Tuesday, April 29, 2014

HOTEL CHECK MALDIVES, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

Four Seasons Maldives has two sister resorts. Here Select Collection visits the little sister, a quick speedboat journey from Male, and full of lovely surprises...

The approach to Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa is beautiful, with the arrival pavilion picturesquely standing over glossy turquoise water. The island spa is part of the lovely vision, and a LONG sweep of white beach. This is the sunset side. The other side also has a sweep of white beach – the sunrise side. 

The island is like a village with one main street, exuberant with palm fronds and flowers, bright bougenvillea, fragrant franjipani. It felt warm, friendly and intimate. Service was amazing – at least for us. Every restaurant had already heard about our special food regime and we did not have to say a word. They know how to make you feel welcome, of course. It IS Four Seasons...

A garden island, bright and welcoming

Watersports on the sunset side and a long curved beach

The lagoon is wide and calm - and right in front of your villa wherever you are, whether sunset or sunrise.

View over the lagoon from spa island

View from the beach on spa island

Palms and gardens line the sandy main street

And some surprises. These sand sculptures are renewed every few days...


...and a Maldivian hut is on display at the roadside,
which also has a jewellery boutique 

There were a lot of young adults as guests  – more than at the other islands we visited in March and April. The surfing is part of what attracts youngsters. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa hosts a famous week long surf championship.

There are 4 or 5 bars and restaurants. We treasure two great dining memories: Dining in sole splendor on a gazebo  at the end of a pier, surrounded by water, at Baraabaru. Sunset at the Reefclub Restaurant & sunset bar – dreamy pastels and magic over all. Breakfasts had a lot of choice and an organic corner with organic natural yoghurt and organic musli, plus a full Japanese breakfast with sushi and meso soup.


In the afternoon - the sunset bar

Later from the Reef  Club 
At the Reef Club restaurant and adult pool there are magical sunsets, and guests gravitate here to feel it…

Other charms...

The pool bar

Entrance to Cafe Huraa
Pool view from breakfast

...and a swing in the sunset

VILLAS

There are 96 beach and overwater villas at Kuda Huraa. See map.

We had number 204 on the sunrise side (65 sqm).  It was easy to love our Beach Bungalow, right on the beach, given privacy with a glossy green tropical hedge. Our bungalow was neat, yet felt spacious, as you stepped out onto a furnished deck, leading to your own Bale / Gazebo with a double bed under a roof and a sparkling tiled pool.  Deliightful to sleep there...

Beach Bungalow (65 sqm). Bedroom with sitting area

Garden with deck, pool and gazebo with double bed -
 a few steps from the beach

The garden was sandy  – an extension of the beach, with palms and flowers – and lots of busy little hermit crabs dragging their shells around.

In the back garden here was a second (open air) shower. There was a view out from the rectangular chic bath tub, and the feeling of space and orderliness was improved by an ample dressing room.

It was a  few steps to the beach where we had a thatched umbrella and sunbeds (sometimes occupied by other guests). Over the beach, and then 4 kicks to coral and snorkeling terrain enlivened with coral frames.

The house reef is over on the sunset side, near the water villas. They recommend you go out with a boat to the house reef and time did not permit that for us - just a pleasant while floating over the corals and coral frames right in front of our villa.

Suave and spacious contemporary
bathroom looking into our back garden
Detail on the patio


We also inspected a slightly smaller Beach Pavilion without an inside sitting area – with an extra bed set up for a kid. It also had a bale and a pool without the deck. 

And we looked at a watervilla...

The line of water villas seen from
the Reef Club Restaurant


Water Bungalow bedroom


The overwater villas all have an aqua theme and pleasant decks with sunbeds, and pools. They stretch down a long pier and swimming is possible at high tide – the house reef is actually close by. An island further out will be used for a new bunch of future residence water villas. Private villas attached to hotels are a big trend, and in the Maldives perhaps more so....

UNDERWATER SCENES & THE SPA

Though we snorkeled in front of our villa, we actually saw the biggest variety of coloured  fish from our massage benches at  the overwater spa. At least 5 or 6 brightly coloured varieties swam below us seen through the glass floor panel. The spa is a real charmer on an island reached by Dhoni from the jetty.  The expertise level very high – we enjoyed an oriental massage lesson by the ultimate master. What a touch. He sends wellness vibrations into you. The masseurs we experienced the next day were really good. 
The Dhoni makes a picturesque start to a wonderful experience.

Spa Dhoni


Spa reception
Arrival for a couple's massage
- a foot washing ceremony

Overwater massage cabins - colourful inhabitants of
the underwater world  seen through the peephole
of your massage bench. Masseurs with real expertise
Wonderful massage oils

CORAL RESTORATION & TURTLE BREEDING

Funding for coral frames is donated by guests and is part of a dedicated coral rejuvenation programme at both Four Seasons Maldives. Gradually the structures with a few live corals attached become covered with brighter corals and more natural looking, and most importantly feed and shelter fish. 

They also have a turtle breeding programme at Kuda Huraato help improve survival for the threatened Olive Ridley turtles – at sister prperty Landaa Giravaaru there is a refuge for injured turtles, dear sweet beasts of the sea. 

There, at Landaa Giravaruu, which I visited on a hotel inspection when in Baa Atoll, they say that the injured 3 legged turtles have lost their buoyancy mechanism but when it is back to normal they will be able to survive in the open sea.

Olive Ridley turtle in the Kuda Huraa breeding programme

DOLPHIN CRUISE

We could choose between a 3 hour shark safari or a sunset dolphin cruise on arrival. The weather was unfair. Unusual blustering winds and  waves, so it was not the romantically smooth pink tinted magnificence it can be. They used a big wooden dhoni with mostly young guests on board. The cruise started with an informative half hour lecture at the marine centre.  On the way out we saw people surfing – and we did see plenty of dolphins in the unruly sea. Jumping and even spinning (spinner dolphins).



STYLE

The style at Kuda Huraa is Arabian and brought memories of Marrakech. This Arabian style is marked....

At Cafe Huraa
At the reception

WHO TO STAY

For those who prefer a very sheltered lagoon and the ease of walking around, this is a good option. It is pretty, cosy and intimate with typically good Four Seasons service. Young adults seem to thrive here. For surfers or those who want surfing lessons, extend the stay. With the nice bright kids club and a kids pool along with the very sheltered lagoon, it also suits young families who want things to be easy and orderly. The coral on the sunrise side is only a few kicks from the beach.

Landaa Giravaaru is the big sister of the two Four Seasons properties, more famous - but is further afield and needs a seaplane transfer while Kuda Huraa is only half an hour by speedboat from Male international airport. Kuda Huraa makes a good combination with Landaa Giravaaru as if you book both you get seaplane transfers free (from the airport to Landaa and then return to Kuda Huraa or from Kuda Huraa to Landaa and then back to the airport) (special offer - ask us about validity). If wanting to combine with Landaa Giravaaru we suggest you stay 3 nights at Kuda Huraa on arrival or departure. Definitely you should include a number of spa treatments and make time for the shark safari.

Arrival jetty - a welcome with Maldivian
singing and drumming -
and a fond goodbye


(c) All images by Aleah L Stanbridge Photography 

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