The Romance Islands: Angsana Maldives
Published 03 August 2012
Nick Walton explores two of the Maldives’ most breathtaking resorts, and finds it easy to be the a new found romantic.
Like many men, I’ve been accused, on occasion, of being less than romantic. “It’s not really my fault,” I confess to my better half. “It’s just not in my blood.” We, as men, pride ourselves on using logic rather than oh-so-uncomfortable feelings when it comes to acts of the heart. Fortunately, when it comes to romantic travel, one destination is a sure winner with the ladies, one that offers a potent combination of stunning vistas, tropical surrounds and indulgent luxury that’s sure to melt the coldest of hearts – The Maldives.
The Maldives, an idyllic chain of pearl-like islands strung across the nape of the Indian Ocean, is romance epitomised for its powder white sands and turquoise lagoons, its friendly people and luxurious resorts, and it’s an increasingly popular escape from the mundane reality for affluent Asian travellers.
One resort group has the Maldives and its many exotic experiences sewn up. The two resorts of Angsana, the sister brand of Banyan Tree, bring together the most romantic encounters this tiny island nation can muster. Travelling with my fiancé on a mission to prove (again) the flames of amour are as strong with me as they are with her, our journey starts off after dark at the international airport at Malé, the pint-sized capital of the Maldives where we are met by cheery staff from Angsana Ihuru, a little jewel of a resort located a short 20 minute speedboat ride away.
Within minutes we’re jetting through the inky darkness of the Indian Ocean under a canopy of stars, racing towards a dinner plate moon that hangs above the horizon. In no time we’re at Angsana Ihuru, which emerges from the darkness, its coconut trees lit with fairy lights, the sun-warmed cedar planks of its pier filling the warm tropical air with a spicy aroma. Tired from the journey we retire early but the next morning we’re greeted by a dazzling sun that bathes our villa in golden rays.
Created to appeal to a younger market than its Banyan Tree brethren, Angsana Ihuru offers a unique blend of stylish, modern interiors and absolute tropical living and the cottage-like villas are scattered along the palm-fringed beach of the tiny island and offer direct access from bedroom to beach. Bedrooms of both Beachfront and Deluxe Beachfront Villas are ample and decked out with thatched roofs, dark wood furniture and bright colours. Each Deluxe Beachfront Villa opens onto a private beach courtyard and then on to the island’s famed reef, which is literally metres from the sand. There is as much, or as little, as you’d like to do on Ihuru.
Angsana prides itself on its activities and the resort’s dive centre has it all, from banana boating and kayaking, to guided snorkelling and dive excursions in search of green turtles, eagle rays, manta rays and black tip reef sharks. After a leisurely breakfast and a snorkelling circumnavigation of the island’s reef blazing with colour and with fish, we make our way back across the water to the seaplane port at Malé and our 40-minute flight south to Ihuru’s sister paradise isle, Angsana Velavaru.
the cottage-like villas are scattered along the palm-fringed beach of the tiny island and offer direct access from bedroom to beach.
We spend our first night ‘on land’, shacked up in a stylish Deluxe Beachfront Pool Villa which boasts an oversized plunge pool located at the rear. In pure Angsana style, the bathroom has plenty of space for him and her, and blends the air-conditioned cool of inside with the tropical warmth of outside. Beyond a timber verandah, a sandy path leads from the bedroom to a stretch of perfect beach, where couples congregate to welcome the sunset with cocktails from the nearby bar.
Dinner at the main restaurant takes on an almost carnival ambience, with a sizzling outdoor grill, blazing island torches and the aroma of spices filling the air above tables on the sand. Nearby is the resort’s popular wedding chapel, which saw more than 80 ceremonies last year alone. Beyond, children gather for the nightly stingray feeding by the island’s own dive staff, while their parents congregate in the bar in time for a fun cultural performance of drumming and swaying dance steps by resort staff. That night we sleep to the sound of waves lapping against the nearby beach.
Like us, many guests to Angsana Velavaru like to sample the best of both worlds, spending a few nights in one of the beach villas, and then heading across the water to the In Ocean Villas, a self-sustaining resort within a resort, comprising the world’s most innovative over-water bungalows.
Again, you’re in control of how much you do or don’t do. All activities are based out of the dive centre including diving excursions to local reefs, or the resort’s innovative coral gardens recently created by the brand’s in-house marine biologists and popular with underwater wedding ceremonies. Then there is snorkelling on the house reef, sunset cruises with fellow guests, and even night fishing off local islands in search of snapper and trevally. Few things will get your lady’s heart pumping faster than catching the fish of the day under a moonlit sky, and then having it served at a romantic dinner on a deserted sand bank. Who says men can’t be romantic!
Where to Stay:
Angsana Ihuru, from US$780 per night, twin share for Deluxe Beachfront Villa. Angsana Velavaru, from US$665 per night, for Deluxe Beachfront Pool Villa, and US$1,185 per night, for In-Ocean Villa.
How to get there:
Seaplane transfers to Angsana Velavaru are offers by Trans Maldivian Air from US$350 per person, return.