Does one get sick of paradise? It was a question we posed ourselves while having breakfast over the pristine waters at Cannelli, the go-to restaurant at Hurawalhi Maldives, a property we had spent close to a week at.
As I write this, a pod of showboating dolphins are cruising past the ocean-facing bar at which I was parked, while the 24-hour Coco Bar churns out classic cocktails, served by an international crew of staff members. The unfiltered sunshine bathes the nearby infinity pool, making any mojito consumed then twice as good as any other.
So the answer to that question is a clear “no” then.
Hurawalhi Maldives is part of a Swedish/Madivian-owned hospitality group Crown & Champa Resorts that also runs Komandoo, Veligandu and the upcoming private island Kudadoo property, due to open in 2018. Hurawalhi, located on the Northern Lhaviyani Atoll, is a 40-minute plane journey and a 5-minute boat ride away from the international airport. Getting there would sound like a trial if only what awaits you wasn’t so breathtakingly stunning.
This adults-only, all-inclusive resort was imagined by Yuji Yamazaki, a New York-based Japanese architect, which results in an overall understated, yet warm, minimalist feel. As with any luxurious Maldivian property worth their salt, expect the creme de la creme of views dedicated to their 60 Ocean Villas. If you’re not fussed about having the pristine waters right underneath you, there are 30 Beach Villas to choose from, which have their own advantages as well. Each category has a few villas set aside with its own private pool, though why you’d need one when a dip into the clear blue ocean is mere steps away is baffling.
You’re not going to find any OTT, gold gilded “luxury” touches of that kind here. Our beach villa was draped in calm neutral tones of natural wood, with swatches of light turquoise offering a reminder that you’re in a tropical paradise. The bathroom was tastefully appointed in beige stone and tiles, with one door leading out to the verandah – so you don’t trek all that powder-fine sand through your room. The resort is the group’s first foray into luxury 5-star territory, so functionality is still key here.
The property aims to keep its operations as eco-friendly as possible. There are solar panels on specific areas of the island that contribute towards running the resort, and small touches like the air-conditioning turning itself off in your villa, should any doors to outside remain open.
Nothing beats a meal with a view and Hurawalhi is chock full of those. Try their crowning jewel located 5.8-metres underwater, aptly called 5.8. Helmed by German Bjoern van den Oever, whose ever-changing seafood tasting menu reflects the many ingredients swimming past you from outside the thick glass, this is an experience not to be missed. The resort has a liberal policy on footwear, so you will have to abandon your shoes before descending down a pinewood staircase into the intimate 18-seater restaurant. Take it from us, nothing prepares you for the sheer majesty of it all, and if you’re lucky, you may see a turtle or a shark languidly making their way along the dome-shaped glass ceiling.
International cuisine features at Canneli, the buffet go-to for all guests. With live stations and friendly chefs behind each a la minute dish, it’s a welcome change to somber anonymous faces that appear every morning. Dishes are comforting and familiar — things like sushi and salumi are always available. Aquarium is a large breezy restaurant and bar serving up cuisine flecked with Asian influences. This particular overwater restaurant features a well-stocked wine cellar that contains some of the owner’s personal stash and a spectacular view overlooking 5.8 and into the empty horizon. We were also very partial to the Champagne Pavilion located at the very tip of the walkway serving the over water villas. Extremely private, sunsets are best quietly savoured here with a glass of Dom Perignon in hand and a light breeze afoot.
Raised above the water, the rooms at Duniye Spa have see-through floors and an outdoor bath. You start each treatment with a foot wash on the terrace facing towards the sea, before being lulled into a haze of relaxation with the sound of waves gently lapping onto shore below. We were offered the Sense of Touch and the very aptly named Heaven on Earth signature treatments, both highly recommended if you need to ease away the aches and wears of corporate life.
Hurawalhi also offers a range of outdoor activities for the restless ones. Apart from the stunning array of marine life just steps and a snorkel away, the marine biology centre conducts research on the local population of manta rays, the water sports centre arranges boat trips out for manta spotting and dolphin safaris, as well as jet skis and paddle boarding to fill your afternoons.
Or you could just hop onto their weekly sunset cruise and wondered why you ever bothered with the rat race in the first place.