Kate Morfoot, leading travel writer and founder of LoveToEatToTravel.com, spends time at Reethi Faru, an luxury eco-resort in the Maldives.
The Maldives are made up of an archipelago of 1,192 islands set in 26 natural atolls so expect to have to travel to get to your resort either by speedboat, a seaplane or a charter flight. To get to Reethi Faru, I took a 20-minute domestic flight from mainland Male to Dharavandhoo with Flyme and from there a 40-minute speed boat ride where you are welcomed by happy staff who kindly gave me a traditional Maldivian necklace.
Reethi Faru Resort is a newly opened resort located on the island of Filaidhoo in Raa Atoll. It has a wonderful choice of accommodation including 20 garden villas, deluxe beach villas some with Jacuzzis and pools and deluxe water villas and suites. Reethi was designed to utilize and co-exist with the natural surroundings.
It is a stunning tropical eco-resort with a clear and determined focus on sustainability and nurturing its precious natural environment that bans plastic straws, bottles and bags. It’s hard to believe the resort has only been open for 18 months, but great care was given to building around the trees and nature that existed also taking care not to disturb the underwater world as well as the natural landscape.
With that in mind, their vision has been to create a resort, leading the way in sustainability while combining the highest levels of attention to creating the place to holiday for fun, romance, seclusion and privacy.
I stayed in a luxurious water villa and enjoyed very much waking up to the view of the Indian Ocean. It was beautifully appointed and spacious with walls decorated with traditional Maldivian artwork. The king size bed was placed overlooking the view to the sea, also you have a choice of a large bath, an indoor or outdoor shower. The mini bar is stocked daily with drinks.
The outdoor space has two decks, one shady area with sunbeds and another level nearer the sea for sunbathing. Sitting out on the sun deck watching the sunset was something I never get bored with. My neighbours spotted a shoal of dolphin from their water villa, a memory to treasure from their honeymoon they will never forget.
Reethi Faru prides itself on being a guardian of the island and a leader in sustainability. With the urgent need to care for our environment, the Maldives is under severe threat by global warming. In the event that seawater levels will rise due to the warming of the atmosphere, these atolls that are at no more than about two meters above sea level will be most vulnerable.
The mean altitude above sea level is 1.5 meters, the lowest in the world, the highest point at Vilingili island on Addu atoll is only 2.4 meters above sea level. Saying no to plastic is one positive thing, however, Reethi Faru Resort goes many steps further and will pave the way by setting a leading example for more resorts to do the same.
It has the latest Photovoltaic panel technology (1 Megawatt) harnessing sunlight which gives Reethi Faru up to 80% of its power. There’s load sharing with three generators for the other 20%. Amazingly, these generators have technology to harness waste heat to heat water for the entire hotel complex, kitchens, staff quarters and all facilities, water is piped through a buried insulated pipe network to ensure maximum efficiency. All food waste is processed through an onsite Biogas plant with four hoppers to create biogas which is used for the kitchens to cook with.
There’s an onsite hydroponics system designed to grow herbs, salads and edibles leaves with minimal environmental impact as well a mushroom farm. They have a plant nursery that grows flowers, indigenous plants and edibles with an irrigation system that uses clean wastewater. There’s also a desalination and bottling plant powered by solar energy providing water for the entire island, also the on-site water carbonation.
Some plants thrive on living walls on many buildings established there to improve biodiversity and air quality in addition to enhancing the greenery contributing to the look and feel of the resort.
Their resident marine biologist is developing a comprehensive reef conservation and development scheme aimed at increasing coral diversity. Smrutica works closely with projects including the Olive Ridley Project for turtle conservation ‘Parley for the Oceans,’ the Manta Trust Marine Conservation and local islands such as Meedhoo where she helps to educate school children of the importance of the quality of the environment.
Not only leaders for their environmental activity, but also for their activities, Reethi Faru has been awarded prizes for its water sports centre and is one of the top ten in Asia. They have an incredible set up offering so much including dolphin and sunset safaris, island visits, new sea bobs, fly-high jet packs, jet skiing, parasailing, tornado sofa and banana experiences, paddle boarding and sailing.
