This lively and well-priced barefoot resort is situated on a manageable-sized island, but there is plenty of space for escaping other guests on beaches that are pristine yet still feel as though they have been left to nature, with superb marine life.
It’s on the tip of the South Ari Atoll, rich with underwater creatures, and a 45-minute seaplane from Malé, the capital. The water lapping at the stilts of my villa was a playground for black baby reef sharks. From my balcony, at any time of day, I could spot a handful of their tiny fins zig-zagging through the aquamarine shallows, with the odd crash from their older siblings further out.
Style & character
The sugar-white sand circling the resort is easily circumnavigated and the beach is wide enough to accommodate wild, quiet strolls. The days are designed for loafing, with a games room and library, while nights are sociable and stress-free, thanks to an all-inclusive environment where you can forget about whether you really ought to go to the bar or cave into the kids’ demands for ice cream (homemade, with flavours that change daily). The entertainment is low-key but enjoyable, with DJs and weekly traditional dancing.
Service & facilities
The spa has beds overlooking the water and offers Balinese massages plus a small range of natural wraps and treatments. Service was impeccable at lunch and dinner, with warm welcomes all-round and knowledgeable sommeliers. The dive shop is friendly and, for guests wanting to experience a more “real” Maldives, chatty staff lead tours around the Muslim community on the neighbouring island where some of them grew up.
- Fitness centre
- Room service
Villas are simple, well-made thatched wooden bungalows. Inside they have a carefree spirit, with natural materials, giant travel chests for wardrobes and beachcomber-inspired fittings, in forms that resemble waves or shells. A Mac mini hidden inside a mother-of-pearl desk brings things up-to-date. The large decking that stretches out on stilts over the sea has steps down into the shallow lagoon below for snorkelling. Senior water villas are larger, with more space for dressing, and can accommodate a spare bed. Beach villas are a good, more affordable choice, with front terraces that lead onto the sand, made private by palms and bushes. They can also be connected, for families.
Food & drink
It is hard to fathom quite how British head-chef Stephen manages to produce the variety of dishes, grills and confectionary to such high standards each day. The pastries, delicate tarts and pastel sponge cakes – baked fresh every day – were a particular highlight. Every evening I heard someone asking the chef for the recipe of anything from lemongrass-fried fish to a massaman curry. The imaginative smoothie combinations served during the day in Totem, a driftwood-style bar, were a healthy treat by the poolside, with the only disappointment the bland pizza slices.
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