Review: Maalifushi by COMO
Tucked away in the Thaa Atoll in the Maldives, is a little gem called Maalifushi.
Owned by COMO Hotels and resorts, Maalifushi is the first and only resort in the unspoilt Thaa Atoll. This little known paradise houses 50 rooms and suits and 15 private villas on land and over water.
One of the perks that we enjoy at Luxury-Insider is the fact that we are given the opportunity to visit these kinds of places.
I was privileged to be able to immerse myself in the unique sort of experience that only Maalifushi by COMO can provide.
If I had to describe the time I spent with the resort in just one word, it will most definitely have to be "adventure".
I have often told people to be wary of the fact that I'm not all too fond of the water.
As silly as it may sound, I have this innate trepidation of sea creatures - yes, the movie Jaws, did indeed do a number on me.
When the day came for me to make the trip, I bravely prepared to make my way over to the little paradise that is located on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Thanks to Lightfoot Travel, a luxury tour operation specialising in bespoke holidays to the Maldives, my flight to the Maldives went smoothly without a hitch.
Using a handpicked portfolio of resorts selected solely through their own first-hand experience, Lightfoot Travel tailor-makes each Maldivian itinerary to suit their clients' individual tastes and requirements.
Lightfoot Travel arranged for me to take a Singapore Airlines flight to Male International Airport - do note that Singapore Airlines operates two daily flights to Male.
I was told that we would be making the trip from Male International Airport to Maalifushi via a seaplane. I have to admit, however, that my fears about sea creatures and the ocean temporarily departed, when I saw the seaplane.
I had never been on a seaplane, and the little kid in me was excited. Once I got into the seaplane, my adventure began…
The flight on the seaplane lasted about 40 mins. We had smooth landing on the water and alighted onto a floating platform not too far from the island.
Once the seaplane departed, a little speedboat came over to pick us up from the platform. The pampering began as soon as we were seated in the boat.
Warm towels, COMO's signature drinks, bottled water…the staff on the boat were intent on making us feel right at home.
We were told that there was another way to get to Maalifushi - via a domestic air transfer from Male to Thimarafushi Airport takes 35 minutes, followed by a private 25-minute speedboat transfer to the resort. Frankly I was glad I got to experience the seaplane.
The folks at Maalifushi put me up in one of Maalifushi's 14 Garden Suites (101m² / 1087 ft²). These are ideal for couples or families with small children.
From the shade of Maalifushi's lush gardens, I had direct access to the beach, my own pool, lawn and sundeck with loungers and furniture. I must say that I have no complaints.
The furnishing was lovely; the elegant, simple interiors had large windows that allowed natural light to flood the entire room and afforded me a beautiful view of the island setting.
It was apparent to me that the wonderful folks at Mallifushi had thought of every thing when it came to the facilities in the room.
Nothing seemed to be lacking.
Here's a brief rundown of what was available: a king bed with Egyptian cotton bed linen, a private sun deck, my very own bathtub and shower stall, air-conditioning (obviously), minibar, complimentary tea/coffee making facilities, bottled water and fresh fruit daily, satellite TV, direct dial telephone, COMO Shambhala's signature bathroom amenities, hairdryer private safe, a multimedia hub, Wi-Fi internet.
Interestingly, my Garden Suite also came with its very own crab guarding the gate entrance.
Although I doubt that this comes as a standard in Maalifushi's impressive list of services - the crab was probably guarding the entrance to my suite of its own good will. I had the good sense to not freak out and kept my apprehension of sea creatures in check.
Wining and dining
Hailing from Singapore, I'm an island boy myself.
One of the things I'm used to in Singapore is an exotic and eclectic variety of food. Like a typical Singaporean, I was wondering about what Maalifushi had to offer in terms of grub.
I had never been to the Maldives before, and I had no clue what to expect in terms of the style of food.
One of the first things I got to try was a from the COMO's wellness menu. Signature mocktails that were crafted to cater to the individual's preferred diet intake. These mocktails are available at both 'Madi' and 'Thila'.
'Madi' (meaning Manta Ray in the local language) serves Maldivian, Mediterranean, Indonesian and Thai-accented dishes all day.
'Madi' also holds themed nights, including a seafood barbeque and a 'thali' evening focusing on south Indian specialties.
