Velaa Private Island is a Maldives hotel offering an astonishingly good restaurant, private pools, white sand beaches, and a range of activities, including tennis, golf and watersports.
On Noonu Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane ride north of the capital Malé, the resort has the white-sand beaches and crystalline waters shared by other Maldivian resorts, and so much more besides. In addition to the expected gym and an excellent spa, leisure facilities include squash and tennis courts, a climbing wall and even a golf academy with 170 metres of lush greens and a swing studio designed by Jose Maria Olazabal. Impressive diving and snorkelling sites are nearby, and the resort’s watersports facilities are among the best in the country.
Style & character
Velaa’s interior designer Petr Kolár uses the phrase “polite luxury” to describe the resort’s aesthetic; rather than gold-plated bathrooms and Swarovski-studded chandeliers, the resort’s most impressive accoutrements are designed to be near imperceptible. Paving stones that don’t absorb heat have been imported from Jordan; master European craftsmen developed the villa interiors; wood panelling was sourced in Borneo. Those subtle touches combine to create a setting that functions fluidly and works intuitively.
Service & facilities
A long-time visitor to the Maldives, Jiri Smejc, the Czech billionaire owner of Velaa Private Island, was able to cherry pick his favourite staff from the country’s best hotels when the time came to open his own resort. Their experience and self-assurance was on show throughout our stay, with nimble, resourceful and courteous team members ready to deal with any enquiry and personal butlers remaining unflappable when faced with even the most demanding request. Were it not for the surprisingly sloppy housekeeping service and some shortcomings at the watersports centre, Velaa would score top marks in this category too.
- Fitness centre
- Golf course
- Kids’ club
- Room service
- Tennis court
Finished in muted aquas, browns and ambers, villas are pleasantly finished with teak furniture, bamboo light fixtures and rattan swinging chairs but seem almost sombre in comparison to the turquoise waters that surround them. More compelling are their outdoor spaces. Each has a private pool; many have extensive terraces, daybeds and shaded garden spaces, and the outdoor baths and showers, stocked with a bounty of full-sized Clarins products, are wonderful.
Food & drink
Velaa’s chefs do an astonishing job despite the resort’s isolation. For simple, barefoot dining, Athiri serves an accessible menu of unpretentious, nourishing European and seafood dishes. Overlooking the entire island, an intimate Teppanyaki restaurant stands atop the three-storey-tall wine “cellar”, which holds a £1,000,000 inventory. Serving a carefully considered, creative gourmet menu, overwater restaurant Aragu is dazzling. With swathes of porcelain fish hanging from the thatched roof and the murmur of the waves audible throughout service, this is a distinctly Maldivian setting but the cuisine is on par with the best you’re likely to find in Europe. Adjacent champagne bar Cru and Velaa’s beachfront bar are good for sundowners, but most guests tend to enjoy in-villa drinks with their paramours, and who could blame them?
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