Naladhu Private Island Resort is one of the most exclusive Maldivian resorts there is. With only 20 private residences, this is the kind of place you come to relax and see no one. Or get out and explore and see everyone, if you prefer. Naladhu shares its home with Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort and Anantara Veli Maldives Resort (currently undergoing a renovation of its own). This means that Naladhu guests have walking or private boat transfer access to all of their facilities. The same is not true in reverse since Naladhu is a private island reserved for just those staying here.
It’s the kind of retreat that many dream of with the option for direct beach access plus a private pool overlooking the sea. The houses range in size from 3,200 sq ft to the 6,500+ sq ft two-bedroom residence. Here are five of the top reasons to visit Naladhu Private Island Resort in the coming year.
Following a total renovation during a six-month closure, the houses (named for a Maldivian flower or plant) look better than ever. They traded their more colonial look for a more modern twist on beach decor. The update with lighter colors is the work of New York-based designer Yuji Yamazaki. A main focus of the redesign was creating more spaces for guests to sit and relax. This includes by the window, by the pool, in the pool-facing tub or even on a day bed. Swinging day beds on the terrace are especially popular.
The sky blue water in the distance is the highlight with the shimmering reflection of the private pool illuminating the rooms here. Expect beautifully dressed beds with pillows as long as your body and duvets as soft as a cloud. Air conditioning is swift (and necessary in this warm weather). There’s a ceiling fan if you want an extra boost. If you have an ocean-facing house, the sound of the waves crashing is quite unusual. While these do not have direct beach access, many appreciate them for the view of the waves. Beach villas have direct access to the sand.
On the terrace are cushioned day beds, a relaxing swing and a cabana ideal for dining or working in the breeze. The pools here are much larger than a standard plunge pool. The bathroom has separate rooms for the shower and toilet. It also has his and hers vanities, a chaise longue, makeup table and outdoor shower.
Each house has an external door that leads to a small patio with a second door that goes into the living quarters. It’s like your own private residence in the midst of tropical vegetation. Inside, an enormous foyer features a desk, bar area with minibar, wine fridge and coffee station. The walk-in closet adds ample space to unpack. It has extras like flip-flops to wear around the island and a souvenir beach bag to take home.
The most exotic is the two-bedroom pool residence, which books up quickly with families and couples traveling together. It consists of two magnificent structures connected by an outdoor pool and living space. The residence has its own 60-foot private beach behind closed doors. It also has a small kitchen, large dining area and duplex bedroom space.
Naladhu has its own dining room, The Living Room, which has a no-menu concept. Well, in reality, it does have a menu. But, it just a guide for some of the dishes the staff can prepare. In reality, the menu is unlimited. Guests can ask for whatever they want, whenever they want (breakfast is available 24 hours a day). Of course, certain things may require advance notice to have them available. There is no limit to what is possible (for those willing to foot the bill). Many want suggestions, and that’s exactly what the lengthy menu and talented culinary team are able to do.
One of the most romantic and exotic meals you can have here is the floating breakfast. A team of staff arrives with a bevy of delicious breakfast plates (from the menu you designed) at the time of your choosing. They set it up in the pool on a floating tray. You submerge yourself in the water to indulge in breakfast in the warm sun with a glass of Champagne. It’s a magical experience that you won’t find just anywhere.
Guests can dine underneath the main dining pavilion facing the pool and beach or beneath private canopies in the sand. Almost every evening, guests can be seen enjoying private beachfront barbecues. These are a signature of the resort with bespoke menus enjoyed around tiki torches tropical flowers.
Three resorts in one
Elsewhere in the resort complex are other dining options like Sea.Fire.Salt, an al fresco grill restaurant serving the freshest seafood, meat and pasta among other things. Aqua has fresh salads, pizza and sandwiches poolside. Both of these are at Anantara Dhigu, a quick water shuttle ride across the bay. Fushi Cafe there serves a decadent breakfast buffet facing the water offering Maldivian specialties. It also has sushi, Indian cuisine, smoothies and juices made to order, and other international dishes.
