Around 40 minutes of seaplane ride from Maldives’ Velana international airport takes one to the quaintly named Fasmendhoo Island on the Raa Atoll. A sprawling island of white sandy beaches and lush green vegetation, it is home to the appropriately named Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa, in keeping with Maldives’ one-island-one-resort concept. As the seaplane descends from the sky to arrive at the island’s own jetty, the island glitters like an emerald in the middle of an aquamarine Indian Ocean.
You cannot get any closer to nature than in this sprawling island of plush villas, sparkling white beaches and quiet, serpentine pathways passing through tropical vegetation. The best way to see this huge island is to walk. For others there are the golf carts, else the bicycles. Every villa is equipped with its own bicycles parked just outside the entrance.
The resort has a total of 120 villas in 11 different categories. Broadly, they are the beach villas with their own private beach/access to the sea, and the overwater villas that provide direct access to the ocean from the sun deck. The overwater villas that stand on stilts, fan out from both sides of the pier that seems to stretch endlessly into the ocean from the island. Depending on the type of villa, the sun deck comes with and without a plunge pool. The villas drip in luxury. They are also amazingly open and spacious, with the “smallest” category spread over 176 square metres, or almost 1,900 square feet—and this for a single-room villa. No wonder the bathroom is as big as the room, with both glass-fronted, facing the ocean and providing a stunning view.
Emerald is an island meant to be discovered on foot, for suddenly as the path turns you will find some delightful surprise, a restaurant or the spa complex, tucked among towering trees. The idea is to give the impression of being inside the jungle. The Emerald Spa is spread over 10 bungalows built in Balinese style, and comes with quiet spa rooms, an Indonesian-style pool, a jacuzzi, sauna rooms and Turkish baths. The masseuses are Balinese and the treatments they provide are Ayurvedic, Balinese and Thai.
Architecturally, Emerald incorporates natural elements to the maximum, with thatched roofs, bamboo poles being the centrepiece of the decoration. It is a case of five-star luxury blending into nature with ease. The restaurants enhance the feeling of being in the lap of nature. The Aqua restaurant near the beach serves a splendid buffet, with a variety of cooking stations serving everything—from Maldivian, and Indian to East Asian and continental and American. With several of Emerald’s cooks being Indian, there is plenty of choice at Aqua for Indian travellers unwilling to go beyond traditional Indian food. For others, the world beckons. Emerald also has a restaurant, Amazonica, devoted exclusively to South American cuisine. It comes with an open fire grill and serves an array of fish and meat dishes. The Beach Club Grill Restaurant, as its name suggests, is located on the beach and is a great place for fish dishes, apart from pizzas, burgers, and different cuisines from around the world.
Emerald also has something for those who want a busy night life. Next to the main infinity pool and the Beach Club restaurant, there is a music and dance hall, where live music is played at the bar every night.
The Maldivian experience would not be complete without water sports and water related activities. Emerald too offers its guests a wide array of activities including snorkeling, under-sea diving and scuba diving at its diving centre. It also conducts diving courses—all by trained guides. There is a water sports centre as well, where guests can do kayaking, sail catamarans, do wind surfing and jet-skiing under the supervision of the resort’s water sports team.
The resort has a gym and sports centre, including two tennis courts, one of which can be converted into a football field. For children aged three to 12, there is the Dolphin Kids’ Club.
Venturing out into the deep sea in motorised but traditional timber boats called dhoni adds to the aquatic experience of the resort. “Lucky dhoni fishing” is quite popular, where guests are given fishing lines and are encouraged to catch fish the traditional way from the dhoni. If one catches a fish, the resort will cook it for the guest for a charge.
The Emerald resort is about expertly combining solitude with plentiful activities. Silence and dynamism go hand in hand in this tropical paradise.
Disclaimer: The visit to Maldives earlier this year was on invitation by the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation of the Maldivian government.