Into the wide, blue yon­der

Kandima Mal­dives

Country Life Every Week - - The Great Escape -

AS the boat bounced over the im­pos­si­bly turquoise sea, the palm-fringed trop­i­cal is­land of Kandima ap­peared on the hori­zon. Step­ping onto the jetty, then the white sand, we un­der­stood what Robin­son Cru­soe must have felt like. Mas­ter­minded by San­jay Maniku—whose father was one of the pi­o­neers of tourism in the Mal­dives—and Mo­hamed Khaleel, Kandima is the lat­est re­sort to spring up in this ar­chi­pel­ago of nearly 1,200 is­lands in the In­dian Ocean, 80 of which have ho­tels.

The 2½-mile is­land in Dhaalu Atoll, lapped on one side by a la­goon, now houses nearly 300 rooms. There are beach vil­las with plunge pools and lav­ish open-air bath­rooms, in­ter­con­nect­ing stu­dios for groups and ‘aqua’ apart­ments on stilts with ac­cess to the sea. The vibe is mod­ern, with con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture, cerise and red soft fur­nish­ings and a re­laxed ethos that en­cour­ages guests of all ages, not just hon­ey­moon­ers, to do as they please.

We spent our days lux­u­ri­at­ing in 31˚C heat, swim­ming in the crys­tal­clear sea, col­lect­ing shells and mar­vel­ling at crabs scut­tling along the beach, which is swept by an army of staff each morn­ing. At the all-day din­ing restau­rant, Flavour—when the re­sort opens fully this month, guests will have 10 restau­rants and bars to choose from—we en­joyed grilled reef cray­fish and Asian dishes pre­pared in huge woks by chefs from the Sea Dragon restau­rant, at which guests will be able to dine while over­look­ing the ocean on lan­guid Mal­di­vian evenings. PL Sky Stu­dio from £160 per per­son, per night, based on two shar­ing on a half­board ba­sis, ex­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional flights (about £730) from Lon­don Heathrow to Male In­ter­na­tional Air­port and lo­cal trans­fers (00 960 676 0077; www.kandima.com)

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