There is a set format for luxury level resorts in the Maldives. Villas are part of communities that include restaurants, sports and medical facilities and, hidden from the public eye, substantial living quarters for the large numbers of staff. All these areas are connected by flattened-sand roads, and, says the gal, there are invariably some ‘highways’ as well as tiny ‘lanes’. Imagine the logistics of running such a place. At Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru, in Baa Atoll, room service has electric buggies but housekeeping operates by tricycle, as above. The gal, by the way, had her own two-wheeler, an idiosyncratic back-pedal-braking city bike from California. Having your initials, in wood blocks, prevents theft, although frankly it is often quicker, and decidedly less hazardous, to walk.
At luxury level, every guest who has flown to The Maldives at great expense wants a private pool. I loved villa 213 as its pool was completely secluded, though I could easily get to the beach – I was only eight minutes’ walk from the 24/7 gym, and ten minutes’ from breakfast. Eating options here include an incongruous blood-red Armenian-Lebanese restaurant built over the subtle azure of the fish-studded water, and an all-day Café Landaa, that cleverly has an air-conditioned area so breakfast dairy products (which include whole Camembert and Roblochon) can be kept cool, while fruits, hot dishes and the live cooking station are outside. You can also breakfast, but à la carte, at Blu, a divine Italian restaurant, all whites and blues to go with the waters beneath.
I dined there, with Four Seasons’ GM and regional VP Armando Kraenzlin and his charming Mexican deputy, Ivan Giles. As we exclaimed at new chef Ciro d’Amico’s crudo selection, and tasty tuna – which not surprisingly went brilliantly with Gaja’s Ca’Marcanda Promis 2015 – we spoke about increased customer demand for wellness. It’s no surprise that those with money want to make the best of life, and this includes nutrition as well as fitness and yoga. The hotel partners with Suyasa yoga centre outside Bangalore, and as well as planning three- or other short-stay retreats, it offers such visiting therapists as Sabino Manzulli, who all this February is hosting hour-long assessments of your body, and suggesting emotional release, plus the harmonising of mind, body and spirit.
Personally I harmonised myself with pre-dawn workouts and swims, and then a tour of the Marine Biology centre. This is absolutely brilliant. The seven people who work here are certainly busy, nurturing clownfish and seahorses from conception through to release, about 18 months later – see a tour of the educational centre. I could have spent hours in here, learning, but I also wanted to see the turtle rehabilitation baths. Each of the seven patients has its own bath, to prevent squabbles breaking out. The males are mostly fed twice a day on a selection of fish but Marion, recovering from a fin amputation as a result of being caught in a fishing net, will only eat lobster. Of course a luxury hotel never says No… AND NOW SEE FIRST MY VILLA AND THEN THE MARINE BIOLOGY CENTRE