Australian Natural Health
23 December 2015
A spa becomes more than a spa when it’s found in the Maldives. The combination of idyllic weather, crystalline water and, of course, five-star treatment makes it a nirvana for those seeking to escape the humdrum of city life and restore their vitality (and then some). Tatyana Leonov tells us about her experience in paradise.
I meet my therapist on the boardwalk and she leads me down a flight of stairs and into another realm. Lying down on my stomach, I am momentarily concerned about not being able to watch the colourful fish dart around the coral reef. But a small, strategically positioned mirror takes care of that. The pressure of her fingers is just right. As the massage therapist pushes down and works her magic, my muscles relax and I close my eyes...just for a moment. I’m in a deep state of calm, and struggle to force my eyes open for as long as I can to take in the scenery. I’m in an underwater treatment room at LIME Spa in the idyllic PER AQUUM resort on Huvafen Fushi island in the Maldives. These are the first ever underwater treatment rooms in the world – and it’s as extraordinary as it sounds. The entrance to the spa is located above water, where there are more treatment rooms, but the novelty of being underwater is hard to surpass. The PER AQUUM portfolio comprises of four properties all up (two in the Maldives, one in Dubai and a recent addition in Zanzibar) and the LIME Spa concept was created eight years ago especially for the property collection. “It was designed to offer something completely different for our guests,” says regional director of LIME Spa, Elizabeth Regan. “The idea was to turn the normal thought and impression on its head, offering a black and white menu, with sleek, elegant and daringly sexy images. There are no rolled-up towels or frangipani flowers to be seen here.”
Huvafen Fushi has long held a reputation as the playground of the elite with plenty of celebrities having called in at one time or another (George Clooney, Kate Moss, Tom Cruise, Liz Hurley, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell, to name a few). It’s cleverly laid out with beach bungalows situated amid lush vegetation – so you can’t see the other villas but have stunning vistas out to sea – while the lagoon overwater villas offer that quintessential Maldives experience. Guests at PER AQUUM Huvafen Fushi can also enjoy ‘spa cuisine’ at restaurant RAW, where the kitchen team only use fresh organic produce and specialise in house-cured meats and pickled foods that are low in salt and refined sugars. Being able to choose nutritious meals in paradise is crucial to overall health and I enjoy the plethora of choices. Many resorts in the Maldives offer accommodation and half or full board meal bundles and managing buffets day and night can be challenging.
It has probably occurred to most who visit here that the Maldives is as close to nirvana on Earth as you can get. Comprising of around 1190 atolls (a mix of resorts, local and uninhabited islands), it is not uncommon to arrive into the capital of Male only to be whisked off on a seaplane or speedboat to your own little patch of paradise. Some guests choose to stay at just one resort for the duration of their stay while others jump around and sample a few. I am the latter traveller.
At PER AQUUM Niyama I spent my days eating, spa-ing and swimming – the perfect holiday combination, if there is one. (Or the perfect life combination...we can all dream). Niyama used to comprise of just one island: Chill. But as of mid- 2015 it has been extended into a two- island resort with the launch of a sister island called Play. A bridge connects the two atolls and it’s easy to move between the islands with most guests opting to travel the short distance by bike. Niyama restaurants offer great variety in terms of both cuisine and setting. You can enjoy an Asian fusion feast at Nest, a new restaurant nestled amid banyan trees, or South American-African delights at Tribal. Subsix, the underwater restaurant, is a highlight for both the well-executed dishes and subaquatic setting.
One evening, after dinner, I returned to my room to find a spa therapist waiting for me. There was a footbath and massage table set up on the balcony and an ever-so- faint citrus fragrance in the air. I received one of the best massages I’ve ever had while listening to the soothing sound of waves gently lapping against the sand, and I was left beside my rose petal-scattered bath with a bottle of champagne afterwards. This was part of the Aroma Dreams Package, an option in the new Drift by Per AQUUM menu, and I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where you can partake in such an indulgent treatment – they even left cookies out for me.
A stay at Niyama can be as relaxing or as active as you want it to be and the two fittingly named islands (Chill and Play) make it easy to tell them apart. That’s not to say you can’t chill out on Play or run amok on Chill, and you can even head to your own private islet if you so desire. A small group of us jumped in a boat and were whisked away to a patch of powdery white sand half an hour away. We ate pre- prepared and packed bento box lunches and drank champagne, and even beanbags and umbrellas were brought along. For three hours it felt like there was no one else in the world except us luxuriating in our own private island paradise.
My last treatment at Niyama was Intraceuticals Oxygen facial – a great option after a day out in the sun. PER AQUUM is the only company in the Maldives offering this powerful hydrating skin refresher and I’m told it’s used by celebrities such as Madonna and Channing Tatum. And recommended by skincare professionals all over the world – sold. A combination of oxygen and serum on my face is applied using a pressurised system, and 45 minutes later I walked out of the spa feeling like a new person. At dinner that night I was told I look reinvigorated too. My guess? It’s the Maldives medicine – sun, spa and sea. NH
For more information about the resorts visit peraquum.com and anantara.com. Maldives is easy to reach via Singapore. See singaporeair.com. Stop over in Singapore on the way to extend your holiday. See siaholidays.com.au.
MORE RESORTS TO TRY
Aantara Veli Maldives Resort, Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort and Naladhu Maldives make up the Anantara island trio, unique because nowhere else in the Maldives are there three atolls located in the one lagoon. Each resort offers a completely different vibe and it’s common for guests to stay at one resort and then return a year later to experience another.
VELI is for lovers (adult only).
NALADHU is popular for private parties and anniversaries (home to just 20 villas).
DHIGU is the family-friendly resort with plenty of choices for mini mortals, spanning everything from special kids’ check-in packs to a calendar full of educational activities the whole family can enjoy, such as coral planting.