THE TREA­SURED IS­LAND

Dis­cov­er­ing the is­land sanc­tu­ary that is Noku Mal­dives

Epicure - - CONTENTS -

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.

Lit­tle is­land

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.

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