Today (November 26, 2014): Paradise found at Naladhu, Maldives.
Imagine paradise. Tropical island sands. Swaying palms. Endless turquoise waters. Open your eyes and you will be in Naladhu. Maldivian for “beautiful island,” the resort is very exclusive (with just 20 villas) and offers a mosaic of timeless moments on the clear waters of the Indian Ocean. This is one of the most luxurious resorts in the Maldives, a paradise destination blessed with the world’s most beautiful beaches, crystal clear blue lagoons, and incredible underwater wildlife.
In this review (more info and photos below my slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The resort is located in the South Male Atoll, a short 30 minute trip from Male International Airport by boat. This is a huge advantage as compared to some of the more isolated islands in the Maldives that can only be reached with a connecting flight on a seaplane, since those seaplane transfers not only consume more time (including waiting time at the airport) on both your arrival and departure day, but they also only operate during daylight hours.
- Upon arrival at the airport, the hotel staff will take care of your smooth and trouble-free transfer to the resort by speedboat. You can also upgrade your transfer to a luxury yacht (15.6 metre Sea Ray 480 Sedan Bridge).
- The resort is one of the flagship properties of the Thailand-based Anantara Hotel group, which is internationally recognized as a luxury hotel brand. As you may expect from a resort of this caliber, service is excellent: staff of the hotel is very discrete, friendly and always there to help you with any request you may have.
- Naladhu has 2 neighboring sister islands: Dhigu and Veli (both managed by the Anantara as well). All three islands are equally beautiful and interconnected either by bridge or 5 minute boat trip (which basically runs every few minutes). You can also travel between the small islands by swimming or kayaking (water is crystal clear and shallow in most areas). Kayaks and bicycles are scattered throughout the 3 properties with plenty of areas with sunbeds and hammocks. While Naladhu guests have access to Dhigu and Veli (and the privilege of using these resort’s facilities and restaurants), Naladhu Island itself it off-limits for those not staying there (guaranteeing complete privacy).
- Each of the resort’s 20 amazing villas & houses incorporates timeless design, idyllic views and an unmatched feeling of home. With a choice of 3 romantic villa and house types – the Beach House with Pool, the Ocean House with Pool and Ocean Pool Villa – each provides its own distinct vantage point on the island, while offering identical amenities and luxurious comforts. Every house is outfitted with WiFi, a Bose home theatre system, LCD satellite TV and in-room iPod. There is a separate dressing area with mirror and a large walk-in closet with a safe. Some of the nice touches in the closet included life jackets, mosquito/bug spray, an amenity kit (with tooth paste, tooth-brush, etc…), his and her robes and his and her flip-flops. All villas also have a minibar that is well stocked daily with free Evian water and chocolate chip cookies.
- In true style of a Maldives luxury hotel, each house provides the services of a House Master which may be considered like a butler service, there to ensure everything you wish for day and night is provided. A cell phone is provided so you can reach your House Master 24/7 anywhere on the property.
- Each villa comes with a large, private pool (35 square metre) that features ocean inspired aqua tiles. Naladhu’s pools rank amongst my my favorite private plunge pools in the world.
- The open-plan bathrooms are stunning and fit for a King and a Queen. They all come with a private steam room, an outdoor shower and a sunken tub built within the private pool.
- Food is excellent. There is only on restaurant on this particular island (The Living Room) but there are 8 more restaurants scattered over the 2 nearby Anantara islands. My favourite was undoubtedly the Baan Huraa Thai Restaurant, which not only offers the best Thai Cuisine in the Indian Ocean but also enjoys an incredible setting over the lagoon on the bridge between Naladhu and Veli. I also liked the excellent Origami Japanese restaurant, the Italian food at Terrazzo, and the modern fusion cuisine of The Living Room (with its elegant beachfront dining scene).
- Breakfast is included in the room rate and it is served in The Living Room restaurant on the island (or at your villa for an extra charge). The food is plentiful, and you receive a bread basket and fruit plate with every meal.
