MAY 2013 – With seaplane transfers, waving palms and spacious suites that all but walk on water, not many destinations scream ‘jet set’ quite like the Maldives. This necklace of paradise islands – coral atolls surrounded by impossibly blue seas – offers up some of the most stylish getaways the Indian Ocean has to offer. Yet in an archipelago overflowing with island luxury, there are few hideaways that quite match up to the remarkable Constance Halaveli.
For eyes tired from long-haul travel, the island is a balm. White coral sands fringe a whisper of land embraced by palm trees. Porters and hostesses waft by in white, and the only sound – apart from your long, deep exhale – is the waves rustling against the sand. The plane starts up and takes off, carrying away your cares. Robinson Crusoe, eat your heart out.
But the comforts of Constance Halaveli are something poor Mr Crusoe could only have dreamed of.
From the island, a boardwalk shaped like the bow of the archipelago’s traditional dhoni fishing boats stretches out for nearly a kilometre, making it the longest in the Maldives. From both sides, 57 remarkable Water Villas sprout from the gently weathered wood like the coconuts on the island’s waving palms.
Each villa offers an incredible 100 square metres of space, with a private entrance hall leading into the spacious master bedroom and expansive bathroom, both of which front onto a large private terrace. Decorated in a rich island motif, the feel is both relaxed and upmarket; warm wood echoes the sailing boats that have plied these waters for centuries, while bright splashes of aquamarine reflect the seas beyond the threshold. Wooden floors roll out onto private terraces where sun loungers and umbrellas provide shade from the warm equatorial sun. A private plunge pool sparkles here too; perhaps the ultimate pool with a view, where the waters blend with the ocean into a unending watery horizon. From the deck, steps lead straight into the ocean, allowing you to waft from sea to plunge pool to invigorating shower without leaving the privacy of your Villa.
The Villas may stand with their toes in the Indian Ocean but, typical of the Constance style and attention to detail, they come with no shortage of modern conveniences. Each is air-conditioned, with complimentary Wi-Fi and a satellite television system. Alongside the bar fridge, a private wine cooler is stocked with the likes of Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve and wines from South Africa’s acclaimed Waterford estate for you to toast your arrival in paradise.
The luxury continues in a similar vein in the Beach Villas, which offer different layouts for both families and couples seeking privacy. Private plunge pools and outside showers, coupled with a private access to the island’s pristine beach, see these land-based Villas perennially popular with repeat visitors to Constance Halaveli. In a private corner of the island, the Presidential Beach Villa luxuriates over 700 square metres, offering an unbeatable taste of island exclusivity. As opulent as the accommodation may be, you may well find yourself spending just as much time away from your Villa as ensconced within it. While island holidays can certainly be about lazing in the sun from sunrise to sunset, they most certainly don’t have to be. Constance Halaveli offers an impressive array of activities to tempt and entertain you throughout the day.
Perhaps most iconic is the scuba diving to be had in and around the resort. The reefs, walls and passes of the archipelago are famous across the globe for offering world-class diving, not least for the manta rays that congregate here. As you’d expect, the dive centre at Halaveli is slick and professional, with state- of-the-art equipment and engaging, knowledgeable dive masters.
If you’re not a diver, sailing cruises, dolphin safaris, visits to local villages and traditional fishing are all on offer, alongside a range of complimentary activities that include windsurfing, sailing and kayaking. The expansive resort pool is just metres from the beach, offering panoramic ocean views from the line of sun loungers.
On dry land there are plenty of options too, including a full-size tennis court – Roger Federer chose to holiday and train here – beach volleyball and a fully equipped gymnasium complete with personal trainer. A few steps from the gym is the wellequipped Kuda Club that can take care of young islanders while their parents enjoy some much needed R&R. Open for children from four to 11 years of age, the kids’ club offers entertaining and stimulating activities both indoors and out, with the highly trained team of supervisors helping young travellers discover island delights that range from building sand castles on the beach to mapping the tropical stars.
And you’ll want to schedule in some ‘me-time’ on Halaveli: the stylish Le Spa de Constance offers both double and single treatment rooms, each with stellar sea views. Alongside traditional massage and facial treatments utilising bespoke products from Valmont, there are dedicated facilities for both Thai massage and Ayurvedic treatments. A steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi complete the opportunities for blissful relaxation. Healthy indulgence extends to the remarkable bars and restaurants that are fanned out across Halaveli.
The informal Jahaz restaurant and bar is the spot for splendid buffet breakfasts, while come lunchtime you’ll find an exciting à la carte menu of Asianinspired dishes. A few steps away on the beachfront, the intimate Meeru beach grill offers open-air seafood barbecues under tropical stars.
Perhaps the most striking restaurant, however, hovers above the crystalclear waters off the wooden boardwalk. Beneath the pillars holding up Jing restaurant and bar, black-tipped reef sharks hunt in the shallows as laid-back electronica provides the soundtrack for what must surely be the sexiest sundowner spot on the planet.
While the cocktails are impressive, it’s vinophiles that will fi nd themselves in heaven: Halaveli boasts the largest wine collection in the Maldives, with more than 15 000 bottles from 800 labels split between two cellars, and a team of sommeliers on hand to help you select the perfect vintage.
The modern-Asian styling of the bar blends into the adjoining restaurant, where a team of chefs fuse Asian fl avours with local produce to offer an upmarket dining experience – paired, of course, with the planet’s fi nest wines – just metres from the ocean.
The sea resonates throughout your stay at Constance Halaveli; from the fresh produce on the menu to the vistas that astound you at every turn, the memorable diving to the gentle rustle of waves on land. In the far-fl ung watery wonderland of the Maldives, Halaveli is certainly a treasure worth seeking out.