As I gazed out the plane window, it took only but a moment to fathom we were in Maldivian airspace. Scattered like jade-green jewels across the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, were the bountiful atolls of the Maldives.
A smiling face welcomed us upon arrival and promptly guided us to Anantara’s private lounge; a swanky airconditioned space stocked with Nespresso machines and canned juices. After a quick check-in at the airport lounge itself, we departed for our weekend getaway on Anantara’s private speedboat. As we sped through the cyan waters Ihad to pinch myself to be convinced it was real.
Only 35 minutes later, we reached Anantara Veli Maldives Resort; one of Anantara’s four blissful properties in the Maldives and our abode for the weekend. Naladhu and Dhigu, the sister properties were easily accessible by pontoon (their version of an adorable boat) and an overwater bridge. The cluster of Anantara resorts, had absolutely no shortage of facilities: infinity-edged swimming pools, a dizzying roster of restaurants, sprawling badminton and tennis courts and of course, overwater spas.
Ibrahim, our villa host, escorted us to our villa: Anantara Veli’s Deluxe Overwater Pool Villa. Be prepared to walk a fair bit, but if you revel in luxury, look no further. A luxuriously-dressed king-sized bed dominated the centre of the villa, subtly dictating the mood for the weekend. A tasteful study paired with delicately-carved wooden wardrobes formed a part of the background, while earthy and amber tones complemented the aesthetic surroundings. A selection of lavish resort-gear were tucked inside the cupboard; an Olympus camera (wow!), yoga mats and a fitness kit; while a large TV and an iPod docking station festooned the colossal wooden console in the room.
I walked out to our private terrace with all the pool-villa dreams I could muster and I was certainly not disappointed. I looked around in absolute awe as our private, infinity plunge pool lazily gazed out into the immensity of the turquoise waters. The split-level deck was adorned with loungers, a charming table with chairs and most importantly, a ladder that led my eye to the heavenly waters underneath.
My exploration yet incomplete, I walked into the bathroom and there, standing in elegance, was the bathtub against the azure waters of the Indian ocean. I firmly believe that the bathtub itself was enough to plan another trip to Anantara Veli. A set of dual basins atop the marble console completed the beautifully designed space.
The pantry was another impressive element. In addition to a wine cellar loaded with high quality wines, it also contained a Nespresso machine, a fine box of Dilmah tea, an assortment of dry refreshments and a fully-stocked mini bar. It was indubitably one of the better pantries I had experienced in a hotel.
Thankfully, the island offered a chilled-out take on tropicalisland luxury. A myriad of sandy roads and canopied palm trees dotted the lush-green island; while wooden planks over the mineral blue waters lead the way to the 62 over water villas.
The staff at the resort were the benchmark for hospitality. I was invariably greeted at each corner with a “good morning”, while all meals would begin with small talk with a staff member or a weather update from Imtiaz, the resort manager.
Breakfast at 73 Degrees was a constellation of open kitchens – crepes, pancakes, omelettes, hot continental delicacies, fresh fruit, and cheeses – bordered with a wide selection of baked goods brimming with an assortment of fresh juices and honey.
Meals were consistently inspiring with the plethora of multi-cuisine dining options between Veli and Dhigu. While we mainly restricted ourselves to Anantara Veli – an adult only resort – Dhigu had its share of Italian restaurants which easily catered to our Vegetarian preferences. Being a Thai-food enthusiast, the authentic Thai delicacies and over-water ambience at Veli’s signature Thai restaurant Baan Huraa made for a lovely first-day dinner. Although vegetarian options at the pool-side Dhoni Bar and Japanese diner Origami were limited; the chefs were eager to curate a dish off-the-menu – a gesture much appreciated.
Honestly, there’s never a dull moment in and around the island with snorkelling, tennis lessons, Spice Spoons cooking classes, an under-the-stars theatre and indulgent treatments from scrubs to Ayurvedic massages at the Balance Wellness by Anantara.
Of all the luxurious hideaways in the turquoise-fringed, white sanded islands of the Maldives, I believe Anantara Veli is value for money. The palatial facilities, heavenly food and awe-inspiring natural beauty fulfilled every criteria we were seeking for our weekend gateway. The island’s gracious hosts and outstanding hospitality are reasons enough to visit Anantara Veli yet again.
Where: Anantara Veli Maldives Resort
Veligandu, South Male Atoll 20109, Maldives
Phone: +960 664-4100
Review: Diana Herrick