Ayada Maldives

Ayada Maldives is a private island luxury resort in the south of the Maldives; they’ve just won the World Travel Awards ‘World’s Leading Water Villa Resort 2014’ so you can already imagine that we’re talking about serious luxury here.

Ayada Maldives beach water hammock (1)

But serious luxury doesn’t always mean serious vegan luxury and vegan guests might be worried about going to a remote tropical island where the national cuisine usually involves some kind of fish.

Plus, our Vegan Food Quest isn’t just about looking for vegan food, it’s about looking for the best vegan food in the world.

Ayada Maldives aerial picture (6)

We stayed for 4 nights and made every effort to test out their vegan friendliness – the team at Ayada Maldives want to introduce more vegetarian and vegan dishes onto their current menu, so we were happy to visit and test out their new ideas.

Hopefully by offering healthy and plant based options this will make them even more popular with guests, and also more sustainable, which we know it really important to the team at Ayada Maldives.

Our Sunset Ocean Suite which had the most amazing views.

Our Sunset Ocean Suite which had the most amazing views.

The island is very, very beautiful.

It has a ‘house reef’ that is alive with healthy, live coral, which is home to a myriad of tropical fish (including sharks and sting rays!) and has killer views which change as the sun sets and moon rises; we had fallen in love with this little part of the Maldives by the end of the first day.

But did the food match the same level of high quality luxury that we found in the resort?

The Vegan Food:

There were numerous places for us to eat at Ayada Maldives, each offering something different but all of them pulling out all the stops to make our experience just as luxurious as other non-vegan guests.

For breakfast we ate in ‘Magu’ where the fresh salad and juice bars meant we could get a huge fruit and vegetable boost to begin the day.

We can eat salad at any time of the day, especially when it's this good!

We can eat salad at any time of the day, especially when it’s this good!

We also had fresh vegan sushi made for us each morning, with delicious spicy vegan kimchi, full of crunchy cabbage and carrot with a rich spicy flavouring that was highly addictive!

Pretty, fresh vegan, sushi.

Pretty, fresh, vegan sushi.

We tried kimchi for the first time and loved it so the chef made it for us every day. Now that's the kind of service we love.

We tried kimchi for the first time and loved it so much the chef made it for us every day – now that’s the kind of service we love.

There was healthy cereal with black sesame soya milk, nuts and dried fruit, meaning that breakfast was not only delicious each morning but a really healthy experience too.

At dinner time, Magu has a theme every night and so dinner is never the same. We got to try out Mediterranean night where the vegan options included cold mezze, rich tomato soup and a spinach laden fresh pizza (with no cheese).

We were also there for Maldivian night where the chef made us a spicy rich Maldivian vegetable curry full of chilli, tomato and coconut flavours.

Fresh mezze platter.

Fresh mezze platter.

At Kai, Ayada Maldives’ restaurant that specialises in food from the Far East, the chefs used their skills to create a delicious vegan menu for us.

The papaya and green mango salad was full of the fresh flavours of Thai cooking and the Vietnamese hand roll was light and flavoured with fresh herbs, just like those we’ve eaten in the best restaurants in Vietnam.

Spicy papaya and mango salad with toasted peanuts and a classic Thai flavours of lemongrass, lime and chilli.

Spicy papaya and mango salad with toasted peanuts and the classic Thai flavours of lemongrass, lime and chilli.

Just as delicious as those in Vietnam.

Just as delicious as those in Vietnam.

Delicious mains of ‘Steamed Greens with Tofu’ (light, healthy, full of flavour) and ‘Seasonal Vegetable Curry’ (Chinese style with crunchy water chestnuts and shitake mushrooms) were followed by a decadent dessert of light, Maldivian banana fritters served with a homemade mango sorbet that was intense with rich, sweet mango flavour and one of the most delicious sorbets we’ve ever eaten.

Super green and healthy vegan dinner.

Super green and healthy vegan dinner.

We loved these light banana fritters with mango rich sorbet.

We loved these light banana fritters with mango rich sorbet.

Our global tour of fabulous vegan food was set to continue at ‘Zero Degree’, the laid back pool bar at Ayada Maldives where the views of the Indian Ocean over the beautiful infinity pool (which even  sparkles with lights at night) were a beautiful backdrop to our tasty vegan lunches.

We couldn’t pick favourites from this restaurant as everything we were served was too delicious (a great vegan problem to have!).

The vegan tempura was fresh and perfectly cooked.

The vegan tempura was fresh and perfectly cooked.

This cauliflower vegetable curry was bursting full of fresh ginger and garlic and was full of caramelised onions, fresh tomatoes and chillies. Amazing.

This cauliflower vegetable curry was bursting full of fresh ginger and garlic and was full of caramelised onions, fresh tomatoes and chillies. Amazing.

We devoured this grilled vegetable stack, served on a smooth potato mash with a rich tomato sauce.

