THE TREASURED ISLAND
Spurred by pressing environmental issues (coral mining and biodiversity loss), Noku Maldives has designed green initiatives to help restore Maldives to its former glory. Victoria Lim explores the luxury boutique resort.
Discovering the island sanctuary that is Noku Maldives
Made up of 26 atolls – consisting of more than 1,000 coral islands – and surrounded by azure waters, it’s no surprise that Maldives is a popular honeymoon and wedding destination. In 2017 alone, the island country welcomed over 1.3 million visitors from around the world.
When we arrived at Velana International Airport after a fourhour flight from Singapore, we were greeted with a resounding “Maruhabaa!” from the Noku Maldives staff, who were there to pick us up. That was to be a greeting we’d hear on loop in the days to follow. Used in place of hello, goodbye, and well wishes of happiness and good health, the Maldivian word means ‘life’. And Maldives is indeed invigorating, thanks to the warmth of its people and the splendour of its unspoilt landscape.
White sand beaches are par for the course in Maldives – almost every five-star resort has its own private beachfront, but the newly opened Noku Maldives offers a little more exclusivity. Think South Beach in Miami, sans the ostentation.
Set on its very own island, Noku Maldives, built by Singapore’s Roxy Pacific Holdings Limited, is a 45-minute seaplane ride from Maldivian Seaplane Terminal in Malé City. Its unbeatable location serves up a sun-kissed utopia of white, powdery sand, pristine waters and breathtaking vistas of the magnificent Indian Ocean. Kitted out for all you’ll need to spend a day under a cloudless sky, the six-month-old resort offers activities like snorkelling, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. On a clear day, you can expect to see schools of fish darting between gorgeous coral. A Noku Maldives Experience starts from US$1,866 and includes return ground and boat transfers, Beach Villa stay (minimum of four nights), dolphin sightings, snorkelling and the relaxing Noku Spa Couple treatment. If an idyllic day baking in the sun is more your cup of tea, you’ll love the ocean-facing daybeds, the resort-style infinity pool, and the cosy cabanas. It’s beachside luxury at its finest.
The food is another highlight of the resort. One of the best meals was whipped up by Noku Maldives’ executive chef Chandrakant. You can choose to dine at Palms Restaurant, which offers lip-smacking Maldivian and international dishes, or Thari Restaurant for an intimate and indulgent meal. At the latter, prepare your taste buds to be wowed by Chandrakant’s creations. We were
served a tantalising eight-course dinner menu that features wellexecuted delectables such as Lobster Catlada, Tokarashi Coat Seared Tuna and the classic Kung Pao Chicken.
Of course, when in Maldives you can’t miss out the enormous schools of colourful reef fish. For first-timer snorkellers, professional divers from Sub Oceanic, a diving centre within Noku Maldives (you can book your snorkelling experience via your Island Host) will accompany you on your trip to and help you navigate the magical beauty of the coral reefs. The school of grey reef sharks is a sight to behold. Tip: do not panic when the sharks swim pass you, remain calm and stick close to your guide. These playful sea creatures are just curious, and will swim away after a while.
Lap of luxury
If you love lazy vacations, you will be pleased to know that each guest will be assigned to an Island Host who will take care of his every need. From transport to specialised menus, they’ve got it down pat.
One of the best thing to do in Noku is to enjoy the unparalleled view of the magnificent Indian Ocean from the comforts of your own villa. Imagine watching the sun dip into the horizon while sipping a refreshing Tom Collins, all sinking into the hammock fitted in the Beach Villa’s backyard.
When it’s time to call it a day, go for the Kashi Noku Siganture Massage. Treatment beds are set up in private huts within a lush meditation garden, so you get to enjoy the tranquality that Maldives provide while a skilled masseuse kneads away at your tense muscles using exotic oil blendd.
Beyond the beaches
The collection of islands, vibrant coral reefs and a temperate climate all year round make Maldives a perennial paradise for nature lovers - one that should be preserved.
Noku Maldives shares the same sentiment, which is why it has included several corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes as part of its mission. Besides repopulating its coral and floral population, there’s also a tour around Manadhoo – an island Noku Maldives adopted as part of its social responsibilities - led by general manager Justin Heng (if you’re lucky). The island sits in the middle of glistening turquoise waters and is flanked by imposing hills. It is where a humble community resides. We shared an energetic exchange of “Maruhabaa” with the village chief, who then brought us on a tour of the village. Before we concluded the tour, we helped to plant a tree in the community garden and visited a local school where kids were taught the know-hows on how to protect their environment throught an intriguing presentation of coral restoration conducted by dive manager Florian of Sub Oceanic. We could not have ended the day on a more meaningful note. This slice of paradise is ours and theirs to protect.