Enquiring how jet skiing fit with their environment philosophy, I was informed that the jet skis are the best in the market for low fuel emissions and they are only used over certain areas of the sea away from the coral reefs.
Scuba diving in the Maldives is one of the best locations in the world to see sea turtles, sharks and parrot fish. It’s also known as a Manta hot spot.
Sea Explorer runs the PADI dive centre, I experienced some excellent dive sites at Aarah Bodo Thila, Lhohi Island and Saddle. All scuba diving centres require the correct travel insurance, I always use insureandgo.com which includes scuba diving risks on the policy.
I dived capturing the magic of underwater ‘mountains,’ with walls covered with hard coral and surfaces of soft coral that was teeming with clown fish. My dive guide took me to discover caves housing sleeping nurse sharks and sting rays. The dive guides were brilliant at pointing out the small species such as the amazing camouflaged stone fish, the Nudibranch, the shrimps and snapping moray eels. Large shoals of tuna swam by, also parrot fish, trigger fish, a napoleon and shoals of blue lined snapper.
The prize eye capture for me was a magical manta gliding majestically towards me. I was mesmerised by two mobula rays circling a small reef, truly incredible. The house reef is also exciting for snorkelling, if you are lucky you will encounter the resident Hawksbill sea turtle named Blanka.
There are daily guided snorkelling tours that are worth joining to find the best location for the coral and abundance of fish. In parts the reef has sadly succumbed to bleaching, but new artificial coral nurseries have been planted to help with regeneration.
This boutique resort plays host to visitors who want seclusion. The island although at 98% occupancy never feels overly busy. The infinity pool has space for sunbathing, and there’s secluded areas on the wonderful sandy beach. The thatched bars along the beach are convenient to pop into for drinks and snacks, also at the main bar where you will find shade and evening entertainment.
There’s plenty of dining options where you are spoilt for choice between the six restaurants and bars. The resort’s main restaurant ‘Vakaru’ serves buffet-style meals, or you can opt for other choices depending on your appetite. For example the over-water restaurant offers 24 hr dining or you can opt for a la carte dining in ‘Dhiyavaru’ and the romantic open-air ‘Reethi Grill’ restaurant lit up by candles on the beach.
For those not on the in-inclusive option, the restaurant menus are reasonable priced, this in my experience is unusual for islands in the Maldives which are highly priced due to having to import most goods. I particularly liked the Maldivian food corner where you can try dishes including Maldivian tuna curry and traditional roshi flat bread.
Set amid the coconut groves, the Coconut Spa has nine treatment rooms there is a steam room, a sauna and a jacuzzi. It’s the perfect place to cast away any lingering work stress and relax with heaps of options for facials and massages all expertly delivered by professional therapists.
Reethi Faru resort captures the essence of a luxury eco tropical hideaway. It has so much to offer the active holidaymaker as well as those of us who prefer a relaxing and romantic high-end beach holiday with picture-perfect sandy white beaches draped with palm trees set against the crystal clear emerald coloured ocean.
Address: Filaidhoo, Maldives
Phone: +960 400-4000
How to get there
Parking with Airport Parking and Hotels – visit aph.com.
Kate flew direct from London Gatwick to Velana International Airport with British Airways.
Book Reethi Faru for their best price at reethifaru.com and a domestic flight via Flyme and a speedboat to the resort will be arranged by the resort. Prices start at USD 3632.00 for 7 nights on an all-inclusive package in a Deluxe Beach Villa (during low season May to Sep).
PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the world’s largest and leading diver training organization with more than 6,600 dive centers and resorts and over 137,000 professional members worldwide.
PADI Travel is an online travel resource for divers and adventurers alike, offering information and online booking for more than 300 dive destinations around the world.
Travellers will find that InsureandGo’s lead-in budget policy includes 50 activities and sports as standard. An InsureandGo annual worldwide (excluding USA, Canada, Mexico and Caribbean) budget policy starts from £40.99. For more information or to purchase a policy, visit:insureandgo.com.