We devoured this grilled vegetable stack, served on a smooth potato mash with a rich tomato sauce.

Every day, Chef Putu seemed to come up with vegan dishes from a different part of the world which all had authentic touches like our gado-gado being drizzled with Indonesian ‘kecap manis’, a sweet, sticky soy sauce which is synonymous with Indonesian cuisine.

A Balinese 'Urab' salad full of fresh coconut, chilli spice, crunchy beans, carrot and beansprouts with steamed spinach caramelised onions. We closed our eyes and were transported back to Bali...

A Balinese ‘Urab’ salad full of fresh coconut, chilli spice, crunchy beans, carrot and beansprouts with steamed spinach caramelised onions. We closed our eyes and were transported back to Bali…

Ayada_Maldives_5311

The peanut sauce was sweet, smooth and totally fabulous, the ‘lontong’ rice cakes were moist and soft, the sweet potato chips added a little bit of crunch and of course we drizzled the ‘kecap manis’ over the top to give that rich, sweet, treacle like flavour that is regularly found in Indonesian food.

We quickly began to expect our lunches at ‘Zero Degree’ to be amazing but we were even more impressed than usual when we were served a vegan burger.

Traditionally a difficult vegan dish to get right, Chef Putu and his team produced a classic vegetable laden burger with pickles, fresh salad and ketchup, served with fries of course.

The burger was smooshy hen eaten yet still crispy on the outside and held together well with the fresh bun. It was perfectly topped off with fresh salad and crunchy, salty pickles. A definite entry into our Vegan Food Quest Vegan Burger Hall of Fame (reserved for only the finest vegan burgers in the world).

A definite entry into our Vegan Food Quest Vegan Burger Hall of Fame (reserved for only the finest vegan burgers in the world).

One of the great things about Ayada Maldives is it’s Turkish influence, which comes from the Turkish owner and architect of this beautiful luxury resort.

The best place to experience this is at Ottoman Lounge, where authentic Turkish coffee is served on silver trays which have been crafted with a bespoke design created just for the resort.

The setting is vibrant and colourful, the coffee is smooth and rich and the presentation made us feel like royalty.

Beautifully served, great tasting coffee.

Beautifully served, great tasting coffee.

More opportunities to have a luxurious drink served to you in paradise can also be found at Isle De Joie, a small island in the middle of the clear water of the lagoon where the very best wines are served to guests, accompanied by nuts, fresh fig jam and sesame crisp breads if you’re vegan (and cheeses if you aren’t).

The wine was lovely and the moon rising over the sea was one of those memorable moments where we were lost for words and just had to sit back and enjoy the experience.

Magical.

Last but not least in our vegan culinary tour of Ayada Malidives, we ate spectacular vegan food at ‘Ocean Breeze’, surrounded by the sea in this elegant yet laid back bar and restaurant.

The choice of dishes was impressive but it was the taste and presentation that blew us away – this was seriously good vegan food!

For starters we ate ‘Beetroot Carpaccio with Capers Dressing’, a beetroot rich dish with a dressing made from blended capers.

For starters we ate ‘Beetroot Carpaccio with Capers Dressing’, a beetroot rich dish with a dressing made from blended capers.

We also chose this ‘Puy Lentil Salad with Parsnip, Pine Nuts and Lemon Dressing’ which was deliciously crunchy and fresh as well as being packed with roasted parsnip and pine nut flavours with the al dente lentils putting the finishing touches to the great variety of textures and tastes in this wonderful vegan salad.

The ‘Puy Lentil Salad with Parsnip, Pine Nuts and Lemon Dressing’ was deliciously crunchy and fresh, as well as being packed with roasted parsnip and pine nut flavours.

We had a choice of two soups, both completely different but both delicious.

The ‘Apple and Celariac with Walnut Soup’ was sharp from the apples, with extra sweetness and sharpness coming from the addition of white balsamic, walnut pieces were suspended throughout providing a savoury, nutty balance to the sweet and sharp soup.

The ‘Green Pea and Mint Soup’ was fresh, light and tasted of green garden peans; smooth in texture, it had been finished with a swirl of rich coconut cream.

Tasty vegan green pea soup.

Tasty vegan green pea soup.

Main courses were equally as tasty and beautifully presented, the wild mushroom risotto with assorted spring vegetables was like a taste of Italy in the Maldives.

Wild mushroom risotto with assorted spring vegetables was like a taste of Italy in the Maldives. Rich, earthy and perfectly cooked.

Rich, earthy and perfectly cooked.

‘Herb Marinated Polenta and Grilled Eggplant with Tomato Reduction’ was wonderfully presented but tasted even better and was definitely a dish that would be at home in any fine dining vegan restaurant.

The polenta cake was fluffy on the inside, flavoured with fresh parsley and sun dried tomatoes, and crispy on the outside before being garnished with spring vegetables and edible flowers, the roasted eggplant parcel was stuffed with vegetables and sat in a ring of rich tomato sauce.

