The heart of any Maldives trip is the unworldly seascape and resorts do everything to bring with water wonderland front and centre – snorkelling, glass bottom boats, decks overlooking. One of the hot features at the glitziest water villas is the glass floor. A portal to this maritime magic even when you are sequestered inside. But you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy this fancy foot-level fenestella. The value priced Embudu resort sports lovely versions in their Water Bunglows. And there is plenty to see. We watched a couple of puppy reef sharks and a baby stingray during our short stay. The most affordable glass floor water villa in the Maldives.
Some resort gizmos don’t just help you control your villa, but they actually control it for your automatically. One of our favourite eco-innovations is featured by One & Only Reethi Rah’s climate control. When either front door or deck door is open, the AC automatically cuts off. That way you can invite the outdoors into your villa where you are relaxing or getting ready without having to remember to turn the air conditioning off.
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
One resort who appreciates “Sunset Villas” is Atmosphere Kanifushi. There is no choosing between sunrise and sunset at this resort…because ALL the villas have been built westward facing. All four of their room types are designated “Sunset”.
In all fairness, the standard “Beach Villas”, the left most villas numbered “12” on the resort map below, are really “north” facing. In fact, all of the villas are really NNW facing if you want to be precise. North by Northwest should give you a fine view of the sunset on the western horizon in most cases. But one visitor did report to me that at certain times of the year, the sunset was really hard to see (and that would certainly be the case for the westernmost “Beach Villas”. So if you are draw to this sunset orientation of Kanifushi, you might want to veer toward the villas on the eastern most end of the island.
Jacuzzi or pool? The soothing bubbles in the intimate confines of a Jacuzzi? Or the placid, tepid pool where you can stretch your legs a bit? The top villas offer one or the other option for your own personal plunging. Some more extravagant ones provide both though it’s quite rare. But Ayada’s Royal Ocean Suite has an integrated Jacuzzi/pool combo.
Still and sparkling in one.
Glass floors have become a signature design feature in Maldives water villas, but Six Senses Laamu has literally raised the concept to a new level. Their Lagoon Water Villa has transparent portal into the colourful lagoon below, but by making it a table, it’s easier to sit down and enjoy the spectacle with a tropical cocktail.
Today’s post has triggered the addition of a new category tag of the best “Tables” in the blog.
On the heels of the Maldives Complete index, I think it’s time for another Buzzfeed-inspired listicle. A Christmas list for every self-respecting Maldive water villa. Not surprisingly, the “Water Villa only” pioneer Gili Lankanfushi dominates the list with 3 mentions.
Pimp my water villa!
1. SLIDE – Gili Lankanfushi: Yes pleeeeeease!
2. HAMMOCK – One and Only Reethi Rah: The most expansive of the over water “floating” nets.
3. INDOOR/OUTDOOR POOL – Huvafenfushi: Great for the inner cat person (“I want to be outside, no inside, no outside…”)
4. DINING GAZEBO – Velaa: Your own over water dining room.
5. JETTY – Angsana Velavaru: Strolling along the jetties provide a front row “dry” seat to the maritime spectacles of the Maldives and Velavaru gives you your very own private one.
6. PRIVATE BEACH – Velaa: Surf and turf Maldives villa style.
7. PRIVATE OCEAN – Gili Lankanfushi: Private back areas in beach villas give you privacy, but in a water villa any passing boat can see you on your deck or swimming off it. But Gili offers your own private enclosed swimming area (mind you, it does become a bit less private at low tide when the water level drops).
8. GLASS FLOOR – Jumeirah Vittaveli: When being 10 feet from the water view trigger withdrawal pangs.
9. BOAT – Gili Lankanfushi: Your own private transport to your own villa island.
10. GLASS DINING TABLE – Six Senses Laamu: Best placemat ever.
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.
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.”
“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.”
Jumeriah Dhevanafushi offers its some of its water villa guests their own private “plot of sand” bank right in the ocean right next to the villa. However, like much of the organic and fluid Maldives, this sand bank moves all over the place and shifts from villa to villa throughout the year.