Splashing out (and about) in the Maldives

by rwicks

At the luxurious Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives, water is everywhere. From stilted villas, plunge pools and an underwater spa to stingray feeding times and snorkelling in the lagoon, it's hard to avoid

The skies are so blue here, you can barely differentiate the water from the distant horizon. We took a weekend away from the world and flew the four hours from Dubai to Male, to stay at the super-luxe Huvafen Fushi resort.

Located on its own lagoon, on a tiny island in the North Male Atoll chain, Huvafen Fushi offers several types of accommodation. We could have done a Kate Moss and opted for the multi-bedroomed luxury lagoon villa, but we settled for life on land instead of over water on stilts, staying in a deluxe beach villa. Never again will a hotel room satisfy. This jam-packed beauty came equipped with enough gadgets to open our own branch of Dixons. We especially loved the surround-sound Bose indoor/outdoor music system, complete with an iPod (pre-loaded with all sorts of sexy sounds).

An outdoor tub with nifty backrests meant we could soak away our worries to the sounds of birdsong, or drop from the padded double daybed with a glass of champers to our private plunge pool. If Frette linen and designer furniture (including specials from Frank Gehry) are your thing, such novelties won’t escape your eyes – unless you’ve got them shut, lounging in a pile of cushions on the front deck, listening to the ocean.

Taste sensations

Breakfast is included, so your morning will undoubtedly begin at Huvafen’s signature restaurant, Celsius. It’s a laid-back dining room, complete with sandy floor, which branches out across the lagoon. Plan your day doing nothing as the smiling waiter blends you fresh fruit smoothies, whips you up an incredible eggs Benedict, or brings you scrumptious home-made yoghurts and cereals. For lunch, Fogliani’s on the beach serves pizza or tasty fresh fish specials, while at dinner time you shouldn’t miss Salt – a restaurant for gourmet cuisine that comes in twisty, twirly portions looking more like art projects than items to be eaten and enjoyed.

Swigging and stingrays

This being one of the smallest resorts in the Maldives, you won’t find any raucous nightclubs here, but the nightly wine tasting in the cellar offers a great excuse to get chatting with other guests. We continued our talks with another couple in the Umbar upstairs for the nightly half-price cocktail hour. Take a few minutes, or skip a few drinks, to head to the shore and watch the stingray feeding. Every night at 6.30 without fail, these giant, wild creatures swim up for their hand-fed fishy feast, clamouring on their feeder like eager puppy dogs. Amazing stuff. Take an extra memory card.

Spoil yourself rotten

If reading your book as the barman brings you bottles of Corona and unprompted “re-hydrating” smoothies isn’t soothing enough, book yourself a session in the world's first underwater spa, featuring a window to the oceanic underworld. Treatments are more expensive in this room than in the others, but the staff all have magic fingers so a rub or scrub down here will be something to remember – despite the fact that you will be face-down, so unable to view the sea life. You can of course go snorkelling around the lagoon, too – not recommended if it’s windy. The brightly coloured fish are abundant round the many clusters of coral. We even saw baby black-tip sharks swimming feet away from the shoreline.

The bottom line

Bungalows cost from US$880 a night, not including the 10 per cent service charge (this is added to absolutely everything – partly to save the hassle of tipping staff). Flights from Dubai to Male cost from AED3,500, flying direct with Emirates.