We loved this dish with it's great mix of flavours, textures and beautiful presentation.

We loved this dish with it’s great mix of flavours, textures and beautiful presentation.

We chose homemade sorbets for dessert, made with coconut, passionfruit and strawberry. They were the perfect end to our fabulous, gourmet vegan meal and left us astounded at how sorbet can be so decadent.

The most delicious vegan sorbets!

The most delicious vegan sorbets!

The Vegan Essentials:

Our bed was wonderfully comfortable and 100% feather free; there was even a pillow menu with 4 vegan options to choose from.

The Spa was a peaceful and tranquil walled garden in the middle of a resort that was already very quiet and relaxed; the sounds of silence only being broken by wild birds and Baliniese music playing softly in the background.

There were a range of treatments on offer and also a beautiful looking, authentic Turkish hammam (the only one in the Maldives).

Amazing Turkish ham man.

Amazing Turkish hammam.

The spa uses and stocks products from ESPA, which are vegetarian and not tested on animals but do regularly contain honey, beeswax and keratin so are not suitable for vegans.

In room amenities were from luxury brand Bvlgari – we couldn’t find out whether the are vegan or not so we were happy to use our own.

The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:

Make a reservation at Ayada Maldives for an opportunity to sample island paradise luxury, whilst getting to eat incredible vegan food from around the globe.

Eat in the different venues around the resort to experience all the different styles of dining, all of which will leave you feeling impressed by the great tasting and high quality vegan food (just what you need after a day being amazed by the underwater world that surrounds you).

Don’t forget to squeeze in a visit to Ottoman Lounge for one of those spectacular Turkish coffees.

Wherever you go and wherever you eat, the helpful staff, beautiful surroundings and amazing vegan food will leave you feeling like you’re getting the very best of vegan luxury.

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We were guests of Ayada Maldives but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.

Ayada Maldives

Maguhdhuvaa Island,
Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll,
Maldives.

Telephone: + 960 684 4444

Email: reservations@ayadamaldives.com

Cost From: £550 / $825 per night (May 2015)

8 thoughts on “Ayada Maldives

  1. yara Coelho

    What a wonderful article, they seem to know what they’re doing in order to attract the growing number of vegan and vegetarian travelers from all over the world.

    The food looks delicious, absolutely amazing!

    Reply
    1. Caryl Post author

      HI Yara – thanks for your comment…

      The food was both delicious and amazing you’re right!

      Despite not having a dedicated veg menu the team were more than happy to change their normal offerings so that we were very well catered for, in some cases creating brand new dishes for us to try which will hopefully find their way on to the menu in the future…

      We are encountering more and more veg travellers and it is great to see the finest hotels and resorts changing their normal offerings to include plant based cuisine.

      Happy Xmas for yesterday!

      Caryl x

      Reply
  2. Mark bulley

    a really good read. Even though vegan food is not really anything I have considered, I must admit that some of the items on the menu here look stunning. Another one to put on the wish list !!

    Reply
    1. Paul Post author

      HI Mark,

      Thanks for your comment, often people who have never considered vegan food enjoy it when they try as it is healthy, nutritious and very tasty when cooked well!

      Ayada is simply amazing and i’m sure you would love it, we loved every minute there and hope to return one day – certainly worth putting on your wish list!

      All the best for 2015

      Paul

      Reply
  3. eileen

    What a well-written, informative and interesting article. The Ayada Maldives looks and sounds wonderful. A paradise resort in a beautiful location. Food is such an important part of any holiday, and more often than not being vegetarian or vegan means having to ‘make do’. Not so, according to your experience, every dish you describe sounds absolutely delicious, taste, nutrition, presentation, all taken seriously, providing exciting and tasty food at every meal. Lucky you.

    Reply
    1. Paul Post author

      We were very lucky indeed to enjoy time at this beautiful, private island paradise!

      Slowly, resorts and hotels are realising that people who have different dietary requirements should not ‘miss out’ and deserve the same experience as everyone else – Ayada certainly understood this and made sure that our experience was as good as the other guests…

      Thanks for you comment 🙂

      Reply
  4. Claire

    Wow, the food looks delicious. I’ve never really thought about going to the Maldives, mainly because I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat there. It’s nice to see that hotels and resorts are finally starting to add more vegan options.

    Reply
    1. Paul Post author

      HI Claire
      Thanks for your comment:)

      It truly was delicious and tasted even better than it looked and was so hard to edit the pictures as we enjoyed so much amazing vegan food…

      We had always avoided Maldives for the same reason, nothing worse than being stuck in paradise with nothing to eat! Our trip to Ayada proved our concerns wrong, they exceeded our expectations and showed what can be done with good communication between the guest and the F&B team..

      Where are you heading next?

      We’re about to fly to Chiang Mai later today….

      Thanks again and happy travels!

      Paul

      Reply

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