Amid a sea of luxury resorts, this far-flung paradise is well worth the extra travel time for its jungle-clad seclusion, pristine reef and ardour for amore.
As I zip to Hideaway Resort & Spa by speedboat in the rosy light of dusk, I feel incredibly far from home. At a one-hour domestic flight and 30-minute speedboat ride from Malé, there are certainly easier resorts to get to. But this is no bad thing: I’m in the market for a complete escape from reality, and a remote, jungle-covered island, far from the busier Malé Atolls, is where I feel my peace of mind may be hiding.
I’m fairly sure my jaw drops most unbecomingly as the door is opened to my Deluxe Water Villa with Pool, but Muson, my personal butler, is much too gracious to comment. At 190sqm, this place is HUGE. An upside of the resort being larger (1.5km from end to end) and more remote than many of the Maldivian islands is that the villas are roomy and spaced out, meaning privacy is ensured. To the left of the entrance is a master bedroom, and to the right, a generous bathroom with a twin vanity, all with floor-to-ceiling views over the lagoon. And oh hello, jetted spa bath: you and I will become acquainted very soon, right after I’ve unpacked in my walk-in wardrobe. An outdoor deck is home to a sunken infinity pool – the type you can actually do laps in, rather than just a plunge pool – with spa jets and an in-built bench. Can I just live here forever please? (If your budget can stretch to it, The Signature Collection villas, the resort’s ultra-luxurious accommodation category, are nothing short of exquisite. Think marble floors, opulent Middle Eastern fretwork, jewel-toned velvet furnishings and a hammam-style bathroom with a jacuzzi tub that looks more like a five-star spa than a private residence).
I tear myself away to explore the island by bike. It quickly becomes clear why this resort was awarded the Maldives’ Leading Honeymoon Resort in the World Travel Awards 2023. Heart-shaped stakes in the ground mark wedding dates and special anniversaries; a bridal boutique glitters with princess dresses; two-person love seats sway beside the ocean and the floral displays of yesterday’s wedding ceremony linger on the beach.
There are those who hanker for the Maldives’ delicious remoteness, and those who get itchy feet at the mere thought of lazing on a beach for a week. This resort caters to both. A sports complex offers a newly equipped fitness centre, two tennis courts, an astro turf soccer pitch, mini golf course and a golf simulator that’s one of the best in the world (all barely noticeable behind the leafiness of the jungle).
The Dhonakulhi house reef, one of the finest and least crowded in the Maldives, is just 10-30 metres offshore, ideal for snorkelling (use of equipment is complimentary). Once you get a glimpse of this underwater world, you may well be tempted to go the whole hog with PADI-certified diving, also available onsite. Still hungry for more? Try catamaran sailing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing, kayaking, sunset dolphin safaris, night snorkelling, sunrise Dhoni cruises or fishing.
Talking of hungry, like any other Maldivian resort, it pays to go all-inclusive, as the cost of importing ingredients and supplies makes the prices per dinner high. Refreshingly though here, the resort grows a selection of around 20 fresh ingredients onsite, including watermelons, zucchinis and chillis, minimising the need for importation and its associated environmental impact.
The main buffet restaurant, Matheefaru, offers that quintessential, toes-in-the-sand Maldives experience. It’s the buzziest of the resort’s eateries (breakfast and dinner is served daily here in the half-board and all-inclusive packages), offering familiar international dishes and local specialties across different theme nights.
Of the several a la carte restaurants, Samsara offers the most magical setting of them all. An overwater deck is set with candlelit tables beneath the stars, while Middle Eastern-inspired interior is scented with tantalising wafts from the sizzling teppanyaki grill. What to choose from the Asian fusion menu? From sushi, dim sum, curries and spiced seafood, I settle on an indecently rich butter chicken followed by pistachio and rose-scented kulfi, which will live forever in my mind, rent free.
As a cocktail aficionado I’m delighted to find the list is extensive, especially the mocktail range, which showcases a level of inventiveness not usually found in the softer section. Let me tell you, in the humidity, there’s nothing more refreshing than a zingy virgin mojito packed with fresh mint leaves, crushed ice and a dash of coconut for an added exotic twist, as recommended to me by the staff.
This is the real highlight of the resort: the service is welcoming and pre-emptive, yet unobtrusive. After getting caught in the rain while cycling, I’m rescued and driven back to my villa by buggy, my bike quietly delivered back to my front door. At every touchpoint I’m welcomed with a warmth that is genuine, leaving me feeling that Hideaway is, indeed, my home-away-from-home: and I can’t wait to cross the threshold once more.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
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