Sam's Escape to Baa Atoll, The Maldives
Take a few moments to escape your busy day and picture yourself lounging on a talcum powder white sandy beach, sipping cocktails, and listening to the sound of a tranquil turquoise sea. You’re in the Maldives, a desert island paradise which offers a blend of 5* Robinson Crusoe experience and quintessentially refined elegance.
Luxury travel expert Sam Fusellier from EscapetheRock.gg offers the highlights of her recent trip with Azure Collection, one of the finest luxury holiday operators which offer a gateway to the world’s most desirable getaways.
Known for its stunning beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean comprises of 26 atolls and 1000 coral islands. It’s a mecca for surfers and one of the world’s richest diving areas, with clear warm waters, vivid corals and thousands of fish, from groups of colourful swimmers and turtles to magnificent mantas and sharks. Little wonder it is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The luxury hotels tend to take their inspiration from the Orient or French Polynesia while cuisine is usually an eclectic blend of Asian and Continental with plenty of seafood.
Situated on the West of the Maldives lies Baa Atoll, a chain of 75 islands, 13 of which are inhabited. Flying from Gatwick to Male, we then took a 30 minute seaplane to luxury resort Anantara Kihavah Villas on Kihavah Huravalhi Island where we enjoyed the tranquillity of our own ultra-private villa set along the beach and slumbered through a blissful Anantara Signature Massage treatment at the Spa to truly unwind. Guests can enjoy a dedicated Villa Host who provides a tailor-made personal itinerary to better enhance their experience. In the evening we enjoyed a Theatre Kitchen dinner experience with Executive Chef Lamberto Valdez and a stargazing session in the Sky Bar. In the morning we ate breakfast surrounded by stunning coral reefs and thousands of fish in the resort’s underwater restaurant.
For more castaway bliss we headed onto neighbouring island Landaa Giraavaru, a 44 acre site occupied exclusively by the Four Seasons Resort. Manta rays and turtles frequent the pristine two-kilometre lagoon on the island, fringed by powder white beaches and a kaleidoscopic coral reef. Amidst all this natural beauty are 103 beach bungalows and water villas, each within their own luxuriously private accommodation sphere. But it is nature that takes centre stage. The Marine Discovery Centre on the island transplants coral back into the reef and rehabilitates injured turtles.
The resort’s Spa & Ayurvedic Retreat offered us an ‘immersion experience’ combining yoga, meditation and spa treatments, complemented by Ayurvedic culinary options in a choice of four restaurants. And as if that wasn’t enough, there was also the option of a ‘floating’ platform dinner or candlelit feast on remote sandbanks. Absolute paradise.
Day three of our trip we travelled to Finolhu on Kanufushi Island; a vibrant new resort with a retro aesthetic feel. Finolhu represents a new style of Maldives holidaying—picture Marshall speakers in all the rooms, pop-up snack bars in VW camper vans and the all-important champagne hotline telephone (every hotel should have one!). This is a one-of-a-kind chic getaway which combines “sleep and chill” with live acts, the best DJs and unforgettable parties. Everything has a glamorous charm and feels like an Instagram moment in this eclectic new retreat which is a burst of fun for the region.
For a truly 5* Robinson Crusoe experience we headed to the Soneva Fushi resort on Kunfunadhoo Island which defined the term “barefoot luxury”. When it opened two decades ago Soneva Fushi reinvented luxury resorts throughout the tropics. ‘Intelligent Luxury’ became a concept synonymous with simple sophistication, exceptional service and indigenous design. Upon arrival we were greeted by our personal butler “Mr Friday” and our shoes were taken from us, placed in a bag labelled “no shoes, no news”—this really was the last time we saw our shoes.
Surrounded by lush jungle and coral reef, the luxury suites are hidden away and have a down to earth yet lavish feel with natural rattan and thatched architecture and private pools. We explored the island on bicycle with padded pedals for our bare feet, before embarking on a sunset dolphin cruise. There couldn’t have been a more fascinating and memorable experience during our trip than watching dozens of playful dolphins in the setting sun.
Back at the resort we dined in the superb “Fresh in the Garden” restaurant which is perched high above an organic garden. We enjoyed a cocktail at “So Glasscycle”, the Maldives first glass studio where we watched local glass artists create beautiful pieces made from 100% recycled glass. In the evening we enjoyed a movie at the open air Cinema Paradiso under the stars, and for an ultimate sweet treat we headed to the Chocolate Room and homemade ice-cream parlour – a perfect sweet end to an unforgettable trip.