With each aspect perfect - from azure waters to the impeccable service provided by its staff - The Residence in Maldives makes time stand still with its natural beauty, water villas and dining experiences
By: Karishma Suri
Posted on: December 3, 2014
With each aspect perfect - from the azure waters to the impeccable service provided by its staff - The Residence in Maldives makes time stand still with its natural beauty, water villas and dining experiences.
Residing, existing, and living. While all of these three may mean the same to some, I believe that living supersedes all. What's the point of not enjoying blue waters or open skies or the chance to jump out of a moving plane? Some activities or places get your adrenaline pumping and give you a rush of life that you never knew existed, while some zip out all your stresses and rejuvenate you for a new life. My visit to The Residence, Maldives, taught me that a perfect balance of the two can be achieved.
So escape and take shelter from the norm at The Residence Maldives. A secluded retreat on Falhumaafushi, an island located in the Gaafu Alifu atoll (one of the largest and deepest atolls in the world) the only thing that you really need here is yourself. Amazing to watch, nature’s unparalleled beauty creates a mesmerising backdrop at this Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) property. A member of the esteemed group that promises and delivers the most unique experiences, it is an intoxicating mix of sophistication and island charm that will appeal to you about The Residence.
Situated about 242 miles south of Male International airport, I wasn't prepared for the unexplored beauty that lay ahead of us as we stepped into a tiny flight bound for Kooddoo airport. The domestic transfer took about an hour followed by a short speedboat ride. If you wish, a direct seaplane transfer of 90 minutes can also be arranged - at an extra cost of course. The welcome at the property's jetty is convivial as we were greeted by our names and wished a pleasant stay. Learning to expect this level of personalisation from a LHW hotel, it did feel quite nice to be welcomed into a property that was so homely.
Opened in September 2012, the property still boasts novelty, but with a confidence that a good property should possess. As you arrive, you will notice two things instantly. One, the property believes in simplicity with professionalism. Two, everything is 'straight from the heart'. They even greet you with their hand on their heart! An intuitive and discreet team of staff, many from local islands and some of the best hotels and restaurants in the world, go ahead and enjoy as they offer a friendly and professional service for which The Residence hotels are renowned. The check in at this property is effortless - hand in your passports and the team takes over as you sip on champagne and dab yourself with cool towels. Travelling around the property is simple: a buggy is your new and swanky transport.
Home is where the heart is
With that philosophy in mind, their villas are intimate and have an embracing vibe. Blanketed under infinite skies and fringed by the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, the villas stand tall and proud as we absorbed their beauty and might. We were welcomed in to our home for the next few days at The Residence by our private butler as he led us into our villa and helped with our luggage. Shrouded in balmy serenity, the property houses 94 luxurious private villas with butler service. Part of the Cenizaro Hotels group in Singapore, the brand values shine through exceptionally.
The traditional Maldivian architecture of The Residence is complemented with bespoke furnishings and eclectic local artefacts. The private over-water villas sit atop soft waters, evoking happiness. We were welcomed by a bottle of champagne and macaroons in the sitting area as we rid ourselves of any travel tiredness. Keeping the signature style of The Residence hotels in mind, the villas follow a simple and relaxed layout that is easy to adapt to during the length of your stay.
Top points to the style of the villas which are classic yet contemporary with thatched roofs, natural materials and fabrics that complement the 360 degree views while the high ceilings and glass doors ensure every villa is filled with natural light. Seeing our private swimming pool in the water villa, we could think of but one thing. Should we jump into the turquoise shaded Maldivian waters first? Or enjoy lounging in the pool? Turning back into the room, being an earth and water lover, the fusion of soothing colours, wood and marble made me a very happy person. The spacious living rooms are furnished in teak and rattan and lead onto large private decks with sun loungers - if your skin can handle the strong Maldivian sun. The king-size bed is ideally positioned to enjoy the stunning ocean views, while the bathroom has a freestanding bath, separate shower cabin and an outdoor rain shower.
