With daydream-like natural scenery as the setting for a range of incredible accommodation, adrenaline-inducing activities and hospitality excellence, Anantara Kihavah Maldives has it all.
There’s a certain kind of prestige and allure that is associated with the Maldives. Utter the two words that represent some thousand-something islands, and you’ll no doubt think of a celebrity and honeymoon-approved holiday destination, promising pure privacy and picturesque shores.
Mix that with the global reputation of Anantara – the hotel group born in 2001 that lives by the philosophy that “life is a journey” and which emphasises the natural beauty and cultural history of whichever location it builds upon – and a long weekend of unbeatable bliss is certainly on the cards.
After a four hour flight from Dubai, a seaplane from Male and a quick boat ride, we see the island that is exclusively the home of Anantara getting bigger as we get closer, the sound of bongo drums simultaneously growing louder.
Alighting from the cascading waters, we’re greeted by warm smiles as we make our way onto the island, shortly followed up by a fresh coconut baring the hydration we need after tackling the various modes of transport to reach our paradise. After being introduced to our villa hosts for our stay, we look ahead to the sandy paths, green canopies and beach villas and back to the clear blue waters and white sands assured we’ll be happy in our new home for the weekend.
From dining with a difference to bucket list activities, here’s how Anantara Kihavah Maldives seduces the first-time vacationers into loyal friends of the stunning resort.
When we arrive at the beach villas – the overwater villas being the other key option – we feel smug with the accommodation we’ve been granted. Walking through arched wooden doors that tower above us into our private villa, we’re charmed by the terrace area with sunloungers immersed into a private pool, a hanging swing big enough for two to laze upon and of course a table and chairs to talk the evening away in. A path that leads directly to the beach in a matter of seconds is the only break from the green encave that promises privacy for the villa’s inhabitants – that’s excluding minuscule geckos that scurry across the grounds by day and bats that fly overhead by night.
Inside, there’s everything you would expect from a luxury resort and then some – from an irresistibly comfy bed to coffee machines to keep you going and a TV with Bluetooth technology for playing your favourite songs. A shelf lined with novels and travel books and a sketchpad (should the surrounding beauty spark your creative side) is a nice extra touch, too.
Walking past the boudoir for all our getting-ready needs, the back of the villa opens onto a breathtaking outside bathroom. There’s a waterfall shower for a whole new kind of clean feeling and a doubled-sized tub surrounded by water for a soak like no other. Safe to say we’ll be more than catered for in our abode during our stay.
While for foodies, the cuisine alone at Anantara Kihavah Maldives is enough to be excited by (fresh seafood devotees, rejoice!) it’s the experience of dining at the many different restaurants the resort has to offer that takes it from satisfying to spectacular.
Living up to its reputation as a destination for newlywed couples, we tuck in on the night of our arrival to a private candlelit meal on the beach – the Dine By Design experience. As if the crashing waves and starlight sky (an unfamiliar sight for any city-dweller) wasn’t enough, the heart-shaped tables enclosed by a sand-made sofa and candle lanterns hanging from branches should ensure the ambience is suitably romantic.
Expect the crème de la crème with steak and lobster, while more earthy alternatives are easily available for those with plant-based preferences – and this is the consensus across all dining establishments within the resort.
Lunch the following day is served at SEA – the underwater restaurant that has guests from neighbouring islands making the journey over. We’re lucky enough to see the larger sea life such as baby sharks and turtles make an appearance as we dine, each one peacefully gliding past the colourful schools of fish that surround the circular restaurant, reversing the roles of your average fishbowl. We learn about the resort’s conservation efforts as we enjoy the menu made up of both Maldivian and international cuisine.
We’re also lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the menu that will be on offer at Spice, another restaurant due to open on the island in Autumn 2019. Indian curries and Thai salads are full of flavour and blended together perfectly for a meal bursting with exotic tastes.
Breakfast each day is served at Plates, which is home to a generous buffet of traditional morning meals from across the world and a selection of fresh-to-order options too. Mornings with strong coffee, freshly squeezed juices and sweet pastries overlooking crystal blue waters is a fine way to start the day in our books.
While these aren’t our only meals consumed, some of our other experiences are more about the activity than the food itself…
Doesn’t an island that takes approximately 20 minutes to walk around get, well, boring after a few days? This is exactly where you might underestimate Anantara Kihavah Maldives.
Whether incorporating it into your daily meals or taking out to the waters to seek adventure, there’s a long list of ways to fill your time so that its speeds by almost too fast.
Starsign followers and physics enthusiasts, ensure you book in for a meal at SKY. We embark on a private stargazing meal of an evening and as we tuck into our savoury options, we lean back to look into the night’s sky and learn about our solar system and beyond thanks to the expert astrologist talking us through the burning balls of fire lightyears away.
Before we’re granted our sweet treats, we look into one of the world’s largest telescopes to see stars and the moon like never before. A truly unforgettable experience.
And if stars are your thing, then an evening at the Cinema Under The Stars is a must too. Pick from a considerable selection of films as you enjoy snacks and sliders in the great outdoors.
By day, activities include snorkelling in the clear waters amongst the exotic sea life, heading out into deeper territories to swim with manta rays, getting onto the waters with jet skis, paddleboards or kayaks and looking down upon the glistening blue from a parasail as you feel the wind in your hair.
For more land-based activities for the sea shy, book in for art classes on the beach with the island’s resident artist, use your assigned villa bike to cycle the island and stop by the organic garden or start the day with aerial yoga on the beach to align yourself with the island’s zen.
We’re not sure about you, but it’s hardly a holiday without a spa to unwind within, in our opinion. Thankfully, this gorgeous resort is far from lacking.
And whether you head to the spa itself for a treatment (like we do) or opt for an in-room option (like we also do) you’re in for a, well, treat. While the traditional spa facilities are limited (for now, major expansion is on the way) to a steam room, it’s the little details in the gorgeous relaxation hub that wins us over; the organic herb display ready to be used as beauty ingredients, the rest area overlooking the ocean and the glass feature underneath the massage beds so guests can gaze out onto the corals as they feel their stresses melt away.
On-site, we try the ELEMIS Superfood Pro-Radiance to energise and detoxify our dull, stressed city skin and the DNA testing. The latter involves scanning a few strands of hair to receive a full report on areas of improvement in our health, diet and lifestyle at large in a matter of 20 minutes – from minerals that we’re lacking to foods that we’re better off avoiding.
And then there are the in-room treatments. After returning from our stargazing meal, our heads are further propelled into the clouds as we enjoy an hour-long Signature Massage in the great outdoors before moving into the rose-petal adorned bathtub that is filled with milky coconut essence and lit by candlelight. The perfect way to ensure an unbeatable night’s sleep.
Upon arriving at Anantara Kihavah Maldives, we’re told some of the guests plan to come for a week or so, and end up staying at the resort for months on end. While we weren’t sure how we’d hold up for more than a week on a tiny island upon arrival, we have greater sympathy (and frankly jealously) for those month-long dwellers by the time we woefully leave.
See more at anantara.com/en/kihavah-maldives.