Sunsets anywhere are touch points, and the gal will especially remember that hour, as above, on the last night of her trip to the Maldives. This was at COMO Maalifushi, which has many unique features. First, this is the only luxury resort in Thaa Atoll, a 500 sq mile area of some 60 islands. Next, it is one of the few reached by Maldivian-run Island Aviation, much more reliable than the near-monopoly TMA seaplane network. And it is the only resort, surely, that is run by a history graduate turned investment banker, Pietro Addis, whose current stage in life is running an extremely agreeable hotel (amazingly, he gets up to farewell all departing guests, even if they leave at sunrise, 5.30 am)
One way you might judge a Maldivian resort is by the intensity of the farewell waves of your GM as you leave. Both Renato Chizzola at Le Cheval Blanc and, here Pietro Addis, wave furiously, with both arms, and they wave and wave until you are completely out of sight – interestingly, they are both half Italian, which is perhaps a partial explanation. Pietro Addis runs this 65-villa all-pool property which has offerings both of on-land, beach rooms as well as over-water. I was in 318, a 1,100 sq ft beauty, soft colours inside, the world’s best light switches, and a raised outdoor sala next to my 15-ft pool – see the video below.
The eight-room spa, here, is also over-water, although the yoga studio and the 24/7 gym, which seems to be lifeline of Pietro Addis as well as this fitness guru, are both on dry land. I loved the all-white spa room, with one whole wall of window looking out at endless ocean. I loved my black bike, a city type with sit-up-and-beg banana-shaped handlebars and back-pedalling brakes, and thank goodness I had all this exercise as, honestly, the food here is fantastic (and the chef, a 24-year old Aussie girl called Taylor, was not even on-island, which shows how excellent she is as a leader of her team).
Take every meal, and I had lots to choose from at this luxury hotel. Starting with breakfast at Madi (‘mantra ray’), the olive-studded sourdough, especially when toasted, is one of the world’s best wake-up tastes, as is the home-made yoghurt (and beautifully-cut fruits are stored under plastic domes and, sign of real luxury, each dome has a stand next to it to hold the dome while it is removed to take some fruit). If I were advising anyone, I would suggest lunch at the open-sided Thila Bar, for its made-to-order ceviche, following by a just-caught reef fish grilled ten feet away. At night, after a sunset cruise to watch dolphins, I would dine over-water at Tai (‘red snapper’), which my Hong Kong guide assured me would be better than any Nobu: next time I will, once again, start with local tuna sashimi and eulogistic battered oysters in the shell, with a whole Japanese eggplant, and a seriously-chilled saké in a gorgeous ceramic legless eggcup. Next time too, I will, though not after saké, opt for the post-prandial snorkelling with whale sharks and by day, think about a trip on COMO Maalifushi’s 68-footer Hatteras fishing boat, perhaps to go over half a mile away to the uninhabited Lavardhoo that, like so much in the Maldives, is owned by the Ong empire. NOW TAKE A TOUR OF VILLA 318