Personalised luxury mingles with serene island life at Intercontinental’s ﬁrst property on an atoll.
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Beach villa with pool. The resort also offers villas positioned over the water or surrounding a man-made lagoon.
Intercontinental Hotel Group is late to put its name on a resort in the Maldives but its ﬁrst property in the region is no less stunning for the delay. Strategically situated at the southernmost tip of the Raa Atoll – close to the Baa Atoll, the Maldives’ only UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve – Intercontinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort is perfectly sited for visitors to experience the area’s rich marine diversity, including whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins.
Naturally, the resort’s house reef also teems with a mix of reef and pelagic ﬁsh, and a wide range of corals. A central man-made lagoon further allows guests to enjoy water sports and swim alongside reef sharks and rays.
A 35-minute seaplane ride from the airport in Male, the property features 81 villas and residences offering breath-taking vistas of the Indian Ocean. The most luxurious accommodation on the island, though, has to be the two- and three-bedroom residences, with the largest being the three-bedroom Royal Beachfront Residence at US$20,000 (S$27,500) a night.
The mood of relaxed luxury is established early on. Interiors by Avalon Collective Interior Design lend the place a fashionable bohemian chic-meets-contemporary tropical appeal. Earth tones and sophisticated neutrals dominate, enhancing the resort’s modern Maldivian architecture. Besides a curated selection of designer furniture, customised furnishings made in Spain and decorative art largely sourced from Bali and Sri Lanka pepper the spaces and ﬁll them with character. With a smorgasbord of materials and textures creatively utilised to create fascinating focal points throughout the resort, there’s never a dull visual moment.
After a busy day in the water, there’s nothing better than relaxing on a plump couch or sinking into a luxuriously soft bed.
This is the ﬁrst and only all-Club Intercontinental resort where all guests enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea, after-dinner drinks and all-day refreshments by the pool or beach, encouraging them to unwind as if the resort were their own home.
In fact, an Island Curator – or butler – is assigned to every guest upon arrival to provide dedicated, personalised service. This might mean whisking them off to sunrise yoga, returning their snorkelling gear after a session in the sea, preparing a daily selection of fruit and petit fours or booking a traditional Chinese medicine treatment. For those who subscribe to Eastern remedies, Maamunagau Resort offers anti-ageing facial acupuncture, cupping and other body therapies, herbal medicine and personalised dietary plans.
For the gourmand, there are six restaurants and bars to choose from, including one called the Fish Market, which, built over water, has sunken tanks to store the daily catch from Maldivian ﬁshermen. The highlight of island dining is The Lighthouse, with its head-turning design elements such as a domed ceiling with a painted map, and 360-degree island and sea views from the tower.
The dining experience features modern Mediterranean dishes, such as slow cooked octopus, scallops with lemon emulsion and cauliﬂower creme, and braised lamb leg with eggplant caviar, all paired, of course, with wines carefully selected by the sommelier.
MARINE LIFE MATTERS
Centred on conservation and sustainability, Intercontinental Maldives has partnered with Manta Trust and Ocean Group.
As there is limited data on the Raa Atoll reefs, a team of marine biologists at the on-site Marine Discovery Centre has begun researching the marine environment, including biodiversity and coral health.
They are also building a safe habitat for manta rays within the resort’s lagoon. Says marine biologist Maria D. Andersen: “Documenting the progression of our changing seas and its impact on the reefs in Maamunagau will be the forefront of our efforts, along with their restoration. This will be crucial to supporting global conservation efforts and raising awareness of just how serious climate change is.”
The team will be rehabilitating and restoring the surrounding reefs that were affected by the El Nino bleaching in 2016, as well as growing a variety of corals. As part of raising awareness, they encourage guest involvement, offering them opportunities to adopt a coral frame, plant corals and track their growth in the future, or “adopt” and name manta rays and track them as they migrate around the Maldives.
Guests don’t just enjoy a resort that feels like home at the Intercontinental Maldives, they can also leave knowing they have helped restore a bit of the Maldivian sea.
1 Marine biologist Maria D. Andersen gives us an insight into life on and around the island. With the resort being 31km from Baa Atoll, top dive spots are a 20-minute boat ride away. They offer a mix of knoll, overhang and drift wall dives, as well as a high density of schooling ﬁsh, healthy colourful corals, turtles, eagle rays and sharks.
2 The best season for manta ray sightings around Maamunagau is estimated to be between October and April.
3 To counter the erosion of islands due to the rise in sea levels – 0.8–1.6 millimetres per year according to current reports – the Maldivian government is pumping sand onto the beaches and implementing an Emergency Action Plan for high-risk islands to evacuate and relocate citizens.