A midwife from Bushey has returned from the Maldives after taking part in a nationwide experiment.
The trip was part of a unique trial called The Holiday Health Experiment, which seeks to better understand the health impact of different types of holidays on the body and mind.
Sarah Denning was one of 2,845 people across the UK who entered the competition to win one of three holidays to be taken between April and June 2012. She took her friend Sarah Bastida on the trip with her, she said, to make the experiment a "girls’ holiday".
The two other winning couples went on very different types of holiday – one to Amazonian Peru the other to cultural Thailand.
The competition was organised by UK healthcare charity Nuffield Health and travel company Kuoni, with participants having to undergo a variety of medical and psychological tests before, during and after their trips.
The two Sarahs enjoyed 12 days of rest and relaxation, away from the stresses of work and everyday life.
Ms Denning, 53, said: "My first impression was ‘oh my god, this is paradise’. Turquoise water blending to deep, deep blue on the horizon, tropical green ringed by white sand. It was perfect.
"After arriving we quickly unpacked and went off to the clear, warm sea, snorkelling masks at the ready. The wonders of seeing such amazing sea life within two feet of the shore never diminished.
"Days were spent swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, sleeping, and eating, in no particular order.
"Evenings were spent in the bar, usually making small talk among ourselves, as everyone else seemed to be on planet honeymoon.
"We tried out lots of the activities on offer as well as the obvious draw of the sea, checking out the gym, a first time go at golf and hired a couple of rusty old bicycles. These were in fact massive fun to bomb around the island on.
"The highlight of the trip was a 24-hour cruise on one of the resort boats; we had a three hour sail to Kagi Island, inhabited by just one couple, a fantastic snorkel on the reef and a barbecue on the beach.
"We had a superb time - the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever been to, friendly people, lots to do - what more could you ask for?"
The medical data gathered before, during and after their trip in August is now being analysed by Nuffield Health and will be published in the new year.