed and a table

Malabar Hill

An other-worldly safari, featuring Sri Lanka’s ‘big three’

We woke early the next day to meet with our private guide, Eddy, who took us around Uduwalawe National Park on an unforgettable elephant safari. The hotel partners with him as their sustainability consultant, and he curates safaris at three of Sri Lanka’s main parks and helps the hotel with environmentally friendly practices. Although many animals were hiding from the rain, we still saw water buffalo, crocodiles, peacocks and deer majestically making their way around the park.

an elephant with tusks

Anuradha Ediriweera

Our guide knew the importance of patience: we found our place, and waited for the elephants to come to us and, in the end, we saw so many families crossing the dirt tracks and emerging from the trees, their young circling their legs. On our way back, we stopped at a local elephant orphanage, which takes care of younger animals that have lost their families due to poaching, raising them safely until they are ready to go back into the wild or find a new herd of their own.

an elephant stands in a field

Anuradha Ediriweera

Travel tip: Getting around Sri Lanka by car may be time-consuming, but it’s a great way to see the country in comfort. On our journey from Malabar Hill to Wallawwa (our airport hotel), we stopped at Weligama Beach, which was full of surfers, sweeping palm trees, and the glistening sea peppered with fishing boats. We also travelled through Galle and watched locals playing cricket in the squares that had been there for centuries. We’d advise booking a trip such as this through a tour operator to create your dream itinerary; it streamlines the process, so you can live in the moment.

Second half: Relaxation in the Maldives

resort photography

A. Shuau (obofili)

Arriving at Vakkaru Maldives Resort

We jetted out from Sri Lanka and arrived in the Maldives in style by seaplane, feeling as if we’d stepped right into a postcard: think crisp white beaches, dreamy blue sea, tropical fish, shells and a sprinkling of palm trees and coconuts. On arrival, we were greeted by Vakkaru Maldives’ staff and fresh coconut water, before heading to our overwater villa, with access to the ocean and a private infinity pool. It was the perfect setting for four days of pure relaxation. When we did fancy exploring the island, a mere 20-minute walk around its sandy perimeter was enough to afford us views of huge fruit bats, tiny crabs and schools of fish.

a pool with a lounge chair and umbrellas by a deck with a view of the ocean


Snorkelling trips, private dining and a restorative spa

Unfortunately, the sun couldn’t quite shine through during our time in the Maldives, so we made plentiful use of the hotel’s adults-only Merena spa. The floor here is completely glass, so you can see the ocean beneath you during your treatment. There’s a hot tub and relaxation area to enjoy afterwards, with peppermint tea to sip as you look over the Indian Ocean. We opted for 60-minute full-body massages, ideal for tired muscles after a long trip to the island.

a room with a table and chairs and a large body of water


Snorkelling around the bay was a must (tick off the tropical fish you spot in the handy guide in your villa). If you want more of an adventure, journey over to Baa Atoll, a renowned place of outstanding beauty, to explore the fascinating world beneath the waters by swimming with whale sharks and manta rays at Hanifaru Bay.

a group of people swimming with sharks


One of the main highlights for us was the dining at Vakkaru; we ate at a different restaurant every night and each culinary experience was as different and as memorable as the last. While each meal was truly wonderful, our most memorable was Vakkaru’s Anguru Teppanyaki Japanese restaurant, an interactive dining experience where its talented resident chef cooks before your eyes. Vakku was another favourite, serving up Italian and nestled on the beach close to our villa.

a man wearing a hat


a patio with tables and chairs and a body of water in the background


Overall, our trip could not have packed in more ‘glimmer moments’. Watching the rain come in over the Sri Lankan jungle with a glass of red wine in hand, and a rainbow fall on the valley below. Snorkelling together around Vakkaru’s beautiful beaches and conquering our fears of swimming in deep water, hand in hand. Ticking off a bucket-list wish of seeing an elephant in the wild, then melting our hearts at the orphanage. Countless laughs and chats over dinner, trying traditional dishes and treating our tastebuds. But the most highly rated glimmer moment of all? Being able to share this wonderful holiday with my mum.

Our dual destination trip was booked via tour operator nemo and destination management company Hummingbird who arrange all trip itineraries and provide all transfers, making your dream trip stress-free and seamless.

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