Accommodation at the Outrigger Konotta Resort is, quite simply, sublime; cool interiors of dark wood and stone mere metres from the sand, the sea and the marine richness found in it
Article by Sarah Rodrigues
“Oh yeah, you might have to watch out for your toes, but you’re okay otherwise.”
I can tell that the spa manager, Mandy, is joking, even without her laconic Australian drawl. Even so, there’s something of a mad glint in my eye as we stand on the jetty at the Outrigger Konotta Resort in the Maldives, staring down at the water, in which reef sharks are lazily gliding, oblivious to our excited presence. What better incentive – if one were needed – to head into the warm sea; being able to say that you’ve actually swum with sharks is surely anyone’s dream boast – and for those shy of water, there’s even a semi-submarine, which glides along the edge of the reef and immerses you in its majestic marine life without getting wet.
After kitting up at the dive centre – snorkelling equipment is free for guest use – we walk in that shambling, backwards, flipper-shod shuffle, across a narrow strip of pure white sand, which gives way to a milky pale blue and, beyond, to a dazzling sapphire. Within minutes, we’re seeing shimmeringly bright colours, tails whisking under the cover of corals and fins emerging from behind spiky, tree-like formations. So extraordinary are the structures that I’m momentarily anxious – have we come out too far? A quick glance back at the shore confirms that we are no more than 20 metres out; it’s astonishing that such marine richness exists within such close proximity to the unabashed luxury of the villa we are lucky enough to call home for the next week.
Lucky – does that even begin to sum it up? Accommodation at the Outrigger Konotta Resort is, quite simply, sublime; think beds (clouds of marshmallows without the attendant stickiness or sugar highs) and cool interiors of dark wood and stone. Set over two floors, there’s a vast living space, enormous bedrooms and decadent bathrooms – one with a huge circular freestanding tub – plus an outdoor terrace. We’re just metres from our own private stretch of sand, yet separated by thick, spiky foliage; from the ground floor, that extraordinary water – the colour of which had us glued to our plane windows on the domestic flight from Male to Kaadedhdhoo – can only be glimpsed at the end of the narrow, leaf-fringed path that leads to the beach. The over-water villas have all of the infinite blues and luxe finishes, not to mention the ability to descend the ladder from the side of your pool directly into the waters of the Indian Ocean to swim.
Each Outrigger Konotta Resort villa has its own full-sized pool, so opportunities for private dive bombing (or skinny dipping, if the mood dictates) at no disturbance to anyone abound, but even when we head to the communal pool, you can be as private or as sociable as you choose, with attentive staff and curtained pool beds flanking the sides. I sense an opportunity to get properly stuck into a book, but whenever I glance up, my eyes are drawn beyond the infinity edge of the pool and out to the water beyond – and I lose several dreamy minutes each time.
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Dreamy is the order of the day at The Navasana Spa, with its five treatment rooms and hydrotherapy pool, which is perfectly positioned to look out to the shifting waters of the Indian Ocean. Some of the products use coconut oil sourced from the island’s trees, and even parents can make the most of the facilities, thanks to the lovely Kids’ Club, which is handily located opposite.
Flying to such a remote destination doesn’t come without its share of environmental guilt and this is only highlighted by the otherworldly whiteness of the corals we see on our daily snorkelling expeditions. The Outrigger’s commitment to addressing the issue comes not only by way of various eco-friendly practices – including an onsite desalination plant, which provides fresh water in sterilised glass decanters – but also educationally, in the presence of the OZONE initiative, which helps to raise awareness via talks and guiding. Guests can also join the resort’s monthly coral restoration workshop, which has so far breathed new life into over 400 branches of coral.
Long flights notwithstanding, it’s not difficult to see why so many of the guests I meet are here on repeat visits. As well as being a place surrounded by, and designed with, extraordinary beauty, the level of service at the Outrigger Konotta Resort is above and beyond anything I have ever experienced. The food, too, is well beyond what one might consider achievable at such a remote location. At the Nala Rah restaurant, we’re treated to a teppanyaki spectacle – where eggs, razor-sharp knives and the chef’s hat are all star players – so hair raising that I’m amazed we have any appetite to do the resulting meal justice. Considering that I practically break down at having to even organise a home delivery, I’m blown away all week by how fresh and flavoursome such distantly-sourced food is – and it’s so dangerously plentiful that the private pool seems like a better option with each passing, over-indulgent, day: is it just me, or is that dive bombing is dislodging more water each time?
Emirates flies to Male from £773 return. You’ll be met by an Outrigger Konotta Resort rep, who will arrange your domestic transfer to Kaadedhdhoo; from there, it’s a 25 minute ride on the resort’s speedboat to the Outrigger’s welcome jetty, where cold towels and fresh juices await.