Ayada Maldives, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll

LOCATION: A one hour domestic flight and further hour speedboat transfer from Male – just 30km from the Equator.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: At the larger end of the island scale this hotel is a more manicured resort with lush lawns and orderly flora and fauna galore.It is one of just three luxury resorts this far south (although more are in the pipeline) and has by far the best facilities for children with table tennis, pool, fusball, child sized sunloungers, football, volleyball and tennis courts, bicycles and kids menus. The hotel is the first from its Turkish father company and the homeland influences are evident in subtle ways in the decor and less subtle ways in the spa (biggest in the Maldives at 3500sqm) thanks to its hammam. At the time of review it was just two weeks open and still in the soft launch phase but other than a bit of spit and polish in certain areas it already runs with maturity. Many resorts talk about privacy and you can have that at Ayada but it has a far more communal feel with relatively busy public areas such as a Turkish bar that offers shisha. The rather grand White Room will host wedding services (not legal, none are in the Maldives) and has a very rare large lush lawn which will be used for banquets and open air cinema.There are over water villas and again you should put your guests in them.

THE FACTS: There are seven places to eat plus 24 hour in villa dining (room service on steroids). As well as a hammam the spa has steam rooms, a sauna and hydro baths. There is also a dive centre, a watersports centre, a ‘fitness pavillion’  (gym), a yoga studio, three jogging teacks, a shoppoing arcade, a hair salon, kids club, and a library.

WOW: Wine and cheese island, which is sadly to be renamed at some stage, is a tiny extra touch but with fine wines, cheeses, chocolate and cigars on offer it is a lovely addition.

HOW MUCH: From $950 per night half board for two people.

ayadamaldives.com

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