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Toploader’s DAN HIPGRAVE stays at Anantara Veli Resort, a Maldives retreat that ticks all the boxes

With hundreds of Instagrammable resorts popping up across the Maldives like glistening pearls choosing where to stay is like picking your favourite kid. 

Thai-owned Anantara Veli Resort within the Maldives’ South Male Atoll is just a 35-minute speed boat transfer from Velana International Airport and ticks all the boxes.

On arrival, our boat veered into the eye-achingly bright turquoise lagoon where my wife and I were warmly welcomed with lively Boduberu drumming, refreshing coconut water and ice-cold towels infused with lemon grass.

Villa host David led us through the tropical island’s immaculate sandy paths shaded by coconut trees and wonderfully scented frangipani towards the boardwalk leading to 67 Asian-style overwater thatch-roofed bungalows.

Toploader’s Dan Hipgrave and his wife check into the Thai-owned Anantara Veli Resort (above) within the Maldives’ South Male Atoll, which lies just a 35-minute speed boat transfer from Velana International Airport

Our impressive sunset-facing Overwater Deluxe Pool Villa was decorated in a contemporary Maldivian style with hardwood floors, colourful local artwork and light wood furnishings and was well equipped and spacious with an extravagantly large ed.

The bathroom’s free-standing bath and floor-to-ceiling window with endless ocean views is a real showstopper while the private terrace has a good-sized plunge pool, loungers and a ladder leading to the ocean. Lower category rooms all have access to the ocean, are closer to the resort and enjoy beach views.

The unique feature of ‘adult only’ Anantara Veli resort is that we were able to enjoy access to the more action-packed ‘family’ resort Anantara Dhigu and uninhabited ‘picnic island’ Gulhifushi. 

'Our impressive sunset-facing Overwater Deluxe Pool Villa (above) was decorated in a contemporary Maldivian style,' writes Dan

‘Our impressive sunset-facing Overwater Deluxe Pool Villa (above) was decorated in a contemporary Maldivian style,’ writes Dan

The private terrace of Dan's overwater villa (above) had a good-sized plunge pool, loungers and a ladder leading to the ocean

The private terrace of Dan’s overwater villa (above) had a good-sized plunge pool, loungers and a ladder leading to the ocean

The Overwater Deluxe Pool Villa's free-standing bath with 'endless ocean views'

The Overwater Deluxe Pool Villa’s free-standing bath with ‘endless ocean views’ 

All three islands are connected by a slickly operated pontoon boat that we never waited more than a couple of minutes for.

Dhigu’s large infinity-edged swimming pool, dizzying list of restaurants and bars, excursions, water sports and overwater spa meant we never tired of Veli’s more intimate atmosphere.

The lagoon separating the islands is crystal clear but the impact of climate change is sadly visible with noticeable bleaching to some of the coral. 

A bird's eye view of the Overwater Deluxe Pool Villas, set in an 'eye-achingly bright turquoise lagoon'

A bird’s eye view of the Overwater Deluxe Pool Villas, set in an ‘eye-achingly bright turquoise lagoon’

Veli’s reception, two restaurants, water sports centre and the main swimming pool are located in a small cluster creating an intimate island village. Above is the Cumin restaurant

 Veli’s reception, two restaurants, water sports centre and the main swimming pool are located in a small cluster creating an intimate island village. Above is the Cumin restaurant 

Modern Japanese restaurant Origami, pictured, serves 'ridiculously fresh and delicious sushi'

Modern Japanese restaurant Origami, pictured, serves ‘ridiculously fresh and delicious sushi’

The island’s Aquafanatics team work passionately to regenerate and sustain the reefs that surround the resorts but this may be a slight shame for snorkelers expecting colourful coral house reefs.

Veli’s reception, two restaurants, water sports centre and the main swimming pool are located in a small cluster creating an intimate island village. We spent a good amount of time at Dhoni Bar enjoying glorious sunsets in big, comfy sofas or shooting pool while sipping deliciously strong cocktails knocked up by a super friendly bartending team led by Shafi.

Drinks aren’t cheap, £15 a cocktail, £9 a beer or wine starting at £80 a bottle, but a premium ‘all inclusive’ drinks package costing £90 per person per day is available and there are ‘2 for 1 drinks’ between 4pm to 5pm and 9pm to 10pm for the savvy drinkers.

Modern Japanese restaurant Origami serves ridiculously fresh and delicious sushi and the resort’s architecturally stunning overwater flagship Thai restaurant Baan Huraa transports you straight to Bangkok with fragrant aromas of lemon grass and chilli and tasty authentic food. 

'We spent a good amount of time at Dhoni Bar (above) enjoying glorious sunsets in big, comfy sofas,' writes Dan

‘We spent a good amount of time at Dhoni Bar (above) enjoying glorious sunsets in big, comfy sofas,’ writes Dan 

Pictured is the resort's 'architecturally stunning' overwater flagship Thai restaurant Baan Huraa

Pictured is the resort’s ‘architecturally stunning’ overwater flagship Thai restaurant Baan Huraa 

Baan Huraa, pictured, transports you 'straight to Bangkok with fragrant aromas of lemon grass and chilli and tasty authentic food'

Baan Huraa, pictured, transports you ‘straight to Bangkok with fragrant aromas of lemon grass and chilli and tasty authentic food’ 

Our favourite restaurant, 73 Degrees, simply oozes romance. We dined by candlelight with our feet in the sand under the stars while Zahir and his team served unforgettable, mouth-watering local reef fish marinated in Maldivian spices baked in banana leaf served with chilled French rose wine.

The breakfast menu is one of the best I’ve experienced with a great choice of healthy detox smoothies – we loved the young coconut, kiwi, spinach, avocado, lemongrass, mint and turmeric – and the Maldivian Has Huni is to die for.

Anantara Veli achieves the perfect balance between entertaining its guests while remaining a luxury hideaway. We are already dreaming of our return visit.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Dan Hipgrave was hosted by Anantara Veli Maldives Resort. Rooms are priced from £616 per night on a half-board basis, excluding tax. For more information, visit www.anantara.com/en/veli-maldives.

Rating out of five: **** 

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