Looking for a stylish Maldivian escape, over water villas and maybe the best massage you’ll ever have (yes, seriously)? Searching for a place with friendly staff, a relaxed vibe, a chance to be humbled by one of the most beautiful places on Earth? Want to spend some time looking after your body whilst you stay in an incredible ‘Wellness Treehouse’? Want all this and vegan food to write home about? Look no further than Amilla Fushi in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll in the North of the Maldives.
Amilla is different to the other resorts we’ve visited in the Maldives. Take a short sea plane or domestic flight from Malé, transfer onto their luxury speedboat and cruise through the waves to ‘Your Island Home’. As soon as Amilla comes into view, you’ll know you are about to experience something different.
The resort is a collection of brilliantly white, box-like buildings with flat roofs and sparkling glass everywhere. It’s modern and light in design and at moments we could have easily imagined we were in a hip Miami hotel. But then you look out and see the beautiful Indian Ocean, that Maldivian seascape which forms the backdrop of your stay. Walk along the waters edge and see baby sharks swimming about in the shallows, see huge shoals of fish, drift off into a paradise dreamworld and relax.
We stayed in an over water ‘Ocean Reef House’ which from the outside gave nothing away, just a minimalist view of whitewashed walls. But as the door opened and we stepped inside, we had one of those wow moments (OK, several of those wow moments). Every corner of the villa gave us something to smile about. From the light streaming in from the floor to ceiling, glass sliding doors, to the chic beach-house decor with modern touches like huge giant white pebbles in the dressing area; we just loved it all.
Our villa had everything we could have wanted; oversize sofas piled with cushions, a huge bed looking out to the ocean, not one but two 42 inch flat screen TVs, automatic tea and coffee making machines, full-size minibar, wine fridge…we also had a walk-in bathroom with a rain shower, free standing bath and double sink area, not to mention there was enough wardrobe space to accommodate clothes for a family of 10.
Outside we had more huge sofas to relax on, sun loungers, an infinity pool, an outdoor rain shower and our own steps down to the ocean where the coral reef teeming with fish awaited our exploration. We even had a complimentary daily laundry service where we could both get 5 pieces of laundry done every day.
Amilla Fushi is serious paradise.
We should probably also mention at this stage that we also had our own ‘butler’ who took care of organising everything we wanted to do during our stay. She was friendly, efficient and really helpful to us, adding a totally personal touch to our experience that we appreciated immensely.
We did say this place was paradise didn’t we?
We were tempted to leave our waterside paradise to spend a few nights in one of the resort’s incredible ‘Wellness Tree Houses’. These offer the same high spec villa but housed up in the treetops on stilts. They also come complete with the addition of a spa room, a mini bar filled with healthy snacks from the ‘Clean and Lean’ wellness menu (more on that later) and a personal fitness consultation with the on site ‘Performance Specialist’ from Bodyism (more on that later too). But we loved being right next to the ocean too much so we opted to stay put and test out Amiila’s wellness package from where we were.
First stop was the personal consultation with the Bodyism ‘Performance Specialist’, part personal trainer, part ray of sunshine, our session with Bodyism trainer James has to be one of the most empowering, uplifting and energising things we’ve done in a very long time.
Don’t get us wrong, prepare to work hard, stretching and building strength where you need it, but also prepare to not feel like you’e working hard. Expect to feel more like you are spending time with a friend who really wants the best for you. It’s a wonderful combination of feeling cared for and feeling physically challenged all at the same time. Plus we got some great exercise tips to take with us on our future travels.
Next step on our wellness journey saw us heading to the spa for a massage. All guests at Amilla get a complimentary 50 minute massage but you’ll probably want to book another because it’s highly likely that this will be the best massage you have ever had.
A wild claim you may think but the the staff at the Javvu Spa have been trained to deliver ‘therapeutic, progressive, deep tissue massages’ by the acclaimed London-based massage expert, Beata Aleksandrowicz.
Massages at Amilla’s spa really are something different and they really are amazing.
The combination of the personalised workout session and the personalised massage therapy left us feeling in amazing shape; a match made in heaven.
Every area of Amilla Fushi seemed to be offering us something that was a cut above what we normally experience on our luxury travels. When we headed to the dive centre, run by the expertly professional Dive Butler International, our underwater adventures were delivered in the same exceptional fashion as those we had experienced on the land.
Amilla Fushi has the enviable location of being just a short 10 minute boat trip away from one of the best manta feeding areas in the world where large numbers of mantas gather. Hanifaru Bay is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and is legally designated as a Marine Protected Area; it is the place to go to see huge numbers of mantas (and also whale sharks) feeding on all the plankton which gathers there at certain times of year.
