About 20 minutes in a speedboat from Malé’s international airport, the Jumeirah Vittaveli is one of two of the UAE brand’s properties in the Maldives, alongside the nearby Jumeirah Dhevanafushi. We’re greeted at the resort by a team of staff singing, clapping and playing Maldivian drums, then given small necklaces of palm leaves as we step onto terra firma.
On its own private island, as per the majority of the Maldives’ most exclusive resorts, the Vittaveli is swish even by those standards. Navigation around the island is by bicycle or buggy. The real boon of this location is that one of the country’s best coral reefs is a mere 100 metres offshore, with five shipwrecks to explore underwater.
My “beach villa with pool sunset” is a princely 184 square metres, with a romantic, ocean-facing, mosquito-net-swathed king bed, spacious semi-outdoor bathroom (plus a fully outdoor bath and shower for post-pool/beach washing), L-shaped pool and cabana-esque daybed. There’s an Apple Mac mini with free Wi-Fi, and the TV comes replete with free on-demand movies. The slightly bewildering array of mood-lighting switches score negative marks.
High prices don’t make watersports such as jet-skiing tempting for UAE visitors, given our own shores offer similar opportunities at a fraction of the price. Snorkelling, on the other hand, is more remarkable, with turtles, octopuses and all manner of finned sea-life visible. If adventure isn’t your thing, there are some worthwhile spectator activities, too: stingrays materialise to be fed at the same spot of beach about 5pm every evening, while we also see a nut-to-bottle demonstration of how the spa’s pure organic coconut oil is concocted.
In a word: fun. Staff start conversations and, by the end of our stay, some of them feel more like friends, with cheeky banter to match.
There are three restaurants: Fenesse (seafood), Samsara (pan-Asian) and the Mu Beach Bar & Grill. Each has its own charm, although the spicy blue water prawns (US$37 [Dh136]) at Samsara prove our favourite dish. The resort’s “dining by design” concept is better still: we sample a barbecue dinner on the beach, complete with a fire/LED light show from two dancers, plus a traditional Maldivian music performance.
The snorkelling sights, the bikes and a 60-minute Balinese massage ($160 [Dh588]) at the Talise Spa, in a sea-facing water villa with its doors thrown open to the elements.
Finding a cockroach in the toilet, plus a proliferation of ants swarming over anything I left in the bathroom – harmless creepy crawlies are a minor hazard in the Maldives.
Best suited to honeymooners and couples, the Vittaveli is also well set up for younger families, while the familiarity of the UAE brand gives it an edge over the plethora of rivals.
The bottom line
Villas start from $1,000 (Dh3,673) per night, including taxes, breakfast, Wi-Fi and kids' club access, but excluding speedboat transfers ($200 [Dh735] per person). Children under 12 stay for free and also get free transfers. Jumeirah Vittaveli, Bolifushi Island, South Malé Atoll, Maldives (www.jumeirah.com; 00960 664 2020).
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