Amilla Fushi, Maldives (REVIEW)
On landing at Male Airport, the warmth and service received from the staff at Amilla Fushi is outstanding. Whisked away from the baggage area into an air-conditioned lounge, we awaited the domestic flight in total comfort. An added complication caused by the late arrival of our baggage was taken care of seamlessly and in no time we were being met by Riyaz, our Katheeb (butler) for the week. Onto the speedboat, water and a cold towel were offered and then on arrival at the resort, a fruit cocktail and a welcome from the island staff. Having travelled overnight, it had been a long day and it was a relief to be able to check in, in the comfort of the room. No standing in reception queues here.
The atmosphere of this resort is entirely relaxing and with no dress code anywhere, it couldn't make me happier. I didn't make it out of flip-flops all week, exactly how it should be when staying at a beach resort. Staff dressed in t-shirts and flip-flops reinforced this relaxed approach.
Forget thatched villas, this is sleek, modern and contemporary. We stayed in an ocean lagoon house which exceeded my expectations in every way. Acres of space, both inside and out, gorgeous interiors- think solid teak furniture, huge bed, every conceivable luxury and all perched over the sea, the clarity of which truly has to be seen to be believed. As a huge fan of tea, the fact there is a tea machine as well as a Nespresso was an unexpected and added bonus. It is this attention to detail that is a constant throughout. Did it have that 'wow factor'? Hell yeah, in spades! Having stolen a peek at the beach and tree houses it was impossible to pick out the best accommodation. It really depends on what you want; for snorkelling obviously the overwater houses suit, for novelty, the tree houses do not disappoint. This is the first time I have ever seen a pool suspended twelve metres up in the middle of the tree canopy! For privacy, the beach houses are impressive with showers big enough to fit six people. With a number of beach residences also available there really is something for everyone.
The main area of the resort is centred around Baazaar where you can eat at a table by the pool or in each separate restaurant. The day starts with a comprehensive buffet breakfast in Fresh where both hot and cold items are available. An early departure on the final day meant a continental breakfast was provided in our room; this truly was a feast fit for a king.
The food concept really appeals, you can order from any of the restaurants and eat wherever you choose. The preloaded menus on mini iPads made ordering both novel and straight forward. The quality of the food is befitting the quality of the setting. From fish and chips Amilla style, beef tenderloin from the Grill, Joe's pizza on the jetty or fine dining at Lonu by Luke Mangan (do try one of Luke's signature dishes, the gnocchi is excellent) again there is something for everyone. Even better, if you don't feel like going to the food, the food will come to you and you can chill out in your 'own home'. The General Store also gives you the choice of picking up a deli style sandwich or food basics in order to enjoy as you please.
As you would expect, a comprehensive drinks menu complemented the food including an extensive wine menu, cocktails, beers and soft drinks. The wine cellar is also impressive, miss out on the cheese and wine tasting at your peril.
Amilla Fushi employs a high percentage of Maldivian Staff (78% at the time of writing) and their hospitality is second to none. Always smiling and using your name, it has a genuine feeling of being in the Maldives rather than just any other international luxury resort. The warmth of welcome we received from all staff did significantly contribute to making this a very special stay. The Katheeb concept is excellent and although I am not in the habit of calling on butlers, by the end of the week it was very sad to say goodbye to Riyaz who had become a very familiar and friendly face during our stay. His presence was always helpful and never intrusive. I can't begin to thank him and the rest of the team enough when after finding a fish bone stuck in my throat, they had me whisked off to hospital (at midnight) in a speedboat and back to the resort in a matter of hours.
The access to chauffeured buggys ensures guests have the choice of hiding from the heat of the sun and being delivered to any facility on the island at any time of the day.
One of my pet hates about luxury resorts are the extras you have to pay at every turn. Not at Amilla Fushi. Included in the room rate you will find breakfast, a daily 50 minute spa treatment, motorised (20 minutes) and non motorised waterspouts, snorkel equipment, laundry, kids club, water and wi-fi. These are not token spa treatments. The spa is well resourced and the therapists are superb. A one hour Yoga class is also complimentary. I think Lisa (instructor) got more than she bargained for when we turned up, let's say we are not exactly seasoned Yogis! There is plenty of drinking water provided and the wi-fi is resort wide and works perfectly. We even had wi-fi on the fishing boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean as we were catching Red Snapper!
This is an outstanding resort for many different reasons. The quality of the accommodation is exactly what you would expect from a property in this price range. However, what sets it apart is the genuine hospitality of the staff and the unstuffy atmosphere they have succeeded in creating. The range and quality of accommodation available is conducive to staying in 'your island home' so the resort never feels crowded and caters for both couples and families alike. Tom McLoughlin and Michael Flynn want people to experience the real Maldivian soul and with Amilla Fushi I think that's exactly what they have achieved. In my opinion, a very special place. Simply stunning.