There’s a lot to like about the Maldives. A crystalline ocean bursting with tropical reef fish, blacktip sharks and enigmatic eagle rays, remote palm-fringed islands, and sand so powdery soft you can’t help but nestle your toes into it at every opportunity.
Made up of 26 atolls (clusters of islands surrounded by coral reefs) the Maldives offers the ultimate in secluded tropical luxury. You’ll find the Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the remote Gaafu Alifu Atoll – a domestic flight and speed boat are required to get there, but the long journey makes stepping onto the isolated island even more rewarding.
We arrived at night, our speedboat cutting through the ocean its blue hues now black as tar in the darkness. We disembarked and were whisked off to our villa on a golf buggy – the transport of choice at resorts across the Maldives. We rattled through the island’s interior, the air thick with humidity and the chirps, croaks and thrums of the island’s smallest residents serving as our arrival soundtrack.
There are just 50 villas at the resort (36 land villas and 14 villas suspended over the ocean). We spent four blissful nights in a Park Pool Villa, lounging on our wooden deck and making the most of our private pool.
Land villas boast indoor and outdoor bathrooms, the latter fitted with an enormous stone bath (with bath salts provided) and a rainfall shower. Toiletries are provided in glass bottles by Le Labo, the chic New York perfumery known for their personalised scents.
The 14 Park Water Villas are dotted along a wooden jetty, each one suspended over the ocean. The rooms are slightly smaller than their dry land counterparts, but all offer 180-degree views of the glassy shallows and direct access to the house reef. For the best sunset views request villa 51 – it has uninterrupted views of the horizon.
You’ll find most of the guest amenities clustered together near the main beach, including the restaurants, bar, 24-hour fitness facilities (with a yoga studio) and two swimming pools. The main pool area is designed to mirror the contrasting colours of the beach and lagoon, so expect a stone white floor and a vibrant blue infinity pool. There’s also a tranquillity pool nestled among the palms just outside the spa.
At both pools, staff are on-hand with cold bottles of water to keep you hydrated. The island is exceptionally hot thanks to its location just 55 km away from the equator, and the team have seen their fair share of burnt guests – gentle nudges to top up our sun cream were appreciated.
There are three restaurants on the island; the Dining Room, where you’ll eat the majority of your meals; the relaxed Island Grill, with tables and chairs perched on the sand; and The Drift, the resorts most exclusive restaurant which overlooks the ocean.
Four different meal plans are offered at the resort. The most comprehensive is the Premium All-Inclusive package (an add-on of USD 300 per adult per night) which includes a private beach dinner, all meals (including dinner at The Drift) and a selection of alcoholic beverages from The Bar. The Maldives is a Muslim country and alcohol is illegal outside of tourist resorts, so if you’re partial to holiday cocktails opt for an alcohol inclusive package.
The Bar overlooks the main pool and is a great spot for an evening drink before shimmying across to the Dining Room for dinner. Highlights from the menu include the vegetarian Indian Thali and the creamy coconut Maldivian Kukulhu curry.
After dinner, there wasn’t much to do, and we felt the resort missed an opportunity for evening entertainment. The Bar closed at 10 pm, which meant turning in for an early night (or a late-night dip in our pool). The islands smaller inhabitants came alive at night though, and evening walks back to our villa were often accompanied by huge fruit bats swooping overhead, their ginger bodies the size of squirrels.
You’ll find breakfast in the Dining Room, with cold items served buffet style and hot dishes ordered a la carte. We also enjoyed a Floating Breakfast (prices start from USD 50 (approx. £40) for 2 people) at our private pool, where we sipped coffee and tucked into flaky pastries whilst submerged in the water. It was a unique experience and the breakfast spread was exceptionally well presented.
The most impressive piece of architecture on the island is the huge upturned Dhoni (a traditional Maldivian fishing boat) structure, which serves as an informal guest check-in area and chill-out zone. Rumour has it that when the original owners first stepped onto the island (which later became home to the hotel), it was raining so heavily that they upturned their Dhoni for shelter. Nowadays, the replica also shelters guests from the rain, who congregate inside to pass the time with board games.
Snorkelling is a must when you’re in the Maldives and equipment is provided free of charge. A lively reef surrounds the island, and we saw parrotfish, sharks and majestic stingrays. Look out for Ben, a friendly turtle who lives on the reef.
Scuba Diving and most water-based activities are provided by on-island dive centre, Blue Journeys. Don’t miss the Turtle Quest (USD 150 per person) where you’ll help a marine biologist collect crucial population data on the species.
No holiday is complete without a trip to the spa and the resorts Vidhun spa is a must. There are five couple treatment rooms and we enjoyed a deeply relaxing Sehathu massage, a signature treatment with calming essential oils.
Sustainability and protecting the ocean is a focus at the resort. All drinking water is desalinated on the island and served in refillable glass bottles – this initiative saves approx. 100,000 plastic bottles a year. All other plastics on the island are sent to Parley, an ocean conservation charity which has a recycling centre and innovation lab in Malé (the country’s capital). The resort also supports local communities in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll and 60% of their 200 strong staff are from nearby islands.
If you’re looking for laid-back island luxury, then a stay at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa is highly recommended. It might not have the party atmosphere of some resorts, but the stunningly beautiful scenery and endless opportunities to relax make up for it.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa Park Pool Villas start from USD 808 (Approx. £656) per night
Address: North Huvadhoo, Gaafu Alifu Atoll, Maldives, 20054
Phone: +960 682 1234
The Park Hyatt Hadahaa is the second most southerly resort in the Maldives (first place goes to the Shangri-La) and getting there requires quite the trip – expect a 1-hour domestic flight and a 30-minute speed boat journey. But the additional travel time is worth it for the seclusion and abundant marine life. The hotel will arrange domestic transfers for USD 520 per adult.