Have you ever arrived at a place, and within just a couple of hours felt such an affinity it feels like home from home? Even if it is so far away, and very different to anything you are used to, in your daily life? Blessed to have spent much of my career travelling the world, usually after a week or so, I am more than happy to head back to the comforts and familiarity of home, but this time it felt different… I wanted to stay.
New and glamourous resorts open every year now in the Maldives. Each one striving to be different, to be better, to offer new and exciting things, even all-inclusive premium packages luring guests in with almost unlimited champagne. And whilst some are very good – Ozen by Atmosphere as an example, others fall short. Huvafen Fushi is one of the more established resorts, and one that maybe in the past has been overlooked by those clamouring for this all-bells and whistles super-inclusive package approach. But… it has survived and thrived for a very good reason. It offers something most others can’t. Genuine, honest, welcoming, unpretentious, luxurious and tranquil bliss.
On the very first evening, myself and a few newlywed couples enjoyed a sunset cruise on a traditional Maldivian boat hosted by the resort’s fantastic general manager Jean-Christophe, his wife and operations director Inaz. So friendly, down to earth and welcoming were they that my fellow guests and I felt we’d all known each other for years instead of hours! Nothing was forced, it just felt natural and easy. And this relaxed and warm vibe continued throughout the duration of my stay. Huvafen has that very special something. You feel right at home.
A small, intimate and adults only resort, you can stroll around Huvafen in less than ¾ of an hour – having said that, it usually took me two because you cannot help but stop at every corner to take in a new and dazzling view. It features just the one long jetty, home to an array of modern, excellently appointed and furnished, roomy over-water villas, each with a very large lounge area, super-spacious bedroom and separate luxurious bathroom. Floor to ceiling frontage with doors to the outside from all rooms allows light to flood in, and the deck has two separate lower areas as well as a main raised section where the large infinity pool is. All completely private, this means you’ve places to enjoy both sun or shade whenever you want.
With uninterrupted views across the ocean, and flocks of tiny acrobatic terns and shoals of rainbow fish to watch, the hours just pass by. Especially if like me, you enjoy your private pool best with a glass of bubbly in hand. And here, it happens to be Bollinger. The pool is large and practical, with shallow ledges and steps leading you in, so you can choose how submerged you want to be – something I always appreciate as it’s much better than those flimsy feeling metal steps many pools have.
My villa seemed to be a firm favourite of the local heron gang (or should I say siege). Characterful and cheeky they are always a delight and fun to watch. These large and majestic birds skulk and scowl at the edge of your pool like some hunched and spindly character from a Dickens novel, and stay motionless until with no warning, they dive into the sea and pluck and gulp a fish for dinner in a blink of an eye.
If you can tear yourself away from your gorgeous villa, you must try the excellent and beautifully positioned spa. This one is super special as it actually has underwater treatment rooms and a relaxation area – each with views of a myriad of sea-life swimming by. Was absolute bliss relaxing after my signature massage, nibbling on healthy treats and sipping fresh ginger tea, watching all kinds of fish and even a shark.
Talking about nature – someone had mentioned I had to see the stingrays at sunset. Not quite sure what to expect, I wondered to the beach where I was amazed to spy a handful of seriously large ones – literally inches from the shore. ‘Chocolate’ and his ladies apparently have been coming every day for years for a fishy treat at tea-time from the resort’s conservationist watersport centre staff. If you are feeling brave, you can feed the rays too – but just be prepared for them to get a little over excited occasionally and flap their way up over your feet and legs and give you a soaking! A fun and wonderful experience.
Dining wise, Huvafen again excels. Not relying on flashy huge buffets to dazzle guests, the restaurants offer delicious and excellent quality cuisines – all in stunning settings. The Japanese restaurant, Feeling Koi, perched out on its own jetty is wonderful – and is a great place to enjoy a glass of champagne at sunset. The island has an absolutely incredible wine cellar called Vinum, the first to be created in the Maldives, where you can enjoy special tastings and exclusive dinners too.
Or, you can destination dine – on the beach, under the stars, or outside your own villa, as I discovered when spending the night in Huvefen’s incredible and affectionately named ‘Playpen’.
For guests wanting a truly show-stopping, super-stylish and spacious private villa/penthouse, this is truly one of the most amazing in the Maldives. Set in its own private gardens with gorgeous views and direct access to the beach, and an enormous picture-perfect pool, the Playpen offers every luxury, oodles of space, and privacy too.
Arranged on two floors, there’s a large kitchen area, complete with full champagne fridge, perfect for in-villa dining preparation, a beautifully arranged lounge, and upstairs an expansive luxurious to a fault open plan bedroom with large walk in closet, steam room, sauna, and raised whirlpool bath with views to the beach and ocean beyond. The resort will arrange truly memorable private dining experiences for you too at this villa. I was lucky enough to ‘host’ such an occasion on the beach area by the pool. It was decorated so beautifully with lanterns and candles in the trees, pavilion and shore, and we enjoyed full waiter service over several delicious courses including a table-filling array of totally delectable appetisers, together with wines of exceptional quality. F&B Director Sunny Chuang was totally charming and huge fun, and along with Chef Brandi, absolute masters of their game.
Huvafen Fushi and the wonderful management and staff there have given me memories I will cherish for always. This is a truly special resort that I would love to return to, time and time again. I fondly think of it as my cherished home from home – even if it is half the world away. Visit https://www.huvafenfushi.com for more information.