The lovely people at Dive Butler International took us on our trip after a short briefing which told us what to expect. We lost count of the number of mantas we saw and were awestruck by these magnificent creatures as they flew by us over and over again.
Absolutely one of the best things we’ve ever done.
With all this talk of amazing luxury, wellness, massages and underwater adventures you might be fooled into thinking we weren’t really focussing on the vegan food.
But think again; the vegan food at Amilla Fushi was to die for.
The Vegan Food:
Breakfast at Baazaar can generally be described as a super healthy vegan feast. There were of course opportunities to spoil ourselves with early morning sparkling wine and a hash brown laden Western style cooked breakfast, but the rest of the choices were just too good to pass up.
We chose our own freshly squeezed juice combinations with extra boosts of superfoods like spirulina as well as selecting ready made juice shots of the day (wheatgrass shot lovers take note). We ate decadent probiotic coconut yoghurts topped with vitamin c rich passion fruit and fibre, protein and omega 3 packed chia seeds (and felt totally indulged).
We made our own vegan mezze plates with heaps of spice laden za’atar scattered over hummus on seed packed Norlander bread. We cruised the cereal bar where there were seeds galore (chia, pumpkin, flax) and heaped them onto our granola (adding rice or soy milk as we pleased).
As if having the ability to help ourselves to coconut yoghurt and unlimited hummus wasn’t enough, vegans can also order off the à la carte menu and expect things like smashed pumpkin on rye with spinach and roasted tomatoes.
Tried and tested by us, this was a delicious breakfast option.
And on top of all the above, there was vegan sushi; need we say anything else?
Lunch options for vegans included eating at the ‘Clean and Lean Cafe’ at the spa area where a whole menu of super healthy and delicious food was waiting for us. We loved the chilled vibes in this cafe-style restaurant where you can browse in the shop or just laze in a hammock whilst waiting for your food.
The menu was easily adjusted for vegans. For those who are wanting to get an extra protein hit, they have vegan protein powder to add into smoothies or even your daily coffee. The food is light, packed with vitamins, minerals and most importantly, full of flavour.
The menu from the ‘Clean and Lean Cafe’ was available to guests at other restaurants in the resort but we also had the chance to try other options from the regular menus, talk about spoilt for choice! We especially loved the ability to build our own salads or drink delicious smoothies but there were also wraps and pizzas to enjoy.
At dinner time, you guessed it, there was delicious vegan food in abundance too. Amilla Fushi is just one of those places where they’ll bend over backwards to accommodate your wishes and for vegans this is always music to our ears.
Healthy vibes continued with dishes like ‘Raw Pad Thai’ on the menu. Fresh slithers of zucchini and carrot, cauliflower florets and shredded purple cabbage, slathered in creamy peanut sauce, fresh zingy lime flavours and a little sweetness and spice; just perfection.
Not wanting to miss out on one of the destination dining spots at Amilla, we made a reservation at ‘Feeling Koi’ where the sunsets are as spectacular as the food and were delighted with a specially created vegan menu.
The ‘Asparagus Gyoza’ were gone within seconds of being delivered to our table (a testament to their scrumptiousness). The ‘Smoked Tofu with Yuba maki roll and miso sesame dressing’ was a delicate, equisitely flavoured dream and the ‘Teriyaki Udon Noodles with Shitake Mushroom and Bok Choy’ were full of bold, meaty mushroom tastes alongside the sweet richness of the teriyaki sauce. But it was dessert that surprised us most; an agar agar fruit jelly sat atop a medley of diced fruit and crowned with a sweet but fresh sorbet.
It’s hard to describe just how wonderful this was.
The Vegan Essentials:
There were already feather free pillows on the bed; top marks there.
The in-room amenities were by Aēsop and 100% vegan. It makes us extremely happy when we stay somewhere and see high quality, cruelty-free products. We tried and tested them (a lot) and can confirm that they were absolutely gorgeous.
At the spa there were also vegan products to be found with organic luxury skincare and spa products from ethically minded ilā who say “absolutely everything in our products comes from a plant or a mineral”.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Book your stay at Amilla Fushi and slip happily into vegan luxury heaven.
Look after your body like never before with top-end fitness and spa sessions, enjoy the cool vibes and excellent service in the resort and get used to a very vegan friendly service with plenty of options for delicious vegan food.
Don’t forget to book that trip to Hanifaru to see the mantas too, it really was exceptional!
We were guests of Amilla Fushi but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
Telephone: +960 660-6444
Cost From: £1000 / $1300 per night (September 2016)