You’d have to be spectacularly bad at hospitality if you can’t make a resort in the Maldives inviting. Nature has provided the raw ingredients – endless aquamarine waters, powdery pearlescent sand and all the seafood you can encounter (and eat) – for hoteliers to provide the truest sense of a getaway. Realising this, the Crown & Champa Resorts group knew its first five-star property, Hurawalhi, had to off er something distinctive.
Over-the-water ocean and beach villas are a given on the Lhaviyani Atoll, of which there are 60 and 30 units, respectively.
But the first stop you’ll want to make once you’ve luxuriated in the spacious, high-ceilinged rooms is 5.8 – the island resort’s restaurant. Built in New Zealand and using specially manufactured glass from Japan, 5.8 is the largest, all-glass undersea restaurant in the world.
The seven-course menu is a medley of fancy surf and turf, designed by head chef Bjoern van den Oever. While his dishes are stunning, if just a little turgid (sorbet is used in more than a few dishes), it still won’t distract from the incredible views surrounding the diners.
Visit during the day and you may find a shimmering curtain of silvery fish darting around the glass tube like gravity-defying diamond rain. Make a reservation at night and the lights just outside the walls could illuminate a passing turtle or a shy blowfish. And, there won’t be raucous groups oohing and aah-ing here – all tables are set for just two.
Because while there’s a Maldivian resort for every type of traveller, from the family-friendly to those catering to daredevil divers, Hurawalhi’s MO is to play cupid. The all-inclusive resort is for adults only – technically, anyone above the age of 15 – and every spot on the island practically begs for a proposal, wedding photo shoot and/or smug hashtag.
The resort was designed by Yuji Yamazaki, who’s an old hand at creating luxuriously soothing spaces in the Maldives, having shaped numerous villas in the island paradise including the Conrad Maldives and Finolhu Villas, and Crown & Champa’s upcoming private island Kudadoo. The design is largely contemporary and unobtrusive, which should not be confused for boring. The holy trinity of beige, wood and teal may be the bread and butter of many beach resorts, but its clean design serves to highlight the wonders of the surroundings.
Because, try as you might, you can’t escape the heart-stopping views. At about 16ha, the island isn’t terribly large, which means views of the ocean won’t be obscured by a glut of villas. Hurawalhi is also fortunate to be far away enough from neighbouring resorts, which makes the 40min sea plane ride from Male International Airport well worth it.
Hurawalhi hasn’t forsaken more active couples, of course. An infinity pool (photos here are a must, just don’t fall off the edge), watersports centre, courts for tennis, badminton, beach volleyball and futsal, and a gym will help you work off all that wining and dining. Or just hop on a sunset cruise and catch a glimpse of frolicking dolphins or manta rays.
The Duniye Spa will soothe tired muscles with treatments that use Healing Earth products, a brand from Africa developed in line with fair trade and sustainability principles.
It’s hard to go wrong with any resort in the Maldives, so it’s all about seeking out experiences that suit your needs once you’ve stripped away the absurdly photogenic views nearly everyone in this tropical nation shares. In this case, lovebirds will be hard-pressed to pass on the tranquil atmosphere of Hurawalhi, where romance comes in waves.
BEYOND THE SEA
Can’t get enough? Take your weary city souls to these new Maldivian vacation hot spots.
CLOSE COMFORT Singapore’s own Park Hotel Group and Chip Eng Seng Corporation have joined forces to open Grand Park Kodhipparu, located just 15 minutes by speedboat from Male International Airport. Hirsch Bedner Associates helped design the 120 villas and styled them with traditional Maldivian elements. Sixty-five of them come with private pools, and the largest – the Grand Residence – comes with two bedrooms and two bathrooms spread over a sprawling 210 sq m space.
FRESH FACE For the rare few who are tired of thatched roofs and overwater villas, the upcoming Lux* North Male Atoll may be the answer. Slated to open in April, the second Maldivian getaway by Lux* Resorts & Hotels is offering super-sized penthouse residences. Each double-storey residence starts with a minimum living area of 255 sq m, and the resort’s amenities include a cinema, yoga plinth, rooftop bar and barbecue grills.
PUSHING BOUNDARIES Sun Resorts has pumped US$42 million (S$56 million) into refurbishing its Kanuhura property and its new look is refreshingly bohemian. Masleggihura Island has been added to the site, so Kanuhura now spans three islands. The resort is big on activities, and guests will be able to swim 300m to Jehunuhura Island, or take a class at the Maldives’ first martial arts academy, led by two-time muay thai champion Irshaad Sayed.