While I really enjoyed the seclusion and breathtaking snorkeling at the Park Hyatt (and by snorkeling I mean I spent approximately 12 minutes actually snorkeling over the duration of 5 days), there’s something about the color of the water and style of the villas at Anantara Veli that better matched the picture in my head of the Maldives. The property was kind enough to upgrade us to the highest level overwater bungalow, situated at the end of the dock with its own private pool (because being able to jump directly into crystal clear water isn’t already enough).
There are pros and cons to this room: pros – it’s one of the most amazing rooms I’ve ever stayed in, the ocean views stretch for miles, and the sunsets are amazing. Cons: when you get caught in a torrential equatorial downpour, it’s a really long walk between the main resort and the room. First world problems. While walking to the room upon checkin, we were about halfway down the pier when our checkin agent said, “It’s only about 400 meters from here.” Since I don’t know metric conversions, I’ll guess that 400 meters equals a mile and a half, since that’s how long it felt.
However, this endless stretch of pier became my favorite part of the room (which leads me to the ultimate pro!) – the long walk to and from the villa forced me to take in the beauty of all that surrounded me at each point during the day.
Early in the morning, when the tide was low, I’d see hundreds of different types of fish. Little known fact: I am a mega nerd when it comes to tropical fish, having owned a few fish tanks in my formative years. I’d spot some of my favorites in the shallow waters outside of the villa and yell “OH MY GOD! A POWDER BLUE STURGEON! A MOORISH IDOL! A FOXFACE RABBITFISH!” – you just have no idea how excited I was. This must be what birders feel like. We also saw a puffer fish, tons of stingrays, a GIANT albino moray eel and a GIANT reef shark (I saw this – I almost fell in the water out of fear, which would have been counter productive to the fear).
During the day, as the tides and the sun would rise, the colors of the ocean would come to life. The brighter the sun, the brighter the cerulean blue waters – it’s impossible to walk around the property on a sunny day and not be in awe of the beauty. The colors change with each slight rise of the wave, each glint from the sun, a perfectly orchestrated symphony of every shade of blue there could be.
Apart from the natural beauty of Anantara Veli, the property itself has plenty to offer guests. It’s a much larger resort than the Park Hyatt, so those looking for complete isolation would prefer the PH. Still, Veli provides a fantastic getaway – it’s adults only until the evenings, when guests of the neighboring Anantara Dhigu (a family-friendly property with huge overwater villas – the largest I’ve seen in person between French Polynesia and the Maldives) are allowed to visit for dinner.
When staying at Veli, it’s worth upgrading to one of the larger bungalows located further along the pier for more privacy. Plus, between the plunge pool and the stepladder access to the lagoon from the dock, there’s no reason to leave the bungalow apart from dining (between the three Anantara properties in the area, there are 7 restaurant options for dinner).
If guests do want to leave their bungalow, the properties offer a number of water sports to choose from. We rented a kayak and paddled to the resort’s private island – and by paddled, I mean I worked on achieving the perfect balance of the paddle on my knees so that it wouldn’t hit the water. I’m not a fantastic kayaker, but that’s not news to anyone who knows me.
All in all, Veli is a great option for couples, Dhigu is perfect for families, and both are sure to exceed expectations in terms of service, accommodations, and overall experience for those looking for a fantastic resort in the Maldives! I definitely didn’t want to leave…