After an hour-long seaplane transfer from Malé, we’re greeted by the resort’s staff at the island’s jetty, as the sun begins to set. The resort is so far north towards India that it’s in a different time zone – an hour ahead of Malé time – so we reset our watches accordingly. Check-in is conducted beachside, before we’re taken on a buggy to our beach villa, where the word “welcome” is spelt out in reeds on our spacious bed.
As per most of The Maldives’ five-star resorts, Sun Siyam Iru Fushi lies on its own private island. Navigation by foot from end-to-end is fairly painless, although buggies can be called to whisk you to restaurants, the spa, the beach or any other location on the island. It’s full of lush vegetation, and there’s also wildlife to spot – from stingrays in the shallows and lizards scooting up walls to the large bats that swoop around at dusk.
Restaurants aside, our circular beach villa has everything you need to kick back without ever leaving its confines. It opens out onto a sparsely used beachfront, with a plunge pool and two cabanas/daybeds for ultimate lounging. Out back, there’s a swing bed, outdoor shower and Jacuzzi, plus a semi-indoors rain shower, toilet and bidet. There are several thoughtful additions to the room, the most handy of which prove to be umbrellas and ponchos when we endure a torrential downpour on our first morning – it makes our journey to breakfast childish, puddle-splashing fun.
Face-to-face, all interactions with staff are efficient and cheery. A couple of enquiries via our room’s phone leave a little more to be desired, but queries are eventually remedied.
Other guests are predominantly Chinese tourists. There are several bars, including the Waters Edge terrace, where a smattering of guests watch a Filipino covers band after-dark. One nice touch is a deliberate lack of Wi-Fi in most public areas, to avoid holidayers’ idyllic escapes being turned into monosyllabic bouts of email-checking drudgery.
There are more than a dozen outlets around the island (plus private dining on the beach), which means you shouldn’t get bored of the food however long you stay. The international buffet for breakfast at the semi-alfresco Iru Restaurant is good, with all the usual hot and cold options, plus tropical and local flourishes. On the first night, we dine at Bamboo, which specialises in Thai cuisine with Vietnamese and Japanese embellishments – the pick is the gaeng kiew ped yang (duck red curry, with lychee, basil, pineapple and cherry tomatoes) for US$35 (Dh129). At lunch the following day, The Trio’s Italian fare is imaginatively presented in a restaurant elevated on stilts above the water; dinner at the French outlet Flavours is similarly recommended.
The villa, The Trio, and the garden spa, where I enjoy a 60-minute classic Swedish massage ($135 [Dh496]) that’s almost a workout in its brutality – but I’m a new man afterwards.
There are a few too many chargeable in-room extras, including movies and coffee-machine capsules.
Whether the sun is shining or not, this resort is full of paradise-worthy elements that you expect from a Maldivian island.
The bottom line
Beach villas at the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi (www.thesunsiyam.com/irufushi) cost from $484 (Dh1,778) per night, including breakfast, Wi-Fi and taxes. Seaplane transfers cost $560 (Dh2,057) per person, including taxes.
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