There are nearly as many hotels as there are islands in the Maldives, and it can sometimes feel like there is a new 'luxury offering' announced every week.
Indeed, luxury can come at a questionable price in this island region, with increasing international scrutiny regarding the sustainable practices of luxury resorts and the tourism industry as a whole. Put simply, travellers are beginning to expect more from their trips - they want sustainable practices alongside the high-end service and quality already provided by these five-star boutiques and chains.
This is where the Vakkaru Maldives Resort steps in. It's rich marine biology, and flourishing tropical plant life on the island are all part of a wider UNESCO programme in the Baa Atoll, where the island resides.
As a result, guests can take part in a wide range of activities, such as snorkelling alongside whale sharks and manta rays, learning to deep-sea dive, or open water swimming, all in the safe knowledge that it is taking place in a marine-protected sanctuary.
As a nod to sustainability on land, the island also provides each guest with their own pushbike to get about the almond-shaped isle (we highly recommended whiling away an afternoon exploring the island by yourself this way). Amongst the rich flora and fauna on land, there's one tree you'll see a lot of on the island - cocos nucifera - or more commonly known as the coconut tree. Before being taken over as a luxury resort, the island was a coconut plantation. Vakkaru Resort kept as many coconut trees on the island as possible, in respect of the island's history and also as a conservation effort.
Vakkaru's excellence doesn't stop with sustainability. Merana Spa is an incredible ode to the joy of relaxation. The spa is located on one of the island's fronds, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the ocean, and glass panels below where your head rests during the treatments, giving you the delightful experience of seeing parrotfish swim about and the gentle sound of waves lapping around the spa building while you enjoy your treatment. You can also enjoy sunrise yoga, tennis, or a session in the island's overwater gym. If you're travelling with kids, there's a range of options too, starting from the parrot club (for children 3-5 years old) staffed with a lovely team of nannies and all-day entertainment, to a games room for older children and adults. There are also scuba and snorkelling classes available for the more adventurous youths.
Suites on the island are available in two forms: overwater or on the beach, both with their own merits and, compared to other islands, all come in a surprisingly large size. If you fancy your own private swimming pool and a path down to the beach, we recommend the latter - or if you prefer steps down to the ocean from your room and the sound of water lapping against your villa stilts, go for the former. Aside from these two factors (and the different sizes, reflecting price), you can't go wrong with either option.
To the most important subject: food. Restaurants at these luxury resorts can sometimes play second fiddle to the primary experience; however, not at Vakkaru. The island offers up three distinct restaurants along with the swish Lagoon Bar(prepare to feel like an extra in a James Bond film). Even the all-day dining restaurant Amaany is busy at each sitting - a sign of the quality of food with two other options available. We recommend definitely making time for the delicious Italian fare at Isoletta and the incredible Southeast Asian restaurant Onu, too.
Indeed, it's hard to go wrong when travelling to the Maldives; after all, it is one of the most iconic luxury destinations on earth. But it certainly makes for an even more restful night when you know you are staying at a five-star property that cares and protects for the local seascape and its inhabitants.
Vakkaru Island, Baa Atoll, Maldives, vakkarumaldives.com
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