For the soul, and appetite
As usual, one of the first features that I tried to explore were the dining options at the property. Attempting at providing a culinary voyage to the senses, there are three places that could satiate your taste buds. The hotel’s main restaurant, The Dining Room, is a modern, beachfront bistro with indoor and outdoor seating. Overlooking the ocean, the restaurant serves à la carte breakfast, light lunches and Asian and Indian Ocean cuisine in the evening. So your only problem here would be what to eat, as the options are endless. We had our breakfast here every morning and loved the fact that the chefs would be ever so willing to whip up anything that my heart desired - even breakfast specialties from back home!
Overlooking the beach and partially submerged in the main swimming pool is the Beach Bar - one of my favourites and with good reason. Where would we get to sort of dine in a pool? The focal point of the resort, the bar serves light dishes and island drinks during the day, and tapas and signature cocktails at night. Lending itself to the ambience, the bar adds to the perfect backdrop of the sun setting into the turquoise waters.
But topping my list of a favourite, must-visit restaurant in Maldives, Falhumaa stands tall at the end of a 230m jetty, on the edge of the reef, surrounded by the soothing sounds of the lapping waves. Meaning a solitary flower, this romantic restaurant sits under a cloud-speckled rosy sky. Inspired by the local folklore (or love story) of a spice merchant and a mermaid, it welcomes every guest with a touch of local tradition. Open for dinner and serving a selection of à la carte dishes, the emphasis is on western cuisine, seafood and grilled meats. While the bar is a relaxed setting for aperitifs and digestifs, I would strongly recommend sitting outside as you can overlook the ocean and the end of the atoll – an experience not to forget.
A memorable dining experience flavoured with the ocean breeze at this over-water venue, my companion and I loved the fact that it can only be reached via a romantic stroll down a 230 metre stretch of wooden jetty. The décor of the restaurant includes a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean, wooden floor and window walls for a marvellous view. Dimly lit chandeliers, white tablecloths, comfortable rattan chairs, and a mix of jazz music to hype your evening with, it is an amazing option to impress your loved one. Taking our seat outside, I could feel the adrenaline build as five steps away from me was the ocean, which made its presence felt as the salt in the air tickled our lips. Beginning our meal by washing our hands with rose water, a detailed conversation with the chef ensured me that being a vegetarian isn't so bad after all. The team seemed more than happy to customise the menu to my liking. A perfect blend of molecular gastronomy, scintillating tastes and spices, and the warmth of the team made the meal exceptional.
To entertain, you and me
As the countdown to your return begins, you will scamper around trying to strike off activities on your to do list. To save you that, I strongly recommend a couple of must-dos while here. First and foremost, ensure that you visit The Spa by Clarins – the first and only Clarins spa in the Maldives. A dedicated team of therapists took us on a holistic journey to total rejuvenation for the mind, body and soul. Opting for an after sun treatment (the Maldives sun can be quite strong), we left happy and relaxed. A haven of tranquility, signature treatments include heaven, peace, waves, pure and relief. Linked to the mainland by a jetty and overlooking the serene waters of the lagoon and a rainbow of coral reefs, there are six individual pavilions. Ensure that you make your appointments well in advance to avoid any disappointment with regard to their pampering.
The property also boasts a beautiful PADI 5-Star Dive Centre which is a gateway to some of the world’s most dramatic reefs. Spend a few moments like me and acquaint yourself with more than 250 species of coral and an almost untouched marine world! If diving is not so much your thing, I’d recommend at least getting your complimentary snorkeling equipment from their dive centre and lapping up some vitamin D and eye therapy outside your villa. Snorkeling around our villa proved quite fruitful as we spotted a couple of baby sharks and leopard sharks who posed for our camera.
Besides this, all non-motorised water sports are complimentary including catamarans, kayaks and windsurfing. Trips to deserted islands, local villages and island hopping as well as deep-sea fishing, knee-boarding, water skiing and jet-skiing are available at an additional cost. Besides this, we took a dolphin cruise as we set out into the seas to spot some show offs! Try and visit the two castaways islands (that are part of the property) for romantic dinners or cooking classes.
For a property that offers so much, it asks only one thing of you. That you let go. With a compelling mix of cultures and styles, the property stands proud to draw on the philosophy for which The Residence is renowned – an acute attention to detail, unforgettable moments and an intuitive, personal and impeccable service!
Coordinates: The Residence Maldives, Falhumaafushi, Gaafu Alifu Atoll, Republic of Maldives