The second leg of our Maldives adventure took us from the oldest island resort (Kurumba) to one of the newest, Atmosphere Kanifushi. Built on a previously uninhabited island, the resort opened in December 2013 and has since made its presence felt in the UK market with high profile advertising and an energetic PR campaign.
Lying in the Lhaviyani Atoll, getting there involves a seaplane transfer from Male International Airport. To fly there direct takes 30 minutes but, be aware, more distant resorts often have to share their transfers so you may well find yourself, as we did, stopping off at other resorts en route, extending the journey by a good 20 mins. Its also worth knowing in advance that the seaplanes only operate in daylight hours so, if you want to head straight there, you do need to consider the arrival and departure times of your international flight to avoid overnights in Male.
Journey time aside, the arrival to the island is nothing short of spectacular as you head in to land alongside the 2.4 kms stretch of pure white sand. Can there be a more thrilling touchdown than by seaplane in the middle of the Indian Ocean?
Here’s a quick taste of what you can expect:
Aside from its idyllic setting, the biggest selling point of Atmosphere Kanifushi is the 5 star all inclusive nature of the offer here – they call it Platinum Plus, or in other words, all inclusive with bells and whistles! Needless to say that’s all your meals and premium brand drinks taken care of but it also includes the seaplane transfers, all manner of activities, unlimited snorkelling trips, a choice of excursions – even your villa minibar is restocked twice daily (its thirsty work all that lounging about in the sun!). In other words, you barely have to think about money unless you want to dive or be pampered in the Spa and even those activities come with generous discounts. For dining there’s a choice of three restaurants, the main buffet (Spice) as well as three speciality restaurants; Just Veg (the first vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives), the Teppanyaki Grill which also doubles as an excellent Sushi bar and dining under the stars at The Sunset showcasing Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.
The island itself is big by Maldivian standards. It is shaped like a hockey stick with the dock and reception, The Spice restaurant, The Liquid bar and nightclub, souvenir shop, The Clubhouse, Dive Centre and an Olympic size swimming pool all occupying the fat end of the stick. The 150 villas and suites are then spread in single file along the length of the stick, each and every one beach facing and offering a high degree of privacy with shady verandahs leading directly out to the wide sweep of soft wide sand. Of course if you happen to be at the far end of the island that’s quite a walk back to the main restaurant and bar but they have that covered with buggy shuttles that operate continuously up and down the palm fringed sandy track that runs the length of the island. There are no buggy stops, just flag the driver down. At the ‘grip’ end of the hockey stick there’s the tranquil setting of the adults only Sunset pool and bar as well as the two smaller speciality restaurants. And beyond that the island melts away into the Indian Ocean in the shape of a beautiful sandbar that is a wonderful place to stroll both day and night. In short, there’s no shortage of space!
After you’ve been there a while you begin to wonder at the mammoth task involved in building such a facilities packed resort on such remote island. Small wonder it took four years to build – the logistics are simply mind blowing. As are the logistics of the day to day catering for some 300 guests. Literally everything has to be flown or shipped in and yet the whole operation happens out of sight with seemingly no effort.
As a relatively new resort, there’s a way to go on bedding in. There are a lot of cream rendered walls that will eventually be softened by planting but, for now, only seem to reinforce the man made intrusion on what was once a castaway island. And, although the facilities are hugely impressive, the spread out nature of the resort means that, while we were there at least, there were rarely enough guests in one place to create much of an atmosphere. This is especially noticeable in The Liquid bar – the resident DJ seemed to be mostly playing to a cavernous empty room. Perhaps in an attempt to counter the notion that a holiday on a remote island in the Maldives could be boring (its not by the way!) they almost seem to have gone too far the other way. However, for most people,when it comes to facilities less is not usually more and without doubt, Atmosphere Kanifushi has succeeded in developing a lavish 5 star resort that, with the Premium Plus package, delivers one of the best value holidays currently available in the Maldives.
Resort Manager Antonio Carrieri, gave me his views on what makes Atmosphere Kanifushi unique: