It has been a momentous week and if you, like us, are suffering from “Brexit fatigue” you will no doubt be in need of a relaxing holiday! So in this month’s newsletter Sally and Alice Travel Co. want to lure your minds away from Europe (and the rather dismal summer weather we’re having) and instead showcase some of our favourite Maldivean islands from our recent trip…
Conveniently just 20 minutes by boat from the airport, Gili has 45 sprawling Robinson Crusoe style ‘treehouses’ on stilts spread across 3 different jetties whilst the Crusoe Residences are completely detached from both the jetties and main island and are accessible only by boat (each villa is allocated its own rowing boat!). Gili also have an overwater spa, overwater restaurant and bar….you get the drift – it’s all about the water here – there’s a great house reef and you can snorkel straight from your villa, we could see lots of reef sharks and stingrays even from the deck of our villa.
To get around the island guests are given bicycles, we loved exploring the sandy jungle paths and working off some of the delicious food we had been indulging in. Gili Lankanfushi prides itself on it’s extensive ‘Destination Dining’ venues, meaning couples can enjoy their meals on private tables set up on sand islands that appear at low tide, private stretches of beach, their own starlit rooftop deck, or the wine cellar. If you are in need of entertainment after dinner there’s also a jungle cinema complete with popcorn.
Once the sister property to Gili Lankanfushi, Soneva Fushi shares the ethos “no news, no shoes” and here too footwear is confiscated the moment you set foot on the traditional dhoni boat which transfers guests from Malé. Where the focus at Gili is on the water villas, the 65 villas here at this forested island resort are all made from natural materials and are sandwiched between jungle and beach.
Varying in size the three-bedroom Villa One offers 1,400sq m of stretch space as well as a pool while the nine-bedroom Villa 11 weighs in at a whopping 5,540sq m! We stayed in one of the smaller one bedroom villas which was still huge but had a welcome and homey feel.
Fun extras include an open-air cinema on the beach, treetop yoga, a gelateria serving 60 flavours of icecream (!) a Mr or Mrs Friday (aka personal butler) assigned to each villa, impressive vegetable and herb gardens and an incredible working observatory with a state-of-the-art telescope to observe the stars and rings of Saturn. The most recent addition is the fabulous kids club, The Den, which was newly built and reopened just last year, which includes a model pirate ship, a pool with one of Soneva’s signature waterslides and domed pavilion with rooms dedicated to a different activity: Lego, dressing up, reading, films and music in a specially soundproofed studio space.
A 40-minute speedboat ride deeper into South Malé Atoll will deposit you at Cocoa Island by COMO’s fantasy array of 33 live-aboard dhonis (Maldivian boats) strung out across the water on stilts overlooking a sandbar that leads on to some clear snorkelling waters. Ever present on our list of favourite resorts, Cocoa Island is a smaller more intimate proposition than its competitors, known for wonderful peace and quiet thanks to a ban on non-motorised water sports. A veritable honeymoon heaven with lots of inclusions from complimentary sunset cruises to complimentary yoga for two and – in certain room types – those all important Como Shambala massages. For total privacy book a One Bedroom Villa (of which there are four) located on their own jetty with no-one overlooking or too close.
Anantara Kihavah Villas is located in the Baa Atoll on Kihavah Huravalhi Island, approximately a 35 minute sea plane ride from Malé. We had a warm welcome from villa hosts who were awaiting on arrival with refreshing towels and ice cold bottles of water, before whisking us away to our villa in buggies.
We stayed in a Beach Pool Villa that come with sunken tubs for two and sun loungers that hover over private infinity pools just a stone’s throw from the beach. Beach life doesn’t have to be rustic and guests will find all the latest mod cons including Bose sound systems, iPod docks and espresso machines. Once in our villa, a relaxing foot bath and cool tropical drink awaited us, a lovely touch.
Anantara Kihavah Villas is a resort that fully embraces the beauty of its natural surroundings while adding a few playful contemporary twists, like the stunning underwater restaurant. We thought the food here was excellent - Anantara’s signature Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky. dining complex is a unique dining concept of four different restaurants. At Fire, chefs entertained us with their culinary acrobatic skills as they fired up sea scallops and Wagyu beef on the teppanyaki grill, whilst at Sea you can enjoy the reef fish, sharks, and turtles swimming all around. Each table has a book of Maldivian reef fish on it so when you run out of conversation you can always try and name the various types of fish that swim by…
After snorkelling the reef between the spa and underwater restaurant we decided it was perhaps the most beautiful house reef we had seen in the Maldives – the reef is situated on a sea cliff that suddenly drops off over 90 meters and aside from a multitude of colourful reef fish we also sea turtles and the larger fish of the deep skirt along the bottom.
Just in case spending your days lazing on white sands and swimming in the warm waters aren’t enough to ease your cares away, Anantara Kihavah has an amazing spa. Each treatment room is in its own over water bungalow with glass windows in the floor to watch the reef fish swim while enjoying a variety of treatments – we voted this spa here the best of all the properties we visited, especially perfect for babymooners…
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