One for the ultimate Maldivian Hotels HOT list, the Coco Palm Bodu Hithi is one of the best resorts of the archipelago. Everything from the accommodation to the beaches, the restaurants and service will blow you away. Elegant, not understated but not pretentious either, the Coco Palm Bodu Hithi will make you feel pampered without even leaving your villa. The highlight of the resort? Perhaps the jaw-dropping beach villas with a huge circular bath tub set in the centre of the room or perhaps the villas' private lap pools? Or perhaps the glass edged infinity-edged pool? Or eating under a blanket of stars over the ocean? The Coco Palm has very simply got it just right.
The Maldives consist of over a thousand islands arranged into what is commonly-known as atolls, or groups of islands, although the word 'atoll' actually denotes an island made of coral surrounded by a lagoon. Located in the North Malé Atoll, the Coco Palm Bodu Hithi is a 45 minute speedboat ride away from the airport.
Around 200 islands of the archipelago are inhabited (recorded at the time of our visit in April 2010). Each hotel has its own island (unless you stay in the capital or Hulhule, the airport island). Among the 200 or so inhabited islands, some are inhabited by locals only - hotels and locals rarely mix unless in a work environment within a hotel structure. By this, we mean that there are no local villages which share a hotel's island and vice versa. Tourism and local life are kept separate. This means that there are no cultural activities on hotel islands, although most hotels tend to organise excursions to neighbouring local islands for the day.
Upon arrival at the airport, everything may seem very confusing, with people milling around all over the place looking lost - you will notice a row of hotel kiosks, and a row of Maldivian Air Taxi or Trans Maldivian Airline kiosks behind that. When you come out of the arrival doors, look out for your host who should be waving a Coco Palm Bodu Hithi placard (be aware that there is also a Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu). Your host will then take you to the jetty to board the speedboat to the island.
Open in 2007, the hotel is now part of the Small Leading Hotels of the World label and without doubt deserves the title. The resort is impeccable in every way. Its sister hotel, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu in the Baa Atoll, is equally beautiful.
The island is perfect for a relaxing stroll as it is very green. Although it is not very big, it takes about 30 minutes at strolling pace to circle the entire island. As you walk around the resort you do catch yourself wondering if you are alone on the island or if there are any other guests staying here as it is so quiet. A definite advantage indeed if you are looking to get away from it all. Coco Palm Bodu Hithi is indeed a veritable peace haven of straight forward luxury. As you approach the island by speedboat, you are greeted by the vibrant blue lagoon and blindingly white sands, palm trees swaying in the breeze - well, the whole shebang. You actually find yourself hesitating about whether or not to step into this postcard picture as you wonder whether or not the picture is real.
The main activity unravels around the cluster of buildings by the reception which is nestled within the lush vegetation. The reception, with its simple and elegant décor along with its sand floors, provide an enticing first impression. Around the corner, perched high up over the lagoon, is the jaw-dropping Latitude bar which really comes alive at night. With a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean, the night sky and of the glass-edged infinity pool with a floor dotted with fibre optic lamps, it is really enough to make you faint with contentment. Without doubt, one of the best spots in the archipelago to watch the sun set, Latitude is a storming success. Above the bar is Altitude; the all-glass wine room appears to hang over the water which is a great venue for exploring your oenology skills. Further along the beautiful decking around the pool is the more casual Air restaurant serving fusion cuisine either as a buffet or ŕ la carte. Around the corner from the water villas, the Aqua sea food restaurant is something not to miss either during your stay here. At night, dressed in candle light and a duvet of stars overhead, is when Aqua really comes alive. Another dining option is Breeze, which is the hotel's BBQ grill along the beach; another serene location for dining where you can burry your feet in the sand as the gentle waves lick the beach. Last but not least you also have the opportunity to try Tsuki, the hotel's Japanese restaurant which looks very exciting in the selection of dishes on offer - from an array of sushi and rolls to beautifully cooked sea food, you are bound to find something to tickle your taste buds!
Further away from the cluster of activity, on a peer of its own, is the Coco Spa, which looks great. The staff is friendly and a range of refreshments and treatments are on offer. One not to miss ! In the way of facilities there is also an over-water gym just before the entrance to the spa, as well as an entertainment block back up towards reception, where guests can watch television, play pool or make the most of the hotel library.
The most exclusive accommodation is found within the Escape wing, situated on its own pier perching over the lagoon and secluded over the water away from the main hotel activity. The resort within a resort consists of the Escape villas and residences as well as its own restaurant, Stars. The wing looks stunning, especially at sunset.
The Coco Palm Bodu Hithi has stunning accommodations and its beach villas win hands down in comparison to the other hotels we have seen. In total there are 100 rooms divided up into four categories: Beach villa, Water villa, Escape villa and Escape Residence. As you enter the beach villa, we guarantee that you will end up jumping on the bed in front of your private lap pool before the realisation that this gorgeous gem is all yours for the duration of your stay sets in! Each villa is nestled in a private clearing among lush thick mangrove along the beach. As you enter you are greeted by a large round bath tub sitting on a bed of pebbles in the centre of the room. To the left is the open plan bedroom leading to a private terrace with a lap pool adorned with a water feature on either side, complimented with trees and plants as well as a large day bed. Back inside the room, past the his and hers sinks, to the right of the room is the living area on a lower platform leading through the sliding French doors onto a patio with a second day bed and right out onto the beach.
The amenities are all own brand Coco Palm refills and a subtle touch we loved, was the fresh clean smell of every single towel which makes you feel pampered without even stepping out of your villa. These villas are without a doubt the best villas we have come across in the archipelago - so well-appointed, so luxurious yet simple, so practical, there is just no regret about not staying in a water villa at Bodu Hithi!
The water accommodation is also very stylish but it lacks that cosy ambience that hits you upon entering the beach villas. The products here are all of the luxurious British Molton Brown brand. The villas are more spacious with a dazzling view of the water. The water villas are also very well laid out. However, the jetty is long and it is impractical to spend your days walking up and down the jetty to and from the beach and other facilities.
All rooms have something that we were delighted by: a CD of traditional Maldivian music, which gives an authentic edge to the surroundings. Otherwise all rooms are fully equipped with the expected mod-cons such as a large flat screen television, CD/DVD player, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities - and the crockery here is worth noting as it is lovely. The rooms are well decorated with natural materials and fabrics. Abstract art hanging on the walls add a little colour to the otherwise fairly neutral tones. The rooms have all been finished to a high standard which cannot be said for all the other resorts in the Maldives.
For a hotel of this size it has a surprising variety of restaurants. The selection includes Aqua, serving sea food on a beautiful deck above the lagoon, Breeze the grill restaurant along the beach, Air, the main restaurant serving fusion cuisine either as a buffet or ŕ la carte, Tsuki, the must-try Japanese gourmet restaurant, and Stars, the Escape wing restaurant reserved for guests staying in the Escape villas and residences. The hotel also has two bars: Latitude, which really comes alive at sunset and Altitude, the wine room above Latitude.
Complete with fine white sand, a pristine turquoise lagoon, swaying palm trees and mangrove, the Coco Palm Bodu Hithi beach is nothing short of what you would expect from the Maldives. Snorkelling is best to the right of the water villas (not to be confused with the Escape wing). The long stretch of sand can be a little narrow in some places, but because the beach accommodation is well spread out, the beach retains its intimacy. The hotel has a diving and water sports centre which organises various excursions.
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