Travelling across the Maldives, The Edition brings you reviews of the crème de la crème of Maldivian resorts, hoping to inspire your next holiday getaway. Indulge in the tropics vicariously through the experiences of our writers, and pack your bag right after!
Leaving the city has not been my forté. Like the 'Manhatten-Man' depicted on HBO's Sex and the City, I too am a ‘no-nomad’ and am invested too much in the city: a 'Malé-Man', if I may say so myself.
Delighted I was, however, at the idea of a trip to Finolhu. A luxurious resort with a twist of contemporary marvel that is immersed in the middle of 'MaalhosMadulu' magic. News of groovy Finolhu had well reached Malé and made it to hawk ears of urban creatures like myself. This invite to 'The Edition' to visit Finolhu was a trip I took on with both morbid anticipation and a hesitant work obligation.
Finolhu, since it's opening in June 2016, has become famously known as being the most refreshing, retro-inspired retreat in Baa Atoll. With its classic designs, retro touches and laid-back ambience, Finolhu boasts to give its guests the most stylish vacation in the Maldives. One that is worth hashtagging.
Join me, as I step off the seawall of 'Henveiru' and coast beyond the 'Gaadhookolu' waters to experience this island resort.
Accompanying me were my colleagues-cum-friends, Hawwa and Amina. As leaving the city came naturally for Hawwa and Amina, I looked to them for a trip worth a thousand luxuries.
After a ferry ride, a brief domestic flight and a buggy ride, I found myself on the speed launch that was to whisk us off to Finolhu. As I looked over the bright blue waters that splashed into white foam on to the sides of the vessel, I longed to get to Finolhu as fast as I could. I longed to see the natural décolletage of the island that is set in a UNESCO Biosphere reserve of Baa Atoll.
While the speed launch approached the island's docks, I could see a band of individuals in white uniforms approaching the drop-off point. As I would come to learn later, this was the resort's way of welcoming all guests that came to enjoy the island.
As soon as I got off the speed launch, the white-uniformed, multi-ethnic staff of Finolhu shook my hand in enthusiasm and scorching hot smiles which immediately made me feel welcomed. Through rubbing the wet towel on my face and giving it back to the resort attendant, I felt welcomed.
Exchanging the beads of sweat with beads of splendor, Hawwa, Amina and I walked the long walk on the docks and on to the island. We were greeted by the friendly staff and were grandly escorted to the resort's premier 'Baa Baa Beach Club' restaurant for lunch. According to the friendly, white-unformed Maldivian staff member in charge of escorting us, this was one of many Restaurants and Bars on the island.
Baa Baa Beach Club is a refreshing start for a trip to Finolhu, with floor length windows for ventilation all around and apt usage of sunlight to set the mood. Not to mention, perhaps the most significant node of the entire restaurant, the golden sheep that greeted us into the area of lunch tables. This mascot was placed at the doorstep of the café. The wit of its presence being at the 'Baa Baa' was not lost on us.
After a quick fix of lunch of what seemed to me like the best food I have ever had, I headed to station my bags at the provided accommodation. I was ushered to the line of villas opposite the row of cafés and behind the main lobby.
As grand a reveal as the ball gown was to Cinderella by her rodent friends, the accompanying member of staff opened the doors of the villa with immense excitement, an ear-to-ear smile and further details of the resort. Slightly baffled by the implicit enthusiasm, I stepped in and placed my bags down and continued to listen to the friendly man's brief about Finolhu.
Following a monologue with seventeen mentions of the word 'retro', I nodded a friendly thank you to the man as he proceeded to leave the villa. Afterwards, I sat down on the perfectly made, king-sized bed and looked around the villa while Hawwa and Amina walked over to their respective villa next door.
According to the brief, the villas of Finolhu are designed to represent that of a late-eighties, early-nineties European holiday destination. I was provided with a 'Beach-Front Villa', one of six categories of the retro-chic accommodation available on Finolhu, with diligently varnished wooden floors and matching wooden furniture with clashing patterns for add-ons. I was immediately transported to a golden lap of luxury.
Having prepared myself a cup of coffee from the coffee corner next to the chargeable mini-bar, I walked around further observing the retro room. The unavoidably 'groovy' Marshall speakers paired with the television set were definitely a treat for my vintage-loving eyes. As well as the Moroccan panels which were added over the mirrors around the room gave it just the right amount of 'oriental'.
Succeeding a minute of unwinding, next on the itinerary was a tour of the rest of the villas on the island, and the full-service spa.
In addition to the Beachfront Villas, the resort housed Beachfront Pool Villas, Lagoon Villas as well as Lagoon-Pool Villas. The over-water villas were extended out and on to the lengthy jetty on the right side of the island. They were spacious, comfortable and, of course, luxurious. While divided into different categories for the paying guest to choose from, almost every villa offered a touch of nostalgia reminiscing the 'groovy' theme that the resort aimed for.
The full-service Cove Club Spa was another must-have experience at Finolhu. While I had not personally experienced the spa treatments myself, Hawwa and Amina marvelled about their time at the spa. I did, however, manage to take a look around the spa.
Hidden away amidst the thick bushes and shrubbery, the Cove Club Spa was a fortress that strived to offer its guests the solitude that they needed. From the minute I walked in, the rich aromas of the essences and the soothing music put my mind at peace. And judging by the perfect smiles on the masseuses' faces, everybody's minds are promised to be put at peace.
Up next was a stop at the 1OAK bar for some thirst-quenching drinks with Hawwa and Amina. This was a bar of entertainment. In addition to serving ambrosial spirits and a variety of liquor, it also offered different kinds of acts by professional thespians from all around the world. Their weekly theme nights include vaudevillian acts such as fire-eating, acrobatics, gymnastics, juggling and a whole lot more! Drinks at the 1OAK promises its patrons a wholesome experience.
After adequately quenching our thirst, we then headed to our respective villas to change into something decent and head for dinner at 'BaaHaa Grill'. The dinner was one of the highlights of the entire trip. While the food was exceptional, the service was even better. With soft voices and soft light all around, my team ended up having one of the best meals we have had in a long time. So good, that we retired to our villas immediately after.
The next day started late, crediting the luxury offered by Finolhu, the three of us headed to the Crab Shack for lunch. Another unique restaurant which the island had to offer. After a minuscule ferry ride to the tip of the island, we sat down for a feast as good as a siesta.
While the menu of Crab Shack included many scrumptious delights, two that stood out most to me were the Sri Lankan mud crab and the pumpkin ravioli. The flavours of the two made for an excellent combination.
Followed by lunch, it was time to head to my villa, pack my belongings and return back my key tag to the lobby. After the check-out process, I headed out to the docks and onto the speed launch, onwards to Malé through the journey of a buggy ride, a domestic flight and a ferry ride.
Brief my time might have been, but I got to enjoy the majestic island of Finolhu to its fullest. Leaving Malé turned out to be an experience that I will look upon with only happiness. Returning back to Malé was a relief, as well as a moment that made me appreciate the island resorts that surrounded our capital. I walk away with an open mind to the world outside of Malé.