As far as holiday destinations go, the Maldives offers the archetypical paradise island experience. Its postcard-perfect visage, composed of pristine white beaches and clear turquoise waters, is evident from the airplane as we descend on the perfunctory Malé International Airport.
But it is more than just its flawless looks that keeps the rich and famous coming back. Indeed, composed of some 1,200 islands across a chain of 26 atolls, many of them either uninhabited or occupied by a single property, Maldives offers the excellent isolated retreat for those who shy away from prying eyes.
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Taking seclusion to a whole different level is the Naladhu Private Island Maldives, a 20-villas-only luxury (and the only) resort located on the Veligandu Huraa islet in the South Malé Atoll. The resort is so exclusive that even at full occupancy, it accommodates only 42 guests in its 19 dual-occupancy villas and single split-level two-bedroom mansion. It’s no wonder A-list celebrities, Arab princes and many on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires List make annual pilgrimages here.
Accessible via a 35-minute speedboat ride from the airport, Naladhu Private Island Maldives’ strategic location is far from the bustle of the Maldivian capital, yet not too remote to necessitate a seaplane transfer. It harbours a lagoon on one side and an inaccessible rocky coast on the other, where the villas are perched and open up to vistas of the expansive Indian Ocean.
Safely cocooned in privacy and accompanied by the constant calming lull of waves crashing against the rocks, most guests remain ensconced in their villas — as we did — because there was never a need to step out. Decorated in a rustic yet elegant style (think Martha Stewart-meets-Robinson Crusoe), louvred wooden doors open into teak floors overlaid with locally made carpets, while whitewashed walls set off rattan furniture, sanded-down wooden fixtures and framed pictures of marine life.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be brought in by your personal villa butler and taken in bed or out the patio. Spa sessions are also done in the solitude of your residence, thanks to the inclusion of private steam rooms and large sunken terrazzo tubs in each villa. Between laps in the villa pool and backgammon matches in our cabana, I loved my midday naps on the swinging daybed when the tide was low and the waves washed gently against the pebbled shore.
For couples who eventually venture out, there are tonnes of activities to embark on together. Naladhu Private Island Maldives is connected via a walkway or boat to two other Anantara properties: Dhigu and Veli. Snorkel among corals teeming with life, search for dolphins or visit neighbouring islands on a dhoni (the traditional handcrafted sailboat).
For more languid activities, check in to spas, enrol in a cooking class, or simply while away an afternoon on a lazy kayak ride on the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon.