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Visiting the Maldives: The Amazing Atoll

By: Jacqui Young

It’s years since we last visited the Maldives, but as we stepped off our speedboat at Amilla Fushi Beach Resort, it seemed like only yesterday.

Needless to say, we were thrilled to be arriving back in this luxurious paradise! Managed by The Small Maldives Island Co., Amilla Fushi (meaning “your island home” in the local Dhivehi language) is a truly spectacular place, located in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll – one of only 26 natural atolls in the Indian Ocean.

The resort offers a vast choice of stunningly designed modern contemporary homes, including options for every kind of traveller. In keeping with the natural environment, the Tree Houses are fabulous wooden structures rising up from the lush jungle foliage, each with its own swimming pool, which our little monkeys thought was amazing!

The Ocean Lagoon Houses and Ocean Reef Houses sit over the island’s crystal waters, while the beautiful Beach Villas are perched neatly in the soft white sand. Beach Residences, with up to eight bedrooms, have also been added to the mix for those larger parties wanting to celebrate in style or just chill and relax.
Beautiful sunsets

Whichever you choose, each house and villa is fully equipped with all the mod-cons, from Nespresso machines to fancy tea-pod machines, fully stocked minibars and snack bars, and an indoor and outdoor surround sound music system.

Opening the doors to the bathroom – which, incidentally, was nearly the size of my house – gave me complete home-interior envy; the colour scheme and the eclectic features were such a treat.

Amilla’s resort staff are wonderful. Each house runs on a katheeb concept – that is, with a butler who looks after your every need, whether it be a buggy ride to breakfast, an evening trip with the kids to see the small sharks swimming around the Reef Houses, or a trip to the resident doctor to deal with an unexpected illness. Smiling seemed second nature to all of them, and nothing was too much trouble – and yet everything was done without an intrusive feeling.

There’s no dress code on the island, which makes it all the more relaxing. The main dining area, The Bazaar, is a collection of fabulous restaurants with a linked iPad ordering system– this means that you can order from any of the restaurants regardless of where you’re sitting. Our kids loved it.

Fish and chips by the pool

The resort boasts the first “fish and chip shop” in the Maldives, with the freshest catches. There’s something for everyone, from pizzas to a wine store with nightly wine and cheese tastings, and the fine-dining restaurant Lonu, by acclaimed Aussie chef Luke Mangan. Amilla even has a general store where you can buy beautiful sandwiches, ice creams and fresh fruit and veg. Sit outside with a lovely coffee and listen to the tunes from the resident DJ.

The Bazaar is centred around one of the largest communal pools in the Maldives, too, so it’s an ideal setting for the most amazing cocktails and spectacular sunsets.

The resort  offers some wonderful free additions to help you enjoy your stay; a huge daily buffet breakfast is included in the cost, along with a 50-minute spa treatment, all non-motorised water-sports (including the hire of snorkelling equipment) and a 20-minute session of a motorised water-sport. Children are welcomed and loved by all; there’s a kids’ club, plus babysitting services with fun activities on offer. There’s also free laundry and WiFi. These are the kinds of extras that can really add up on a holiday, and it means that when you come to leave Amilla, there’s no nasty shock upon paying the bill.

Along with these freebies, there are all kind of activities to keep everyone busy. The Javvu Spa is superb! It has 10 wooden treatment pods, each with either a sauna or a steam room; there’s also an outdoor yoga pavilion.

Amilla’s own house reef has the renowned “Blue Hole” diving site, which is actually within snorkelling distance of the beach. Elsewhere on the island there are tennis courts, plus a resident tennis pro to help those of us who need it. The Maldivian fishing trip is one not to be missed, and you can even have your own catch grilled or baked for the following day’s lunch.

Amilla has a beautifully relaxed atmosphere with some of the most genuinely friendly and helpful staff I’ve ever encountered on a holiday. It truly was sad to leave – in fact, we had some tears on the boat back to the mainland. They really have done a great job in creating “your island home”.

Getting there

Following the four-hour flight from Singapore, it’s just a 15-minute domestic flight from Male to Dharavandhoo Airport on a Flyme plane. Flyme (flyme.mv) is the Maldivian airline operated by Villa Air, which provides scheduled flights to domestic airports. After your short flight, the Amilla speedboat will transport you from the airport on your 10-minute journey to the resort.

This article first appeared in the January 2016 issue of Expat Living. Subscription offers here.