Hotel Review: Huvafen Fushi in The Maldives
You’ve seen the Instagram snaps and glossy photos in high-end magazines. But you probably had the same response as me: ‘That’s been photoshopped. There’s no way the sea is that blue.’ But I can honestly tell you; the sea really is that blue at Huvafen Fushi.
This spectacular private island resort in the heart of The Maldives has played host to glamorous weddings, romantic honeymoons, luxury holidays and even the occasional celebrity getaway. It’s easy to see why the rich and famous are drawn to this tropical retreat.
We arrived at Male airport to be greeted by two members of staff, friendly faces following a long journey and little sleep. They escorted us to the private (air conditioned, thank goodness, the humidity in The Maldives is intense!) lounge and offered us refreshing towels – something you come to expect at any significant moment following a few days here – and cold drinks.
While our boat trip to Huvafen Fushi was rather rocky – the tail-end of a typhoon having battered the islands for two weeks prior to our arrival and the sea still feeling very choppy – the hotel was a calm and relaxing haven underneath a fierce sky of dark clouds.
While the sun may not have been shining, the sapphire water shimmered and sparkled in the light trying to break its way through the haze as our speedboat drifted towards the jetty and the waiting arrival party. We were met by a large group of smiles – our welcoming party – and refreshing fruit cocktails before being whisked off on a golf buggy to our beautiful beach villa.
The circumference of the whole island is just 900m but the resort has everything you could possibly need for a luxurious, five-star break: three restaurants, a bar, gym and yoga pavilion, dive and water sports centre, and the world’s only underwater spa!
I’ve been lucky enough to visit some beautiful hotels and stunning destinations around the world. But this place is special. It’s impossible to see where the tranquil infinity pool ends and the ocean begins, or where the horizon sees the sea meet the cloudless sky. This is a resort that’s classic and refined, without losing any of the luxury and indulgence its clientele as become accustomed to.
Marhabaa (‘welcome’) to Huvafen Fushi
We spent our first two nights in a sprawling beach bungalow. The mammoth villa was tucked at the end of a meandering, palm-lined pathway off of the main thoroughfare. With views from the front out across the deck and plunge pool number one (yes, there are two!) onto the beach and out to sea, there’s no better view to wake up to.
Step out of the huge bedroom, pass the fully-stocked bar and into the bathroom and you’re faced with another surprise: the most awe-inspiring bathroom you’ll ever inhabit. The beautiful, open-air room blends seamlessly into a lush, tropical private garden with (yes, you guessed it!) a second plunge pool and floating day bed.
The walled garden also hides an outdoor waterfall shower for the most spectacular morning wake-up call. With the sun high in the sky and the Mercury rising there’s no better place to settle with a good book and a cool drink than cocooned in our own secret garden.
Just when I thought I’d never stay in a better hotel room in my life – we moved to an ocean villa for our final night. Wow! The wooden chalet stands on stilts, jutting out of the water, and is bigger than most British family homes. The four-poster bed takes centre stage at the heart of this grand suite with a living room and bar off in one direction and a luxurious bathroom in the other.
As if the splashing and wallowing sounds of the water aren’t enough of a reminder of where you are, the suite seeks to constantly prompt you; from the glass-bottomed living room giving a mischievous peek to the fish zipping around underneath your feet, to the titanic Jacuzzi bath with views out-stretched across the atoll, to the enticing plunge infinity pool which blends seamlessly into the waters beyond. Slip off the edge of the deck and you’re soon in the refreshing water below swimming with the fish.
The island is an explosion of vivid colours – both on land and underwater. The mesmerising, azure waters lap gently against the golden sands of the beaches, which border lush green copses of palm trees with flourishes of pretty flowers. But the real magic of The Maldives doesn’t emerge until you dip your head below the surface of the water and get a glimpse into life under the sea; the coral is teaming with life from rainbow-coloured reef fish to shadowy sharks stealthing the shoals.
Huvafen takes care of its reef – its main attraction – with an in-house marine biologist. And staff want guests to experience the beauty underwater with guided snorkelling trips and diving lessons on offer for all. Just a few metres off the shoreline we were soon submerged under the resort’s fish restaurant and joining the fish and sharks circling the lobster pot.