- Spa services are excellent and can be performed in your villa or on the beach. The spa treatments are a wee bit more expensive than what you would normally expect but again this is the Maldives, where budgets come to die!
CON & THINGS TO KNOW
Naladhu comes close to paradise (this is one of the Maldives’ most luxurious properties after all), and it is hard to find any faults. I highly recommend it, but you need to know the following to set your expectations right:
- Naladhu Island is very beautiful, but the vegetation is not as lush and the beaches are not as soft as compared to some other Maldevian islands. The white coral sand is even painful to the feet in certain locations. The good news is that the nearby Anantaru Digu Island (which can be reached with a 5 minute complimentary boat trip) has an idyllic beach with powdery white sand.
- The water of the private pools is very cold. Do not even think about taking a dip after sunset! It would be nice if Naladhu would able to heat the pools (which should not be impossible given the money the guests spend there).
- The Maldives are famous for their underwater wildlife. With its sister islands, Naladhu shares a house reef that is not nearly as spectacular as other Maldivian resorts. But you will still enjoy brilliant sightings! Lion fish, octopus, shark, eel, rays and plenty of the brightly coloured reef fish will keep you all enchanted.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 9/10
- Rooms: 10/10
- Food: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Naladhu (and/or receive many free perks).
- From time to time, Naladhu features on Jetsetter, which offers great deals (with huge savings of thousands of dollars).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
- Be sure to book a private dinner on the beach (which is incredibly romantic and will be cooked in front of you by the chef).
- The Ocean House with Pool, enjoying unobstructed views of the jewel-blue waters, is my preferred choice of accommodation. It is mesmerizing to watch the waves roll in as you bask under the sun on loungers that are set on a spacious hardwood deck extending out over the Indian Ocean.
- Naladhu does not have overwater villas in its lagoon. If an overwater villa is a must, you may prefer stay at their sister resort Dhigu or at one of the other top 10 Maldivian luxury resorts.
- Naladhu is stunningly beautiful and very exclusive, but do not forget to visit its sister resort Dhigu, which has the best beach, a jawdroppingly beautiful swimming pool, and fantastic Thai food (Baan Huraa restaurant).
- Book a package including transfers and meal plan to avoid extra costs. Half-board, with breakfast and dinner, should satisfy everyone.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best weather in the Maldives is between January and April, which also means high season (and high hotel prices). The monsoon runs from May to October, peaking in June. It is worth paying higher prices and sticking to the dry season as there is nothing to do on a rainy day except drink, eat, work out or scuba dive. Especially November and December, which are often labelled as dry season months, have been very unsettled in recent years.
HOW TO GET THERE
The resort is located a 30-minute boat trip away from Male International Airport (UVF). Check the Wikipedia page of Male International Airport for an updated list of airlines that have regularly scheduled flights to Male International Airport:
- From/via Asia: Bangkok Airways (via Bangkok), Tigerair (via Singapore), Singapore Airlines (via Singapore), Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), Air India (via Bangalore, Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram), China Eastern Airlines (via Colombo, Kunmnig), Cina Southern Airlines (via Guanghzou), Hainan Airlines (via Bejing), Korean Air (via Colombo and Seoul), Shanghai Airlines (via Shanghai), Srilankan Airlines (via Colombo), Maldivian (Chennai, Chongqing, Colombo, Dhaka, Thiruvanathapuram), Mega Maldives (via Bejing, Hong Kong, Shanghai).
- From/via Middle East: Emirates (via Dubai), Flybudai (via Dubai), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi), Oman Air (via Muscat), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul).
- From/via Europe: Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), British Airways (via London), Thompson Airways (via London), Monarch Airlines (via London), Condor (via Frankfurt), Edelweiss Air (via Zurich), Meridiana (via Rome or Milan), Neos (via Rome or Milan), Transaero Airlines (via Moscow).