The castaway fantasy island

The Park Hyatt, Maldives, only 30 miles from the equator, is an embodiment of the spirit of barefoot luxury and authenticity

Only a few would be able to fathom that just 30 miles from the equator, perched on the sandbank of a preserved house reef is nestled a pristine and untouched beauty. Like a castaway fantasy island hewn from driftwood, secretly souped up in the remotest, Huvadhoo Atoll, The Park Hyatt, Maldives embodies the spirit of barefoot luxury and authenticity with serious eco-credentials to boot. In the middle of the languid, cerulean blue lagoon and dense foliage stands this 51 villa resort. In fact, it gives one the feeling nothing short of entering the 3D set of Planet Blue. The resort, spread over seven acres, houses the only authentic Maldivian wellness centre – Vidhun The Spa.

Drawing from its native meaning ‘to shine’, Vidhun The Spa embraces the uniqueness of the local culture with treatments based on Dhivehibey which is traditional Maldivian medicinal practices focussing on balancing the body. All the treatments are based on the Evvaru rituals and amalgamate aspects of hoonu – cooling, fini – heating and hiki – hydrating the humors of the body. The Sehathu is their signature massage that blending this holistic and ayurvedic approach.

As part of their resort-wide sustainability practices, The Park Hyatt, Maldives repurposes certain ingredients used in their dining experiences, creating body scrubs from orange peels, papaya and cucumber dash. The in-house kitchen garden provides fresh produce for their spa manager Pravesh who creates signature blends with his expert methodologies unique only to Park Hyatt Maldives. The spa delivers on the quintessential journey of meditative relaxation and holistic rejuvenation.

The oceans have always been a brooding mystery. The volcanic mountain range underneath the sea shows only its tip in the form of coral reefs, deepest gorges, widest valleys, steepest canyons and the broadest spectrum of colours. Guests can snorkel away with the help of certified PADI professionals from the resort’s diving and activity centre, Blue Lagoon, and get a glimpse of the deep edge of the house reef. Myriad colours, shapes, sizes of corals, schools of mackerel, bonito, yellow fish tune, swordfish and their house turtle, Ben. Over the next few days, they can also indulge in different expeditions, big or small, from night snorkelling, fishing and Nature walks to self-exalting kayaking.

The resort is distinctive in style and character as well. Designed to combine sophistication with understated luxury, the architecture is minimalism personified. Each of the overwater as well as beach villas are built to blend in with the surroundings. The use of glass for unobstructed views of the aquamarine waters, soft furnishings, eco-amenities and glass bottles from the in-house bottling plant. Even the fragrance of Le Labo Bergamot 22 wafting through the vents in the villas are a part of the bespoke sensorial aesthetics crafted for discerning travellers.

Guests can immerse themselves in the Maldivian culture at the arrival jetty itself. A few meters in, a larger-than-life wooden structure upside down is built to venerate the oldest sea vessel in the region – famously known as The Dhoni. It’s a landmark of the resort exhibiting spectacular art and doubling up as an educational space where guests can connect and inspire love for the culture and traditions of the Maldives.

Of the restaurants and bars, the headliner was the Chef’s Garden Treehouse. Perched 5 metre above the ground on forked branches, with panoramic views of the ocean, this is a vegan paradise. Based on the premise of plant only cuisine, one can pick nutritious veggies from the kitchen garden and have the chef cook it to perfection. Then is the eight-course degustation menu with extraordinary culinary creations of wood-fried cauliflower with romesco mousseline, charcoal artichokes, grilled eggplant miso glazed and the most devoured mango sorbet.

The outdoor mezze spot, The Island Grill, is a dining experience with filigree lanterns, barefoot luxury and open charcoal grills, cooking up the freshest of reef fish and meats. The 180 degree live chef’s charcoal station is a sight to behold. Meanwhile, the luscious selection of sushi and sashimi paired with bodied sake at ‘Koi’ raise the bar of Japanese delicacies with the menu’s cheer allure. As the last embers of the crimson sunset fade away and the Botticelli blue and soft pinky white clouds on the moon set aside, we saw the last of the amber sun slipping down to dusk. This castaway luxury is truly a natural elixir.

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'INVESTMENT SPECIAL ISSUE VOL 7, ISSUE 6'

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