Beyond the beach & up with the stars!

 
Francesca di Belmonte, Travel Editor explores the beauty of the Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, a resort with many unique experiences..

The Maldives is one of the most sophisticated holiday destinations in the world.  Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas is the perfect place from which to explore the underwater world of the Indian Ocean or simply relax and be pampered.  Just 35-minute by seaplane from Malé you arrive in paradise. I have been lucky enough to have visited a number of the hotels in this fair country and I can honestly say that Anantara Kihavah is most definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had.   The standard of service, rooms and cuisine are masterful, exponentially nurtured under the wonderful leadership of Dylan Counsel, the new General Manager.  A man who has been with the Anantara group for over 13 years and who understands and knows how to deliver 5 star luxury and ensure his guests are well looked after and happy.  He is always walking around the resort checking on the 350 staff and talking to the 200 guests when 100 % full. Dylan is proud that 60% of the team are Maldivian which ensures the local communities are well looked after.

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Top Left – Three Bedroom Presidential Beach Residence. Top Right- Three Bedroom Beach Pool Residence. Bottom Left – Overwater Pool Villa with Ocean View. Bottom Right – Overwater Residence

The spectacular resort in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll island archipelago is set in a typical Maldivian tropical vegetation and offers stunning and very spacious Beach Villas close to fine white sandy beaches and some of the most beautiful water villas in Maldives all set over a turquoise lagoon.  Anantara Kihavah is a hotel not only for couples wanting a romantic getaway but also for families.  There has been a shift in the type of clientele over the years to 60% families and 40% couples.  There are 79 villas (ranging from 260 to 2,730 square meters, sleeping 2,3, 4, 6, 8 or 12 people).  The splendid water villas perched over the crystal clear lagoon waters all have suspended fresh water pools over the sea while the 4 bedroom beach pool residence which can sleep up to 12 with a vast living room and dining area can have meals served by their personal butler to offer the ultimate private experience. However my favourite was the 2 bedroom “Over the water pool residence”.   Here you look out onto the big blue sea and see nothing.  You feel like you are alone, the peace and quiet is only interrupted by the sound of the waves gently splashing against the columns below.

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Sky Bar

There are many distractions for all ages, learn to prepare and cook tantalising dishes at the Spice Spoons cooking school. Master the tricks of the trade, guided by the expert chef who will tailor the course to your personal preferences and skill level. Watch a movie in the private outdoor cinema or be spell bound by the in house astronomer who talks you through the stars that twinkle in the night sky and somehow makes them come a living presence.  Next year there will be a new observatory with the largest and most powerful telescope in the Maldives on the roof of the Sky bar, which will allow you to see the rims of Saturn!

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Anantara Spa

When you want some more “just me” time, stroll across the jetty to 6 over-water treatment suites at Anantara Spa and reward yourself with the lavish attention of professional therapists.  Be spoiled in an exquisite decorated scented room with relaxing music in the background and enjoy one of their delicious massages.  If you happen to open your eyes you will see fish swimming around in the sea below.

The Maldives are of course known for its diving. In 1998 the corals were devastated by El Niño, which is said to have destroyed 95 per cent of the region’s coral. Thankfully nature is making an amazing comeback, largely thanks to the nutrient-rich currents that sweep the area. Soft corals are once again plentiful, while hard varieties, including cabbage and staghorn corals, are slowly but surely reappearing. In June 2011 UNESCO declared the Baa Atoll a Biosphere Reserve.  In its commitment to protect the environment, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas has initiated the Coral Adoption Programme, a long-term plan designed to share learning experiences with guests, accelerate the regeneration of coral growth in the atoll reef, and ultimately ensure the future of this unique Maldivian destination.

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Sea Restaurant & Chef Lamberto Valdez

If you do not feel like diving but are wishing you could appreciate the wonderful underwater world full of beautiful coloured fish of all sizes and shapes, you need not worry.  The “SEA” restaurant is one of the world’s most beautiful underwater restaurant and the first underwater wine cellar with over 400 phenomenal wines from all over the world is the place to go. The charming executive chef Lamberto Valdez created a sublime international gourmet menu accompanied with a selection of wines paired by their Wine Guru which provided a truly world-class experience which you will never forget. The octagonal shaped restaurant was designed to optimize the underwater views from a diner’s perspective; the acrylic windows are set lower than the dining tables and extend past the guests’ peripheral vision, giving the illusion that they are part of the surrounding reef. There are mirror everywhere (on the ceiling, the columns, the walls) giving the sensation to be in the sea among fishes. This definitely was a highlight of my holiday.

The 6 remaining restaurants available give a fantastic diversity with there superb à la carte cuisine (including Japanese, Mediterranean and Asian) One is spoilt for choice every meal.  Of course there are the romantic “ a duex” candle lit dinners on the edge of the sea (dining by design)

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Although the resort was about 80 percent full, I rarely saw other guests unless I ventured out to the spa, diving center or a restaurant. Even then, tranquility prevailed. The resort is definitely not for those who want a busy nightlife and a social scene.  I would not hesitate to recommend this hotel more highly.

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