Whenever I travel across the Maldives, I never expect to be surprised by what the Maldive isles have to offer. I say to myself it’s the same coral beaches, the same vegetation and the same underwater beauty. Yet, every time, I’m awestruck by its uniqueness and Kanuhura Maldives also happened to be one exceptional surprise.
I arrived at Kanuhura late in the afternoon and was immediately intrigued by the massive beach of the island as the seaplane jetted downwards. Greeted by warm smiles, I was welcomed to the Boduberu Lounge, a picturesque boutique lounge on the jetty itself – the perfect spot to enjoy a light refresher until my personal butler took care of my check-in details.
After settling in at my beach suite, I quickly headed off on my bicycle (yes, each guest is provided one) to Iru- the sunset beach lounge- ideally located on the massive beachfront that took my breath away while landing on the island.
The beach, unlike most resorts, is distinctively massive, stretching far into the horizon, making it the perfect spot of those sunset “snaps” or Instagram posts to make loved-ones back home melt with envy. The beach is adorned with hammocks, beach cushions and teepees, and I could start to make out a common theme, one that would be reinstated more distinctively as the trip progressed.
As the sun set, we sat down inside one of the teepees for some pre-dinner drinks and entrees, mesmerized by the infinite colour-palette of nature, unfolding before us as the sun went down. The bartender had prepared a special mocktail for us, one infused with pandan leaves, which I had my doubts at first, but found it way more delicious than it sounds.
Dinner was set at Veli—the fusion restaurant at the end of the island, named after a mythical tree in Maldivian folklore. Under the starlit sky, Veli offers a modern take on fusion cuisine from the many rich cultures that influenced Maldivian lifestyle. From the tastes of Japan to the Indian sub-continent and Singapore, the all-in-one restaurant fuses these dishes to present an unforgettable culinary journey.
And unforgettable it was, not only for the implacable meal prepared specially for us, but I was able to share a special memory with our host, who for the first time in her life saw the moon rise from the ocean’s horizon! Our dinner conversation spanned many a topic but from the moment I pointed the first rays of the moon shine across the horizon, she sat there speechless in awe of the beautiful sight.
The second day at the resort was set to be a busy day.
While having a quick breakfast at A Mano, the all-day dining restaurant, the General Manager spotted us and invited us for a brief coffee before we headed off on our day’s adventures. At the Cowry Bar, he sat down to explain the concept of Kanuhura, one that reflects the “Kanuhura Spirit” of creating and selling experiences to create memories that would last a lifetime.
After a US$42 million renovation, the General Manager was confident that Kanuhura is set to regain its leading position in the stellar world of luxury Maldivian resorts with its focus on barefoot luxury and gypset style.
With that in mind, we set off to on the “adventure” to explore the island, well not that adventurous but the tour of the resort, built diligently to evoke your senses surely did feel like a luxurious adventure.
Kanuhura comprises of 80 units of villas and suites that range from beach bungalows, beach villas, water villas that come with and without pools, as well as grand beach pool villas, retreat pool villas to the larger retreat family beach pool villas and sanctuary pool villa.
Often when visiting resorts, my worst nightmare as a writer is being on a tropical island setting with no proper workspace, and one the best things about Kanuhura was the amazing work desk at the retreat beach pool villas, that had all the ingredients of the perfect work desk, to just kick back and jot away your thoughts in the serene setting of a Maldivian island.
As the tour continues, the initial impression of the beautiful design elements all came together to make perfect sense of the “gypset” theme as they liked to call it. In Moorish overtones, the resort effortlessly blends it design motifs in the perfectly curated colours of the ocean, to the reds and greens of the lush vegetation as well as the bright yellow of Kanuhura’s own orchid breed, the Dendrobium Kanuhura.
After a busy morning, next on my itinerary was to a little self-pampering at the newly built Kokaa Wellness Retreat & Spa; a one-of-a-kind spa complex seen nowhere in the Maldives. The spa itself is a whole story of its own, so give a read of the rejuvenating spa experience my colleague had at the Kokaa Spa.
And I’ll tell you this though, I came out of the spa with a newfound appreciation for seaweed.
Next on our schedule was a sunset dolphin cruise, and the moment I saw it on the itinerary, I dreaded it as I’m always sceptical about the probability of spotting sea creatures in the vast Maldivian oceans. With my camera in hand, I boarded the cruise and my scepticism soon vanished with the tales of the local crew on board, excellent in their service, and more importantly, thorough in their knowledge of the atoll’s marine environment.
Seafaring is the way of life for Maldivians and for generations, this practice has made Maldivians men of the seas, completely aware of the unpredictable, yet foreseeable nature of life at sea. And it was no daunting task for us to arrive exactly at the spots where schools of bottlenose dolphins put on a show as if they were anticipating our arrival.
Our next day at Kanuhura was set up to for my writing schedule, to interview one of the staff for our careers section. In the true sense of the Kanuhura hospitality, I was surprised that this small interview was set up as a private picnic at the adjoining Masleggihuraa, one of the three islands that complete the Kanuhura experience.
Heading off to the island on the regular boats that leave from the Iru Beach Lounge, I arrived with Abdul, to a private piece of heaven, intricately laid out to create a that Kanuhura sense of the gypset luxury, all tucked into an island of your own. It was a fitting place to have the interview, as Abdul’s story, is also one that not only exemplifies the purest sense of Maldivian but is also a story of humility, sacrifice and courage.
A fitting end to an amazing journey, uplifted and inspired boarded the boat back to Kanuhura, to head back, completely immersed in moments that created the Kanuhura experience one that would, not to be a cliché but, would truly be cherished for a lifetime.