Resort check: Anantara Dhigu

What it’s like? Opened in September 2006, the Anantara Dhigu may be the Anantara group’s first footprint in the Maldives, but has succeeded in making to the jetsetter’s list. Thanks to Maldivian architect GX Associates and Thailand-based interior designer Abacus, the resort strongly trades on the Thai character synonymous to Anantara, albeit fused with Maldivian charm.

Having arrived on a sleek speed boat, we disembarked at the resort’s coconut thatched-roof jetty. We were immediately charmed by the pure white sand and lush foliage, which provided the setting for a secret world of luxurious villas, restaurants offering expansive ocean views and a spa perched on coral reefs.

Where is it? Located about half an hour by boat from Male International Airport, the property is spread across two hectares of tropical terrain on Dhigufinolhu (island) on the South Male Atoll and is about 30km from the Maldivian capital of Male.

How many rooms? On the island, the resort boasts 35 Deluxe Beachfront Villas and 33 Deluxe Sunset Beachfront Villas. There are also two Deluxe Beachfront Pool Villas. Extending out to the ocean, the resort has 19 Deluxe Over-Water Suites and 19 Deluxe Sunset Over-Water Suites. To top it all, the resort has two Deluxe Over-Water Pool Suites. Sizes range from 110sqm to 180sqm.

Terrazzo Bath Tub in Anantara DhiguRoom facilities Our air-conditioned Beachfront Villa comes complete with flat-screen TV, CD/DVD player, coffee/tea-making facilities and a well-stocked wine bar, as well as a day bed and a porch. The bathroom is alfresco with an outdoor shower and a terrazzo bath tub.

If luxury doesn’t impress, the personal touch surely will. When we first entered the villa, we found the words “Maru Habaa” (“welcome” in Dhivehi) spelt out with bougainvillea flowers and palm leaves on the bed. There is a pillow menu offering seven types including the Orthopaedic Comfort Pillow, a platter of tropical fruits and snacks. We even pre-arranged for staff to store our choice of music on the room’s iPod.

F&B Five. The Baan Huraa (“House on Small Coral Reef” in Thai) serves up excellent, authentic Thai cuisine along with classic Thai interiors and an impressive ocean view. For a more snazzy meal, try the Fuddan Grill’s reef fish or choice cuts prepared in a traditional Maldivian dhumashi (smokehouse) and have a taste of a collection of salts from around the world paired with your dish as recommended by the island’s salt-sommelier. The Terrazzo has a glass-panelled wine cellar, wood-fired pizzas and other Italian fare, while Aqua offers light meals to be enjoyed with spirits and cocktails.

The Fushi Café serves a good breakfast spread and international cuisine by the beachfront in the evenings. Guests can also take part in a Thai Culinary Cooking Class at the café.

A three-minute boat ride away, Anantara Veli offers another three dining locations. You can also arrange for “Dining by Design” where you get to decide what to eat and where (choose from luxury yacht, sandbank or deserted beach).

Hire a boat to Veli Island to get to Dhoni Bar. Designed in the likes of a traditional Maldivian sailboat, the bar has a cliff-hanger of a deck allowing us to get up close to sea life dancing in the crystal-clear water below.

Business facilities The island getaway is relatively connected to the world offering a library with internet access, fax and IDD. Daily newspapers are a rare commodity, so the resort produces a special brief of international headlines.

Dhoni cruiseLeisure facilities The resort has a comprehensive suite of sea sports activities for all to engage in, including waterskiing and parasailing, and offers complimentary non-motorised activities such as kayaking and windsurfing to guests. A PADI 5* Dive Centre is operated by Aquafanatics, so those interested can get diving certifications completed at all levels.

On land, work out at a fully equipped air-conditioned fitness centre, play badminton and volleyball at the courts along the beach or practise yoga to the sound of waves lapping the shore. Venture out of the island by taking a yachting excursion, deep-sea game fishing, island hopping on the Dhoni or sightseeing on a seaplane.

Or book an indulgent session in a treatment suite and get a visual treat of rich marine life through the glass-panelled flooring beneath the massage bed.

Price From US$585 per night in a Beachfront Villa in November, inclusive of breakfast.

Verdict Open skies, vast turquoise blue waters, tranquillity set in laps of luxury, and a feeling of being blissfully left-alone, what more can one ask for?

Contact Dhigufinolhu, South Male Atoll, Male, tel 960 664 4100

Terence Quek


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