Baan Huraa is the Thai restaurant on stilts over the water serving fragrant and delicious food. It’s a guest favorite. Anantara Veli has a new small plate dining concept at Dhoni Bar poolside. Cumin serves breakfast and dinner with a menu that reflects the spices and flavors of the Indian Ocean. Origami is the Japanese restaurant serving freshly prepared sushi, izakaya menus and also teppanyaki-prepared dishes. There is so much variety that it’s hard to go hungry here.
Naladhu has its own beautiful beachfront pool and private stretch of sand, but of course guests can explore the other two resorts in the trio, too. On Naladhu island itself, guests can use the private fitness center overlooking the pool. Just beyond is the stretch of sand where guests can dip their toes into the azure water. Water sport options include fishing, dolphin or sunset cruises, snorkeling, scuba diving and fitness classes.
A treatment room is available at Naladhu for those that want spa services. Therapists can also bring massage tables to the private house There’s nothing better than listening to the sound of lapping waves while enjoying a massage on the terrace. This is also where the welcome massage for all guests take place, a 15-minute, neck-and-shoulder rub that alleviates the stress of long-haul flying. Guests can also use the impressive spa at Anantara Dhigu, which counts overwater villas among its treatment rooms.
Cooking classes and Anantara’s signature Dining by Design concept, where guests can choose where they want to eat (ask for a meal on a private island away from the main resort) and what they want, are also popular with guests. It’s the ultimate in romantic experiences.
Like the neighboring Anantara properties, there is something special about the staff here. And at Naladhu, it’s always a step above with name recognition and recollection of personal preferences (your favorite drink, the way you like your coffee, etc.) a hallmark.
Each house is attended to by a Kuwaanu, which means storyteller in the Maldivian Dhivehi language. The Kuwaanu is available at any hour via text or phone call and can organize anything from restaurant or spa reservations to onsite activities and personal needs anywhere around the island.
An onsite marine biologist helps to lead a variety of island efforts to reduce waste (eliminating single-use plastic entirely) and coordinate conservation programs. She can lead snorkeling tours of the area reefs, home to nearly 2,000 species of tropical fish and sea mammals. Her commendable efforts are helping the resort island lead the way in the overall destination’s efforts to be more sustainable to protect it for future generations.
The resort is also working with a third party to work toward reducing plastic waste and marine plastic pollution. She also leads educational talks for guests. There are educational walks around the island to learn about the natural life it has, too. Guests can also book private sessions with her to learn more about coral preservation.
If wellness is top of mind, guests can chat with the resort’s naturopath and nutritional wellness expert on hand. She can design a plan for their vacation (and when back home) on how to improve healthy living habits. This can include everything from sleep issues and digestive problems to weight management and blood sugar balance.
One of the best features of this trio of properties is the ease of access to Male International Airport, the main gateway to the Maldives. Many resorts require taking an expensive sea plane flight, but Naladhu is in the South Malé Atoll, just a 30-minute speedboat ride from the international airport. Within an hour or so of landing, you could be on the arrival jetty of Naladhu where the staff are throwing rose petals before your feet as you walk to your vacation home.
While you don’t see or hear the international airport (it is still quite a distance from the resort), the hassle of not knowing when your departure is until 24 hours before you leave (sea plane flight schedules are announced just one day before departure) can be avoided here. And after a long flight from overseas, the last thing that jet-lagged travelers want is to be taken via bus to a separate sea plane terminal and have to wait for yet another (hot) flight to the next resort. The location here is paramount to a swift entry to vacation mode.
If you weren’t in love with the resort already, management decided to donate the old furniture following the renovation to the country’s only mental health hospital. This is the kind of place that makes you feel good before you get there, while in paradise and long after you’ve left.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.