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Maldives: Landaa Giraavaru, an island paradise with a house-reef

The Four Seasons Resort on the Maldives island of Landaa Giraavaru is completely different in feeling from its sister Four Seasons on the tiny, intimate Kuda Huraa. The 18-hectare Landaa Giraavaru or “LG” – as its staff likes to call it – is comparatively huge, allowing lots of space for privacy. Cement-washed architecture blends with the ubiquitous Maldivian thatch, and is punctuated by the brilliant blue of the traditional Maldivian front doors.

Our beach villa was an enormous affair; I could live in the bathroom, which had a tub clearly designed for at least a ménage à trois. French doors (to continue the theme) gave onto an extra outdoor living area, 12-metre pool and shady path to the beach. You could stroll across the beach, slide into the Indian Ocean and immerse yourself in the wonders of the house-reef just metres from the shore – even before breakfast.


Ocean-friendly


Next to the dive centre is a marine research centre with a fish-breeding laboratory, where a team of British marine biologists, supported by Four Seasons and Save our Seas, plays its part in protecting and caring for the Maldivian atolls. Abbey is the corals expert; Guy leads a variety of projects, including a sea turtle breeding project, and the cutting-edge Maldivian Manta Ray Project, which has already identified and tagged more than 1,500 individual manta rays in a mission to learn more about this relatively unknown beast.

Disappointingly, wind and choppy seas on our first day put paid to the planned turtle-spotting safari. Next day, however, the wind dropped and we joined a dolphin safari. Before the bliss of being joined by at least a dozen spinner dolphins – which is by no means a sure thing – we were lucky to see two huge manta rays passing not far from the boat.

Health-friendly


At the leafy and expansive Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat, Ayurvedic physician Dr Avinash Tiwari holds court. My consultation with him revealed my dosha type – pitta – which determined the ingredients to be used in the two-hour Elakkizhi treatment that followed. In a palatial semi-outdoor pavilion, two sweet, friendly women worked in perfect tandem to massage me with herbal powders and spices that had been cooked in herbal oils and packed in bundles. It was sublime.

Similar synergy is found in the relationship between Dr Avinash and Chef Khalid, who work together to devise tailored diets for guests, for anything from two to 28 days.

That’s just one aspect of the cuisine, however. As you’d expect, there’s a good variety of restaurants: Blu, chi-chi Italian gloriously situated right on the beach; Al Barakat restaurant and bar, where you can puff on shisha and sample authentic Arabian fare; and Café Landaa, which serves both Eastern and Western dishes and has a sushi and teppanyaki bar.

You might not want to leave your exquisite villa, though. And if that’s the case, they’ll bring it all to you, and serve it hot.

Points to Note

All meals, as well as diving and other excursions, are included in the rate for The Explorer. At the resorts, the price of food and drinks is high. Breakfast should be included in your rate, but expect to pay about US$100 per person per meal, lunch or dinner, and more than that if you’re having more than one or two drinks. What’s more, it is illegal to take alcohol into the Maldives. The x-ray machine will spot it and it will be confiscated.

We were lucky enough to do it all – Kuda Huraa, The Explorer and Landaa Giraavaru – and fly back to Malé airport on a Trans Maldivian Airway seaplane (US$395 per person for one leg) – a fun experience! But you could go to Kuda Huraa alone. The convenient four-hour evening flight on SIA to Malé departs at 8.30pm, and a short boat-ride gets you to the resort soon after midnight.

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