Truly sublime

Resort Report By Royston Ellis

“Some of our executives visited resorts around the world in a search for ideas to make the water villas at Adaaran Vadoo the best.”

When someone said that to me as I arrived at the tiny resort of Vadoo only 20 minutes by speedboat from Male’ International Airport, across the channel linking North and South Male’ atolls, I wondered if it was just hotelier’s hyperbole. I was sceptical because the brochure for the resort promised “subliminally appointed villas.” Subliminally? The dictionary definition of that word is: “below the threshold of sensation or consciousness.”

Luckily, when I was taken to my villa by the butler dedicated to serve me, I discovered the eager copywriter of the brochure probably meant “sublime” - as in “of the most exalted kind”. At Vadoo there are 46 villas built on columns over a translucent lagoon, linked to the island by winding wooden walkways, and four off-shore villas that can only be reached by butler-powered boat. The interiors of all the villas are, indeed, worth extolling.

But first some background. The three-acre island of Vadoo was opened for tourists over 30 years ago when it was known as Vadoo Diving Paradise. Accommodation was in 24 rooms in three blocks crammed onto the island with a small restaurant and a diving station. It attracted mostly Japanese clients and was the first resort in the Maldives to feature over-water accommodation, called Floating Cottages. Since being taken over by Adaaran, the brand initiated by the Sri Lankan conglomerate, Aitken Spence, the resort has been transformed.

For a start, there is no guest accommodation on the island itself. It has become a neatly defined tropical paradise with miniature gardens, the perfect setting for a lavish swimming pool by the beach, a pavilion lounge with an open-air upper deck bar, a restaurant exuding sophistication and concentrating on fine dining, a Japanese restaurant, a spa and a fitness centre, and a hairdressing salon. There is also a fully equipped and popular diving station.

Like all resorts in the Maldives, Vadoo is horizontal, not vertical, so getting to the guest rooms requires a lot of walking. There are no lifts but a butler will give guests a lift on his buggy. A spur leading off the main wooden jetty accesses each pair of villas and these are laid out in crescents, softening the impact of so many thatched villas perched a few feet above the water.

Entrance to each villa is through a gate in a bamboo fence onto a huge wooden deck which has enough space for a dining area (many guests like to eat in the privacy of their villa), a small plunge pool set over the lagoon, and a day bed for two. A wall of French windows opens to a timber-floored guest villa more than 40 square metres in area. There are six deliberately Japanese-themed rooms but even the others have the neat simplicity of Japanese style.

The bed is centred on a border of soft-pile carpet with a vanity table against one wall where there is a floor-to-ceiling mirror, and a work desk with broadband connection and flat screen television, and DVD home theatre system by the other wall. Settees piled high with cushions fill two corners beside the sliding rattan screens that curtain the windows. In the wall above the bed a panel slides open to reveal the bathroom.

Other innovative features that delighted me included lots of drawer and wardrobe space, the mini-bar with a glass door and a wooden hanging arm for clothes, both at eye-level to reduce tiresome bending or stretching.

Although Adaaran Prestige Vadoo only opened on March 28 this year, it is already winning plaudits for the comfort and style of its villas, its fine food and dedicated service, and - when compared with other top-notch resorts in the Maldives - its reasonable prices. Sublime, in fact.; email:

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Truly sublime


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