There are some hotels which simply have it all. I always say first impressions count the most in almost every kind of experience and Velassaru in the Maldives seem to understand just that. For those making the journey to this resort immediately after touching down at Male International Airport, a resort representatives can be found waiting for you on arrival, ready to whisk you away for a stay you’ll never forget. Take a seat on the upper deck of the transfer-boat and soak up the turquoise drenched views while you enjoy a short, but unforgettable 25 minute journey to the island – passing some of the other luxury resorts along the way.
As soon as you get close to Velassaru, you realise just why you made this journey across to the other side of the world. The island has some of the most turquoise waters of all the others we visited and it’s immediately noticeable on approach. Water villas fill up the ocean, where you can see their stilts right to the bottom of the sand with the water being so clear. As we stepped off the boat, the ocean beneath our feet was full of tropical reef fish swimming around and baby lobsters could be seen hiding away underneath the arrival jetty. Even the welcome was special. Staff, managers and villa supervisors all wait for your arrival, smiling and waving. They all make you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere special.
After a speedy check-in at what is probably one of the most grands receptions you’ll ever come across, we jumped onto an island buggy and made our way to our room, swerving through the lush greenery and avoiding the many Oriental Garden Lizard’s which call the Maldives home. You’ll find them on nearly every island you visit – all of them arching their back and looking proud.
The one thing you’ll really need to adjust to in the Maldives, is the humidity. For the first 24 hours I struggled a little with the warm humid air – which instantly left you dripping (not very glamorous I know), so a word of advice. Forget super smart trousers, high heels, jewellery and jackets. Dress is smart casual during the evenings (shorts are perfectly fine) and I packed an array of light linen shirts and polo’s. You’ll regularly see people over dressed and you just know they must be melting inside. This is after all not just a holiday – but your holiday of a lifetime. We stayed in one of the resorts beach villas which not only has one of the best beach locations possible, but they looks fantastic. Simple, but elegant design with a slight nod to the far east with its dark varnish finish and exposed wood. We had one of the best sleeps of our entire journey here (the bed is so comfortable) and I loved the added touch of a few patisserie creations waiting for us, conveniently located next to the mini bar of course.
Two huge doors separate the bedroom from the bathroom and once you slide them open, it will take your breath away. It’s absolutely stunning. The entire bathroom is outside (covered) and has been so immaculately designed to fit in with the surrounding nature. No less than L’occitane bath products help to create that in-room spa experience. As far as bathrooms go, it rarely gets much better than this. The resort is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group – a brand I can always count on. Every hotel they represent offers that wow factor and it was full of that here at Velassaru.
If you manage to pull yourself away from that bathroom, the rear of the property offers beauty to the max. A lovely area for sitting just above the sand, but through your own private hidden walkway, behind the foliage is the pristine white sands and never-ending views across the Indian Ocean. I can still recall that moment of discovery and I’ll never forget it. Have you ever seen anything quite like it? I know I hadn’t.
Once settled in we took a short walk north of the island from our room to one of the islands many eateries. A total of five restaurants and two bars mean you’ll never get bored. We took lunch at the beautiful Chill bar. Perched over the clear waters, you can sip on cocktails and tuck into International tapas with tropical fish just a few feet below you. While this incredible bar serves up an array of delicious dishes, cocktails and mixology come into full swing here. The martini’s in particular are excellent and they’re especially more delicious when taking out the resorts indulgence dining package – meaning you can drink as many of them until you’re heart (or belly) is content.
If spending time on this island isn’t relaxing enough, head to the resort spa for some real indulgence. On top of a variety of spa treatments and daily activities such as yoga, a visit to the spa’s outdoor hydrotherapy pool is a must. Perched over the shallow lagoon it offers some of the best views of the ocean. It’s a real must when staying at Velassaru.
As soon as the sun starts to set at Velassaru, it becomes an even more magical place. The whole island is suddenly illuminated with hues of pinks, purples and oranges and the best way to see it all is with a sunset cruise. Departing at 5pm, we set off from the departure jetty on an authentic Maldivian boat, against an ever-changing backdrop of colour and serenity. During the tranquil one hour experience you can expect to nibble on canapés and sip on champagne. The perfect setting for a proposal perhaps?
Come an evening you have the opportunity to again dine in one of the resorts five restaurants. Teppanyaki over the lagoon, all you can eat decadence at Vela, Asian influenced cuisine at Turquoise, culinary perfection at Etesian or my favourite – seafood heaven at the elegant Sand Restaurant. Here you can sit dining with your feet in the sand, underneath the nights sky and twinkling stars. The prawns they serve up here are legendary and pair beautifully with a bottle of Champagne. A pre-drink at Fen Bar should also never be missed.
What luck, arriving at Velassaru on the one day of the year when the moon was at its biggest in over 60 years. Being so close to the equator we really did experience that once in a lifetime super-moon – something my camera didn’t seem to want to capture! Once the night sky turned black, the beach had been transformed – complete with a pop-up bar, bean-bag seating and a DJ well into the night. I may have drunk a few too many of those Martini’s and ended up dancing, but you’ll never know.
Fruity cocktail concoctions were served throughout the night and while it wasn’t particularly busy, the atmosphere was so infectious. That’s what I love about the Maldives. Even at full capacity you can still feel like you sometimes have the entire island all to yourself.
The beautiful silhouettes of the evening changed as the evening progressed. We even experienced a drizzle of rain on the night, which only added to the experience. Here in the Maldives the sky can be as clear as clear could be, but moments later rain can hit at any moment. When the sky is as dark as it is here you really just don’t know what weather is lurking above you!
The next morning breakfast was yet another lavish affair, served in Vela restaurant. Here you can find just about everything your stomach and eyes desire. We loved the hot cooking stations, vast selection of fruits and freshly rolled sushi.
Post-breakfast, a quick dip in the outdoor infinity pool was in order – grabbing any opportunity for a glass of bubbles. I absolutely adored this outdoor pool and with the low-sun beating down, my camera really hasn’t quite captured just how beautiful it all is. When you’re sitting in the warm waters of the pool you really do feel like you’re part of the ocean as its extends out onto the beach.
We really didn’t want to leave Velassaru and while I probably shouldn’t say this (so shhhh), we really did leave a piece of our heart here – making this a hotel we will most certainly be returning too. While we only stayed here for one night, we crammed in what was probably a weeks worth of experience and I’m forever grateful for getting the chance to visit such an exceptional hotel. Service with a smile, an indulgence-dining package of dreams, rooms to die for and experiences which creates memories. Oh and did I mention this is an adults only hotel? If you’re thinking about a trip the Maldives then I couldn’t recommend this hotel enough. It’s truly world-class
Kuoni (01306 747008 or www.kuoni.co.uk) offers 7 nights with breakfast at the 5-star Velassaru, Maldives in a Deluxe Bungalow, including flights with Sri Lankan Airlines from Heathrow and group transfers in resort. Prices for May 2017 are from £1,458 per person, based on two adults sharing. To book please quote: IO0001
NB: I was invited to review and my stay was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.