NOTE: This review of my short stay at the Deluxe Over-Water Bungalow at Anantara Veli was originally written for the Maldives Traveller website.
Standing on the edge of the sundeck on one of the 14 Deluxe Over-Water Bungalows at Anantara Veli Resort and Spa, I took in a deep breath and filled my lungs with the clear sea air. It was almost noon and the hardwood planks under my bare feet were hot… but I didn’t mind. The breathtaking view of the resort’s turquoise lagoon stretching out before me in all its glory was worth the minor inconvenience. Around 100 metres away from me, separated by the blue lagoon, was a narrow stretch of sandbank dotted with coconut trees, various kinds of bushes and other vegetation. A hammock hung between two of the coconut trees which had been planted close together, possibly for that very purpose. For a second I fancied leaping from the edge of the sundeck – or the “sun terrace” as the resort brochures call it – and diving into the clear aquamarine waters below. Maybe even swim across the channel to the sandbank and climb onto the hammock to doze off under the shade of the two coconut trees. It was tempting. However, I instead climbed down the stairs to the lower level of the sundeck and sat at the edge, dipping my feet into the cool water near the metal ladder which provided direct access to and from the lagoon.
Various species of brightly coloured fish flitted about around the columns which supported the water bungalows; pecking and feeding. Occasionally a bigger fish such as a napoleon wrasse or a small blacktip reef shark would enter the area, sending the small schools of fish into a sudden frenzy as they executed various defensive formations and manoeuvres to escape the predator. Strangely, the appearance of considerably larger shapes, tourists in snorkelling and diving gear, did not seem to cause such an adverse reaction. In fact, the little creatures seemed more curious than scared, darting in out of the coral beds right in front of the divers and occasionally passing inches away from their masks and nibbling on their outstretched hands and fingers, much to the delight of the guests.
Despite the cool breeze, it eventually became too hot to stay on the sundeck. I had the choice of either jumping into the lagoon to cool off or going inside into the air-conditioned room. I chose the latter and opened the sliding glass door which separated the room from the sundeck. The spacious room was luxuriously furnished with all modern amenities while incorporating some elements to give a rustic island feel, such as hardwood floors and coconut-thatch roofs. The king-size bed took up most of the room and I hopped up onto it, propping up the pillows and making myself comfortable before turning on the widescreen TV in the corner. A DVD player was also provided but I was not in the mood for a movie on this occasion.
After surfing through dozens of satellite channels I eventually settled on a music channel I liked and then began exploring the rest of the room. It was chock-full of delightful surprises. Near the entrance I found a tray filled with snacks. Further exploration turned up a mini-bar filled with various goodies and drinks, a tea/espresso machine and even a small “wine cellar”. A small table near the bed had a chess and checkers board carved into it. A halved pineapple with the inside scooped out to form a bowl was filled with pieces of various fruits such as kiwis, strawberries, apples and water-melons. The only desk in the room was located right next to the window so that it offered the same view as that from the sun terrace. I suspected there was high speed WiFi internet access available too, but what’s the point of getting online if you really wanted to get away from the dredges of daily life?
At Anantara Veli Resort and Spa, the focus is on offering guests the ultimate in privacy and luxury and nowhere is it more apparent than in the bathroom. The walls of the bathroom are made of glass, with the areas above neck-height made of clear transparent glass and the lower areas given a frosted glass effect. The intent was to give the bathroom area a private but open-air feel, and it worked. Hot and cold water was available in the shower and a luxurious infinity-edge terrazzo bathtub, big enough for two people, was positioned right at the edge of the glass wall, giving the occupants an unobstructed view of the amazing lagoon and clear blue sky. A relaxing bubble-bath never looked this inviting! Another sliding glass door made the sundeck directly accessible from the bathroom.
After taking a refreshing cold shower, I pulled on a bathrobe and headed to the tiered sundeck. The sun was lower in the sky and the heat of the day was becoming a fading memory. I stretched out on the daybed on the terrace and watched the clouds form various shapes as they slowly passed by above. The sky was already turning orange. Soon night will fall and the view from the room will change. The sky will grow darker and the stars will begin twinkling. This far from any bright sources of illumination, the night sky will present an incomparable view filled with millions of stars. Could there possibly be a more idyllic place to spend some time just resting, relaxing and rejuvenating? I couldn’t think of any.