MY ATOLL HOME
Minimal fuss, maximum pleasure
The gentle sounds of small waves under my villa provide the perfect soundtrack to bath time with a view. As I lie back in the freestanding bath and feel the generous sprinkle of salts dissolve around me I look across my wooden deck to the light blue water in my freshwater pool, closely followed by the bright turquoise and then deeper blue waters of the Maldives.
It may seem strange to be in a bath when just a few metres away, steps lead into a pool or the Indian Ocean, but I’ve already spent hours in both and it’s time for a quick freshen-up before cocktails and dinner. I know they’ll both be delicious when I get there but I’m finding it a challenge to pull myself away from my cocoon and can see why room service or “home delivery” is so popular here.
Amilla Fushi means “my island home” and at 200sq m my villa, or rather my Ocean Lagoon House, is not only bigger than some apartments I’ve lived in, it feels homely – in a stylish, I-wish-my-home-reallylooked-like-this way.
The 2.1sq m bed with super soft sheets and goose down and feather pillows is heaven to sleep in, the large daybed in the lounge area of the openplan room whispers promises of naps in between reading books, while the 42” flat-screen television – with satellite channels, Bose surround sound, DVD and Blu-ray player for those who have visited the DVD library – and free high-speed Wi-Fi provide TV and movie options.
Along with that large tub for soaking in, the bathroom has two showers including one with a huge monsoon showerhead and twin sinks stocked with Aesop products, while outside there is another shower on the deck where daybeds, chaise lounges and a table with chairs share the space with my inviting pool.
I’d arrived at Amilla Fushi after a 40-minute boat ride from Amilla’s sister resort, Finolhu.
While most resorts in the Maldives embrace thatched roofs and more traditional ideas of what a tropical island escape should resemble, at first glance the villas at Amilla looked like a line of plain white boxes. But from the moment my katheeb, or personal butler, opened my front door and showed me around, I wanted to spend as much time as I could in what was revealed as chic, contemporary design. Even though it was big enough for me to live in, my onebedroom lagoon house was at the smaller end of the Amilla villa scale, which ranges from 200sq m to a massive 3000sq m, and includes oneand two-bedroom overwater and onthe-beach villas, tree houses where pools are suspended in the treetops, and four-, six- and eight-bedroom beach residences.
Those staying in residences can choose a name for the numberplate of their designated Rolls Royce-style buggy as well as on their letterbox. With Leonardo DiCaprio staying on the island at the same time, I had to laugh when I saw a Casa Gatsby sign on one letterbox, and wondered what names some of the other celebrities – including David and Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and Kate Winslet – may have used when they stayed. One regular guest who has gone beyond simply naming his villa is Gordon Ramsay, who has brought his Bread Street Kitchen restaurant to the island through a series of pop-ups. Ramsay first collaborated with the resort in May 2017 and then again over the festive season and Easter.
Amilla has also collaborated with nightclub brand 1 OAK on a cocktail lounge, and with the wellness company Bodyism on personal training, Bodyism classes and a Clean and Lean Cafe in the Javvu Spa.
I didn’t make it to the Clean and Lean Cafe, opting instead for meals at Feeling Koi, which won a Best Luxury Hotel Restaurant in the Indian Ocean award in 2017’s World Luxury Restaurant Awards, and at the poolside Bazaar where the dishes include grilled, wok-fried and pizza options. But I did manage to make it to the spa village for my complimentary massage. Guests receive a free spa treatment within the first 48 hours of their stay and I’m walking on air after my jet lag massage. Walking on air with a strange bulge on my lower back. After seeing I’d been badly bruised in a recent fall, my spa therapist, Ningsih, leapt into action, pointing at a tree outside the treatment room and explaining she could make something to help. She whipped up a neem leaf poultice, and I left with an unexpected but welcome organic spa treatment.
Amilla Fushi is part of the Baa Atoll’s UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve and as easy as it would be to stay on the island at all times, between May and November it’s manta ray season and a chance to swim with the gentle ocean giants.
When a guest tells me they were surrounded by dozens of manta rays when snorkelling a couple of days before, I can’t wait to see them for myself. Unfortunately manta ray luck is not on my side, and while I do see a large dark shadow passing below it’s too far away to get a real look. Sure, I’m a bit disappointed not to see them but I’m having so much fun watching the other colourful fish around us and trying out a full-face snorkel for the first time that I still clamber back into the boat with a huge smile on my face.
As we zip back to the island and I see those sleek white villas waiting for us, it feels like coming home.
Amilla Fushi has taken a stylish approach to tropical design with spacious, chic villas and even Rolls Roycestyle buggies.