Located in South Male Atoll, Anantara Veli Maldives Resort is just a short 35 minute speedboat ride from Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. This convenient transport is key to enjoying your resort experience. After all, when you’re in an adults-only paradise playground in the Maldives, you’d want to maximise every minute.
Anantara is a brand that is big on experience and is steadily impressing me so far. They are focused on creating unique experiences for their guests and this is a factor that I’m drawn to the most. Apparently, I’m not alone in this fascination for experience because according to last year’s Virtuoso Luxe Report, luxury travellers seek more than just thread count because it’s all about authentic experiences. (Read more)
And if we take a little trip down memory lane, you may recall that my experience with past Anantara properties have left me nothing short of amazed. ( learning to cook Balinese food in Bali, and experiencing a luxury stay in the desert )
So it was with great excitement when I started counting down the days till our second visit to the Maldives, as we would be staying at Anantara Veli Maldives, one of the four Anantara properties in the Maldives. Veli is known for being the ultimate couples’ getaway as not only is it an adults-only resort, all of its rooms are overwater bungalows too.
Well I thought I knew what to expect in this resort. Little did I know that it held a couple of surprises for me!
So let’s get on with the trip report. And as all my travel stories do, it starts with ….
Anantara has its own dedicated lounge at the airport, so once we reached the airport jetty (we came from another resort), a representative of Anantara immediately met us and swooped us off the arms of the previous resort staff. We were then led to Anantara’s lounge. It’s not a particularly large lounge, but it has wi-fi and air conditioning, which you will find extremely handy in Male airport (particularly the latter!).
Cold drinks, coffee and tea are also available. The staff explained to us that they are just waiting on 2 other couples arriving from a flight that just landed, and then we’d be off. We only sat for less than ten minutes when we were told we can head to the speedboat.
The speedboat journey to Anantara Veli took about half an hour. The fresh sea breeze and mists of ocean spray served as a warm introduction of what we were about to experience the next few days.
The sun played hide and seek during our speedboat transfer. I’m glad that it never eventuated to a full rain during our stay!
Even from afar, I could already hear the festive beat of the bodu beru (Maldivian drum) as our speedboat slowed down to let us off. Such a joyful welcome from the staff! All smiles and absolutely a great start to guests’ stay.
Check-in / Room
Soon after we’ve settled with our welcome drinks, we were introduced to our butler, Kim.
Kim then led us to our bungalow, where check-in was done.
Deluxe Overwater Pool Bungalow
Our room, a Deluxe Overwater Pool Bungalow (Villa #185), was poised right above the lagoon. It is quite spacious with 125 square metres, has a private plunge pool, sun loungers, and a King sized bed.
The bed was quite comfortable and had just the right amount of firmness. I also loved their pillow menu. It’s the most effective I’ve seen in hotels. Most pillow menus offer flowery descriptions of firmness / feel but what good are they if you cannot actually feel them?
The bathroom has a standalone bath tub facing a wide, almost floor to ceiling glass which looks out to the Indian Ocean.
With two sinks, and a separate shower and toilet area, it is quite roomy, and offers a lot of natural light.
Their bathroom amenities are a combination of Elemis and Anantara’s home brand toiletries. I rarely say this about home brand toiletries, but I actually prefer the Anantara toiletry line to Elemis. They are made from unprocessed ingredients and I tend to love their natural scents.
Deck / Plunge Pool
Our bungalow led to extremely inviting waters. Not all overwater bungalows lead to waters that you can jump right into, and ours was just right for heading straight for a swim. The depth of the water was perfect (high waist level) and more importantly, had smooth sand so I didn’t need to watch out too much for corals.
And let me tell about the first world problem that Overwater Pool Bungalows present: The daily struggle of choosing between the plunge pool or the ocean. So as not to play favourites, I always ended up with the ocean first, and then plunging in the pool to desalinate. Best of both worlds!
Our deck also had chairs and a table which was the perfect spot to wait for sunrise (not me) and sunset (both Zombie and me).
Let’s cut to my favourite part , and take you to the world where adults get a mix of luxury, relaxation, and play!
