Best of the Maldives: Barefoot – Northernmost

Barefoot map

 

Welcome to Barefoot resort who opened this week. Barefoot is a proper resort, but located on inhabited island of Hanimadhoo. It has all of the amenities and infrastructure of a resort, with the exception of serving alcohol (a limitation on inhabited islands). But Barefoot has sorted a solution to that issue by anchoring a “Bar Boat” in the lagoon that guests can go to for their drinks.

Barefoot caters to a number of popular demands. First, it is offering rooms at increasingly hard to find value price range. Furthermore, it is designed from the outset to be “eco-friendly”. Environmental credentials have been a popular consideration in recent years, but have tended to be the domain of the premium resorts.

“The Barefoot Eco Hotel is an ecological touristic structure that follows the Ecotourism principles of

uniting Sustainability and Conservation, involving Local Community within its activities…The Barefoot is located within an almost untouched forest on Hanimadhoo island in the preserved deep North of Maldives. This 4 star Eco Hotel is well connected to Male international airport by numerous daily 45 minutes flights. Due to its luxuriant vegetation and privacy everybody can fall in an untouched nature, living the genuine and natural Maldives with all modern accommodation facilities. A half mile private sandy beach and a turquoise lagoon frame the hotel.”

Hanimadhoo’s 6 45’ latitude makes it the northernmost resort in the Maldives. Despite it being nearly a 1,000 miles north of the southern extreme Gan, the average temperate differs by less than a degree. It is completely virgin territory for Maldive resorts for people looking for untouched landscape and unexplored dive sites.

Best of the Maldives: Back Area Water Feature – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - back area water feature

 

 

Conversely, you could bring a little water to your beach villa. Soneva Fushi’s Soneva Villa is beach villa in the front and “water villa” in the back. A number of resort have water features in their back area, but Soneva’s water feature *IS* the back area. With a cascading water down the walls to boot. The three palm trees are like little iconic deserted islands themselves set in the water (one of which features the outdoor shower – see foreground). The water villa for people who don’t want to be on the ocean.

Best of the Maldives: Water Villa Foliage – Park Hyatt Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Hadahaa - water villa foliage

The charm of the water villa is to nearly literally immerse you into the signature Maldivian seascape. But you do sacrifice a bit of that complimentary tropical isle landscape of lush foliage. Park Hyatt Hadahaa’s water villas, however, bring a touch of that island paradise onto your own private nook with a mini-garden of dense greenery on the deck. The sizeable planter provides a very softening and natural touch to the otherwise hard edges and surfaces of characteristics of water villas. Reclining on the adjacent settee, I felt that I was on my own personal deserted island.

Frondescential!

Best of the Maldives: Water Villas for Children – Centara Grand

Centara Grand water villa children room

 

 

When we were growing up, we used to ask my parents, “There is a Fathers Day and a Mothers Day, but when is Children’s Day??” My parents always used to answer (disappointingly to us), “Every day is Childrens Day.” Well, there is finally a Childrens Day today. Universal Children’s Day, established to promote the welfare and well being of children around the world.

When I first started Maldives Complete, my very first inspiration was children. In the nineties, Maldives was known for (a) honeymooning, and (b) diving. But when we visited, we found it a great destination for children.

While the Maldives in general is great for children, one increasingly popular feature has become a bit of a child-challenged ghetto…water villas. The obvious reason is safety. The jetties are typically flat walkways which the occasional stumble can send adults (or even bikes and buggies) over the edge into the water below. There have been rumors, often cited by resorts where children are not allowed in water villas, that it is against Maldivian regulations to allow them, but that is not actually the case.

Given that today is International Children’s Day promoting the welfare of children, understanding the ins and outs of children in the water villas is an important subject.

The water villas are typically located in calm lagoon shallows so a rescue is pretty straightforward. As with bringing a child to a locale surrounded by water, however tranquil that water may be, vigilant attention to the child is always paramount anyway. And many parents are willing to pay the price of this extra diligence and supervision for the benefit of enjoying the distinctive water villa experience as a family.

Every resort is different when it comes to child policies in the water villas. I have been trying to capture most of the various policies in the Room Type Profiles. But the resort which seems to have to mot child-friendly approach is Centara Grand according to TripAdvisor’s Maldives Travel Article “Maldives: Children in the Maldives”…

Reputed to have the most family friendly villas in the Maldives and also the only resort which allows children in the Over Water Villas (OWV) without the need to sign a disclaimer first, Centara is a popular family choice. The pool is also a major draw.”

TripAdvisor Destination Expert Nefertari2 elaborates

The Family Water Villa's on Centara are children friendly. They have a railing, with vertical slats all the way around the decking which is at least a metre high and there is a gate which you can lock at the top of the stairs which leads to steps down into the lagoon. There is also a gate at the entrance of the Water Villa which is lockable to prevent the children from running straight onto the jetty as lets face it the robes won't stop them falling. They are the most child friendly water villa's I have seen in the Maldives.”

Best of the Maldives: Largest Bathrooms – Nika

Nika bathroom

 

 

If more is better in the bathroom department, then you don’t get any more bathroom than Nika’s cavernous powder room. More of a “water warehouse” than a “water closet”. The side room with room with toilet is bigger than many resort’s bathrooms. And the bathroom itself is bigger than most villas! It incorporates 3 showers (one rain inside and 2 outside front and back). Even sink is big enough to bath a small child in. It even has its own indoor garden (see photo above) included in the acreage.

