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If celebrity patrons are an indicator of a hotel's popularity, the Maldives super-lux Huvafen Fushi is about as hot as it gets. George Clooney popped in for lunch last month, Kate Moss partied in her Ocean Villa, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes booked in a massage during their honeymoon, Alexander McQueen had left when I arrived and when I left the island, Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana and John Galliano were set to arrive (separately).
Trendsetting Huvafen Fushi has been raising the benchmark since its first inception two years ago. Opening its doors to feature the world's first underwater spa, Huvafen Fushi has since earned its spot on the coveted Conde Nast Traveller MagazinesUK and US Hot List.
This discreetly luxurious, contemporary retreat is located on its own lagoon on a tiny island in North Male Atoll. I arrived late into the night direct from Singapore, the flight doesn't get in until 10pm (note: book Emirates instead to arrive during the day).
When I was escorted into my over-water bungalow, I felt like I'd walked into an Apple store/Armani showroom, with a bed in the middle surrounded by all my favorite gadgets. Surround sound Bose indoor/outdoor music system, Plasma TV screens, Bang & Olufsen phones, iPod Nano with an incredible selection of music that had already been installed, a separate massive bath which overlooks the ocean, my own private plunge pool, oversized king size bed, Frette linen, designer furniture (including pieces by Frank Gehry) electronic curtains, waterfall shower, the list goes on and on.
Waking up in the Maldives is something everyone should experience before they die. The view from the bed in my room overlooked the plunge pool which overlooks the Ocean. Itâ€™s an incredible sight, serious postcard material.
The day at Huvafen Fushi starts off with a buffet breakfast in Celcius, luxe-but-laid-back dining on a white sand floored deck branching out over the lagoon. Next it's off snorkeling where you'll see the most amazing colored coral and sea life including sting rays. It takes approximately 3 hours before you realize you have a tan, the sun is extremely bright and even with 30+ sunblock, you tan quite fast and you notice tan lines by the time you've finished breakfast.
My day was busy, yet I did nothing. I snorkeled, I tanned, I read, I snorkeled again, I read more, I walked over to the over-water gym, and walked back out (are you kidding, who can face the gym on holidays) and before I knew it, the sun was already setting. So I headed to Umbar to order a cocktail and sit back in the seriously comfy lounge chairs and watch the sunset while the chill band played, very Cafe Del Mar. The music, the sunset, the people, the atmosphere - it's an amazing vibe. Dinner at Salt restaurant (barefoot) is a highlight. The food was fine dining at its best, as good as anything you'll find in the world's best restaurants.
Famously, the highest point in the Maldives is only four meters above sea level, so perhaps its not surprising that the Huvafen spa is underwater, something totally exclusive to this resort. It's like entering a glamorous fishbowl where you are the main attraction to the fish. It's the perfect environment for a massage. I chose the Maldivian monsoon ritual massage and it defies description. All I can say is that I don't think I will ever be able to top the experience. Incredible is an understatement.
BEST TIME TO GO
NOW UNTIL MAY
The friendly, laid-back staff: guests in pavilion accommodation get a 24-hour butler service, while the rest of the resort gets a FISH (Fast Island Service Host), which amounts to the same thing. The underwater spa is a must.
Three restaurants, a lively bar, a seriously cool well-stocked underground wine cellar, an over-water yoga pavilion and the world's first underwater massage treatment rooms complete the picture.
Bungalows from US$880
This year, Huvafen Fushi is proud to announce three new initiatives. An übercool 70ft luxury yacht, an exclusive compilation with one of the world's most famous DJ and Producer, Ravin from Buddha Bar, Paris as well as an uplift to the world's first underwater spa.
When Huvafen Fushi first opened two years ago, Per Aquum Resorts, Spas & Residences, CEO, Tom McLoughlin, commented, "This is just the beginning. We will continue to refine the original Huvafen Fushi concept, while constantly pushing the boundaries in delivering the ultimate guest experience."
Huvafen Fushi has certainly made this statement its driving force with more amazing concepts on the way. - Billy Tikos
Dining in the sky is so last decade, but how about dining under water? And if submarine supper is your thing, wouldn’t you want to experience it in one of the world’s top diving destinations, the Maldives?
Anantara Kihavah Villas unique underwater restaurant, Sea, is part of a quartet of culinary experiences aptly named Sea, Fire, Salt and Sky — each with its distinctive cuisine, atmosphere and location.
Sea offers Mediterranean buffet lunches and a degustation dinner with stunning views of the sea life in the channel. Sea is also a wine cellar stocked with 250 labels representing 14 countries, and serving more than 20 labels by the glass.
The luxury resort is located on Kihavah Huravalhi Island in the Maldives, half an hour by seaplane from the Male International Airport. Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is a group of 15 luxury properties in Thailand, the Maldives, Bali and the United Arab Emirates with near-future openings in Vietnam, China, Bali, Thailand and Abu Dhabi. - Bill Tikos