Anantara Veli has its sister island, Anantara Dhigu (family friendly), just a pontoon ride away. Guests from both resorts (Veli and Dhigu) can ‘cross’ and use each others’ amenities and restaurants, but children are only allowed certain times in Veli, whereas adults can go back and forth between the two resorts at any time (just take note of the last pontoon service which I believe is close to midnight).
This briefly reminds me of the scene from the movie “Couples Retreat”, when one of the husband looks longingly on at the adults only island 😉
This is a world where it pays to be an adult (but a kid at heart!). Both resorts have playful (and not to mention photogenic and Instagram-worthy) amenities like a swing in the middle of the sea.
This certainly brought the inner kid out in Zombie. He swung much, much higher than that, and I wasn’t at all worried. If he fell, the only thing that would happen would be a giant splash 😉
If swings are not your cup of tea and you’d rather chill in style, this hammock in the middle of the ocean would probably be your choice of a siesta spot.
If you do find yourself in this spot, be sure to have loaded up on sunscreen or took sun cover with you, because you will surely want to stay in that spot for a long, long, time.
Here’s my first surprise : Surfing lessons! Ten years in Australia, and being a beach and adventure lover, people are taken aback to know that I’ve NEVER surfed before.
Which really, is quite ironic because one of my favourite songs is “Surfer Girl” by the Beach Boys, who, also quite ironically, are Not beach type of boys at all! And growing up, I always looked up to Gabby Reece (ok she’s not a surfer, but she’s married to Laird Hamilton, considered one of the greatest surfers of all time.)
Alright, I digress now. My actual reason for not having tried surfing before is the movie Blue Crush. I love that movie, but one scene that kept playing over and over in my head was how Kate Bosworth’s character fell from her board and giant waves engulfed her, then gave her a good washing machine workout. In the process, her head was rammed into a sharp coral (OUCH!!!) and gosh, that scene..I will never forget.
Well I can’t forever keep using a 2002 teen movie as an excuse, so I took the opportunity to learn to surf at Anantara Veli.
Tropicsurf runs the surfing school in Anantara Veli (and Dhigu) and they are the pioneers in ‘luxury surfing’.
It really helped that my instructor, the lovely Becky, was very calm, encouraging and reassuring.
Becky is extremely passionate about surfing, and travels the world far and wide in search for big waves. She hails from the UK so that’s saying a lot about her dedication to surfing! She and her partner run the Tropicsurf program in Anantara Maldives and they also blog about their surfing-travelling life
With Becky’s patience and clear instructions, I was soon surfing like Laird Hamilton:
Or should I say LARD Hamilton 😉 All of me, including muscles that I didn’t even know existed were all-a-wobbling as I made that first glide. Yes, I did fall soon after that photo was taken but it felt great to learn something new!
While I won’t be switching careers or hobbies anytime soon, I’m so glad we took this opportunity to learn surfing at Anantara Veli.
It created a great bonding opportunity for me and Zombie as we laughed whenever one dismally fell from his/her board. Most of all, it taught me that one is never too old to learn something new! This definitely was a highlight for me, and quite refreshing from our usual snorkel/diving activity.
Speaking of snorkelling, let’s go to a realm I’m quite comfortable with! Isn’t it ironic how I’m more at ease underwater than on the surface of it?
Anantara Veli’s underwater scene was brimming and alive!
We went on a snorkelling trip to Anantara’s nearby reef, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Even though the resort is close to Male, the corals are very much healthy and busy.
The sun was out in full blast, and there also wasn’t much current so it was a good day to really explore underwater. You can see more of the underwater footage from the resort tour video above.
Ayurvedic Consultation / Treatment
Here’s another first! I’ve had more than my fair share of receiving spa treatments and massages, but this was the first time that I had an actual in-depth Ayurvedic consultation before the treatment.
Ayurveda is a system of alternative medicine with its roots from the Indian subcontinent. Unlike other alternative types of medicinal treatment, Ayurveda focuses more on healthy living than treatment of diseases. And this goes well with my personal lifestyle because I always believe that prevention is better than cure.
Dr. Avinash Tiwari is Anantara Veli’s resident Ayurvedic doctor. He has spent 20 years studying and practicing Ayurveda, and even spent a year in the foothills of the Himalayas to study herbal science.
