Mountaineering…in the Maldives
For an overwhelming sense of peace and tranquility and to experience time standing still, visit Villingili Island, where you can also scale dizzying heights!
Island, on the southern-most tip of Addu Atoll, Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa offers guests a stylish and luxurious experience in a spacious, and boutique-style environment. The natural dense vegetation of the island sets it apart from many other Maldives resorts. The 3km long island features 12 hectares of lush vegetation, towering banyan trees, 17,000 coconut trees, 45 species of plants, three natural lagoons and nature trails for guests to explore.
Add to that a beautifully manicured nine-hole golf course with stunning sea views on every hole, located at the southern tip of the island and featuring the highest point in the entire Maldives - Mount Villingili Summit, standing at a dizzying elevation of 5.1m (doubling as the eighth tee) - and you have a spectacular island with a broad variety of activities for every guest.
My wife and I travelled to Shangri- La’s Villingili Resort & Spa from Dubai and after a short 75 minute domestic flight from the Maldivian capital Male to Gan International Airport, we were whisked ten minutes across the lagoon by speedboat to Villingili Island. The incredibly warm welcome we received as we set foot on the island set the scene for the next six days.
After a five-minute ride by buggy, we reached our water villa via raised wooden walkways across intermittent reef and crystal clear water. The villa was stunning and featured vaulted ceilings, a huge freestanding bath and an immense walk-in shower room.
Additionally, the outside shower area was a lovely feature with the reef and marine life visible beneath the decked area.
The spacious bedroom overlooked the mesmerising lagoon and offered uninterrupted views across the lagoon to Gan Island. The immediate impression of the villa was one of light, space and high quality facilities. The bedroom’s electric blinds provided a moment of theatre each morning as raising them revealed the turquoise lagoon and the start of another day in paradise.
The sense of peace and tranquility was overwhelming and time almost stood still as we lazed on the outside decked area (including a quirky built-in hammock) and watched as the huge variety of fish went about their business directly beneath us. Direct access from the villa to the clear warm water ensured that snorkelling was high on the list of activities and the broad stretch of house reef ensured that we encountered many exotic species, including Hawksbill turtle, Blacktip reef sharks, Eagle rays, Feathertail rays and grouper.
Getting around the island was made simple by the provision of bicycles in each property. A complete circumnavigation of Villingili would probably take no longer than 30 minutes and every facility had cycle parking areas. The paths were well maintained and easy to ride on or for the less energetic, the staff would happily collect you by buggy. Alternatively, a pleasant stroll is the best way to enjoy the flora and fauna on display.
A wonderful feature of the resort is the lively fruit bats that constantly fly between the coconut trees keeping an eye on the guests.
The Villingili Resort & Spa has thought of everything, even to the point of producing and bottling their own water, still or sparkling. There is a gym, a dive centre, games room, a selection of shops, a Kids ‘Cool’ Zone, a plethora of water sports and of course a very impressive spa. Chi, The Spa was our first port of call and we opted for the 60 minute Hot Coconut Oil Seashell Body and Head Massage. The views of the Indian Ocean from the spa and the pounding tidal surf on this side of the island is in stark contrast to the serenity of the lagoon but adds to the mystique of Villingili.
Wherever you choose to dine in Villingili Resort & Spa, the service and choice and quality of cuisine is outstanding. Choose from three restaurants: After our daily early morning round of golf (which usually lasted around one hour) we ate breakfast on the beach at Javvu Restaurant & Bar which is set across two pavilions and has a fresh, cool and sophisticated atmosphere.
Our personal favourite for dinner was Dr Ali’s Restaurant & Bar - three ‘living rooms’ offering three distinct culture cuisines and dining concepts, themed to regional cuisines from the Indian Ocean, South China Sea and the Arabian Gulf. Fashala Lounge was a ten-minute cycle from our villa and offers breath-taking views.
The fine dining restaurant uses local ingredients from the surrounding waters and neighbouring farms. The Yellowfin tuna steak is truly special. If you just fancy a relaxing drink, Manzaru Bar is the perfect spot to relax to chill-out music - just the place to lie back and enjoy the views over the lagoon or take in the amazing sunset.
Our top recommendations for your stay on Villingili:
- The Dolphin Cruise
- The guided snorkeling tour
- Chi, The Spa
- An Indian dinner at DrAli’s Restaurant& Bar
For reservations, call any Shangri-La sales and reservations office, contact the resort at firstname.lastname@example.org, or book on-line at www.shangri-la.com.