I love quirky islands. Yes, the Maldives “classic” is the round, green drop in the middle of the ocean. And some are long and skinny stretching around the edges of an atoll. And then there is crescent shaped Finolhu. As you enter the lagoon, it seems as if two, white extended arms are stretching out to embrace you with a welcome.
The resort is built on an expansive natural scythe-like lagoon. The Small Island Company has added the water villa jetty to one end in a great sweeping arc mirroring the outstretched sand spit opposite. I think it’s the biggest enclosed lagoon area in the Maldives. It reminded me of a mini-Seenu atoll which we visited on last year’s tour where the inside side of the resort provides this sweeping circle around you (you can look to the opposite side if you prefer the vista of boundless ocean).
The topology is just the tip of the faru to this property’s quirky character and funky style. Finolhu is a sort of Sushi Samba of resorts – youthful, stylish and epicurean fusion of styles in whimsical ways. The concierges are dubbed “Mojos” and this place has as much of it as a revitalised Austin Powers (the name of one of their signature drinks). The décor is vintage in both theme and styling with distressed wood with beach house blue and white wash. It is peppered with iconic references to the 60s and 70s while a Big Chill soundtrack permeates the public areas.
Finolhu is also a foodie haven. Run by a former London restaurateur Mark Reader who wielded his skillet at top London eateries early in his hospitality career. All of the food is top gourmet quality. I must say that the lunch we had at the Crab and Fish Shack is quite possibly the best lunch we have ever had in two decades in the Maldives. The lunch is a hard meal to excel at. People’s tastes are more limited to lighter fare where there is less opportunity for extravagance (eg. no one wants Lobster Thermidor or Chateau Briand for lunch). Not only was everything we sampled distinctive (King Crab Gazpacho, Soft Shell Crab Tacos, Truffle Fries), but the venue itself was one of the most exquisite eatery locations in the Maldives (more to follow on all these features in future Best of the Maldives posts). To top it all off, we popped on our fins and went for a snorkel right behind the remote crab shack and had a delightful snorkel.
But the restaurants aren’t only places for epicurean indulgence. The villas provide not two, but three showers including the sumptuous waterfall drench (Side note: It has been intriguing watching the shifting goal posts of luxury showers in the Maldives as the luxury grade progressed over the years from Hot Water Shower to Power Shower to Massage Shower to Rain Shower to Waterfall/Drench Shower. I can’t imagine what comes next).
I must admit that when I come on these research trips in recent years, I often wonder how much more there is to see and whether I will actually discover things that I haven’t seen yet in my 80+ stays at Maldives resorts. Resorts like Finolhu inspire me that my job ferreting out the distinctive and unusual will never be done. When creativity and investment are applied, the potential for the new and surprising remains boundless. Despite over 1300 “Best of the Maldives” items published (or pending), I still found dozens of candidates at Finolhu, placing them in the top 10 of the resort league table.