A plot of sand and a palm tree. That is the Maldives. Except when you are staying at their other iconic feature – a water villa. Unless, you stay at Velaa where you get both signature attractions combined in one.
Instead of construction inspired from overseas, Cocoa Island features villas inspired from over the sea. These dhoni-inspired delights are the centrepiece of the all-water villa resort. The design makes if one of the most captivating resorts. Cocoa was one of the top resorts recommended to me by one of the Maldivian government ministers on my last visit and it is regularly featured in distinctive hotel lists like “The 100 Most Amazing, Unique, and Beautiful Hotels In The World” (one of the best lists I have come across and has inspired a short Italy getaway for Lori and I next month).
One of the finest delights of the Maldives is dining over the ocean. Forget dining by the ocean (though there is that too), but dining right on top of it is standard fare there. If you want your own private setting atop the water, then the famous Maldives water villas provide an exquisite platform. But typically, you are limited to dining off a tray from room service. Some fancier villas do have dining tables on their decks, but Velaa has a special deck for its dining table. Complete with curtained shelter (to provide either added privacy or to shield ocean breezes if they kick up a bit too much for your liking) and canopy top (to shield from too much sun glare or even a passing rain shower).
From longest day to longest private quai. One of our favourite parts of staying in a water villa is walking along the jetty to the room looking down in the shallows of the lagoon at the various marine life cavorting below. Velavaru extends that promenade out the back of its villas with your own private jetty to a special lounger set even more remotely in the middle of the ocean.
The Private Reserve is also long on its own distinctions.
- Largest – Not just the longest, but the largest water villa in all of the Maldives (1,400 square metres)
- Long Stays
- Longest Glass Floor (see below)
- Largest Bathroom – the 100 square meter bathroom is larger than over a quarter of the entire villas in the Maldives
A water suite of Stonehenge proportions.
Check out the post the time on this entry. How cool is that?
Looking for something to mark this unique moment of ‘12’, I’ve chosen Paradise Island’s Haven Suite doors which are 12 feet tall. So are the showers. The drench showers do really feel like rain from heaven. In England, we moved to a converted barn just to get that vertical, cathedral-like spaciousness.
Big island means big stuff, The spaciousness is as vertical as it is horizontal in places especially The Haven Suites. Spa rooms were bigger than many gardens in the UK. And there were 15 of them. The spa seemed to go on for acres. And the spa entry itself had 3 distinct and distinctive water fountains with water cascading down.
I guess combined with their basketball supremacy and their super sized Haven Suites, Paradise Island is the also best for tall people.
Like glass floors, private back areas are another prominently requested feature for Maldive villas. Especially for modest Middle Eastern women who prefer not to wear skimpy beach clothes in public view. Also, the numerous honeymooners that flock here like a little privacy to take the ‘P’ out of ‘PDA’.
Most villas in the Maldives have some sort of private back area, but they differ widely. From just enough space for an outdoor shower to expansive, walled gardens with private pools and other amenities. That is why I include a picture of the back areas in the Room Type Profiles.
Now water villas have the entire ocean for their ‘back area’. Great for sunsets, marine life watching, handy snorkelling, and lovely ocean views. Regardless of the screens, walls and configuration, not super for privacy (at least from the ocean side). But Gili Lankanfushi has private ocean swimming areas on its water villas. Areas of the sea walled off 360 degrees that you can swim or whatever in. Sort of its own version of private ‘water closet’ altogether where you don’t just see the lagoon, but you are in it.
Don’t get too bold in the ostensibly private setting. The water is eztremely clear and people could probably see a bit of what is going on from the adjacent walkway at least some of whatever is under water.
The Maldives are sort of pioneers in the ‘Windows’ department. Underwater windows, but also Overwater windows. Also, known as ‘glass floors’. These features have become so common and popular, that I added a field for them in the ‘Room Type’ database.
Resorts feature glass floors in many of the top water villa rooms as well as spas and restaurants. But perhaps the most unusual place is the bathroom. Maybe not so surprising. With the prevailing ‘no shoes, no news’ ethos, there’s no daily newspaper for your morning constitutional. So a front row seat to watch the aquatic wonders below is a decadent alternative.
When I first saw this feature in a toilet, I thought it would be unique, but my research has uncovered several like the one from Six Senses Laamu below. But I’ve given the wipe of the squeegee to Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru whose footside window is larger and the largest I have found.
It’s all about the fresh air. Breakfast by the water, morning snorkel/dive, lunch on the deck, lounging by the pool, stroll around the perimeter of the island, sunset pina colada, dinner on the beach, reading on the porch/deck, lying down on the sand for some star gazing.
We love spending as much time outside as possible on our trips. Dining al fresco is one of the great treats of the Maldives. One of my pet peeves at a resort is when I don’t have the option to dine out in the open air with the sand in my toes (ie. if I’m stuck to some enclosed, hard-floor restaurant).
Gili Lankanfushi extends the al fresco vibe to your villa when you finally do return to it. The whole villa – lounge area and bathroom – are completely open air.
On the particularly hot days, you can retreat to the bedroom which is the only part of the villa with air conditioning. But the even the doors are louvered so you can use natural sea-breeze AC in all but the most scorching days.