CEO Middle East

SHORT-HAUL ADVENTURE

Anantara Dhigu Maldives is the perfect destinatio­n from UAE – short on mileage and long on luxurious, barefoot escapism

- BY JOLA CHUDY

With Eid just around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunit­y to reintroduc­e travel back into your life. A short hop from the UAE, Anantara Dhigu in the Maldives delivers escapism, abundant serenity and thoughtful luxury – exactly the kind of infusion of happiness we all need a bit more of

With travel corridors reopening and rules relaxing, the opportunit­y to fly somewhere seems almost too good to pass up, and with Eid beckoning, many of us are making travel plans again. Even the mildly irritating process of searching for flights is filled with a frisson of adventure – and for an escape that’s light on flight time and heavy on the pay-off, Maldives remains one of the region’s most popular destinatio­ns for ultimate ‘long weekend’ escapes.

The process of going for a PCR test and messing about online comparing and booking our flights barely registers on the scale of small inconvenie­nces, thanks to the palpable sense of excitement about travelling again. Our destinatio­n is a tiny island in the South Male atoll.

Dhigu, a speck of white and green in the Indian Ocean, is part of the Anantara Group, a byword in thoughtful­ly designed luxury. Founded in Thailand in 2001, the group has five properties in Maldives.

The hypnotic rhythm of a speedboat rocks away the stiffness of the short flight between Dubai and Male, and then it’s a case of simply immersing oneself into the ambience of island life. Which isn’t, frankly, much of a tough adjustment to make. Not at all. The frenetic pace of daily life is temporaril­y suspended in a fantasy of cerulean, ivory and white.

Greeting guests at the island’s main pontoon, the staff whisk our luggage away while proffering cool towels and warm smiles.

Dhigu boasts 110 beach villas and over-water suites, making it large enough to offer enough food, dining and entertainm­ent to punctuate the soporific pace of island life, but small enough to feel intimate and personal. Its next-door neighbour, a small boat trip of a few minutes, is Veli, so there’s also the opportunit­y to explore next door, as well as a smaller island that boasts a swimming pool set into the sea, and a stunning coral reef.

The over-water villas at Dhigu are just as fabulous as you’d want them to be: boasting views straight into that blissfully blue ocean,

they offer a sense of privacy and connectedn­ess to the natural surroundin­gs. Thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows (and even a cheeky porthole by your feet in the bathroom) watercolou­r sunrises and sunsets punctuate the start and end of each day, with an in-villa butler to attend to any whims or requiremen­ts. Life here is geared towards the aquatic, and if you’re lucky, you may spot a sea turtle swimming lazily past, or even small sharks and schools of fish.

A little further out and the marine life reveals itself in rich, living colour. The Maldives have suffered more than their fair share of coral bleaching thanks to global warming and so now many of the resort islands are taking direct action courtesy of conservati­on programmes to encourage new reefs to grow.

Snorkellin­g around the island gives you the chance to get up close and personal with the sea life, or for a more adventurou­s dip, the island offers – amongst several oceantheme­d activities – the chance to swim right next to nurse sharks. This is the kind of bucket-list adventure that leaves you feeling euphoric, adrenalise­d, alive and fully charged – emotions not usually associated with a lazy few days on a white-sanded island of pure luxury, but Dhigu is full of opportunit­ies for enchantmen­t and wonder. Free-diving is one of the more unusual experience­s offered alongside scuba diving and dolphin watching cruises.

One day we wade over to Gulhi Fushi, a tiny little mound of sand that features an ocean pool, reef and bar, and while away a few hours splashing about on the water’s surface and following fish, before sitting beneath the shade of the traditiona­l thatched roof bar and cooling down with ice-cold fizzy drinks.

There are eight food options at the island and neighbouri­ng Veli, and the close of each gorgeously relaxed day beckons with a new dining experience – Japanese, Thai and tradiislan­d, tional Maldivian dishes are amongst the offerings, while breakfast each day seems to cater to every possible whim including plant-based diets; the banana coconut pancake as decadent and flavourful as any dessert, and easily justified by the promise of a vigorous swim at some point in the day.

There’s a beautiful over-water spa on the and a treatment here is about as agreeable an experience as one can wish for. Submitting to the skilled hands of the therapist, knots are kneaded away and the rhythmic, soothing sensation of skilled touch is blissfully hypnotic. Thankfully a stirring ginger tea is offered post-massage to rouse you from your blissed-out state and send you floating back to the beach.

A heightened sense of appreciati­on is fertile ground for happiness to grow, and on Dhigu, the idyllic setting offers ample opportunit­y to slow down and savour small moments of pleasure – something that many of us have been reminded over the past year or so, is really what the art of living gratefully is about.

“WITH TRAVEL CORRIDORS REOPENING AND RULES RELAXING, THE OPPORTUNIT­Y TO FLY SOMEWHERE SEEMS ALMOST TOO GOOD TO PASS UP”

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 ??  ?? Breathtaki­ng view Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort is designed with 110 beach villas and over-water suites
Breathtaki­ng view Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort is designed with 110 beach villas and over-water suites
 ??  ?? Sun, sand and sea Guests are treated with adventures across silvery sands, at sea, and below the water’s surface
Sun, sand and sea Guests are treated with adventures across silvery sands, at sea, and below the water’s surface
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