Big, beautiful bungalows with flawless service

Four Seasons Resort at Landaa, Maldives, has the biggest and best of everything an island oasis has to offer

The welcome

Until now I had believed there was no more spectacular way of arriving at Maldivian resorts than by seaplane. I was wrong. Four Seasons have two resorts here and a yacht, Explorer, that sails between the two. Kuda Huraa, is a half-hour boat journey from Male airport after which it takes a leisurely four days on Explorer to get to Landaa. There are cream carpets, king-size beds, Wi-Fi and frequent stops for scuba diving and snorkelling in virtually untouched waters. We disembarked to the sound of the crew drumming us off and were greeted on the jetty by more music and a large greeting party.

The neighbourhood

The Baa atoll is the only Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives. Its also close to a manta ray hot spot; guests can sign up to Manta alert – when these giant eagle rays, sometimes seven metres long, are spotted, the buzzer goes off and guests gather for the short boat ride to swim alongside them.

The scene

The Four Seasons brand attracts more Americans and Europeans than some other resorts. As with everywhere in the Maldives there are lots of honeymooners but there are also lots of families (there is a good kids’ club), large groups celebrating a big occasion and young professional couples who just want to chill out. There is also an ayurvedic doctor and guests can enrol for panchakarma, a serious two-week detox programme.

The room

The island is one of the larger ones with 102 thatched bungalows and villas all with pools. I was in a beach villa and although it was only the second of eight categories, it had its own front door into the garden, a 12-metre lap pool and an outdoor pavilion with a spiral staircase leading to a “seagazing” loft. The room itself was huge and the bathroom the size of most bedrooms. There are several villas for families and top of the range are the water suites, ocean suites and the Royal Beach villa. Every guest gets a bicycle.

The service

Completely flawless. At one point I stepped on my glasses and broke the frame. I went to the front desk to see if anything could be done. Two hours later my prescription glasses, in a new frame, were sitting in my room on a model nose. When I asked how they had achieved this on an island in the middle of nowhere the reply was they had given them, and one of their sets of reading glasses, to the chief engineer.

The food

Prices for food are typically expensive, and sometimes the half board deals with tour operators are better value. Pizzas in Blu are between US$24 (88Dhs) and $34 (124Dhs). A Maldivian tuna steak is $48 (176Dhs) and Ar Al Barakat, a main course at dinner of Lahim Bil Forn (Roasted beef tenderloin with vegetables and olive oil) is $62 (227Dhs)

There are four restaurants plus lots of options for “destination dining” which translates to dinner on a sandbank or on the beach. My favourite restaurant was Blu, not so much for the food which is excellent, but the location which is truly glorious. Lunch is typical Italian – antipasti, pizza, pasta – and dinner is a bit grander with dishes such as Veal Milanese and Sicilian Caponata. Al Barakat is Lebanese and Moroccan perched over the main jetty with two rooftop terraces and only the stars above. It serves mezzes, grills and stews.

Loved

The level of service.

Hated

We went on the trail of the manta rays but the water was so choppy and deep that we didn’t see anything but large waves.

The verdict

The Maldives has so many fabulous luxury resorts that to stand out you need a USP. For Landaa Giraavaru it is the location, the size of the island which means there is lots to do, the spa, and the Four Seasons brand.

The bottom line

Rates start from $1,323 (Dh4,859) including taxes, in a beach bungalow on a b&b basis (www.fourseasons.com/maldives)

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