Inside Velaa Private Island
Last December, as a New Year’s treat – this holiday is the Russian equivalent of Christmas – we spent several glorious days at the Maldives’ most luxurious and exclusive resort, Velaa Private Island.
Velaa Private Island is the place of unparalled luxury, fit for kings and queens, princes and princesses. Velaa is the local word for turtle – the island itself is shaped like one – whereas Private refers to private moments that the hotel is renowned for: every villa comes with a personal butler, all services offered can be tailored to exactly how you want them, and attention to detail everywhere is impeccable.
Velaa Private Island is the passion project of the Czech billionaire, Jirí Smejc, who first bought a 50-year lease from the Maldivian government in 2010 and later spent $200 million on building a resort from scratch – there was nothing but bush and papaya plants – for the world’s most sophisticated holidaymakers.
Inside Velaa Private Island
Attention to design detail is impeccable, and all the elements are of the highest quality: you can tell that no expense was spared on sourcing all the materials from all over the world. Only the best would do: stone pavements from the desert in Jordan, Indonesia flowerpots, luxury wood paneling from Borneo, and patio chairs are Italian.
There are 45 villas dotted about Velaa Private Island, each with an area of at least 1,400 square feet: there are beach and water villas, ranging from one to four bedrooms, depending on you family size or on simply how much space you want to yourself! Four-bedroom villas are massive in size, and look like palaces nestled in the softest of sands and surrounded by crystal clear waters of the most beautiful cerulean shade.
Other amenities on Velaa Private Island include a waterside Aragu restaurant, led by an executive chef Adelina Grattard, who used to work in two Michelin-starred restaurnats, Hong Kong’s Bo Innovation and L’Astrance in Paris, and who also earned a star of her own at 32 for Yam’Tcha in Paris! The island is also home to the largest wine and champagne collection in the Maldives housed within a futuristic 37-foot Tavaru tower.
On this island you will also find Velaa Golf Academy by Ozabal, the only “Short Game Golf Academy” in the Maldives, 170m of greens and a swing studio carefully crafted by Masters Champion Jose Maria Olazabal. In addition, tt goes without a saying that the resort also features an ultra-luxurious spa, My Blend Spa by Clarins, as well as a diving and water sports centre, a tennis court, a gym, and a yoga pavilion
One of the major highlights about Velaa was the spectacularly magical diving – might I dare say, that it was the best diving I have undertaken in Maldives? Every dive was drastically different from a previous one, both in terms of underwater landscapes and marine life. Here, I experienced my first “shark” dive with mighty looking reef sharks – I remember staying still underwater, holding onto a piece of rock, completely mesmerised by their smooth, sinuous movement around coral reefs. During another dive, I spotted, or more accurately my guide spotted, two very ugly, creepy stone fish hidden amongst the rocks, and almost impossible to see unless you knew they were there. I had a narrow escape, when I almost started poking one of them with my bare hand, a terrible idea in hindsight since they are some of the deadliest fish on the planet. All in all there was a dizzying array of magnificent underwater life!