As the seaplane descended over the impossibly turquoise water, I looked out of the window and saw what looked like the entire hotel staff waving and ready to welcome us. An indication of the warmth and service we came to expect at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi. Stepping out and feeling the warm sun on my face, I’m swiftly greeted with the smiling faces of the team, armed with a wet towel and a cold refreshing fruit juice. I soon learn that Sirru Fen Fushi translates to “Secret Water Island” in Dhivehi, which seems apt as there isn’t a single hotel within 30km, ensuring perfectly natural surroundings and an undisturbed ocean.
Before being taken to the villa we were given a tour of the island to get a better understanding of the layout and all it has to offer. What struck me – in addition to the whiteness of the beaches – was the lush mangroves and natural foliage around the island, providing a sharp contrast to the sandy surrounds. Due to the island’s previous role as a banana plantation, the resort has been built around much of the mangroves to keep true to its identity. When I think of an island paradise this is what I expect, natural and environmentally conscious and offering the very best of five-star Maldives and island life.
We were whisked away via golf buggy to our sunset villa for check-in, which takes place in the villa to ensure privacy and comfort. We were greeted by a small sand walkway leading to a rustic blue double door set within the walled enclosure of our villa. Upon entry I was taken aback by how spacious the outdoor area of the villa was. I walked beyond the front door to the decked area boasting a cabana and private swimming pool leading to another cabana on the sand itself with a sea view and direct beach access. Without exaggeration, door to sea could not have been more than a dozen metres and with the sun beating down all I could think about was hurrying through the process in and diving into our private infinity pool or the sea – how would I decide which one to sample first?
As you enter the villa, the king bed is situated in the middle of the room with ocean views. The high wooden ceilings give the villa an open airiness that allows the space to breathe. Adjoined to the bedroom with a huge double sliding door is the spacious living area with a dining table for two. The bedroom flows into a his-and-hers separate walk-in wardrobe, progressing into a spacious washroom with seating for you to relax and get ready at your leisure. The private outdoor area features an outdoor shower and a freestanding bathtub set among the trees – only accessible from inside the villa itself, guaranteeing complete blissful privacy for you and your very own slice of tropical paradise.
WELLNESS & ACTIVITIES
The island houses a branch of the world-renowned Willow Stream Spa that puts a focus on nature’s essential elements. When speaking with the resort’s director of marketing, Rachelle Hill, she described the spa as being perfect for one to “disconnect to then reconnect”. Taking this advice, and subsequently booking a 60-minute couples’ massage, was the perfect way to test this theory and I can confirm it did all that was intended. In true Willow Stream fashion, there was great attention to detail and we were provided a selection of oils to choose from, all the while sipping a cucumber drink as we looked out at the infinity pool and ocean beyond.
The massage was especially relaxing and the hour seemed to disappear. For those looking for a more active experience the resort also provides a fully equipped gym with a personal trainer and tennis court for all budding athletes. The gym has all of the modern equipment you would hope to find – although I used precisely none of it during my stay – and the tennis court is finished to a competition standard. The resort often hosts professionals players from across the world of tennis, so they can work on their conditioning in paradise. Any why not?
With three restaurants and a cocktail bar to choose from there really is something for every palette. Kata, serving pan-Asian cuisine on a stunning over-water jetty, is really something quite special. While eating some of the finest seafood the Indian Ocean has to offer, namely Maldivian tuna and lobster, you can watch the jack fish and black tip sharks swimming in the crystal clear waters below, with a captivating sunset in the background, shifting from blue hues to a deep orange. The restaurant serves some of the most amazing sashimi and is the perfect spot to take in beautiful dusk moments from the rooftop terrace, looking out across the calm silky sea.
The bedroom flows into a his-and-hers walk-in wardrobe, progressing into a spacious washroom with seating for you to relax and get ready at your leisure
Raha Market is an all-day restaurant serving food from around the world, ensuring suitable options for guests from every corner of the globe. My favourite aspect of my dinner here was the fresh barbecue station where you choose your meat or fish to be grilled precisely to your specification, with seasoning and sauces to taste. Both the tuna and king prawns were remarkable and the portions generous. For a relaxing cocktail, Onu Onu is situated across from the Maldives’ longest infinity pool and directly adjacent to the beach. It’s the life and soul of the evening’s festivities with roaring beach fires and live music long into the night.
The island’s reef is famous for snorkelling and scuba diving with literally hundreds of different sea creatures and some of the Maldives’ most pristine corals. Marine biologist Sam is readily available to answer any questions or schedule personalised trips to explore the waters surrounding the island. He may even take you to some of the secret locations that you would not find otherwise – if you ask nicely.
One of the must-do activities is the sunset dolphin cruise, leaving early evening and returning just before sunset, is an impeccable way to see some of the surrounding islands, experience the calm sea and watch the dolphins play and swim around the boat. At one point we had 12 dolphins following us thanks to the resident “dolphin whisperer”. A memory to treasure forever. In all my travels I have never been anywhere quite like Sirru Fen Fushi. The Maldives is rightfully on most people’s bucket list and I would highly recommend when visiting to stay with the Fairmont Maldives. Perfect for romantic escapes, family vacations and for anyone who loves water sports and diving, the atoll offers a unique glance into the essence of the Maldives. I would return in less than a heartbeat and will do my utmost to return to the secret water island.
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