Best of the Maldives: Private Jacuzzi – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - CUBE jacuzzi

Huvafenfushi has its own bathing with multiple heads, but of a more reclined style. Its bathroom’s Jacuzzi bath has not one but 4 places to rest one’s head. Head rests on bath tubs are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. The Calgon-take-me-away moments are all about blissful floating and yet invariably your head is uncomfortably pushing on some ceramic-hard surface.

Huvafenfushi take me away!

Best of the Maldives: Massage Rain Shower– Ayada

  Ayada - massage shower

  

 

I’m always intrigued by the ever-moving goal posts of scoring luxury. They seem to move the farthest on the playing fields of opulence that is the resorts of the Maldives.

Years ago, a massage shower was the height of bathroom cleansing sophistication. Then, added nozzles and jets provided an extra degree of soaking sumptuousness. Today, the current gold standard for super-premium bathrooms is the ceiling mounted rain shower.

Ayada has taken all of these hedonistic innovations and amalgamated them into the uber-shower. A multi-nozzle rain-drench massage shower! Featured in its select water villas, one can start to understand how Ayada snared the award for “Leading Water Villa Resort” at the World Travel Market this week.

World Travel Market 2014

WTM 2014 Katherine Anthony Ayada awards

While Maldives Complete is my virtual world outlet for experiencing a bit of paradise when sequestered in the damp and dank boroughs of Britain, but once a year I get to inject a bit of real-world Maldives into my life. That is the annual World Travel Market where the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation comes to town with its marquee stand.

I always visit to saw hello to a few MMPRC and resort friends. But this year brought the added bonus of a “meetup” with some of the TripAdvisor Maldives Forum digital comrades. Pictured above is the TA and Maldives veteran Katherine Anthony holding the two awards won by her resort Ayada – “Leading Resort in the Maldives” and “Leading Water Villa Resort in the Maldives” (big congrats “KatfromAyada” and Ayada).

Joining us were Christine Aldridge of No Shoes No News Travel and Amit Patel of Simply Maldives. We all went out for a post-show nosh-and-natter catching up on all things Maldivian. Going around the table for the resorts sharing our perspectives – between us we had visited over 130 resorts (with obviously a lot of overlap). We whipped round sharing our superlatives like which resorts surprised us the most (in a good way) – Gili Lankanfushi, Soneva Fushi, Bathala, KATH, Komandoo.

The big news of WTM was the Thumburi guest house island project. It looks like an inspired initiative to have your cake and eat it too for both guests and Maldives entrepreneurs. It provides an island and infrastructure to reduce the costs of development and required investment so smaller businesses can investi in Maldives tourism. It also provides scale, diversity and competition to provide high-quality, but value-priced properties for the middle market aspiring to enjoy Maldives paradise.

I got to connect with some new resorts – Embudhoo, Equator Village, Summer island, Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, Diamonds Athuruga and Thudufushi, Barefoot, Centara, and Ayada (obviously).

A little virtual sunshine in my week. Maybe not the palm trees and pina coladas, but I still got to bask in wonderful smiles and gregarious warmth endemic to the Maldives at least for a day.

This post has a new category tags to the blog for “WTM” as this is now the 4th instalment of Maldives presence here.

Best of the Maldives: Spa Pod – Velaa

Velaa - spa pod

The right lighting can not only help you rising, but also falling to sleep. Velaa’s “spa pod” employs soft lighting, among other sensory stimulation, in the Maldives’ first ever “Cloud 9” spa system

The Viennese artist and perception researcher sha. has now developed a holistic spa treatment concept to counter these daily stresses and strains: WOLKE 7 CLOUD 9. You enter a world where boundaries disappear, embed yourself on clouds and begin a journey which ends in deep relaxation. With the inspiring concept of WOLKE 7 CLOUD 9 by sha. KLAFS introduces and celebrates a holistic-artistic vision, based on the harmonious spa ambience, which turns the spa area into a creative awareness lab during the Interbad 2010. The origin is the reclining pod, which, in its three dimensional version, transports the visitor into a cloud scenery. Previously, ergonomic studies determined that a diversity of body forms would easily find space in the WOLKE 7 CLOUD 9. The gentle swaying motion of the WOLKE 7 CLOUD 9 further enhances the floating sensation to the visitor and cradles him or her softly towards the horizon. A second pod – as a revolved mirror image of the pod below – floats above the visitor completing the spacial cloud-sky composition of this spa highlight.”

The “cloud” concept is actually a composite of a number of clouds…

  • Image cloudback projected sky-cloud scenery
  • Light cloudfine light-shadow transitions which re-inforce the three dimensional cloud impression
  • Colour cloudmonochrome colours transition slowly and imperceptively and begin to mix and mingle
  • Sound cloudwave-like form of breathing in and out, of moving to and fro produces different acoustic agglomerations, which increase and decrease, transform into and overlap each other.
  • Cradle cloud – finely tuned, cradle-like swaying motion by lower cloud

Also, possibly the winner of the most expensive spa feature (or any feature) with a reported cost of $10,000,000. Certainly, the most welcome clouds in all of the Maldives.

 

Velaa - cloud system spa