Dream­scapes: Zanz­ibar and the Mal­dives

Emirates Woman - - Contents - Visit: nal­adhu.com

FOR HOPE­LESS RO­MAN­TICS

Small, ex­clu­sive, and ul­tra-dis­creet, Nal­adhu Pri­vate Is­land Mal­dives of­fers the type of va­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence that pub­lic fig­ures – from celebri­ties to pres­i­dents – long for; the kind of place where guests come for a week and the staff never see them.

The is­land is con­nected via a wooden jetty, and by boat, to sis­ter re­sorts Anan­tara Veli and Anan­tara Dhigu and while guests can leave the pro­tected en­clave of Nal­adhu to dab­ble in what the more so­cia­ble is­lands have to of­fer (a key to a wooden door on the jetty pro­vides one-way ac­cess only), the is­land is to­tally off lim­its to all but guests in res­i­dence.

Un­like the glossy mar­ket­ing foot­print of many other Mal­di­vian ho­tels, Nal­adhu is not ex­ten­sively pro­moted and there are few pho­to­graphs of its in­ner sanc­tum – by de­sign. The pil­lar of se­crecy is ev­i­dent ev­ery­where in­clud­ing in its ocean-fac­ing lo­ca­tion. While most re­sorts of­fer over wa­ter vil­las sur­rounded by open la­goons, Nal­adhu com­prises mostly sea-fac­ing pri­vate houses, a pur­pose­ful de­scrip­tor re­flect­ing the aes­thetic that you are lit­er­ally ‘com­ing home’, al­beit to your se­cret is­land bolt-hole.

The tiny is­land lo­cated in the South Male atoll has 20 beach houses, a cel­lar, and just one restau­rant which, lux­u­ri­ously, serves all-day break­fast be­cause guests here rise when they like. Each house is al­lo­cated its own se­cluded beach ca­bana with sun lounges, and com­pli­men­tary kayaks and floata­tion sunbeds come as part of the kit. The sun­rise side of the is­land is cod­dled by a calm la­goon and there is a charm­ing mosque as well as a boule court in the cen­tre of the is­land.

The houses ooze with el­e­gant colo­nial style. White-washed pan­elling, lash­ings of rat­tan, and am­ple lou­vred doors are paired with an­tique East In­dia-style cab­i­nets and hues of China blue. The downy beds are su­per king-sized and come with a vast pil­low menu. Plus, there’s a swathe of lit­tle ex­tras that in­clude a gym kit, yoga mats and fresh baked cook­ies. Elemis bath prod­ucts mirac­u­lously re­fill twice daily; you even have your choice of two bathrobes. And lit­tle sur­prises ap­pear without warn­ing: you can re­turn from break­fast to find a warm, petal-strewn bath drawn with bub­bles (of the drink­able kind) wait­ing on ice. At Nal­adhu ev­ery­thing is con­sid­ered.

The enor­mous, sea-fac­ing deck of the houses show­case pri­vate emer­ald­green pools, sunken glass baths, a sep­a­rate steam room, and an out­door trop­i­cal gar­den shower. The bath­room is larger than the bed­room it­self and the ter­race in­cludes mul­ti­ple ar­eas for loung­ing, sun­ning and din­ing by the break­ers. At low tide, sea crea­tures great and small scram­ble in the shal­low reefs while at high tide you can spot black-tipped reef sharks and rays, or should you feel like ven­tur­ing out, take a speed boat out for a tur­tle snorkel.

In the pub­lic spa­ces – some­what of a mis­nomer, given the is­land is so pri­vate – deep, cush­ion-cov­ered so­fas are art­fully scat­tered on the sand, com­pli­mented by roped ham­mocks in shady al­coves. Dense fo­liage cre­ates a canopy over the en­tire is­land, co­coon­ing it against the el­e­ments; even the trop­i­cal down­pours en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence as they sweep in mo­men­tar­ily. And in what is surely a sign that this is some kind of earthly Xanadu, the main pool is a whim­si­cal shade of pur­ple.

FOR FIVE-STAR FAM­I­LIES

It would be a mis­take to think that hol­i­day­ing in the Mal­dives con­sists of lit­tle more than sun loung­ing and sip­ping mock­tails. Yet, with the plethora of choices avail­able to guests in search of some­thing more, five-star fam­ily re­sorts with multi-gen­er­a­tional ap­peal can be hard to come by.

