Privacy is paramount for high-spending travellers and those who organise it right benefit. When Blackstone bought three Maldives resorts from Bill Heinecke they were obviously prepared to invest more to increase value of their assets – which are, by the way, connected, by boat and bridges.
They quickly closed one of the resorts, ANANTARA VELI, for ten months for upgrading. The key-count, 50 villas total, including six Beach Villas, would remain the same. but all the Beach Villas and six of the over-waters were knocked down and rebuilt anew, which elevated them in size and facilities, and value.
304 is a Beach Villa, one bedroom with big rear terrace and garden surrounded by two-metre tall greenery – except, that is, for a metre-wide opening to the beach, shown above. Look straight on and you see the beach and the ocean, but because of the depth of the greenery even the slightest slant means you cannot see a thing. Swim in the pool, to the left of the garden, or soak in the gorgeous tub in the bathroom and you cannot see the beach and no-one out there, in the wide wide world of the almost-white beach, can get even a hint of your sylph-like bod swimming or soaking. Now that, dear reader (and developer) is well thought-out privacy.
This is an adult-only resort, so no prying kids anyway. Paradoxically the entire campus exudes privacy but at the same time the public areas are remarkably compact and open. All single-storey, they seem to flow into one another and it is sometimes a little difficult to identify which terrace belongs to what, and anyway signage is deliberately minimal. Identify the breakfast venue by the fact it’s the only place at 8 a.m. which has people sitting there. The compactness probably over-rides the need for signage as you invariably see someone, anywhere, in a couple of minutes. The size also means you can walk from any of the Beach Villas in one ten-minute circle, clockwise passing herb garden and outdoor games, the spa and gym, breakfast venue, boutique, lunch venue and bar, and Japanese restaurant (which last week became temporarily an Indian event space, for a 60-person 50th wedding anniversary). Carry on walking, past a love-seat hammock, and you get back to your villa.
And YET you feel so private. It’s full house but perhaps all the villas are so welcoming everyone else is staying put. That’s one of the many magical Maldives features. Where ARE all the people? Design does play a big part in this amazing art of seclusion.