Voted most Instagrammable hotel in the world by numerous publications, a wellness retreat at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas will easily surpass your expectations
Getting away from it all once in a while has not only become a vital necessity for busy city-dwellers, who are hoping to reboot during a wellness holiday. It has also become a wellness trend (according to the Global Wellness Institute), as wellness tourism is responding to overtourism by suggesting and redirecting travelers to far-flung places where they can immerse in nature, self-reflect, and kick-start or continue their journey to wellbeing.
During my 3-night wellness retreat at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, I realized that the resort is exactly that kind of place that allows you the space and the soothing and healing interaction with nature to help you rejuvenate and refocus in life. My wellness activities and spa treatments were extremely nurturing and showed great results, but it was the surroundings and the tranquil setting that helped me rebalance and reboot. Taking in the vastness of the shimmering turquoise ocean, it felt like it automatically created space within my mind for new and creative thoughts.
Set on one of the most pristine islands in the Baa Atoll of the Indian Ocean, Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas is located a short 35-minute picturesque seaplane journey from Malé.
Despite the resort’s remoteness, it features all the luxuries one can possibly dream up. The resort features 78 spacious luxe villas with private pools and oversized swings that are either located overwater with sweeping ocean vistas, or nestled along a stretch of beach. All of them feature high ceilings, wood and marble touches. The overwater villas come with a spacious terrace, an overwater hammock from which you can observe parrotfish and rays, and even dolphins in the distance. And it features a bathtub with a transparent bottom to give you a fully immersive ocean experience. The beach villas also come with a spacious garden, as well as a large outdoor courtyard-style bathroom.
Built on a former coconut plantation, the resort can proudly state that not a single palm tree was cut down during construction, giving this luxe island a sense of wild Robinson Crusoe-esque adventure.
Being on a 3-night wellness retreat, of course one of my highlights was the Anantara Spa, a gorgeous overwater space with six private treatment suits to rejuvenate body and mind. The outdoor relaxation area with plunge pools and lounge deck looks fabulous and is a little sanctuary of peace and tranquillity where guests can be lulled by the sounds of the ocean pre and post treatments.
It also features the Maldives’ only medi spa, Cocoon Medical Spa. Here you can indulge in mani-pedis, as well as a range of cutting-edge aesthetic facials, including Diamond Microdermabrasion, Platelet Rich Plasma (aka vampire facial), Cleopatra 24-Carat Gold Facial, and Dermapen Microneedling. I was also treated to a Silk Peel Dermal Infusion, which starts with a Microdermabrasion to prepare the skin by exfoliating the dead skin cells. This is then followed by a Galvanic Iontophoresis facial to infuse hydration, LED Red Light Therapy, a Gold Collagen Mask, Peptide Hyaluronic Acid Serum, and Peptide Collagen Moisturiser to finish it off, leaving your skin glowing and radiant.
Furthermore, the medi spa also offers detox and body contouring sessions, such as Colon Hydrotherapy, Vitamin IV Infusion, Epigenetic Analysis and Velashape Fat Blast, which I tried for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised with its results, as it reduces cellulite, shapes and firms the skin and reduces body fat in targeted areas.
I’ve also experienced one of the best Abhyangha and Shirodhara treatments at Anantara Kihavah, which were prescribed based on my Ayurvedic analysis with Sharath Ram, the resident Aryuveda guru. During my one-on-one consultation he established my body type (dosha), which is vata, and then made suggestions for exercises, diet choices and lifestyle changes accordingly.
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The spa here also offers Ayurvedic Retreats for 3, 5 and 7 days which focus on Digital Detox or Longevity. Each programme is designed to help guests rebalance and blossom by combining the consultation and therapeutic treatments with restorative yoga, breathing, meditation and herbal steam. The Longevity programme targets toxins that affect our liver and immune system, and lead to illnesses and allergies. The Detoxifying programme rejuvenates the body, strengthens the immune system and restores a naturally vibrant glow by addressing the damaging effects of day-to-day stress.
Furthermore, there are 3-Day Anantara Recovery retreats and 5-Day Anantara Wellbeing retreats to purify inside and out and to give yourself a boost, physically, mentally and emotionally. The Anantara Spa can also tailor a variety of wellness journeys and cater to your specific needs.
