The jewel in the garland

NOVEMBER 2013 – The Maldives comprises a chain of over 1 000 idyllic coral atolls and islands, but there is only one that offers a pure distillation of barefoot luxury. Escape to Kanuhura for a Robinson Crusoe experience swathed in unbeatable five-star chic…

There is no better way to appreciate the ancient Sanskrit meaning of Maldives – ‘the garland of islands than on the 40-minute seaplane flight from Malé to the idyllic Lhaviyani atoll. As your plane heads north over cobalt waters, palm trees on whispers of sand wave in welcome. Hailed as one of the most secluded of the 1 190 islands that make up this idyllic tropical nation, Lhaviyani’s exclusive Kanuhura resort offers a taste of remote Robinson Crusoe living with a healthy splash of authentic island-style luxury. And splash is an apt word here on the eastern fringes of the Maldives. From the moment your seaplane touches down in a whirl of spray and taxies towards the sun-splashed wooden jetty, it’s impossible to ignore the aquamarine seas that stretch off in every direction. A cool towel is offered to wash away the dust of your travels, a welcome drink to slake your thirst and a simple greeting from the smiling staff: ‘Welcome home’. For Kanuhura, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, is most certainly a tropical home away from home. While many resorts offer anodyne staff and a sense of anonymous luxury, Kanuhura is different. Here, there’s an ethos of embracing the ebb and flow of island life; of authentic island living in five-star fashion; of rustic textures and natural colours; of letting the island charm you and the resort enfold you. That begins the moment you step into your secluded villa. With five categories of villa on offer there is something to suit every taste and pocket, from familyfriendly duplex options with direct beach access, to Water Villas where the warm Indian Ocean is just steps from your king-size bed. Whether you’re happier on shining sands or sparkling sea, each villa offers a private veranda with picture-postcard views and all the amenities you could dream of. Can’t bear to be indoors during your holiday? Relax on the private beach beds, or rinse away the salt in your outdoor shower. Want to catch up with news from home? There’s free Wi-Fi in every villa. Need a bucket of ice, or a dinner reservation made? Contact your dedicated private host who’s on hand around the clock to ensure your every wish is taken care of. Prefer to dine in the privacy of your villa? The table will be laid before you’ve had a chance to shower and change. Dining is without doubt one of the highlights of a stay on Kanuhura, with an array of restaurants offering modern Maldivian cuisine and contemporary European and international options. As a resort that prides itself on welcoming families as warmly as love-struck honeymooners, the Thin Rah buffet is a popular choice for parents creating holiday memories with their loved ones. Alongside the pool, the Olive Tree is a slight step upmarket with its range of Mediterranean dishes and pizza available at both lunch and dinner. As the sun sinks over the Laccadive Sea, start your evening with a sundowner at Handhuvaru Bar before deciding on your next move. The Veli Café is a deliciously romantic option serving up aromatic Asian Fusion cuisine under palm trees and tropical skies, while Kandu is a breathtaking addition to the galaxy of choices on Kanuhura. Seton Jehunuhura – an entirely private island just a minute’s boat ride from Kanuhura – Kandu is a decadent grill experience where linen-decked tables are laid out on the sands and the sea laps just metres from your feet. Jehunuhura is also available for candlelit private dinners on secluded shores, while during the day guests get to enjoy secluded picnics. Excursions to Jehunuhura are but one of the myriad activities that keep guests active and entertained during their stay at Kanuhura. Set on the eastern fringes of the Maldives, the resort offers some of the best diving on earth. Over 40 dive sites lie just minutes from the resort, ranging from easy dives in the sheltered shallow waters of the coral lagoon to adventurous descents that explore local shipwrecks. Advanced divers can also flirt with the edge of the outer reef: here the waters drop precipitously by over two kilometres, ensuring remarkable sightings of pelagic fish and the Maldives’ iconic Manta Rays. For non-divers, snorkelling excursions are offered to colourful reefs, with certification courses available at the topranked Sun Dive Centre. For adventures above the waves, the ever-helpful staff at the Dolphin Water Sports Centre are always on hand to assist with catamaran sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing. On dry land you won’t be short of entertainment either, with floodlit tennis and squash courts and a fully equipped fitness centre and games room. And if that all sounds far too taxing for an idyllic island like Kanuhura, escape to the serene confines of the spa. Following the ethos of sanum per aqua – health through water – this island sanctuary offers body treatments, massages, plunge pools and sauna facilities. Why not try the signature Maldivian Theyo Dhemun; a 90-minute massage of short, firm strokes using local healing oils? After an afternoon in the spa you’ll emerge as placid as the warm Indian Ocean seas lapping the perfect white sands. Sands that all but beg for you to sink your toes down deep, for Kanuhura embodies the true ideal of barefoot luxury, a paradise of island chic where every need is taken care of, every desire sated. The Maldives may be a ‘garland of islands’, but when it comes to choosing your perfect escape, there’s only one island you need to remember.

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