I sort of felt like a French billionaire while standing on the dock at Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa. I was waiting to board a boat which would sail across tranquil turquoise lagoon in search of petite seaplane. In the Maldives, Four Seasons offers the jet set two luxurious resorts which are connected via 40 minute flight over palm-fringed isles and atolls. We take off the ocean floor in search of paradise numero dos, Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru.
Upon arrival I skip along the dock and smile at two heron that I find hunting along the waters edge, eying a swarm of sardines basking in the afternoon sun. I walk along palm flanked Coconut Boulevard to arrive at the resorts Tiffany-blue splashed breezy lobby where I’m immediately greeted by a refreshing coconut and cool ginger and lemongrass scented towelette.
Located in the remote Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is located on a 44-acre private island, a natural wonderland fringed by a spectacular two-kilometre long lagoon. The resort was designed by visionary Sri Lankan architect, Murad Ismail, and showcases a simple, contemporary blend of traditional Maldivian and Sri Lankan forms. The airy buildings each adhere to regional styles – from the 45-degree pitch of the high thatched roofs to the use of coral walls. Entry to each residential domain is via its own turquoise gate featuring lush vegetation providing maximum privacy.
The resort features 103 vast accommodations on the beach, over the lagoon or hidden down dense jungle paths. I’m literally flabbergasted with glee when I first prance through the Beach Villa which I’ll be calling my home sweet home for three days. The outrageously decadent unit features a 137 square metre interior, 260 square metre exterior, 12 metre lap pool, extensive private garden and outdoor, sand-floor living pavilion with sea-gazing loft accessible via a spiral staircase. A hammock hermits dream!
Sips & Nibbles: The resort offers guests four distinct restaurant concepts which allow visiting food fans an opportunity to switch up flavours and textures throughout their stay. Enjoy a limitless buffet breakfast each morning at Cafe Landaa. Relish in the romantic vibes at sunset via rooftop patio at Lebanese and Moroccan inspired at Al Barakat. Enjoy a bowl of slippery noodles and crisp glass of chardonnay overlooking the beach at white-washed Italian Blu Restaurant.
Stretching from the heart of the island to the middle of the lagoon, the Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat pulsates with life and wisdom, purity and health. With a strong emphasis on natural healing, the 2.5 acre complex draws its strength from the surrounding landscape, the integrity of ila’s ‘beyond organic’ products and the intrinsic spirituality of its therapists, Ayurvedic Physicians and yogi. Ten vast open-air treatment pavilions – including three dedicated to ayurveda – nestle in their own lush tropical gardens or on stilts over calm turquoise lagoon. Treatments here incorporate medicinal plants from the Herbal Garden such as ark, ginger, mahabala and neem. Speciality spa therapies include Chakra Blessings, Tantric Traditions and Reconnection Rituals for the whole family.
I start my visit with a complimentary ayurvedic consultation with an onsite physician who after chatting for 10 minutes tells me my body is strong in Kapha Dosha (the elements of water and earth). I’m advised to drink more water, eat eggs without the yolk, consume hot peppers without the seeds and add a dash of turmeric to everything I eat. After my consultation I’m greeted by two male therapists who walk me through a gorgeous garden. We arrive at a swanky al fresco avurvedic treatment villa where I spend the next two hours indulging in the spa’s signature Abhyanga massage. The treatment includes a four hand massage which is performed by two therapists simultaneously using warm herbal oil followed by a soothing steam bath.
A short stroll from the Spa reception and you’ll find a secluded Yoga Pavilion hidden in thick jungle foliage. I stumble in a daze from my massage to the sun-splashed sanctuary for an introductory lesson in Anti-Gravity Yoga. Our group spends an hour mostly swaying upside down from bouncy hammocks which enable participants to take yoga into the three-dimensional realm. Slightly suspended above the ground, it provides relief to the physical body and facilitates the practice of inverted postures. One feels as though they are flying through the air, suspended in time as tropical birds tweet through breezy palms.
Tan fans spend most of their day lazing on lounge chairs at the beach by the Water Sports Centre which offer guests a handful of complimentary non-motorized activities including catamaran sailing, single sails, windsurfing, kayaking and snorkelling. Thrill seekers with a need for speed can sign up for Seabobbing (jet-driven water rockets), waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, jet-skiing , kite surfing and Jet Blading.
I had seen a few videos online which showcase the wild wonderment of Jet Blading so was sure to sign up for an introductory lesson. I literally took to the sky on the world’s most technically advanced water powered, underfoot jetboard. It took me about five failed attempts to get myself out of the water and couldn’t help but feel a bit like Jesus rising into the heavens once I’d mastered the tricky footwork. A truly magical experience floating into the heavens as a plume of ocean water ejects from the heels of your feet!
With thila and channel diving, vibrant coral gardens, abundant fish life, great visibility and warm waters year-round, the Maldives is one of the world’s top diving destinations. Landaa Giraavaru’s isolated location in the remote Baa Atoll UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve places guests in close proximity to many virgin dive sites, including over 30 unspoilt coral gardens. It is just a short boat ride from renowned manta ray and whale shark hotspots like Hanifaru Bay, Bathalaa Island and Veyofushi Reef.
The Resort’s PADI Five-Star IDC Dive Centre is located within steps of the warm, fish-filled lagoon. I met with the team here on my final afternoon on the island to get outfitted for my upcoming four night scuba safari on the Four Seasons Explorer. I slithered into a wetsuit and joined a friendly Japanese dive master for a quick crash course at popular dive site Corner Bodu Thila. The site is famed for its fish abundance, home sweet home to snappers, jacks, sweet lips and napoleon wrasse. The Orientation dive was a big help in preparing me for my four day scuba safari on the Explorer, affectionately dubbed “the world’s smallest Four Seasons Resort.”