FAIR­MONT MAL­DIVES, SIRRU FEN FUSHI

DestinAsian - - FLASHBACK -

How do you im­prove on the un­der­wa­ter per­fec­tion of the Mal­dives? At the Fair­mont Mal­dives in the north­ern Shaviyani Atoll, you ask famed un­der­wa­ter artist and ac­tivist Ja­son DeCaires Tay­lor to cre­ate the world’s first semi-sub­merged art gallery. The re­sult is the Co­ralar­ium, a per­fo­rated sil­ver cube full of fig­u­ra­tive sculp­tures that are part hu­man, part plant, and part coral, ac­cessed via a short snorkel across the la­goon. It’s as­ton­ish­ing, but so too are the on­shore fa­cil­i­ties. The re­sort’s 120 beach and over­wa­ter vil­las, all with their own pools, are ori­ented to­ward sun­rise or sun­set and the decor is care­fully cu­rated cast­away­chic— think knot­ted ropes, glass fish­ing floats, and gi­ant cop­per bath­tubs so big you could sail away in them. There are also tented “jun­gle” vil­las tucked in­side pan­danus-shrouded groves. The cres­cent-shaped is­land is petite enough that you can walk from end to end in 15 min­utes, but you’ll nev­er­the­less be as­signed a per­sonal but­ler with a golf buggy. Get him to take you to the Wil­low Stream Spa or the Ba­li­nese-in­spired Onu Onu bar for some beach­side bub­bly. Din­ing is an­other high­light here, with all- day restau­rant Raha Mar­ket of­fer­ing lo­cal fla­vors like Mal­di­vian tuna curry, Kata spe­cial­iz­ing in sushi and ro­batayaki, and Azure, the most ro­man­tic of the bunch, serv­ing su­perla­tive seafood at its perch above the la­goon. — 960/654-8888; fair­mont.com; dou­bles from $US650, half-board

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