Vibe: Boutique beach hideaway
At a glance: This tiny island hideaway of only nineteen butler-serviced villas allows for maximum privacy and personalized attention in cozy retreats.
Naladhu means “pretty little island” in Dhivehi (the native language of the Maldives), but as soon as you arrive at this resort, you realize that it’s so much more. Located on a private island thirty-five minutes by speedboat from the capital of Malé, Naladhu has just nineteen sumptuous villas—they’re divided into “oceanfront” and “beachside” categories—that were designed for lounging, indulging and ultimate privacy. There’s a main lodge and several dining areas on the island, but chances are that you won’t want to leave the solitude of your home.
The airy, whitewashed interiors of the Beach and Ocean Houses are furnished with Ceylonese colonial beds, set beneath high gabled roofs, and accentuated with Thai screens and Indian print pillows from Ralph Lauren. The colorful rugs, pillow strewn window alcove and shelves of book add to the cozy feeling that may remind you of an idyllic California beach house. The piece de résistance, though, is the open-air bathroom, where the bathtub merges with a plunge pool. The space is outfitted with a divan, cascade shower in adjacent garden, a terrazzo bathtub and an endless supply of L’Occitane bath products. In the Ocean Houses the baths face directly on to the water; and in the Beach Houses to the palms and gardens between you and the beach. You could spend many an afternoon lounging on the wooden deck, watching the ebb tide exchange parrotfish for swift-footed rock crabs on the reef.
Each house comes with a thakuru, or house master, who brings and serves meals at your villa, as well as prepares baths, plays favorite music on a programmed iPod, pre-warms your private sauna/steam or arranges spa appointments in room. He also schedules sailing, fishing and island-hopping excursions and dinner, which most take in their rooms or the main living room, but there are seven other restaurants around the lagoon at sister properties Anantara Dhigu and Anantara Veli.
Who should stay: Couples who enjoy maximum privacy and demanding types who enjoy “perfect” service.
Who should not stay: Families with children, and couples looking for an over-the-water villa.
Villas to book: All the villas are 3,200 square feet and have the same distribution, but the oceanfront houses are more private than the beachfront ones. I was in Oceanfront House No. 8 and found it to be far enough from the main lodge without feeling isolated. The decks of the beachfront houses, although hidden by shrubbery, are not completely obscured from other guests.
What to do: Activities include snorkeling, kayaking to the lagoon’s sandbar and visits to one of the seven restaurants located around the lagoon, including the one at Naladhu’s sister resort, Anantara. Your butler can also arrange scuba diving, fishing trips and excursions to nearby locals-only islands. There are hammocks on the beach under palm trees by the lagoon. Cooking classes and yoga are available upon request.
Insider tip: Ask your thakuru to prepare a romantic dinner on a nearby sandbar and book at least one private yoga class. Adventurous types will enjoy taking a seaplane to a secluded surfing break to ride the waves without another surfer in sight.
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