As the speedboat neared through the crystal clear waters of Grand Park Kodhipparu, Maldives, I couldn’t help but notice the warm welcome party waiting for me at the pier. Smiling staff in aquamarine and white uniforms, ready to whisk me off on the seemingly wonderful journey of the resort’s very own philosophy of “loving hospitality” greeted me.
The island, not big but not small, just perfect, seemed to beg to be discovered, with massive well-designed structures placed on the waterfront. I learnt on the short buggy ride to my room that the resort had 120 idyllic beachfront and overwater villas, a state-of-the-art gym, a beach club, three excellent dining outlets and a world-class spa. And from the stories I heard, they deserved applause.
Long stretches of powdered sandy beaches were already dotted with couples and families of visitors enjoying the breezy evening. The magnificence of the islands’ natural beauty and marine life was visible from the very first drive when I spotted a small baby black-tipped reef shark playfully darting around the lagoon.
Grand Park Kodhipparu has a total of 65 villas with their own pools as well as villas with direct access to the turquoise lagoon and villas with direct access to the ocean. I was told that any of these villas were ideal for viewing a beautiful sunset or sunrise. After stepping into my overwater lagoon villa, I was left very much impressed by the design, view and amenities inside. Clearly, it was meant to speak to the heart of the traveller spending his night here. Intricately designed furniture such as the design carved wardrobe, the curtains representing a fishing net and pillows stamped with painted fish, paired with technologically advanced amenities is what led me to this conclusion.
After taking a short rest, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm any longer. So, sandals on, I started my short bout of exploration. After a short walk, I saw the well-maintained beach club that I was informed of on my way to the room. Table tennis tables, billiard boards and foosball tables were not enough for the club to satisfy its guests that it also had gaming consoles and TVs for the young gamers.
After some time, I decided to tickle my taste buds with dinner from the Edge restaurant. I was happy to learn that the restaurant provided both à la carte and buffet services for guests according to their preferences. Different sections of the serving area specialised for seafood, Indian and European cuisines led me to wonder about the quality and taste of the cuisines. I learnt from Lina Suryati, the marketing and communications manager who joined me for dinner, that Grand Park Kodhipparu had a team of highly experienced chefs led by an executive chef from Malaysia who had more than two decades of experience himself. As I sat down and judged my food, I got the answer to my previous question with one of the most scrumptious meals that left me to wonder if this was one of the best culinary experiences I will ever have.
The next day, I once again took a small tour of the resort. Visiting different parts of the resort, I was still very much impressed by the care and intricacy of the work in the designs of the rooms and parts of the resort, which, thanks to the famous Hirsch Bedner Associates, one of the most unique points about this resort. Spacious rooms designed beautifully with thoughtful amenities seemed to be the baseline for the resort.
I also visited the Firedoor fine dining restaurant. Capable of serving more than eighty guests at the same time by my estimate, I was still sure that I would be left amazed by the experience that I would have gotten if it had been open for business during my tour.
The Breeze Bar, aptly named for its breezy atmosphere and infinity pool was filled with comfortable couches and lounge chairs. The care the staff had for their customers was clearly visible as flashes of aquamarine uniforms rushing to serve customers was all I could see.
After my visits to the dining outlets, I got the chance to pop into the celebrated The Spa, and yes, it is called “The Spa”. Greeted by Wayan Juliastini, the manager, she explained to me the difference between The Spa and other spas and what makes it so special and worth to visit. A distinctive range of body and skin care treatments such as Chocolate Baths are tailored for each guest utilising natural-origin, paraben-free products. Balinese and Ayurvedic spa rituals are also among the Asian-inspired selection along with a dedicated yoga deck.
Complete with a relaxation room, soothing drinks and a stunning view, I decided that The Spa is one of the best things about the resort and truly deserves all the accolades it has received. I was informed by Wayan that it had won the Luxury Destination Spa, Luxury Spa Retreat, and Luxury Resort Spa in the Indian Ocean category of the World Luxury Spa Awards 2018.
The dive and water sports centre at the resort provides all its guests with complimentary snorkelling gear, to discover the alien world underneath the waves, but also offers more exhilarating and blood pumping activities in the form of parasailing. Never backing down from a good snorkel, I immediately signed up for a snorkelling session. My villa was perfectly positioned for snorkelling in the lagoon, and my trip showed me why you can snorkel or dive a hundred times in the Maldives and still be amazed by the underwater beauty.
A small chat with the general manager, Raffaele Solferino, made me realise that this was a resort bent on satisfying its customers and taking good care of its staff. Raffaele’s ideas on his policies on educating the staff, emphasising on attention to detail, engagement with customers, engagement with staff, integrity, teamwork, and social responsibility was indeed a pleasant one. I noticed from the staff the effects of these policies with the effort and care that they took in keeping guests happy and content. Raffaele’s vision and strong ambitions of moving up in the market were clearly visible.
As my little endeavour came to an end after three days, I finally bid goodbye to this small slice of heaven, the perfect memory of the Maldives and its paradise nature for me. A perfect story of well attentive service, contemporary designs, fine dining and an ambient atmosphere.