30 miles from the Equator, a Private Maldivian Abode
A casteaway fantasy island hewn from driftwood
Only a few could fathom, that just 30 miles from the equator, perched on the sandbank of a preserved house reef, would be nestled this pristine, untouched beauty – The Park Hyatt, Maldives. Like a castaway fantasy island hewn from driftwood, secretly souped up in the remotest, Huvadhoo Atoll, the 51 villa resort embodies the spirit of barefoot luxury and authenticity with serious eco-credentials to boot.
In the middle of the languid, cerulean blue lagoon and dense foliage as we set foot, the feeling was nothing short of entering the 3D set of Planet Blue. This tropical land of verdant palm trees, the wind as zephyrs as stormy at times, blowing below the violet sunsets. The crystal-clear waters with manta rays, turtles and swamps of bait fish cut across by baby sharks, we discovered this inimitable hideaway from the disquiet of life into the peaceful tranquility, blanketed by the night under dazzling stars.
This was our welcome, as we set foot ashore towards the deep dawn of the day. A good prelude to the days thereafter that were to behold and treasure. The next morning greeted us with the soft misty air and inviting tropical winds. The resort spread over 7 acres also houses the only authentic Maldivian wellness centre – The Vidhun Spa. Drawing from its native meaning ‘to shine’ Vidhun Spa embraces the uniqueness of the local culture with treatments based on Dhivehibey, which is traditional Maldivian medicinal practices focused on balancing the body. All the treatments are based on the Evvaru rituals. It amalgamates aspects of hoonu - cooling, fini – heating and hiki – hydrating humors of the body.
The Sehathu is their signature massage blending this holistic and ayurvedic approach. A must to experience.
As part of their resort wide sustainability practices, they also repurpose certain ingredients used in their dining experiences creating body scrubs from orange peel, papaya scrub, cucumber dash etc. The in-house kitchen garden also provides fresh produce for their very learned Spa manager Pravesh who create signature blends with his expert methodologies unique only to Park Hyatt Maldives. The spa truly delivers on the quintessential journey of meditative relaxation and holistic rejuvenation.
The oceans have always been a brooding mystery. The volcanic mountain range underneath the sea, shows us only it's tip in the form of coral reefs, deepest gorges, widest valleys, steepest canyons and the broadest spectrum of colors, as we snorkel away with the help of certified PADI professionals from the resort’s diving & activity centre – Blue Lagoon. We glimpsed the deep edge of the house reef, in sheer amusement. Myriad colors, shapes, sizes of corals, schools of mackerel, bonito, yellow fish tune, swordfish and their house turtle Ben, who we thought gleefully waved back at us. Over the course of days we didn’t leave any expedition, big or small, from night snorkeling, fishing, nature walks, cruising on the dhoni, to self-exalting kayaking. Soaked it all in, four days straight and longing for more.
The resort is distinctive in style and character as well. Designed to combine sophistication with understated luxury, the architecture is minimalism personified. Each of the overwater as well as beach villas are built to blend in with its surroundings. The use of glass for unobstructed views of the aquamarine waters, soft furnishings, eco-amenities, glass bottles from the in-house bottling plant. Even the fragrance of Le Labo Bergamot 22 wafting through the vents in the villas are a part of the bespoke sensorial aesthetics crafted for discerning travelers.
One can literally immerse in the Maldivian culture right at the arrival jetty itself. A few meters in, a larger-than-life wooden structure upside down is built to venerate the oldest sea vessel in the region – famously known as The Dhoni. It’s a landmark of the resort exhibiting spectacular art and doubling up as an educational space where guests can connect and inspire love for the culture and traditions of the Maldives.
Of the 5 restaurants and bars, the headliner was the ‘Chef’s Garden Treehouse’. Perched 5 meters above the ground on forked branches, with panoramic views of the ocean this is a vegan paradise. Based on the premise of plant only cuisine, one can pick their nutritious veggie from the kitchen garden and have the chef cook it to perfection. The eight-course degustation menu had our hearts content. The extraordinary culinary creations of wood fried cauliflower with romesco mousseline, charcoal artichokes, grilled eggplant miso glazed and the most devoured mango sorbet made it an opera of a feast.
The outdoor mezze spot ‘The Island Grill’, too was a dining experience par excellence with filigree lanterns, barefoot luxury and open charcoal grills cooking up the freshest of reef fishes and succulent meats. The 180 degree of the LIVE chef’s charcoal stations is a sight to behold. Meanwhile the luscious selection of sushi and sashimi paired with bodied sake at ‘Koi’ raised the bar of Japanese delicacies with the menu’s cheer allure.
As the last embers of the crimson sunset faded away and the Botticelli blue and soft pinky white clouds on the moon set aside, we saw the last of the amber sun slipping slowly down to dusk. This castaway luxury was truly a natural elixir that made our souls come alive.