Four Seasons, Landaa Giraavaru
Velaa Private Island is situated amid a chain of 26 atolls that are strewn across the Southern stretch of the Indian Ocean to make up Maldives. Previously a patch of unsettled sand, this paradise was envisioned by a well-traveled individual who made frequent visits to the region and sought to curate the best of everything in one special place. Attracting discerning travelers for only about 2 years thus far, the entire experience is thoughtfully designed and can be best described as “luxurious yet uninhibited”. The main island of Male can be reached by a flight from Dubai in about 4 hours, less from Southern India and then there’s just a short trip by seaplane or boat to Velaa Private Island.
Upon arrival, you are embraced by an enormous welcoming staff. Warmly greeted with champagne and cold towels, you are then whisked away in a charming buggy by your private butler for a seamless check-in at your beautiful villa. The fixtures and finishes procured throughout the property are of the highest quality by any standards. Luxury is exuded throughout the entire setting inclusive of the lavish floor coverings, elegant lighting, open-plan layout, and enchanting background music that chimes throughout the entire villa and its outdoors spaces. For easy access, you are handed a sleek mobile phone with only one number programmed to instantly reach your personal butler. Each staff member takes immense pride in their service and attentiveness towards your needs. The owner of the island approaches the staff with an abundance of graciousness and generosity, which is zealously paid forward and evident in every heart-felt move they make.
The villas are distinguished as being very private yet extremely spacious. The island’s beach residences feature their own private swimming pool, devoted stretch of shore and an expansive outdoor veranda that is highlighted by a comfortable double bed and a stately set-up for open-air dining. Indoors, the shades are never drawn completely, allowing for the radiant sun to penetrate the entire space throughout the day and in the morning to allow for the unbelievable sensation of the luminous horizon past the foot of your bed. The bathroom space expands through to the exterior of your villa and out into an adjacent outdoor covered area with an outdoor bathtub, private outdoor shower and lavish oversized day bed. The living room is augmented for comfort with intuitively curated experiences, which distinguish the hospitality of Velaa Private Island from any other sandy haven.
Perched over the water are intimate villas designed to promote extreme seclusion. Strategically placed between villas on either side, your discreet positioning allows you to feel completely privatized, as though you have no neighbors at all. For absolute privacy, other accommodations at Velaa include the “Honeymoon over the water suite” to which your butler escorts you by boat. Notably, the “4 bedroom villa” is intended to accommodate families for an exhilarating stay. An underlying sense of luxury and opulence is shared throughout each of the spacious quarters, as they are all designed to perfection, no matter which residence you choose.
Velaa Private Island is intimate in size, making it very easy to travel around using the charming bicycle that is assigned to each guest; otherwise your butler welcomes a chance to chauffer you via buggy. The property features a quaint gym with adequate amenities to support a healthy lifestyle. Within the same commune, there is an outdoor ping pong table and an illustrious club for children. Though not a resort just for families, there is an impressive array of youth-oriented activities. All of the island’s facilities from the remarkable library to the serene yoga studio feels pristine and are practically brand new. The spa setting could have been pulled directly from a James Bond movie as it seems to hover over the water in heavenly suspense. There are three specialized rooms, framing a seamless view towards the ocean. There is a sauna, steam and you can experience their coveted “Snow Room,” (the only facility of its kind in Maldives). There are pairs of white Crocs provided to protect your feet as you take in the chill of the frozen interior and rub yourself down with ice. The Clarins spa named, My Blend, is also equipped with 6 private treatment rooms positioned over the water so when you are receiving a massage, you can peer through the glass floor to the ocean and the sea life below.
Athletic ambition can lead you to the badminton court, covered tennis court (the only in Maldives), racquetball rooms, climbing wall or the 9-hole golf course that was constructed by Olazabal (ex-Ryder Cup captain and twice Masters Champion) and boasts the most expensive grass in the world. Though I’m not a golfer, the quality equipment and picturesque landscape tempted me to become one. The island also has a traditional assortment of aquatic activities such as fishing, water sports, and sunset cruises.
There are three immaculate restaurants to note. Aragu serves international fare orchestrated by a fantastic Executive Chef. The menu features fresh fish though they are known to serve almost anything by request. Standing under the castaway design of Aragu’s main structure there is a breathtaking void in the floor that opens up to the mystical ocean below. You can stand at the ledge positioned over the oculus to appreciate the unique feeling of being in an enclosure yet exposed to this lovely natural element. Located on the top floor of the tallest building in Maldives, Tavaru is accented by an architecturally stunning outdoor elevator. This dining space offers an intriguing menu inspired by Asian flavor and flair. Accessed from the ground floor, the spiraling interior is defined as the Wine Cellar, which is lined with a massive collection that encompasses a wide cross-section of brands ranging in age and international origin. Carefully placed around the structure, there is an interior elevator designed to lift an individual directly to the wine of their choice. This space holds a large round table that is reserved for frequent tastings. Lastly, the continental-style restaurant, Athiri has leisurely seating where you can place your feet within the relaxing natural waters, soothing sand or pool, which is perfectly attuned for the hot weather conditions. Velaa also has a bar with an upper deck poised for gorgeous views of the ocean where you see nothing but the curve of the horizon.
Best described as “Castaway Luxury” at its best, I recommend this Island to those who want to forget about the rest of the world and deeply immerse themselves in pampering. For a romantic getaway, destination weddings, honeymoons, celebrations, family retreats (especially with small children), or reunions Velaa Private Island is a diamond in a sea of pearls.