The Thai-owned Anantara Veli is a hotel of very good value where all the accommodation is over water. Its sister hotel, Anantara Dhigu, is linked to Veli via a shuttle boat; the more exclusive Naladhu is linked to Veli via a jetty but the access is restricted to Naladhu guests. Veli has a good range of facilities, especially in the way of restaurants; there are six restaurants in total, across the three resorts, which can be accessed by all guests staying at one of the Anantara Resorts. Classed as a top end hotel for the south Malé Atoll, Veli is a good choice for families looking for a no fuss resort although it is far from being a budget hotel!
The Maldives consists 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. Veli is located in the South Malé Atoll alongside its sister hotel, Dhigu and Naladhu, the more exclusive of Anantara resorts. The island of Bodu Huraa is reached via a 40 speedboat ride from Malé airport.
Around 200 islands of the archipelago are inhabited (recorded at the time of our visit in April 2010). Each hotel is set on its own island (unless you stay in the capital or Hulhule, the airport island). Among the 200 or so inhabited islands, few 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 on the same island as a hotel 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 the kiosks. When you come out at the arrival doors, look out for your host who should be waving an Anantara Resort placard. Go with him/her. Your host will then take you to the speedboat jetty where you will board a boat for 40 minutes before reaching the hotel.
The Thai-owned Anantara Group has three hotels in the Maldives; all three are linked to one another via a jetty/shuttle boat. Anantara Dhigu is Veli's sister hotel and guests can use the facilities at both hotels. However, the stunning Naladhu hotel is kept separate to create as much intimacy as possible.
Anantara Dhigu is where most of the action takes place as most of the resort facilities are found here; this makes the island where Veli is situated a little calmer. You can cross over from Dhigu to Veli and vice versa via shuttle boat. All the accommodation at Veli is over water and these rooms are the least expensive of the three resorts. The hotel has its own infinity-edged pool which is a lovely spot to watch the sun set. It also has its own spa and gym so that guests do not have to travel between resorts all the time. The island is blessed with wonderful iridescent waters and thick vegetation which helps to break up the hotel's development. It can feel a little crowded in some areas due to the proximity of the buildings.
All accommodation is over water at Anantara Veli. In total there are 50 villas split into two categories, Standard Over-water bungalow and Deluxe Water Bungalow; the main difference lies in the size. The standard bungalow measures 62m˛ and the deluxe come at a comfortable 92m˛. All bungalows have flat screen televisions, Wi-Fi, CD/DVD/MP3 player and complimentary tea and coffee making facilities. The Deluxe villas are equipped with spacious open-air bathrooms and infinity-edged tubs along a tiered sun-deck. The baths, big enough for two, is the main feature of the room. The villas all look very cosy in an unpretentious style using natural materials with bright touches of orange.
Although the water villas are very nicely decorated, there is little intimacy here as guests get a full view of the villa decks whilst on the shuttle boat between Dhigu and Veli.
Spread over Dhigu and Veli, there are six restaurants to choose from. The jewel in the crown is Baan Huraa, the Thai restaurant which is situated on a jetty linking Veli to Naladhu. Set over water, the round restaurant is an ideal setting for a special occasion (open for lunch and dinner). There is also 73 Degrees situated on the Veli lagoon and serves a large spread of fresh fruit and delicious pastries at breakfast and fresh seafood at dinner (open for breakfast and dinner). For something a bit different and colourful in the way of décor, the bright yellow 'Geckos' is a good choice. The menu comprises of Japanese-Italian fusion which is fairly original - if you ever craved sushi and pizza, Geckos will make your dream come true! For a more casual experience, there is the Fushi Café over at Dhigu which serves American breakfasts and the like (open for breakfast and dinner). For lunch and dinner guests can sample Fuddan's Fusion Grill options of seafood. Upstairs guests will find Terrazzo, the Italian restaurant which serves some truly authentic and delicious filling options that are far from bland pizza and Carbonara! Both Fuddan and Terrazzo are located on Dhigu Island in a huge triangular glass and wood structure and boast wonderful views of the ocean. You will also find the hotel cellar here is an all-glass room off theTerrazzo restaurant. In terms of bars, Veli has a pool bar as does Dhigu.
The island, like all the islands, suffers from sand erosion so the beaches are receding but are in pretty good shape compared to other resorts. There are some lovely spots all around the island with fine bright white sand and waters so bright that you will be mesmerised by its iridescence. The beach is blessed with lovely thick mangrove and palm trees creating private alcoves for those wishing to sunbathe in semi privacy.
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