We were led to a very calming, well-lighted room and Dr. Avinash sat us down and explained to us the basics of Ayurveda. Of course, he cannot cram 20 years’ knowledge in a 30-minute consultation but he did explain the concept of the three Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, (air, fire and earth) which are derived from the elements. He believes that all of us are made of the doshas and we all differ in the quantity of each dosha in our being.
Now here’s the interesting part: Dr. Avinash then gave us a questionnaire to fill out. I handed mine in less than 5 minutes, while Zombie took about 10 minutes before handing his paper in.
After glancing at our answers briefly, Dr. Avinash assessed that I was of the Fire-Water type, while Zombie was Fire-Air. After explaining what these types meant, he revealed that he didn’t just rely on our questionnaire answers, but that he was also observing the way we behaved while answering the questionnaire, and also while talking to him.
He noted the vast difference between myself and Zombie, with me being very sure of my answers, quickly answering them and handing it in without hesitation, while Zombie took much more time to carefully read, answer, and even going back on some of the questions , changing his answers and still looking at the paper even while handing it in.
Such observation! And let me tell you that the things he said about our personalities were pretty spot on. This is not based on horoscope/ zodiac (he didn’t even ask or know our dates of birth). Just purely from observation.
Well I was warned beforehand that a consultation with Dr. Avinash would be very much like hearing your own mother talk with his healthy living reminders and his ability to seem to know you inside out. Well, to be honest between me and my mother, I’m the health-preacher but dang, it did sound like Dr. Avinash had a chat with my own mother as he really seemed to perfectly profile my personality. He even provided certain situations in life and rightly assessed how I react to them, and even gave a pretty good picture of how people around me perceive and react to my personality. Ok, I won’t be giving much away lest I be digging my own grave, but the consultation really left me impressed.
And just before we ended the meeting, as if reading my mind, Dr. Avinash quickly said, “No, I am NOT a fortune teller. Believe me, if I am a fortune teller, I’d be reading my own fortune first before yours!”
With my head still reeling from our personal consultation, we were led to the couples massage room and were given a 90-minute Ayurvedic Oil Massage, as suggested by Dr. Avinash.
This kind of massage increases circulation and lubricates the joints, so whilst I felt relaxed during the treatment, I left feeling very much invigorated.
This Ayurvedic consultation / treatment was also unlike any other I’ve had before, because until this day, I’m getting daily health tips and recipes based on my Fire-Water profile from Dr. Avinash himself. As mentioned, Ayurveda focuses more on making daily living right rather than seeking medicinal cure and I’m really impressed that Sundari Ayurvedic Spa does not just give “one-off” treatments but rather, focuses on long-term change.
Food at Anantara Veli
Breakfast at Anantara Veli Maldives is at 73 Degrees Restaurant. It’s a buffet-style spread with a coastal design that has tables facing the ocean.
And as we were enjoying our hot breakfast (with mini chocolate rolls of course!), our waiter came and delivered two coloured drinks each to us. “This is from Dr. Avinash from Sundari Spa. These tonics have been prescribed to you based on your Ayurvedic session.”
This was the day after our consultation so I was quite impressed that Dr. Avinash remembered, and what a touching gesture! These drinks were served to us every morning for breakfast. Unbelievable!
Baan Huraa Thai Restaurant
Anantara as a brand is based in Thailand, and it’s not surprise that Anantara Veli’s Baan Huraa is the best-rated Thai restaurant in all of Maldives.
They serve a broad range of Thai food, from the creamy curries of the south to the spicy and invigorating fares from the north of Thailand.
It’s not your usual Pad Thai fare in this restaurant, and I’m so glad to have tried new things. I’m not the most adventurous eater, but I’m so pleased to have tried this for the first time:
This is an appetiser dish called “Miang Kham”, which loosely translates to “eating many things in one bite.”
I never expected that a leaf wrap consisting of lime bits (with rind), raw onions, garlic, peanuts, chillies and tamarind sauce would taste so good!
It’s a traditional Thai snack that served as a perfect appetiser.
We ordered some other dishes like a platter of mixed appetisers with crab cakes, spring rolls, and skewers, and also seafood Pad Thai. It was a splendid dinner!
Anantara Veli and Anantara Dhigu has nine restaurants between them, and if you could only eat in one restaurant, I would suggest Baan Huraa.