In addition to the luxury wellness retreats, Anantara Kihavah also boasts an exclusive Deluxe Spa Pool Villa, offering travelers the ultimate spa pampering experience with a dedicated spa therapist and unlimited daily spa treatments. Every spa enthusiast’s dream, this special villa is the first of its kind in the Maldives. Without leaving the privacy of your lavish villa, you can enjoy limitless personalised spa treatments (massages in your en-suite spa room or outside on the private terrace), meditation practices and private water aerobics every day from 10am to 10pm.
You can choose from 25 signature treatments, as well as manicures and pedicures, while the Spa Cuisine menu (available in the villa’s private dining sala) completes the wellness experience.
My customized wellness retreat also included a range of activities, such as the early morning overwater yoga session, which I highly recommend. This private yoga class is great fun, as it really gets you out of your comfort zone, and you move and breathe to the lapping sounds of the waves, allowing you to become in sync with Mother Nature.
I also enjoyed a Pilates class with the resort’s personal trainer and Muay Thai fighter, Jack, who led me through a series of matwork exercises to strengthen core, legs, glutes and arms. He regularly trains professional athletes on the island, who make use of the resort’s boxing ring and tennis court.
My wellness itinerary also included a morning of swimming with manta rays, but sadly, there were no mantas spotted during those few days, and the trip was cancelled. However, if you have the chance to sign up for this session, and the trip does go ahead, you will be in for a magical experience, creating memories that will last a lifetime. You will be able to snorkel and free-dive up-close with up to 40 reef manta rays at the world’s largest natural manta feeding region in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in Hanifaru Bay. The upsurge current brings plankton with it, therefore attracting the gentle giants to feed. Be sure to book your stay at Anantara Kihavah between May and November for the best chance of manta sightings and swimming with these beautiful winged creatures.
Of course, there are also dive trips (divers should definitely experience the Yellow Wall, which is covered with vibrant gold corals, descending 30m into the ocean), and island hopping adventures by yacht or on a traditional dhoni. Be whisked away for a sunset sailing cruise, a cultural visit to a local inhabited island, or a sandbank picnic with champagne. But there are also plenty of activities for guests who don’t fancy a boat trip and would much rather stay on the island. You can enjoy snorkelling on the house reef, or windsurfing, water skiing, wakeboarding, kiteboarding, sailing and kayaking around the island.
See also: Top 10 Romantic Destinations for Couples
In the evening, unwind at the resort’s starlit cinema under the stars, located within the island’s jungle. There are two shows each night, and you can choose any movie, which they will project onto the big screen. Enjoy snacks and bubbles under a star-filled sky.
Another unique feature is the island’s organic farm, which supplies produce to some of the restaurants. Also, the fruits in the villas come from the hotel’s garden.
Should all of this make you hungry, rest assured that the island also boasts six stunning dining options to choose from. Enjoy a bit of barefoot luxury as you dig your toes into the sand while enjoying a scrumptious breakfast at Plates, taking in the mesmerizing view of the turquoise lagoon, and the powdery white beach. For lunch, laze beachside in your swimmers for a delicious Mediterranean and Italian meal, or dine under the palm trees by the pool at Manzaru.
In the evening, head over to Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky, the quartet of signature restaurants for true gourmands. Feast on lobster and fresh fish in the underwater restaurant and wine cellar at Sea. Select one the 6,500 bottles of wine to go with your meal at the bottom of the ocean. Fire serves up teppanyaki for guests each night in the open-style kitchen-cum-restaurant where the ocean breeze blows beneath the thatched roof. At the Asian restaurant Salt you can taste meats and fresh seafood cooked on a Himalayan salt block, and a resident version of Salt Bae will pair dishes with the perfect seasoning to allow complexity of flavor. Last but definitely not least, Sky offers cocktails and canapes while you stare into the starry sky and expand your view of the galaxy at the first overwater observatory in the Maldives. Given its close proximity to the equator, the Baa Atoll is one of the best places on earth to stargaze. Listen to resident astronomy guru, Ali Shameem as he talks cosmos, light years and constellations, and sit inside the giant custom-built Ash-dome observatory and peek through the telescope to spot some of the planets and stars surrounding us. This is one of the main attractions at Anantara Kihavah that allows families, as well as romantic couples, to experience the vastness of the galaxy, reminding us just how small we truly are.