Monday, November 18, 2013

HOTEL CHECK MALDIVES, Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru

Neil Bedford continues on a journey through paradise. Now it is Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru that captures his heart…

This hotel has everything you can ask of your dream island – exotic jungle greenery, immaculate white beaches and the turquoise water of a coral encircled lagoon. On the island you will find a collection of 102 luxurious villas (both overwater and beachfront), one of the finest spas in the Indian Ocean and a wealth of dining choices – everything you need to make you wish your time in paradise never comes to an end.

White beaches lapped by turquoise water

On the Beach

Our place...

We stayed in a Beach Villa with Pool giving 130 sq metres of indoor space, plus a large private pool, outdoor pool bale and even our own tree house complete with day bed and hammock looking out to the ocean. 
Our pool

A sand floored open-air living and dining pavilion means those who enjoy their villa comforts needn’t leave, while a narrow sand path led....

...through the bushes to our own
private stretch of beach with sun loungers
and snorkeling gear all ready just for us

Other accommodation options include Beach Bungalows with Pool (the same set up but a little smaller) and a collection of stilted Overwater Villas which differ in sunrise or sunset view and whether or not you have your own terrace pool. While all rooms can accommodation 2 adults and 2 children up to 12 yrs, there are more spacious options.

Sunset 2-bedroom water suite

Two-bedroom Family Beach Bungalows (with pool) have an additional twin bedroom linked by a short corridor to the master. A separate bathroom and outdoor shower make these especially suitable for families with older children and teenagers. The Family Beach Villas (with pool) have an attached study including a single bed with pullout underneath, a desk, wardrobe, TV and adjacent shower room - ideal for families with younger children.

New to paradise

The amazing Estate

NEW to the property, and welcoming its first guests the day we departed, is the amazing 3 bedroom Landaa Estate which is one of the finest villas in the country. This two-storey estate (513 sqm with maximum occupancy for 11 using extra beds) features a private 80 metre beach with coral reef in front, two pools (one on the upper floor with a waterfall down to the beachfront pool), a stargazing lounge, vast al fresco living space, fully equipped kitchen and even a nanny’s room.

Manta magic

Located in the Baa Atoll, the resort is reached by 30 minute seaplane taxi from Male and the atoll is Maldives' only UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Baa atoll is particularly famed for Hannifaru Bay, where from June to October you have the chance to snorkel with mass gatherings of manta rays and whale sharks. Unfortunately the timings of our visit meant the season was just coming to an end and the chances of sightings of either of these majestic sea creatures were looking slim. But Four Seasons do everything they can to give you the very best chance, including their fantastic manta-on-call programme.

When you sign up for this service, you'll be given a mobile phone in a waterproof bag to keep on you everyday and are contacted immediately when manta rays are sighted. Once you get the call, it’s all systems go as you race to the dive centre and hop on a speedboat to embark on an unforgettable experience. We were lucky enough to snorkel with six giant manta rays as a result of this programme and the experience will live with us forever.

Ayurveda over water

Back on the island, and a more relaxing activity….spa time. 

One of the most beautiful spas ever....

The spa at Landaa Giraavaru is one of the most beautiful you can imagine, 10 vast open-air treatment pavilions – including three dedicated to ayurveda – are nestled in their own lush tropical gardens or on stilts over the turquoise lagoon. The overwater pavilions boast an open front with sensational sea views as well as sections of glass floor under the massage table. Hidden in the herb garden, the Ayurvedic Retreat focuses on treating illness, preventing disease and enhancing physical, mental and spiritual well-being, A complimentary 30 minute Ayuverda consultation is offered to all guests.

Yoga pavilion

Early learning in paradise

Bright and happy kids club
Children staying at the resort can join the ‘Passport to Adventure’, a booklet presenting a series of island challenges where they get a stamp when they complete each challenge. Seven or more stamps earn a prize while if they collect all 14 they earn ice cream sundaes for the whole family! In addition to this there are up to eight daily activities such as coral reefscaping, lizard spotting, herb hunts and mocktail making. There’s also kayaking, cycling, cookie and pizza making, while children who are confident snorkelers can also go out on turtle snorkel safaris or even the manta-on-call.

The resort has its own Teen Centre, a hangout where they can shoot some pool, chill with movies, catch up on Facebook or play Wii. All this plus a large variety of watersports such as catamaran, jet ski and banana boat. Unique to Landaa Giraavaru, children over 8 can become a PADI Seal Team Member by carrying out  AquaMissions in the safe, sheltered lagoon coral gardens (rather than swimming pool environment which is offered at several other resorts). Here they can master the basics and then progress to specialty scuba missions such as navigation, night, and search and recovery.

Dining divinely

Dining options include Asian, Middle Eastern and Italian plus the freshest selection of grilled seafood. 

Catch of the Day

Blu Italian restaurant

For something extra special you can sail enjoy several unique dining experiences: sail to a floating platform in the sparkling lagoon where you are left alone to await the arrival of your dinner by boat while you are surrounded by the lagoon’s natural sea life, perhaps you might even spot a dorsal fin or two….; be whisked away by speedboat to your own deserted sandbank where you can enjoy a succulent barbecue dinner produced by your private chefs at a sand-carved candle-lit table beneath a blanket of stars.

Dancing for joy, upside down
- champagne in the sunset

After a superb dinner, make your way over the short sea walk to one of the most relaxed decks in the Maldives, Seabar. Here you can laze on cozy day beds and overwater net hammocks as you sip a cocktail and track the distinctive dark shapes of lemon sharks and rays in the illuminated turquoise waters below. 

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