The Maldives are renowned for diminutive islands (a plot of sand and a palm tree). But at some resorts, the “island” has diminished to nothing at all. Don’t worry…it’s not the often reported “sinking of the Maldives”. It’s just resorts bringing their guests closer to the alluring seascape and more remote from the rest of the world.
Gili Lankanfushi (above) was the one who started it all with their lagoon villas (and dedicated boats to ferry guests to and from their villas). And it still commands the destination topping, paragon of the concept, their Private Reserve.
Jumeirah then took the concept to a whole new level by making a stand-alone neighbourhood of water villas.
Now a small collection of room types not so much “marooned” as “maritime”. I excluded the “yachts” even the semi-permanent moored one (eg. The Rania Experience, Huvafenfushi’s Dhoni Suites) because it’s not quite the same even though they too are places to stay out in the middle of the water.
Thanks – again – Paola (who prompted the list and initiated the research).
1. Gili Lankanfushi – Crusoe Residence [above]
2. Velaa – Romantic Pool Residence
3. Jumeirah Dhevanafushi – Ocean Pearls
4. Jumeirah Vittaveli – Ocean Suite with Pool
5. Medhufushi – Lagoon Suite
6. Angsana Velavaru – In Ocean Pool Villa
7. Meeru – Honeymoon Suites
8. Waldorf Ithaafushi – Stella Maris Ocean Villa with Pool
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a good Facebook album can give you an insight out perspective of the resort.
After ‘Likes’, the next easiest measure to check out on a resort’s Facebook page is the number of Photos that Friends have posted. On this score, the Flickr of the Maldives is Meeru with 2,984 (as of the end of January). Today it is up to 3,030.
The next closest was Champa sister resort Kuredu with 2,629 (does Champa hand out cameras at reception or are they particularlt photogenic?).
Say cheese platter!
If you’re looking for hot foods instead of hot drinks, then Meeru’s Hot Rock Restaurant’s delicacies sizzle all the way to your table and then some…
“Featuring seafood, steak, chicken or exotic game cooked at your table on volcanic “hot rocks”. Located on the Pavilion Bar Pool deck.”
For a full, detailed review check out this comprehensive write up complete with plenty of pictures by ‘Humble Jim’s Pam’ on the Meeru forum…
“By day you can get the impression the Hot Rock is 'just’ a snack bar. But that would be so very misleading. We were bowled over by the service, quality (and quantity for that matter) of the food. We had a beautifully laid out table and were positioned just by the infinity pool with another couple nearby at another table… There was Kangaroo as well as Ostrich on the main menu but we both had decided to go for the Brazilian beef fillet…Even though we were new to the whole Hot Rock thing we soon got going with it…I can honestly say it was the best beef I have tasted anywhere and as a Yorkshire girl I can tell you that's saying something really profound. Before too long it was 'Mission Accomplished' on the lava front!”
If you want to get into the spooky spirit, a number of resorts are offering special parties and attractions tonight. For example, Kuramathi has its ‘Halloween Horror’ event which includes activities such as ‘Pumpkin Bowling (where the objective of the game is to knock over ghosts), ‘Monster Freeze’, ‘Scary-Tell-A-Tale’ and ‘Make Your Own Mummy’.
It’s also a great excuse to visit Moosa’s grave on Kandooma. But the resort with the most dramatic (and certainly ‘Always Natural’) Halloweeny feature all year round, is Meeru with its Blue Whale skeleton.
A number of resorts feature whale skulls (eg. Kuredu, Kandooma), but only Meeru has the whole skeleton. The Blue Whale is the largest known animal to ever have existed on the planet and the skeleton measures 18 metres in length. The skeleton came from a whale that had washed ashore years ago and the owners decided to keep the skeleton.
The wooden deck of a classic schooner…the perfect romantic complement to a ocean adventure. Many resorts offer various boat trips for sunrise and sunset cruises with a whole range of boats. But if you don’t want to pay a supplemental excursion fee and or if your sea legs are not the best (though with the calm waters of the Maldives, seasickness is rarely an issue), then Meeru offers a nautical evening for its guests without any extra costs (aside from the food consumed in its restaurant) and without leaving the dock.