We followed the edge of the reef and, in just an hour, saw hundreds of species of fish in every colour as well as black tip sharks, white tip sharks and nurse sharks.
The island’s clever design and finish means that, while everything is squeezed onto a fairly small outcrop of sand, you never feel packed in and the whole island experience feels very private and intimate.
The island boasts a choice of restaurants. A la carte menus are available from the island’s main restaurant Celsius, which serves breakfast and dinner, while for something a little different, guests can head to over-water Japanese seafood eatery Feeling Koi – where I highly recommend the sushi tasting platter and locally-prepared lobster.
For a casual lunch, diners can head to beachside bistro Forno for delicious pizzas baked in front of your eyes in the authentic pizza oven. And for a healthy, revitalizing lunch, Raw Café (located above the spa) provides delicious uncooked snacks, salads and incredible smoothies. For something a bit stronger, Umbar can produce any cocktail creation while, below the bar, Vivum – a wine cellar and private dining venue 8m below sea level – offers more than 6,000 bottles of wine from the affordable to the high-priced.
And if none of that takes your fancy, then concierge can quickly whip up a private dining experience – such as the poolside tepenyaki treat or a romantic, private dinner on the beach – or organise room service. Butlers – ‘thakuru’ in the native tongue – provide 24-hour concierge and can arrange anything their guests desire from special dining requirements.
Our butler Nazeeh was friendly, professional and incredibly obliging; nothing was too much to ask. From ferrying us around the island to catering each menu specifically to our needs (I’m vegetarian and my husband can’t eat pink fish), he was always impeccably polite and punctual.
When you wake up in paradise there’s really only one thing to worry about; where to swim today! With a pool and day bed in the secret garden, a plunge pool on the private deck, plus your own intimate stretch of beach there’s more than enough to choose from. And that’s before you’ve even set foot out of your own personal space and headed off to one of the many beaches around the island or ventured to the stunning infinity pool.
I can confidently say the pool is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The sun-drenched decking is lined by comfy sun-loungers and, before you’ve even kicked off your flip flops, the attentive staff are by your side with a tray of nibbles, iced water, cooling face towels and refreshing spray. Rays of sun bounce off the serenely still infinity pool which blends perfectly into the sea beyond. The odd ripple swells across the surface as the island’s resident herons glide in to bathe in the warm water.
If you’re not feeling relaxed after a morning by the pool then it’s time to head to Pearl Spa – a collection of thatched, stilted villas seemingly floating above the water. It’s home to the world’s only underwater spa – and the most magical spot on the island. This really is the place to live out your fantasy: a dreamy massage with your loved one under the water.
The spa has a full, varied menu of treatments and treats with different location options from over-water rooms with glass floors offering a sneak peek into the water or, for something extra special, you could take the staircase down into the realm below with panoramic reef views and, as you relax into a 60-minute massage, you can watch the fish dart and dance past and the occasional ray gliding effortlessly by.
If you prefer a bit more action then there’s plenty to do on this small but compact island. The dive centre boasts a selection of water activities while there are also lots of excursion options to fill longer visits. And the resort has its own selection of deluxe speedboats and charming, authentic dhonis – traditional Maldivian fishing boats – which can be hired for a romantic night at sea or a breath-taking sunset cruise.
While Sunday nights welcome a local band for an evening of live music and cocktails, and there are other evening entertainment options throughout the week including wine tasting in the wine cellar. If you’re looking for the best of the best then Huvafen Fushi is the place for you, and everything on offer on this paradise island is five-star.
Shucria Huvafen Fushi – it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. One that anybody looking for their own slice of paradise should tick off their bucket list (if only for the lifetime supply of Instagram images it will create!) Huvafen Fushi – which means ‘dream island’ in Maldivian – deserves its name.
It’s the perfect resort for living out your fantasy; all about indulgence and opulence. And with the resort’s slogan: ‘A waking dream’, you can see why people spend thousands of dollars for the privilege of staying on this island. It really is a dream come true.
Accommodation starts from US$1100++ per room per night, based on two adults sharing a Beach Bungalow with Pool including breakfast. For further information and reservations visit huvafenfushi.com or call +960 66 44 222. Huvafen Fushi is open to over 16s only.