Hurawalhi Island Resort: Lhaviyani Atollâ€™s newest Gem
As we boarded the seaplane for a scenic 40-minute ride to Lhaviyani Atoll’s newest getaway destination, and the latest jewel/pearl adorning Crown & Champa Resort family—Hurawalhi Island Resort & Spa, rest and relaxation were the only matters on my mind. I popped in on their website for a sneak peek of what I was about to experience, and although the forecast was somewhat bleak, I loved that they had the weather on their site, along with virtual tours to entice away any doubts. Now to see if reality fit the hype!
The beautiful island is a mere 400m by 165m but surrounded by a vast an inviting lagoon of turquoise and dotted with the delicate stretches of beach that Maldives is famous for. The resort offers 60 over the water Ocean Villas and 30 Beach Villas all of which face either sun rise or set views and 15 of each with its own infinity pool. As the majestic Dhandi-fulhu Dhooni (White Tailed Tropic Bird) that circle this isle will tell you, wherever you’re situated, Hurawalhi has views that just won’t quit, for miles and beyond.The weather rained in on us as Mother Nature is wont to do from time to time, but gentle summer showers can bring the refreshing zephyr you didn’t know you were wishing for when you’re being ushered into 105 square feet of luxury.
My Ocean Villa was faceted with rain showers in a spacious bathroom, interior décor featuring the gentlest azure highlights. It’s the little touches that count, the beautiful tapestries that adorn the room walls, and the lamps with paintings of the Indian Ocean from old maps. Plopping myself on comfy sofas overlooking the grandeur of the Maldivian blue horizon, I gave into the tranquil sounds of raindrops mingling with the sea. From an architectural standpoint, the entirety of the resort seemed to echo an aquatic theme, with touches of “tropical chic”. The resort gives off a distinctly rustic, old world Indiana Jones meets Bond-style glamour and chic vibes. It’s hard to put your finger on, but it works. The beach rooms echoed much of the styling of the Ocean Villas, differentiating mostly by the private beach access.
My inner bliss had to be interrupted, for drinks with the management followed by dinner at The Aquarium with the Director of Operations and my old and dear colleague, Mr Solah Mohamed. Solah guided us through the spacious over-water pavilion that features al fresco dining and flamboyant displays of Teppanyaki show cooking as well as spectacular offerings of seafood. From the delicate Tuna and Mango appetizers to the flawless Angus Rib Eye and the Oreo Cheesecake that I just couldn’t refuse – the servings were fantastic.
On the way, back to my Villa I stopped by the elegant and hip Coco Bar that’s open all night long – a decidedly adult feature, and fitting for a resort that only welcomes guests of 15 years and above. The resort also features a champagne bar that’s all class and opulence with endless, uninterrupted views of the ocean, opening for views of the most stunning sunsets, situated right at the end of the Ocean Villas. I started my morning bright and fresh the breakfast spread at the Canneli Restaurant, which had a little bit of everything, in just the right combinations. Couldn’t laze about the decks in the sun, I had a spa appointment I couldn’t miss!
Duniye Spa describes itself as blending healing traditions, mindful connections and contemporary skin care into a holistic spa concept. Walking over the lagoon to the treatment room truly makes the best of the soothing blue hues. My mind drifted to the calm resonance of Tibetan singing bowls, as Nita massaged all my tension away awoke to the gentle patter of a rain stick.
My next adventure was jumping into the ocean, something I was looking forward to after hearing nothing but the best about Lisa Bauer, Resident Marine Biologist at Hurawalhi, affiliated with Pro-divers and representing Manta Trust in Lhaviyani Atoll. Still, I had to admit, vigorous activity was not on my mind after being so completely pampered but after all, I was in Hurawalhi so what better occasion to play ball and go with the flow!When a seasoned Hotelier like Patrick De Staercke, Hurawalhi’s (former) General Manager tells you that dinner should be interesting, you know it will be. Sitting inside 5.8, the world’s largest Undersea Restaurant gives an unexpected but rather pleasant feeling of being an inverted aquarium, the fish swimming in glorious freedom as we peer into their beautiful world through a glass dome, whilst Gilmour crooned rather aptly about two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl.
Accommodating no more than eight couples, the restaurant is open for lunch as well as two dinner seatings, though my recommendation has to be for 1800 hours when the golden sun sets into the sea. Using locally sourced organic ingredients melded into exotic concoctions that draw inspiration from the east and the west, the youngest Executive Chef in the Maldives Mr. Shannon Batten, delivers a stunning dégustation, where the plating is as exquisite as the flavours presented, even amongst fierce competition by the plethora of vibrant marine creatures swimming by one’s table.
From the Diver Scallop starter course served with a pearlesque peach almond vinaigrette and delicate samphire, to the melt-in-your-mouth Red Mullet served with a marine inspired cauliflower pine nut raisin creations to the Baileys Coconut Praline creation that has ruined ordinary dessert for me, each dish is an inspired blend of flavor and flair that their sommelier pairs exquisitely with a fine selection of wine. The next morning, warm rays of sunshine ushered in the terrible news that the seaplanes were in fact in working order and that despite my silent prayers, it was time to fly back home. It was time to leave the oceanic paradise that my mermaid soul vied for. A few growing pains aside, Hurawalhi Island Resort and Spa is right on the ball when it comes to merging affordable luxury on a truly enchanting island – but for a resort that has only been open for two months, it’s a knock out of the park!