Niyama Pri­vate Is­lands Mal­dives an­swers the call in spades by of­fer­ing guests a full gamut of ex­pe­ri­ences that ap­peal to par­ents, teens, tweens and tod­dlers – though not ne­c­es­sar­ily at the same time. Cue: plen­ti­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties for solo chill­ing.

The re­sort is lo­cated in the Dhaalu atoll, a 50-minute sea­plane jour­ney from Male, and is made up of two dis­tinct and sep­a­rate is­lands con­nected by a bridge and ac­cessed via a palm-strewn cy­cle track. Your per­sonal Thakuru (Mal­di­vian for but­ler) is on hand to as­sist you with any­thing from ar­rang­ing a sched­ule of ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­vid­ing a buggy ride. But most peo­ple pre­fer to use their bi­cy­cles to me­an­der from one place to the next.

‘Play’, is per­fectly suited to fam­i­lies and is the lo­ca­tion of the renowned Ex­plor­ers Kids Club, a ten­nis court and a Fut­sal sta­dium. Here you’ll also find the is­land’s premium three-bed­room fam­ily beach pavil­ion that of­fers lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion for ex­tended guests. At the tip, the is­land boasts its very own surf break, com­plete with a beach shack is­land bar. It has be­come an un­of­fi­cial gather­ing spot for sun­down­ers with its fun cock­tails and cool tunes, of­fer­ing a smooth slice of he­donism to an oth­er­wise ship­wrecked ex­pe­ri­ence.

Sis­ter is­land ‘Chill’ is home to Ac­tive – a 24-hour games room that is a mag­net for teens. It is pro­fes­sion­ally decked out with every com­puter and board game imag­in­able (there’s a PS4 and an Xbox), a sports sim­u­la­tor room, foos­ball, and pool ta­bles. It is con­ve­niently lo­cated next to The Deli, the only one of its kind in the Mal­dives, de­liv­er­ing a nod to ur­ban cul­ture and pro­vid­ing a respite from (the ad­mit­tedly ex­cep­tional) fine din­ing.

Other high­lights in­clude Drift Spa, set in a botan­i­cal gar­den, dol­phinspot­ting cruises, an out­door cin­ema for moon­light movies, and all forms of wa­ter sports from jet-ski­ing to scuba div­ing and big game fish­ing.

But the show-stop­ping fea­ture of Niyama is its epi­curean stand­ing. With ten sep­a­rate restau­rants and bars to choose from, gour­mands can stay a week and never eat at the same place twice. Op­tions in­clude the Asian Fu­sion menu at Nest, where in­di­vid­ual din­ing pods are lo­cated high in the rain­for­est canopy, of­fer­ing guests the ex­pe­ri­ence of treehouse din­ing amongst the birds.

Sub­six, on the other hand, is an un­der­wa­ter restau­rant lo­cated 500m out to sea, where you can view the plen­ti­ful ma­rine life from the glassen­cased win­dows or head above board to the a la carte Edge, for a sig­na­ture seafood ex­pe­ri­ence un­der the stars.

Tribal is the re­sort’s eclec­tic Afro-Latin restau­rant de­signed within a tribal vil­lage set­ting and fea­tur­ing a menu of tra­di­tion Africa dishes along with some of the finest cuts of beef any­where in the Mal­dives.

Given the lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges of im­port­ing fresh and in­ter­na­tional pro­duce to an ar­chi­pel­ago of 1,290 sep­a­rate is­lands, Niyama of­fers the va­ri­ety and qual­ity of cui­sine you could ex­pect to find in some of the world’s finest din­ing cap­i­tals.

Theenor­mous, sea-fac­ingdeck ofthe­houses show­casepri­vate emer­ald-green pools,sunken­glass baths,asep­a­rate steam­room,and anout­doortrop­i­cal gar­den­shower

Op­po­sitepage: There­sor­tismade up­oft­wosep­a­rate is­land­scon­nected byabridge Left:There are­plen­tyof op­por­tu­ni­ties­for solo chill­ing Bot­tom: Theone-bed­room vil­la­sof­fer­wa­ter viewsinspades

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