Origami Japanese Restaurant
For seafood lovers like myself, the modern Japanese restaurant of Anantara Veli, Origami provides the freshest platters of sashimi and sushi. They also have entertaining Teppanyaki style dinners every week from Tuesday to Sunday.
A perfect lunch spot would be an alfresco dining at Sea.Fire.Salt restaurant. They specialise in grilled and wood fire baked specialties.
They even have a resident ‘Salt Guru’, who came with a trolley of different salts around the world. Whoever knew that there were many different tastes and types of salt? *I didn’t!*
My two most favourite things are the mixed grilled seafood which sat on a bed of pink Himalayan salt, and their Black Truffle Pizza, wonderfully recommended by our waiter.
Sea.Fire.Salt is the perfect place to have long, lazy lunches and dinners as they view and breeze are inviting.
With nine restaurants altogether in between the two sister resorts of Anantara Veli and Dhigu, one is definitely spoiled for choice dining in Anantara. Some resorts can be a hit or miss with restaurants, but Anantara’s quality of food in the three restaurants I’ve eaten at were really of superior level, one worth going to the resort for just by the dining experience alone.
Service – Our Superstar Butler Kim
Service in Anantara Veli is notably warm and consistent. But most deserving of praise would be our Bungalow Butler, Kim. A lot of resorts in the Maldives feature a personalised villa or room butler, but Kim from Anantara Veli really took this position to the highest notch.
First, she gave us a phone that had a direct access to her number so we could reach her anytime. I didn’t think I’d be needing this, but it proved to be handy when we found ourselves needing a little more time in between appointments. It only took a short call to Kim and she would swiftly arrange (or re-arrange) schedules.
She also knew our schedules by heart and would give us reminders when she would be waiting for us in a buggy to drive us to our appointment, be it the spa, a restaurant, the jetty for snorkelling, etc.
The most impressive is how she efficiently caters to almost ANY query we had. For instance, when we checked-in, Zombie remarked that the welcome pipe-in music in the room was really nice and casually asked Kim if she knew the title or the artist of the song. Kim said she didn’t know but will find out.
We’d forgotten about that exchange, when later in the day, Kim handed Zombie a USB stick. “These are the songs that we play when welcoming guests in the room.”
Zombie and I were speechless. We’ve never seen this efficiency (and proactiveness!) in a butler before.
Then another morning as we were having breakfast before going on our snorkelling trip, I realised I hadn’t brought any hair ties with me. It’s not the end of the world obviously, but tying your hair back when snorkelling will just make things so much easier. When Kim appeared in our breakfast table to go through our schedule for the day, I just casually asked her if she happened to have any rubber band / hair tie with her. (We didn’t have time to go back to the room). She said no, and I told her it’s not a problem. I mean, I’ll live!
A few minutes later, Kim re-appeared and gave me a couple of rubber bands. It was at this point that I started to have doubts about Kim. She’s not a butler– she’s a GENIE!
A Journey Rich with Discovery
On our day of check-out, I found a photo memento placed on our desk. It was a shot that the staff of Anantara Veli took on our first day at the resort.
While the printed photo was indeed a touching gesture, what I treasure the most is the journey that Anantara created during our short stay. All the experiences and activities we did at Anantara Veli led to a lot of discovery indeed. Discovering food, things, and activities we have never done before, which ultimately led to discovering more of ourselves, and of each other.
With Anantara Veli focusing on guest experience and well-being, it offers something more meaningful other than being just another luxury ‘couples resort’.
Whether you are a loved-up duo, newlyweds, XX years married and looking for a getaway for no reason at all — I highly recommend Anantara Veli.
We arrived at the resort brimming with excitement, stayed at the resort with a ‘young-at-heart’ attitude,, and left Anantara Veli realising what is most important in life: Life experience, be it grand or mundane, that we go through together.
Would you care for an adults-only resort? What’s the most memorable activity you’ve done on a trip with your loved one?
Anantara Veli Maldives
Veligandu, South Male Atoll
We stayed as guests of Anantara Veli Maldives. All opinions and thoughts of the resort are mine.
A rate at a Deluxe Overwater Pool Bungalow (where we stayed) begins at AUD 1,800 per night, on a flexible rate with breakfast.