Once in a blue la­goon

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page -

From Page 1 bear­ing bread­fruit, ba­nanas, pa­payas and limes. (Per­haps by now man­age­ment has in­vested in some sig­nage: guests dur­ing my stay wan­der about in a state of dis­lo­ca­tion as most of the main build­ings and the 29 beach vil­las are all but en­gulfed by green­ery.)

But the spa, at least, can be iden­ti­fied by smell if the breeze is in one’s favour: lovely Asian hol­i­day scents of co­conut and le­mon­grass, gin­ger and lime. There are vig­or­ous body scrubs on of­fer us­ing com­bi­na­tions such as cof­fee and or­ange or chocolate and al­mond, sooth­ing fa­cials and foren­sic pedi­cures and all man­ner of Ayurvedic mir­a­cles.

There are 10 treat­ment pavil­ions set in the spa’s com­pound, open to the breeze and with Mother Na­ture’s pantry at hand; for some treat­ments, ther­a­pists pause to pick herbs and fruit from the laden gar­dens and pound them into in­gre­di­ents, of­ten with an au­di­ence of long-tailed lizards.

Spa sanc­tu­ary aside, the ul­ti­mate refuge is one’s villa and, whether over­wa­ter or by the beach, all come with pri­vate pools, tal­cum-fine Frette bed linen, espresso ma­chine, flat-screen tele­vi­sion, qual­ity sound sys­tem, wireless in­ter­net ac­cess, stocked mini­bar and a groovy wine cab­i­net.

The in­te­ri­ors fea­ture dark tim­bers, with splashes of tan­ger­ine in cush­ions and (oddly unattrac­tive) art­works, tonnes of loung­ing space and, in the over­wa­ter cat­e­gory, a glass panel set in the floor that acts as a win­dow to spy on the wa­tery world be­neath.

Which is much more ac­tive than what lies above dur­ing the si­esta hours. Schools of sil­ver fish scoot about like fly­ing ar­rows, an ea­gle ray glides past and striped but­ter­fly fish put­ter by; such a peepshow is about as close as one can rea­son­ably ex­pect to get to com­muning

Ul­ti­mate refuge: Over­wa­ter vil­las at The Beach House at Mana­faru come with pri­vate pools

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with King Nep­tune and still be in-villa din­ing.

Time to turn hol­i­day her­mit and put up the do not dis­turb sign (a cloth tur­tle to hang on the door, ac­tu­ally, with a dozy look on its face). I know how it feels. Su­san Kuro­sawa was a guest of The Beach House at Mana­faru and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines.

within

reach of The Beach House at Mana­faru has pack­ages that in­clude trans­fers from Male, break­fast, meal plans and sea­sonal spe­cials such as free ex­tra nights. Al­though the re­sort pri­mar­ily caters to honey­moon­ers and cou­ples, chil­dren are wel­come and catered for with ju­nior menus and su­per­vised care at the Tur­tle Club and baby creche. Sin­ga­pore Air­lines has mul­ti­ple daily flights to Sin­ga­pore from Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Bris­bane and Perth, and daily flights from Ade­laide, with daily on­ward con­nec­tions to Male. More: 131 011; www.sin­ga­pore­air.com.au. For 2009, Sin­ga­pore Air­lines Hol­i­days has a stay seven nights for the price of five deal in an over­wa­ter villa, in­clud­ing daily break­fasts and re­turn air­port trans­fers from $3055 a per­son; valid May 16 to July 31. More: 1300 666 722. Stan­dard tar­iff from $US700 ($834) a dou­ble overnight, in­clud­ing break­fasts; chil­dren two to 11 years, from $US175. All rates in­clude taxes. More: www.beach­house­c­ol­lec­tion.com.

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