Hurawalhi Island Resort, Maldives was designed with couples in mind. // © 2017 Hurawalhi Island Resort, Maldives
Feature image (above): The resort features 90 villas. // © 2017 Hurawalhi Island Resort, Maldives
“Honeymooning” without a husband is a skill I’ve mastered throughout my career. Traveling with or without my partner, I’ve marveled in my share of beautiful beach days, candlelit dinners and couples massages. Yet few destinations have the ability to dial up the romance during vacation like the extraordinary new adults-only, private-island Hurawalhi Island Resort, Maldives.
Luckily, this was a trip for two.
Located just 40 minutes by seaplane from Male, the Maldives’ capital city, Hurawalhi is a life highlight in itself. Seen from above, the 1,200 coral islands are so spectacular that it feels unearthly. Then, a short boat ride to the private island uncovers a property that both embraces and protects its environment.
The jetties are flanked with tiny artistic solar panels, and the team at the marine biology center studies the local manta ray population while educating resort guests about the underwater glory. Our guided snorkel experience with Kirsty Ballard, resident marine biologist, was a lesson not only in sea life but also in savoring life’s moments. For bigger thrill seekers, there are nearby turtle caves and more than 50 diving spots a brief distance away.
But it was the quiet time spent above sea level on what Hurawalhi calls “Dream Island” that my partner and I will remember most. A private sandbar just two minutes from the resort by boat is where we found ourselves intentionally stranded. Here, the staff sets up intimate beach dinners or, in our case, an afternoon picnic of locally caught seafood; fruits and cheeses; Asian-inspired salads and sweets; and, of course, champagne. We were also given a Bluetooth speaker and an emergency phone to keep connected; otherwise, the island was ours.
Back at the resort, the sustainable Scandinavian design has couples in mind, especially at its above-water Balinese Duniye Spa. Treatment rooms for two have tub-flanked balconies and glass-bottom floors through which clients can watch the fish go by during a massage. Honeymooners receive complimentary head and shoulder massages, and all guests can partake in the meditation and tea room.
Of the 90 villas, 60 are over-the-water and 30 are on the beach. Forty-five villas come furnished with a private pool; some face the sunset; and some are more protected from the winds. Luckily, there’s not a bad room to be had.
The dining options at the resort are varied and delightful. We partook in the All-Inclusive Plus program, which includes three meals per day in the buffet restaurant, heavy snacks and bites during off hours and a full 24-hour bar, among other included amenities. The offerings are vast and well-presented, with a variety of fresh seafood and Asian, French and American fare. By week’s end, the globally trained chefs at the interactive stations had become our friends.
In the evening, the a la carte venues make for great change of scenery. The world’s largest all-glass underwater restaurant sits 5.8 meters (about 20 feet) below sea level, perched on a reef full of lionfish, stingrays and the occasional curious octopus suctioned to the glass. Appropriately named 5.8, the restaurant holds only eight couples at a time for the five- or seven-course lunch or dinner service. Seats are so coveted that advance reservations are suggested. The venue also makes for a unique wedding ceremony site.
For a pre-meal cocktail, Champagne Pavilion is the best spot to watch the sunset. Better yet, the perfectly themed indoor-outdoor bar is complete with giant cork barstools, matching end tables and an array of bubbly, a perfect place to celebrate something special.
Couples who seek the most beautiful beaches in the world will find happiness here, as will those who prefer to stay more active. There were too many sports to choose from in our short stay, from beach volleyball (staff members are encouraged to play with guests), soccer, tennis and badminton to kayaking and snorkeling. Also available are group classes offered in a studio or on the sand and a state-of-the-art gym with ocean views. Even better? All of the above are included in the All-Inclusive Plus plan. For golfers, there’s also a nine-hole course just a five-minute boat ride away. All in all, this particular “honeymooning” experience was perfect for my partner and me.
Note: Since this is one destination where weather can affect the experience, travel between November and April is ideal, though in August we experienced only one day of rain.