The welcome at any resort is what puts guests, who are invariably multi-nighters, in the right mood to get the most out of their stay. In the case of the Maldives, after long flights to Male, and then waits for seaplanes, in some cases, arrivals can be pretty exhausted. Fortunately one of the islands’ more established luxury resorts, the now-independent Huvafen Fushi, is only 20 minutes’ by the property’s own speedboat. The gal was met immediately post-customs, taken for five minutes to the resort’s own lounge (enough time to access connectivity and send off an article to London and Santiago) and it was a case of straight into the boat. At the private-island resort. it was a five minute buggy-ride to over-water villa 43, conveniently closest to the mainland, and personal butler Nine-One opened the door.
The villa, all 150 sq m of it, including outdoor two-level deck with dining for four, and a 3×3 metre blue tile plunge pool, plus step ladder into the shallow water below, was friendly-luxury – see a video, below. I could even find how to manage the blinds electronically. The refreshment area had a Smeg-like Fisher&Peykal fridge, with Bollinger, the house Champagne, plus Moon Dog Old Mate and three other craft beers, masses of Alain Milliat juices, an Italian rosé and 750 ml Wild Rock Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. On top, I had 750ml (Jean Guyon La Demoiselle de By 2014 Médoc) and 375ml (Antinori Tignanello 2013) red wines, plus bottles of Hennessy, Johnnie Walker Black, Belvedere, Monkey 47, Pyrat rum and Patron tequila – also a Nespresso machine with 36 capsules, DeLonghi kettle with 12 Revolution teas. I judged, correctly, that resort GM Jean-Christophe Nager – from the capital of Gruyère, Fribourg – came up through ‘F&B’. He is also into fashion. That night was the launch of a week-long pop-up boutique from Paris bespoke courturier Ryuzo Nakata, who trained with Ungaro.
At the Nakata-san introductory cocktail-on-the-beach, with free-flow Bollinger, forever, it seemed, I met some fascinating guests at this 43-villa resort. A couple who own four care homes in Yorkshire were making their second trip here, to escape the English winter and catch up on weeks’ worth of English newspapers. A young Beijing couple chose Hufaven Fushi for their honeymoon simply because of a review by a Chinese journalist. I was then called away for a memorable Twelfth Night Japanese dinner at Feeling Koi, overwater, outdoors, eating superb sushi as a long-blonde belly danger gyrated within hair’s breadth – I was sorry not to have spent more time with two other cocktail guests. hormone specialist Dave Catudal and his wife Dela, a breathing specialist who also has long blonde hair, but only on the left side of her head as her right side is completely shaved. Never mind, the Catudals inspire me, after what was to be an outstanding night’s sleep thanks to an earlier hour-long massage that seemed to have stopped jetlag in its tracks, to trek along to the 24/7 gym as the sun came up.
On my way back to my really comfortable home I heard low but happy noises from the tennis court. There, some of the 220-strong staff team, who of course live on the island, were playing football (workout for them, just as workout for me). Showered, thanks to lots of hot water and Bottega Veneta toiletries, I was ready to go. Breakfast in Celsius can be outside, inside but feet-in-sand or, as in my case, working WiFi with my feet on a solid base. After superb yoghurt, papaya, and coconut bread, I was ready to go. Next time I come to this luxury resort there will be lots of youngsters around: now adult-only, it is becoming eight years up, from April. NOW EXPERIENCE THE BOAT LEAVING THE AIRPORT, AND THEN SEE VILLA #43