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By Ute Junker
When you head home after holidaying at the Maldivian resort of Anantara Dhigu, it’s the little things you really notice. Of course, you miss that thrillingly aquamarine water, the balmy temperatures, and the relaxing ritual of starting the day with a guided meditation. But you’ll realise you are back in the real world when a helpful waiter asks, “still or sparkling?”
Those are three words you just don’t hear at Anantara Dhigu. To be more accurate, you will hear them just once... when you first ask for a glass of water. Your preference is noted, then every subsequent time you ask for water, the appropriate version will be delivered, complete with ice and lemon, if that’s the way you like it.
It’s not just water, of course: the same applies to your coffee, and any other food preferences you have. At Anantara Dhigu, the philosophy is that you only have to ask once. My travel companion, who is gluten-intolerant, is delighted that whenever we sit down for a meal – and we work our way through many of the resort’s different restaurants during our stay – the staff suggest meal options for her.
It is personalised service at its best, and it is one of the things that sets Anantara Dhigu apart from its competition. And let’s be clear, there is a lot of competition.
Islands of luxury
The Maldives are Indian Ocean islands straight from Central Casting. They’re famous for their white-sand beaches and translucent water – and are home to some of the most luxurious resorts on the planet. With more than 100 resorts to choose from here, a property has to work hard to stand out from the crowd. At Anantara Dhigu, they have found several ways to do that.
The first thing Dhigu offers is space. Maldivian islands tend to be small, which makes some visitors feel a little restless. Anantara has cleverly built twin resorts on neighbouring islands in a tranquil lagoon, linked by a small boat that shuttles between them around the clock. Whenever you get bored with the island you’re on, simply hop onto the boat, and a few minutes later you have a whole new island to explore.
Where you stay will depend on who you are travelling with. Dhigu is the family-friendly island, complete with a quality kids’ club; next-door Veli is dedicated to couples. We usually head over to Veli early in the morning for a gentle workout in the open-air yoga pavilion, where the soundtrack is provided by waves washing against the breakwater.
Both islands offer many accommodation options, including gorgeous over-water bungalows. We are staying in one of the sprawling Sunset Beach Villas, each 125 square metres. Shrouded by foliage, this is a very private retreat, complete with a sumptuous open-air bathroom, with a choice of showers, as well as an oversized soaking tub. The deck is the perfect place to watch the sun go down.
If you’re feeling active, there are plenty of activities on offer, including windsurfing, sailing, dive trips and water-skiing. Or you can treat yourself to a day out on the in-house yacht, nirvana, exploring some of the Maldives’ many desert islands and hidden reefs.
On the other hand, it’s very tempting to just stay put. Many islands in the Maldives have just tiny strips of sand, but Anantara Dhigu is remarkable for its large swathes of beach fringing the lagoon. Take any of the random paths to the beach and you will quickly find your own private patch of paradise to relax on.
At mealtimes, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from across the two islands, including Baan Huraa for Thai, Terrazzo for Italian, the lovely Origami for Japanese, and Sea.Fire.Salt, with its steak and seafood menu. Anantara also offers a cooking school, Spice Spoons, where you can pick up some new Thai or Maldivian recipes.
Double the pleasure
There is one other area where the twin-islands approach brings double the pleasure, and that is spas. Anantara guests have two to choose from.
At Dhigu’s lovely over-water spa, indulgent treatments include a synchronised massage, where two therapists work on you in unison. At Veli’s Sundari spa, run on Ayurvedic principles, treatments are tailored to suit which of three doshas, or elemental substances, predominate within you.
We find the treatments so relaxing that we become instant converts, even signing up for the special Ayurvedic juice combinations on offer at breakfast. By the end of our stay, we are utterly stress-free – but whether that is the juices, the pampering, or just falling asleep to the gentle wash of the waves is difficult to say.
One thing is for sure: we’ll be back soon for another dose of the Maldives’ special magic.
About the Maldives
How do I get there? Singapore Airlines and Silk Air fly from Auckland to Male, stopping
in Singapore. See www.singaporeair.com.
What will the weather be like? During the dry season, from November to April, temperatures hover between 25 and 29 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are similar during the wet season (May to October), although you can expect some rain – around 200 mm most months. However, the rain tends to pass quickly; it might be overcast
in the morning and sunny in the afternoon.
Tell me more. www.visitmaldives.com,