The elegant exclusivity of Park Hyatt Maldives on Hadahaa hits you with full force about halfway through the speedboat boat ride from Kodhoo island – a 45 minute domestic flight away from Maldivian capital city, Male…
A little bit of backstory first. 30 years ago when I was eight (yep, I am that old haha!) I visited Kurumba Resort (one of the first!) on Vihamanaafushiwith with my family (see the snaps below!). To this day, I have the most magical memories – learning to swim underwater in the postcard perfect calm blue Indian Ocean, squealing over baby sharks with my sister and walking through reception barefoot on the finest of sands. It’d been on my mind to give Gus the same magical experience and when the opportunity arose to arrange a week’s stay in the Maldives, it had to happen. Fast forward 30 years later and the Maldives is now home to more than 100 hotels and resorts and busy capital with a crazy love of café culture, hospitality and environmental projects on and off islands helping protect the beaches and reefs – yes, mind boggling. So where to start?
A little bit of backstory first. 30 years ago when I was eight (yep, I am that old haha!) I visited Kurumba Resort (one of the first!) on Vihamanaafushiwith with my family (see the snaps below!). To this day, I have the most magical memories – learning to swim underwater in the postcard perfect calm blue Indian Ocean, squealing over baby sharks with my sister and walking through reception barefoot on the finest of sands.
It’d been on my mind to give Gus the same magical experience and when the opportunity arose to arrange a week’s stay in the Maldives, it had to happen. Fast forward 30 years later and the Maldives is now home to more than 100 hotels and resorts and busy capital with a crazy love of café culture, hospitality and environmental projects on and off islands helping protect the beaches and reefs – yes, mind boggling. So where to start?
What immediately stood out about the Park Hyatt was its location. 400km south of Male it’s one of the furthest islands to reach and, unlike most other Maldivian islands not part of a typically laid out Atoll, and immediately all the more special because of it. Yes, you’re travel weary, but everything is made as easy as possible for you. Park Hyatt personal greet you at Male airport, sensitive to your slightly gaga jetlagged stage (we travelled Emirates from London via Dubai, the tickets a lot cheaper than I thought!) escort you to a hotel lounge and assist with tickets and luggage.
With toddler in tow
(To be fair, Gus was an angel; a lot to do with the brilliant Emirates kids policy. I bought Economy tickets and yet we were treated to endless treats and toys onboard and a birthday cake for Gus as he was turning four the following day!).
Bag | Cru London
Bandana | Marks & Spencer
Cashmere scarf | Old (similar)
The boat journey took just under half an hour but it does go quite fast! Something to be prepared for when you’ve just stepped off three flights, but you are extremely well looked after and in safe hands. Just hold on tight if you’re sitting at the back of the boat like we did!
The speedboat ride was replete with iced tea, nuts and cold towels but life jackets too, for which I was quite thankful as Gus insisted on watching the crazy surf as we whizzed along. On arrival we pulled into a long wood welcome jetty and were gently greeted by the Park Hyatt team. The mix of travel weariness plus the sheer natural beauty you are suddenly confronted with is incredibly overwhelming. I practically collapsed into the reception, an oversized traditional local fishing boat (a dhoni), while Gus immediately kicked off his shoes to feel the sand under his feet.
A short buggy ride through the jungly trees later (the only buggy we took in three days; the island is small enough to walk around in 15 minutes) we arrived in our park villa. In a hyphenated nutshell, jaw-dropping. More like a small bungalow house with a bathroom fit for at least a dance party of at least five plus outdoor shower and bath. Completely private with its own deck and little sandy pathway that leads down to your own little beach spot.
The Park Hyatt is extremely protective of its beautiful coral and all motorised water sports take place on a nearby sport island. To be honest, we were happy to stick with a little bit of snorkelling on the island. They also desalinate all their own water on the island.
Oversized shirt | Heidi Klein
Bag | old – similar
Flipflops | Ipanema with Starck
Camera | Olympus Pen F
Camera strap | Sail Handmade x Stylonylon
Fang necklace | Lucy Williams x Missoma
Horn necklace | Lucy Williams x Missoma
Sunglasses | Taylor Morris London
Gus’s hat | Little Hotdog Watson
Quite a few of the other lady guests were wearing oversized white shirts too, so definitely the thing for SS16!
We tried to rest – it was mid afternoon – but we were all a little too psyched I think and Gus was desperate to check out the beach. So we got into beach wear and went for a little explore. The main guest area, with pool, bar and main restaurant is the stuff of dreams as you can see. What really struck me was how much thought had gone into the design and aesthetic, pulling it all together in the most eye-appealing way. Suffice to say I had walked into the colour palette of my dreams.
So proud of my first photographs, I fast realised the staff and team were well-versed in beautiful pictures of the island; it was practically impossible to take a bad picture.
Sunglasses | Taylor Morris London
Underwater camera | Olympus Tough TG-870
Gus’s trunks | Boden
Beach throw | Hammamhavlu
Gold bracelet | Astley Clarke
String bracelets | Wanderlust Life
Everyone we met was either on their honeymoon or coming back for a super relaxed family holiday. But only saw other people at meal times really…
To begin, we luxuriated in the blissful pool, had a late afternoon pizza snack before having more of an explore. I got to check out the stunning water villas – often an option for honeymoon couples, although interestingly visitors (and many are what’s known as ‘repeaters’) will spend a few nights in a water villa, where you can watch the sunset and snorkel and a few nights in a park (beach) villa where you have your own little sandy spot. Each has it’s pros and both worth experiencing.
After an exquisite breakfast, tried not to fill up too much ahem, I pottered off the divine spa area for an incredible massage. Little cups of tea, flower petals and your own personal spa rooms, you soon realise treatments are quite a big part of what people do here. We’re talking serious R&R. Sunrise and sunset yoga sessions take place throughout the week.
The mix of families and honeymooners just strip it all back and move between their villas, pool, beach, restaurants and spa. And some keen divers – some even on up to five dives a day, including night ones! – but less about those overactive types and more about the exquisite get-into-all-my-muscles and prepare-me-for-beach-life massage…
Ending on a dreamy blissed out note, I don’t want to overload you with photos so for part two I’m saving the inflatable flamingo, snorkelling, Gus’s birthday and the most incredible candlelit beach dinner. Stay tuned…