A Thai chain resort that cater only to couples, Anantara Veli Resort & Spa is a popular amongst newly weds, anniversary couples or friends who simply wants a getaway from the hectic of life and bask under the sun all day long. No children are allowed on this island though after 6 pm. Those with families would want to opt for the sister island, Anantara Dhigu instead. Located at Maldives (South Male Atoll), do expect exorbitant price tags in their 22% goods service tax with strict Muslim laws. Apparently, no pork and alcohol products are allowed to the country else it will be confiscated by the authorities.
Both my husband and I were anxiously anticipated our honeymoon trip for months. An over-water villa awaits us with a crystal clear lagoon that we can jump straight in. We departed from our home country and travel on SilkAir flight in the morning. The journey took 5 hours to reach to the destination. If you are wondering, yes we managed to change our seat arrangement within 48 hours of boarding instead of separated (see previous post).
Waiting Lounge at Ibrahim Nasir Airport
Upon arrival from Ibrahim Nasir Airport departure hall, we head towards the corresponding travel agency counter to retrieve our accommodation and airport transfer vouchers. A short enquiry later, we were greeted by the resort staff and invited to the resort’s lounge while waiting for the speedboat transfer. The staff gave us a complimentary WIFI in the speedboat. After half an hour ride, we arrived on resort island and greeted with a band of traditional drums and refreshing welcome drink at hand.
We were ushered to check in at the lobby and made the necessary payments (room deposit). Most guests would use their credit card as the resort only block the amount and return after check-out. Since we brought only our debit cards, they did not charge us the room deposit.
However, we paid for Half-Board meal plan by cash in US Dollar. The meal plan was prepaid. It only include dinner which applies to all the dining restaurants and cafes between the 3 islands (Veli, Dhigu, Naladu). Besides, every room booked included a daily breakfast buffet. Without this meal plan, we will charged with their ridiculous prices. According to the resort, the food/drink products are imported daily thus explained the expensive charges.
As for lunch, we had packed ramen noodles, snacks to drinking water that we purchased at Changi Airport supermarket. We choose to go free-and-easy for our lunch and plan to bask under the sun, snorkel or tour around the 3 islands.
Check In was a breeze and we were ushered to our room with the staff. Gloria, one of the staff even offered to carry my heavy bag, “It’s ok, I went to the gym everyday. Your holiday starts now, we will cater to our best service during your time here.” I was stunned with her reply and smile despite the guilt building in me.
Gloria showed us to the spacious villas that had a distance in between the rooms to ensure privacy. We were given Room 154. A basic over water villa with private access to the lagoon beneath us overlooking the main island beach. After she left, we both remove our shoes and jump/dive to the bed while giggling silly. I am sure everyone jump on their hotel bed before.
The California king bed was facing the balcony. Imagine to waking up to be sounds of the wave and sea breeze everyday.The bathroom was located beside the patio for easy access after jumping in the Indian Ocean. Since the bathroom located outside, it is a little humid on a hot day (great to dry our clothes). The bath room includes a separate tub and shower facilities. A complimentary toiletries were included too. A mini bar in the corner with a coffee machine.
Let me be more specific in the facilities and amenities provided in the room in case you are very curious: hair dryer, television with cable, DVD player, prayer mat with direction, pesticide spray, shoe horn, 2 life vests, 2 beach slippers, 2 room slippers, gigantic umbrella, 2 rain coats, safe electronic deposit box, 2 beach towels, 2 bath towels, 2 face towels, 2 bath robes, coffee machine with espresso and milk capsules, fridge with chargeable snacks and beverages, toiletries (shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion), loofa, vanity (cotton pad and cotton bud), nail buffer, hair band, hair comb. Great service right? They anticipate everything for their guests. In case you forgot to bring any of your necessities, a mini mart is located at the island (very expensive!).
Twice daily room service was provided to clean and our room. Every evening our room boy would place room slippers beside the bed, while writing a personalise message for us and chocolates. Never had we received these kind of service before. So, every night we were excited to returned to our room after dinner just to read the message. We also reply their messages and slipped in tips for their wonderful service. Like a pen pal.
Daily buffet breakfast were served promptly. The buffet spread were delicious. And so was the Cafe Latte. Every day, we were served with their special morning drink as an eye opener. Maybe it was meant for hangovers tourist? It is non-alcoholic anyway.
Non-Halal food were stated clearly to avoid confusion. Husband was so into the Foul Mesdames that he ate every morning with slices of Spanish style Toast, Pan Con Tomate. I found congee (rice porridge) with some condiments (chilli flakes, spring onions, soy sauce, dried shrimps) to go with it. I added chicken dim sum with beef bacon while the Ang Moh (white people) looked on my special concoction. It was my special go-to when I am tired with the bread spread. As an Asian, you will always turn to your staple food no matter which part of the world you travel to. Besides my congee concoction, there were cereal to pastry savoury stands to cold salads. I tasted their Maldivian Banana Fritters (banana dip in pancake batter), it was ok, similar taste as our Goreng Pisang though it still tasted better back home. Also, I requested for Maldivian Pancake, it is a plain pancake with sugar filling and drizzle with honey, warning, extremely sweet overload.
On our final breakfast meal, they prepared a special table with a hand written Kolam (Rice Powder painting) as a farewell message. That was nice gesture despite of the spelling error.
The first night we opt for Italian cuisine. Since we paid for Half Board meal plan, we were able to choose a starter, main course as well as dessert with complimentary bread (foccasia) and olive oil dip. The foods were overwhelming and in huge portion to my Asian stomach. In addition of jet lag, we weren’t able to complete our meal. We skipped dessert and quickly signed our bill before the head chef arrive. It is customary for the head chef to meet and greet the guests as part of their wonderful service. Wouldn’t want to give a bad impression to the chef though I would ask if he could add Bird’s Eye chilli to his pasta, too savoury to my liking. Husband was glad that we exited early, wouldn’t want to get a kick by the authentic Italian chef himself with my Asian critic.
Second night was Japanese Teppanyaki. It was an eye opener, we chose Surf & Turf and Chef’s Special Teppanyaki meal. Seated with a Chinese couple, our food was prepared by a Filipino chef. The Wagyu Beef was the winner, it was served so tender that it melts to your mouth. Husband tasted the Alaskan King Crab while I opt for Lobster. The menu was well balance and compliment the food served. My husband and I took our time to savour every taste of the food served while the Chinese couple gobbled theirs. I was not a fan of sesame seed, but the desert served was black sesame seed ice cream cleanses my palate. I have nothing bad to review on this Origami restaurant.
Indian buffet located at Fushi Cafe was chosen on our third night. Finally, something similar at home. Chilli and spice. No complaints here. It’ll be shame if they didn’t perform well since they are live at the Indian Ocean. The Briyani rice was a huge thumbs up from the husband with the Qorma lamb stew. It reminds him of home. I went berserk and tried the Battura with the chick pea side dish, Naan with tandoori, butter chicken meal with briyani. Dessert, if you can guess it well was, very sweet. True to their original taste. I had to taste a few but not abel finishing it up. Too savoury to my liking.
Final night, we went to Craby Night buffet where crabs were the main food in the spread. When they served ‘Hot Hot Crab Curry’, it was not spicy at all. Come one, I am an Asian it is not hot at all to my taste buds. Even the Chilli Crab was a mild for us. Don’t try to fake the Singaporean favourite dish when it isn’t our standard. Let me whip up that dish for you. The rest of the buffet spread was fine. But that Lemon Butter sauce that goes well with the grilled tiger prawns was the winner. So good.
Anantara Dhigu Over Water Spa
I never went to a spa treatment. I view it as a rich woman to wants to be pampered trip, maybe because I simply cannot afford it. My husband and I were curious with the Anantara Dhigu Over Water Spa on the first day we took a trip on the Pontoon to Dhigu island. On the second day during breakfast, we were approached by the Spa staff and intrigued with the Couples Spa package (Maldivian Coconut Marvellous). The spa was located in the middle (not exactly middle of no where, just above the Indian Ocean). Visitors are able to view the beauty of the ocean while being massage by professionals. Also, they are one of the award-winning spa in the world.
The package consists of foot massage, white coconut body scrub, coconut oil massage and revitalising facial. For starters, we were instructed to change to a disposable undies and shower. Yes, couple shower. No hanky panky was involved if you must know. Wrapped in the bath robe, we were so astounded by the view of the spa room. Indian ocean right smack in front of us. Did I mention, every guests are able to view the small window overlooking the fishes on the Indian Ocean from the massage bed?
In the middle of our treatment, it was raining heavily therefore we had to skip the outdoor shower. The massage were so good that we both fell asleep until the massage therapists had to beat the gong to wake us up. To end to the treatment, I drank ginger tea. Let me tell you, after drinking that tea I turned into a farting machine throughout the night. No comment on that one. But, it was all worth it. I would visit the spa again, if I can afford it.
The resort personally invite all newly weds and couple celebrating their anniversary to their weekly event on our third night there. They gathered these couples to commemorate their moments with the resort by planting a wooden heart-shaped engraved with the guest names to their Orchid greenhouse fences on the island. This encourages couples to return and view their symbol of everlasting love in the future. Basically it is like the Love Lock or Love Padlock in Paris’s Pont des Arts bridge. My husband being the spoilt sport, refuses and brought it home as a memorabilia. ‘I will frame this to our home instead’. What a bummer.
Ever since I stepped to Maldives, every where I smelt was Lemon grass. They have strong obsession with it, nothing bad with it. In fact, it is refreshing scent. From lemon grass scented Airport toilets to lemon grass room. Every guests are given a cooling towel infused with lemon grass upon arrival, in the speedboat, every time you dine or visit their spa. So now, every time I smell the scent, it reminds me of Maldives and their beautiful back yard, the Indian Ocean.
Maldivians are ought to be proud of themselves with the vast Indian Ocean on their door step. It was worth the splurge to dipped into every day. During the first few minutes of the speedboat ride, it was choppy. But when it turn to a nice turquoise water as it neared the island, it was magnificent. We were glad that we had the opportunity to witness these beauty before it starts to sink in the coming years. Maldives is sinking if you are not aware of global warming. The resort too contributed back to the nature by conserving coral and natural wildlife. Our over-water villa was surrounded by corals and the sea creatures. Witnessing a timid baby shark passing by was a joyous occasion. Hermit crabs seek shelter in their shells whenever we passes by on the white sandy beach.
I personally have issues with deep waters. Previously, I chickened out during the snorkelling tour at Krabi, Thailand. But I was urged by my husband to stay calm and dip my goggled head into the ocean to gain confidence before he release me to swim on my own. Eventually, I am starting to love looking into the sea with fishes swam pass you. It was a surreal view.
If you love nature especially the sea, you have to visit Maldives at least once in your lifetime. It is worth the splurge for over water villa. The best time to go is during Low Season where you could be upgrade to better accommodation when lesser tourists visit at these times with cheaper price tags. I would return to visit Maldives and Anantara Veli resort in a heartbeat if time and money are not an issue in the future.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, though I wouldn’t mind if there are willing party who wants to. All photos were taken on Iphone 6 and Go Pro Silver Hero 4.