Maldives is home to hundreds of resorts, and each one has a different charm to offer — our travel writer compares two different premium experiences and shares what each is best at
With their crystal clear shores, lavish over-water villas and boardwalks that stretch into the blue horizon, resorts in Maldives seem to be similar to one another.
I learnt otherwise after my recent stay at two Maldivian resorts under the hospitality group Per Aquum. There, I discovered that each resort has its own personality and colour.
The Huvafen Fushi, which means “dream island” in Maldivian, is a highly-private islet, while Niyama is bigger and more family-friendly.
Here’s an intimate look at the different offerings from Per Aquum in the Maldives, and what makes staying with them so worth it.
It’s all about you
No matter which resort you opt for, Per Aquum’s Maldivian hospitality is ready for you from the minute you clear customs. A guide is there to take your luggage off your hands and lead you into a private lounge.
Sip on a refreshing beverage of your choice — I had apple juice — while you wait for your transfer to whisk you away to your Per Aquum resort.
Huvafen is a comfortable 35-minute speedboat ride from Male’s airport jetty, and Niyama is accessible through a 45-minute eye-opening seaplane ride.
Once you arrive at your resort, you are warmly greeted by a welcome reception and drinks, after which your butler will drive you to your villa on a buggy.
You read that right: you’re served by a butler, or “Thakuru” in Maldivian. He or she will take care of arranging your resort activities and dining reservations. And in the Thakuru’s absence, the other resort staff will be able to relay your requests.
You’ll feel important, comfortable and at peace every step of the way — almost as if you’re the only one in paradise.
A chance for romance
Huvafen has everything set up for the ultimate couple’s retreat.
The island has only 44 units and is largely-surrounded by greenery, with its facilities sitting on the water’s edge. It’s like discovering a hidden cove away from the rest of the world.
I stayed in the Lagoon Bungalow, an overwater villa with an astounding view of ombre turquoise waters. The patio opens up to a clear coral reef, and you can jump straight into the sea for a dip or a snorkel.
The waters around Huvafen are safe for swimming, and all water activities, except motorised sports, are complimentary.
If you’re lucky, stingrays may glide by your villa. It’s safe to swim with them but if that’s too close for comfort, head down to the lagoon at around 6.30pm for a supervised stingray feeding session.
Speaking of feeding, Hufaven’s dining offerings will delight any palate. The cooling sea breeze creates the perfect atmosphere for romantic meals — be it fine dining at Raw or seafood feasts at Salt. There are also private destination dining options like Cardamom Lounge, an al fresco boudoir grill set amid rich flora.
If you and your partner love massages, head over to the world’s first underwater spa, Lime, where you can watch the calming marine life meander around you. And there’s no rush at all when your session ends — you can linger for as long as you’d like.
Where kids and adults can play
Niyama sports an entirely different atmosphere from Huvafen. Unlike the latter’s plush serenity, Niyama radiates liveliness and adventure, perhaps because it spans a whopping 2km across two islands, offering more areas to explore.
The resort’s offerings cater to both the young and old. Until 6pm, the Children’s Club will keep your young ones busy with supervised activities like football, snorkelling safaris and Master Chef classes, complete with meals around the resort.
While the kids are away, you can take in the entirety of Niyama in carefree mode. Like in Huvafen, a Thakuru can take you around on a buggy, but I hopped on the vintage bike in front of my villa and explored Niyama with the wind in my hair.
Niyama may be expansive, but its facilities are close to one another. After indulging in a hearty breakfast at Epicure, I cycled over to the Mediterranean-styled Blu to relax in the infinity pool before lunch. These beachside areas are dotted with numerous deck chairs and cabanas, and there are absolutely no crowds to contend with.
I then took my exploration out to sea on a snorkelling trip about 15 minutes from the island. There, the teeming ecosystem is larger than life. An experienced guide led my group to several sights, like a family of clownfish darting around a sea anemone, a giant tuna and even a rare sea turtle.
There were so many activities to do in Niyama that I clocked very few hours in my Beach Pool Suite. But just in case you wanted to spend more time relaxing indoors, the villas are fully-equipped with high-quality entertainment — including movies and novels — with complimentary ice cream and popcorn.
I soaked in the view of the beach and the lagoon from my private infinity pool, and the unit also comes with an outdoor waterfall shower. (Don’t worry, there is an indoor bathtub and shower too!)
Luxury for less
Jetabout Holidays is offering a three-night Honeymoon Special at Huvafen or Niyama, covering daily breakfast, seaplane transfers and a romantic beach dinner planned out for you. The package starts at $4,910 per couple,
a rate that helps save on the expensive transfers from Male, which can run up to US$560 ($800).
Those looking for a slightly longer stay at Huvafen can consider the four-night Summer Special package for $6,570.
Families can consider the four-night Niyama stay for two adults and two children, where kids stay and eat for free. Starting from $6,420 per family, this package covers daily breakfast and dinner, and seaplane transfers.
Weekender readers can receive a US$350 or US$550 resort credit with a minimum of 4 nights booked with Jetabout Holidays at Niyama and Huvafen Fushi respectively by Oct 16, 2016. Terms and conditions apply.
After all, why settle for less than the best?
By Pamela Chow
This feature was brought to you by Jetabout Holidays. Weekender would like to thank Jetabout Holidays and Per Aquum for making this trip possible. For booking and enquiries, contact Jetabout Holidays at 6734 1818 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.