Wow, wow… WOW! Amilla Fushi… my island home. It certainly was!
One of the highlights of living and working in Maldives this year has got to be my amazing two-night (FREE) stay at the most incredible resort I’ll ever see in my life. Located in the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Baa Atoll (a 30 minute domestic flight from the capital) rests this ultra-modern island with a unique relaxed-luxury and homely atmosphere.
I don’t say “homely” because it’s like home, far from it, but because of the staff. 73-75% of the staff hired are Maldivian’s, which made me very happy indeed- that’s far higher than many other resorts here. They were absolutely delightful, I felt like such a princess! I’ve never experienced such service in my entire life. It was actually as if everybody knew me- I was addressed by my first name, offered lifts by staff riding by on buggy’s, given a mobile phone so I could call anyone if I needed to, everyone was so full of positive energy- like they truly couldn’t wait for the resort to open and see all the hard work finally put to action. Oh and I even had my own private katheeba (female butler)!!!
I was invited to stay during the resorts “soft opening”, like a training period for the staff. It did mean that the majority of the facilities such as the diving club, water sports and spa weren’t yet available, but that ceased to take away anything from this magical stay at my island home.
The Ocean Reef House, what a creation! You won’t find any drab rooms here. Houses. Homes. Stylish white exterior and a grand wooden interior, full of light and luxury. My own espresso machine. My own tea steamer machine with mouth-watering organic teas from Sri Lanka. Cushions, so many cushions! After my katheeba left me to settle in- I dropped everything and ran around the house like 5 or 6 times in utter disbelief.
It was the most perfect three day escape from it all (yes, even living in Maldives sometimes calls for an escape in Maldives). I ate like I’d never seen food before. Oh the steak, the squid, the prawns… the sashimi… the salads, the fruits, the PORK! Despite how much I ate, this was actually the only three days in my 9 months here where I haven’t had a ridiculously bloated stomach and painful cramps. My daily diet has far too many fried foods and carbohydrates. My stay at Amilla actually felt like a detox. It was so refreshing to wake up in the morning, draw back those curtains and see my private deck, pool and ocean reef, put on a sheep-soft Amilla dressing gown, go and make an espresso, take it outside while breakfast is being brought over, and sip. Relaxation.
I was also way more relaxed than I’ve been on other trips because of course the wonderful thing about resorts is you don’t plan anything. So when I arrived at the domestic airport, I didn’t have to fret about which bus I’m supposed to take or trying to call the speedboat owner who’s probably running late, or trying to find the guest house while dragging heavy luggage around in the blistering heat. My luggage was carried for me. The speedboat was there when it was supposed to be. I was offered about a million of those ice-cold refreshing towels and bottles of water. And everyone was smiling, even the boat crew and the captain! I loved all of it.
However, I think I was able to truly appreciate it all BECA– USE of my independent trips across the country. I knew how much work went into getting simple things done. I was amazed when I met my katheeba at the airport and told her my fin size for snorkelling, and when we arrived to the house there the fins were, waiting outside with a mask and snorkel. The correct size. No mess-up! And how new it felt to be treated like such a queen by the restaurant staff. Drinks constantly replenished, the way they’d make conversation with me about all kinds of things, especially Umars, he was my favourite, the most smiley man I’ve ever met! Someone give that man a bonus!
But but but, that’s not to say I haven’t felt good when travelling to local islands, because I have, and there’s been so many individuals who made my stay fantastic; guest house owners, diving instructors, beautiful kids on the island, shop owners, the live Boduberu acts, the friendless of everyone… I mean, they don’t get a constant flow of tourists the way resorts do, so of course they’re extremely happy to have you there. But limited English ability or a lack of proper training is probably the reason why you might feel like your presence isn’t all that special. Give it a couple of years and that’ll change, I’m sure.
As for Amilla, if you’ve got the money (or incredible luck such as myself) I’d definitely recommend a visit. It’ll make you feel like that house is yours and each year you’ll want to come back. Just don’t forget about the local islands, they have a kind of quaint charm and character that simply cannot be derived from staying at a resort only.