It has turned the Goma sailing ship into one of its resort restaurants. As it happens, my family took a sunrise cruise on the Goma back when it was part of ‘Rangali’ (then known as ‘Hilton Rangali) before its retirement into stationary culinary service.
“Goma was built by Philippe Laurella, in 1992, on Velidu, a local island in Noonu Atoll, in the northern Maldives. In Dhivehi, the local language, Goma is an ancient royal title, reserved for a princess. Philippe, a Frenchman, arrived in the Maldives in 1978, fell in love, marrived a local woman and works as a boat builder, fisherman and artist. Goma is 22 m (70 feet) long by 7 m(23 feet) wide. Her built up area is 196 cm and she displaces 39 tons. Her hull dimensions reflect the traditional dhoni design that the hull is 1/3 the length, providing better stability. In 1993, Goma was purchased by Afeef, the Owner of Meeru Island Resort, and operated as a safari boat.”
It’s complete menu and further background is available here.
Meeru is a simple, tasteful formula that works.
It’s smart casual. Not ‘chinos and polo shirt’ smart casual, but ‘boho chic’ smart casual. Rattan furniture and natural blonde wood interiors give the chalet-like villas a tasteful simplicity. A relaxed and breezy style where nothing is forced.
Like its sister resort, Kuredu, Meeru is a large island with lots of activities. It also is the only other resort with a ‘Golf Club’. The pitch and putt is compensated for its diminutive size with sumptuous landscaping including well manicured ‘fairways’ and water lilies in the hazards (curiously enough, no ‘sand’ traps). Like Kuredu, Meeru also has segregated the resort into ‘kid-friendly’ and ‘no kids’ sections. Children (under 18) are only allowed to stay in the Garden and Beach Villas, and not allowed in the Pavillion pool or the Uthuru Bar.
Meeru’s house reef is only accessible by excursion, but their house lagoon so impressed me (as have some other resorts I have visited like Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Kanuhura, and Velassaru) that I am going to change the Maldives Complete house reef categorisation. I think that there needs to be a category for ‘Weak House Reef, Good Lagoon’. The lagoon is filled with lots of coral croppings (that Meeru is adding to with an active reefscaping project) as well as lots of big and colourful fish.
Certainly a the resort is a candidate for ‘Best for Dolphins’. Rasheed Mohamed, who took me around, boasted that their dolphin excursions have a 95% success rate in sightings. Lo and behold, on my boat transfer to Meeru, we came upon a giant pod of dolphins with dozens cavorting and swimming around the ship. The captain pulled up and we just sat and watched them for a good long time. Then when we pulled off again, the dolphins loved riding the waves made by the ship’s wake behind us.
A natural charm.
The number one reason people don’t go to the Maldives…the perception that there is nothing to do. And within that the myth, the number one ‘thing to do’ that is a ‘show stopper’ for many couples…no golf.
Well, you might not find a Jack Nicholas designed 36-hole links in the country, but if it is a deal breaker then there are some fine possibilities. I’ve already highlighted Kuredu’s 6-hole ‘Executive’ course. But for those who want a bit more whack in their holiday week, then Meeru offers a driving range. 100 balls for $10 and that includes complementary use of clubs. The resort also has a spiffy 9-hole chip-and-putt course to boot. Fore!
‘Turning down the bed’ takes on an elaborately resplendent meaning at many tropical resorts and with so much colourful flora at their disposal, the Maldivians take this pre-slumber ceremony very seriously. Maldives Complete has assembled a collection of the most stunning examples it has come across, and in a tightly contested decision, we would give the rosette of repose to Meeru for the example displayed above. The sheer volume of petals in the heart combined with the distinctive touch of the palm leaf origami in the corners at the foot make it a real masterpiece. Admire the other contenders here