Dreamscapes: Zanzibar and the Maldives
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