'Thila' (named after Maldivian submerged reef formations covered with abundant marine life) offers an easygoing and family-friendly environment, serving salads, freshly baked seafood, pizzas and Turkish 'pide'.
'Thila Bar' is a relaxed pool bar and lounge for billiards, easygoing salads, pizzas and wood-baked seafood.
I was indeed surprised to find that Maalifushi also had a Japanese restaurant. Called 'Tai' (Japanese for red snapper) the restaurant showcases fresh, local seafood.
A 'yakiniku' grill offers fine cuts of meat marinated in Japanese flavours.
There is also a sunken sushi bar offering only the freshest cuts.
If you really want to go the extra mile for a truly intimate affair, the many uninhabited islands on Maalifushi's doorstep can be used for those seeking a private dining experience, served by a private butler.
Sun, Sand and the Sea
Families and those looking to do something other than lounging about being lazy sipping on a cocktail, will not be disappointed.
Adventurous sorts, who want to try their hand at some watersports, diving, snorkelling and surfing, are well looked after at Maalifushi.
If you insist on being a strict land animal like, yours truly, Maalifushi also organises sunset cruises and fishing trips for those are not looking to foray into the water.
One of the activities that the staff at Maalifushi were kind enough to organise for me and a few of the other guests, was dolphin spotting.
I figured that as long as I didn't have to physically get into the watery realm where the sea dwelling mammals lived, I would be fine.
The resort's marine biologist claimed that we would be able to spot dolphins in the evening during their feeding time. A bunch of us got onto a diving boat and went to chase after this dolphin clan.
After about half an hour of searching, we finally spotted the elusive bunch of dolphins and proceeded to play a game of nautical cat-and-mouse.
According to the marine wildlife expert, during certain times of the year, we would have also been able to spot migrating turtles, Manta Rays…whale sharks and hammerhead sharks.
I'm just glad it wasn't that time of the year.
Divers, and marine daredevils who are nary afraid of the creatures that lurk beneath the calm of the water should note that September is the best time to see whale sharks and hammerheads, and the manta season runs from May to October.
Aside from dolphin spotting, a number of other family-friendly excursions are also available, from beachside picnics to snorkelling with dolphins from the prow of a privately chartered dhoni (a locally made fishing boat).
I think it would be prudent for me to mention that Maalifushi is very child-friendly.
Children can explore and make new friends in the secure environment of the island. The lagoon is safe to swim in and Maalifushi's choice of landed suites and villas, many with private lawns, are ideal for families with younger children.
Childminding and babysitting services are provided, while menus for infants and children include healthy, delicious choices.
One of the services that visitors to Maalifushi, simply must enjoy, is the COMO Shambhala Retreat. The COMO Shambhala Retreat at Maalifushi by COMO is a place to relax, recuperate and feel well.
Guided by expert therapists, the COMO Shambhala Retreat features eight overwater treatment rooms that offer a range of signature facials, massages and body therapies.
The Retreat also has an open-air yoga pavilion offering complimentary daily classes each day, a large pool, relaxation area and spa boutique selling COMO Shambhala's popular bodycare products (they smell great) and Active Living Collection.
If you're feeling up to it, you can sign up for private yoga tuition and guided pranayama meditation. Guest who prefer a more vigorous workout can visit the resort's gym which offers cardio equipment and weights.
The Keepers of Maalifushi
Maalifushi offers all the understated luxuries of a COMO private island resort and no good resort is complete without is exceptional and dedicated staff. At Maalifushi, you can expect nothing less than COMO's signature service.
The staff on the resort, whose warmth, discretion and passion for detail, always put a smile on my face.
Walk pass a member of the staff on you way to lunch, and you will never fail to receive a friendly greeting. The folks at Maalifushi make you feel more than welcome, and they give you the sense that they have known you for a lifetime.
Not to mention that the guests staying in Maalifushi's most exclusive villas (Beach Villas, COMO Residence, Maalifushi Water Villas and COMO Villas) will also experience the services of COMO's private butlers.
I would like thank everyone at Maalifushi by COMO for being very patient with me - I know that having to plan some of the itinerary around my ridiculous fear of the water must have been a pain.
The folks that keep the resort, services and activities running without a hitch are truly the Keepers of Maalifushi. When it was time for me to leave the island and end my adventure, I couldn't help but think about…Maalifushi 2: The Sequel.
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