Pure shores: island hopping in the Maldives
by Lucia Ferigutti
Taking your superyacht to the Maldives this year? Drop anchor at Anantara's Maldivian properties, says Lucia Ferigutti
With more than 1,200 islands and less than 200 inhabited there is arguably no better way to explore the Maldives than on board your superyacht. Both 119 metre motor yacht A and 86 metre Ecstasea have been spotted here in the past year so it comes as no surprise that the archipelago is becoming an increasingly popular destination with owners.
“The main challenge here is logistics, and having a yacht allows you to bypass that” says Lisa Jakobsson of hotel group Anantara’s Maldivian properties. She knows a thing or two about the yachting world, having worked as a stewardess on board 74m Siren and 56m Roseharty for three years before switching careers. “Up until a few years ago, it was mainly owners of sailing boats and keen divers who took their yachts here, but it’s a much more diverse mix of owners these days”, she adds. “It’s becoming a much bigger charter destination as well – many boats tend to hang out for the season with guests flying in”.
Three of Anantara’s Maldivian properties – Dhigu, Veli, and Naladhu Private Island – are in the South Malé atoll, a 30-minute cruise from Malé airport. Each with a very distinct personality, their proximity allows guests to enjoy more choices and a bigger variety of amenities than your average Maldivian stay (for example, access to about 10 different restaurants). Anchor off outside the lagoon, and you’ll enjoy a wonderful view of your yacht from the terrace of Sea.Fire.Salt., one of Dhigu’s most popular restaurants. If, like me, you are flying in, Anantara can help you charter day boats – including the property’s 17.6 metre Sunseeker – to help you explore all three.
A child friendly haven that will keep even the most discerning foodies happy
My first stop is Dhigu, which is a favourite with guests travelling with the family thanks to its kids club. I check into one of its 110 villas, and after a refreshing dip in the Indian Ocean I head straight to the overwater spa. Nothing better to beat jet leg than a shot of Rosella tea followed by Anantara’s signature full body massage, which combines eastern and western techniques for complete relaxation. A strategically-placed window on the floor of its treatment rooms allows me to look at marine life beneath during massage, for complete zen. Dinner is on Moodhu Malafai, (“the floating beauty”): a private, candlelit dining experience on a floating platform where we raise a glass to toast our first Maldivian sunset. The next morning has an early start: after a breakfast of fresh fruit and tuna and coconut curry, we are off on a snorkelling trip to try and see dolphins - our guide Fabio warns that it takes quick reflexes in order to keep up with the pod. You won’t find them in choppy waters, but you will always be able spot turtles.
Dhigu’s more grown up sister with Indian healing powers
Next door Veli is Anantara’s adult-only property, with 67 bungalows populated with honeymooners and child-free couples. Veli’s highlight is, by far and wide, its Sundari Ayurvedic spa, which offers a full range of traditional ayurvetic treatments. I try Abyhanga, a full body massage designed to improve circulation, relieve stress and enhance alertness. The therapist uses a blend of warm oils, including Amla (a vitamin-c rich Indian gooseberry), cinnamon and cardamom, used to treat joint paint and osteoarthritis. It’s not all swimming and spa – I book a session with Spice Spoons, where professional chefs teach guests how to cook traditional Maldivian and Thai dishes. An hour and a few failed attempts later – with a lot of help from my teacher –I enjoy my very own crab cakes and creamy coconut curry.
A petite private island with superyacht style service
Next up is Naladhu: the most exclusive of the three properties, this private paradise is only accessible by guests of its nineteen villas. Ocean or beach-facing, each is spread over 300 sqm, comes with its own infinity pool and is assigned a personal butler, or House Master, who will cater to its guests’ every need. The star is the Pool Residence, 600sqm spread over two floors, which sleeps two adults and three children and affords stunning sunset views over the Indian Ocean. Popular among high profile guests thanks to its secluded nature, Naladhu is still less than a five-minute walk or ride away from Dighu and Veli with easy access to their amenities. Not that its own restaurant, The Living Room, isn’t worth a visit or two: there’s an impressive wine list and you should not leave without trying the chef’s signature chocolate dessert. If you can’t be persuaded to leave your villa – and who could blame you – your house master will bring the restaurant (or the spa, the fitness class, you name it) to you.