For the last 10 years, a handful of properties have set the benchmark for ultimate luxury in the Maldives. A benchmark that every other five-star hotel wants to achieve, constantly living under the shadow of these Maldivian colossi. In the last two to three years, many new five-star hotels have opened, like The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort and The Ritz- Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, and have, in their own right, caused a buzz. But if you talk to the general managers in the Maldives, the ‘five sisters’ still remain untouchable for now. I have been to all five of these iconic properties, and what makes them great is not the size of the rooms, nor is it the amenities per se; it’s a feeling. It’s a sense of family and an attention to detail that even The Dorchester or The Ritz would envy.
One of these properties I recently had the pleasure of visiting is Velaa Private Island in the Noonu Atoll. Now every one of these five exemplary Maldivian properties is entirely different from each other, from the rooms to the facilities and food and beverage offerings, but Velaa embodies everything to perfection. It offers the ideal balance for a romantic couple holiday, but also enough to entertain a group of men or women who want to have a fun holiday away, without it feeling awkward because it’s like a honeymooners’ haven.
Velaa’s amenities are arguably the best; days can be filled with sports, playing the nine-hole golf course designed by Olazábal, tennis, squash, basketball, and they even have a football pitch. Still, the most impressive is their watersports equipment. It is an adult’s playground, with flyboarding, a Jetovator, electric foil boards, jetskis and hoverboards. I never had the opportunity at Velaa to go scuba diving and take a day cruise with their yacht, but these activities are available to guests, and I would highly recommend both
during your stay.
After a fun-filled day, you can watch the sunset sipping a cocktail in the lounge at Avi Bar, accompanied by music curated by an in-house DJ. Then there is a selection of amazing restaurants to choose from, including their phenomenal fine-dining restaurant, Aragu. Aragu’s Executive Chef Gaushan De Silva, a native to Sri Lanka, has perfected his trade. He’s worked his way through some of the most prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide, including Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Noma and All’Oro. His tasting menu takes you on a gastronomic journey through the ocean’s best produce with the perfect balance of strong yet delicate flavours and playful yet elegantly presented dishes. Aragu’s architecture is breathtaking, too; the moment you walk through the doors, you are walking into an underwater fantasy straight out of a movie set, which sets the tone immediately.
Another outstanding dining experience is the teppanyaki restaurant, Tavaru, situated on the top floor of the cellar, which holds the most exclusive collection of wine in the Indian Ocean. Tavaru is intimate, with only ten guests at every seating, and boasts great views of the island and the seascape beyond.
We occupied a beautifully planned-out, 223-square-metre Sunrise Water Pool Villa for our stay. Divided into three sections, it had a lounge area, bedroom, and large bathroom with a round bathtub placed right in the middle of the room, with only the turquoise-hued waters as the backdrop. All the rooms lead onto a tiered deck that invites you to stay out rather than in. The deck is huge, stretching the entire length of the villa, and comprises a cabana, sundeck, outdoor six-seat dining area and nine-metre-long pool. The entire space is lacquered with tones of blue – predominately royal blue, browns and gold, both calming and comforting in every way.
On arrival, you are welcomed by your personal butler, who is always a call away and accompanies you throughout your whole stay. The team at Velaa go out of their way on every occasion. They take heed of all of your likes, dislikes and needs, to make your stay as comfortable as is possible, so all you can do is enjoy one of the most memorable holidays you will ever experience.
I also had the opportunity of visiting one of their private residences, of which there are four on the island. The gorgeous double-storey property comes complete with a spa room, gym, kitchen and a great entertainment area for a large group. The residences have four bedrooms and sleep ten people, over a space of 1300 square meters. One of the residences, Nika, was recently renovated by world-revered
interior designer Patricia Urquiola.
From the residences to the villas and communal spaces, no expense was spared in the island’s conception. Here, the pinnacles of design, hospitality and gastronomy meet in a setting of unparalleled beauty. There’s no doubt that Velaa Private Island is, indeed, a masterpiece in every sense.
This editorial first appeared in FOUR’s 06.21 edition