More of a hideaway than a hotel, Naladhu is one of the most elegant, yet homely and unpretentious hotels you can find in the Maldives. For guests wanting to get away from it all in ultimate luxury, Naladhu's winning formula includes gorgeous accommodation that is second to none. The large open air bathroom with a pool big enough for Cleopatra to bathe in, will have your jaw hanging in awe as soon as you step inside the open-air bathroom. The island is extremely quiet and private; guests are rarely seen wandering around the mangrove. A sublime haven of peace and tranquillity, Naladhu is perfect for travellers needing to unwind and be pampered. Celebrities make up part of Naladhu's clientele, including the lovely Sadie Frost and her children.
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. Namadhu is located in the South Malé Atoll. The island is reached via a 40 minute speedboat ride from Malé airport.
Naladhu is part of the Thai-owned Anantara Group and is the third corner of the group's triangle of hotels in the South Malé Atoll. Naladhu is however marketed as a separate resort despite Naladhu guests being able to dine at Anantara Dhigu or Veli. Naladhu is a lot more exclusive and more luxurious than the other two Anantara hotels. It is therefore kept separate from the rest in order to retain as much intimacy as possible for Naladhu guests.
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 Naladhu 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.
Naladhu has few buildings and facilities. Most guests tend to stay in their beautiful villas or on the beach close to their villas, meaning that it is very easy to feel completely alone on the island; a great feeling if all you need is to get away from it all! The island is extremely peaceful; there is very little action here which slows time down so that you can relax. The villas are nestled among the wild mangrove, making them very private. Some villas face the open sea and others are situated on the beach. The only inconvenience of the villas is that for those on the beach, the neighbouring islands are visible and those facing the sea are not located in the lagoon area meaning that the sea can be a bit rough for swimming. However, the villas are definitely worth staying in despite the latter! There are few villas meaning that the beach does not get crowded. There is also a main hotel pool enclosed within layers of mangrove. Beyond the pool there is Living Room, the only bar/restaurant at Naladhu. The cosy sofas are upholstered in blue paisley printed fabric, reinforcing the calming and serene atmosphere of the island. Naladhu is linked to Veli via a jetty that passes by the beautiful Thai restaurant that has proven to be very popular with Naladhu guests. There are also a number of facilities that guests can use at neighbouring Anantara hotels, Veli and Dhigu. Naladhu has its own gym.
There are 19 private houses as well as the option to stay on the Naladhu yacht. There are two room categories houses which are exactly the same but with a different view. The Beach Houses are situated on the beach and the Ocean View Houses are situated facing the sea, as though they are floating above the water. The water here is a little rough so it is not ideal for swimming, but the sound of the waves is a real delight as you swim in your luxurious lap pool, or you relax on the large Maldivian swing looking out onto the Indian Ocean. The advantage of these villas is that you do not have a view of the neighbouring islands; you can feel completely alone on the island. Although being on the beach is very handy for a swim at any time of the day, the other hotels are visible in the distance. Either villa is a complete dream - villas with such attention to detail whilst staying cosy and functional are found at very few other hotels in the archipelago.
The villas have their own front door and hallway which is decorated with a beautiful Persian rug. The corridor turns off to the dressing room and the luxurious open air shower surrounded by vegetation. There are stepping stones set in pools of water leading to the shower area from the indoor part of the bathroom where you will find his and hers sinks, the indoor shower and toilet. The pièce de resistance is the stunning glass-rimmed lap pool adjoined to the glass bath. There are no words to describe the effect of opening the bathroom sliding doors and catching sight of the pool. We haven't seen anything like it in the Maldives.
Otherwise, the entire villa is bright and fresh - white walls, warm hard wooden floors and touches of colour evoke an instantly relaxing and soothing atmosphere. Back in the corridor and straight ahead, leads to the bedroom where you will feel right at home. White walls and crisp white high quality linen are complimented by bright cushions and other objets placed around the room. The oversized bed would pull you straight to it as soon as you walk into the room, if it weren't for the amazingly beautiful and peaceful deck waiting on the other side of the sliding doors! The views give out onto the beach or ocean. The large deck and small garden are kitted out with a large, comfortable Maldivian swing and huge day bed. The outdoor area feels extremely private and serene.
All bathroom amenities here are ofthe French l'Occitane brand ideal for hours of pampering.
Spread over neighbouring 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 the Terrazzo restaurant. In terms of bars, Veli has a pool bar as does Dhigu.
Furthmore, actually at Naladhu, there is the cosy open-air Living Room by the main pool and a number of dining options to choose from; you can ask for a dinner on the beach for two to be set up, or on a boat, or anywhere you wish. This must be booked in advance at reception.
The beach at Naladhu is, like the rest of the resort, very private and quiet despite the neighbouring hotels being visible. The lagoon is lovely although there are better places to snorkel. For all diving and water sports, guests can venture over to Dhigu where the water sports and diving centre is located to book a number of excursions.
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