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Introducing Velaa Private Island

Located north from Male, within the constellation of islands that form the Noonu Atoll, Velaa Private Island opens December 20, 2013, bringing new meaning to ‘private moments’ in the Maldives.

velaa_pvtisleVelaa Private Island is the realization of founders Radka and Jiri Smejc’s quest to establish an exceptional private luxury retreat with service that goes beyond traditional resorts. Four bedroom residences with their own pool, spa and gym, a private submarine, the Maldives greatest selection of vintage wines and cuisine overseen by a famous Michelin-starred chef are just some of the island’s superlative attributes.

At Velaa Private Island, the essence of Maldivian culture, lifestyle and landscape meets limitless opportunities, where no request is too much, and each guest will ultimately feel that this is their own private island.

Bathed by azure skies in the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean, the name Velaa means “Turtle Island” in the local language – named after generations of sea turtles that have flocked here to nest and hatch.

Accommodation comprises 43 private villas fusing local materials with contemporary style – each with generous outdoor space and private swimming pools. Of these, 18 are built on stilts over water, with an exclusive Romantic Villa accessible only by boat.

Alongside dreamlike one and two-bedroom beach and water villas, a particularly distinctive feature is four expansive 4-bedroom residences in elegant contemporary design, which are each over 1,350 square metres, incorporating two terraces, a swimming pool and courtyard.

Velaa Private Residences comes equipped with personal spa and gym rooms and can accommodate up to party of 10, a rarity in the archipelago which opens luxury travel options to groups of friends or large families.

With three restaurants, two bars and a wine cellar, Michelin star inspired dining is a resort signature, with a blend of French and Asian cuisine, complemented by fresh produce and the resort’s private herb garden. Degustation menus are designed by Michelin starred chef Adeline Grattard.

Of particular interest to Hong Kong and Chinese gastronomes, she cooked for two years at the two Michelin star Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation, famed for its ground-breaking modern Chinese cuisine.

Also a veteran of three Michelin star L’Astrance in Paris, the 32 year-old from Burgundy opened her own restaurant in Paris in 2009, instantly earning her own Michelin star, along with awards from Gault&Millau and Fooding.

She oversees elegant over-water restaurants Aragu and Cru, where guests can enjoy vintage champagne, as well as Tavaruteppanyaki restaurant at the center of the island, which is uniquely set in a striking ivory-white tower, and features live cooking and an extensive wine cellar.

Additional venues include Athiri, offering beachfront all-day dining at its finest, and Avi – a pool bar by day and vibrant cocktail bar by night.

A Destination Dining concept offers a variety of stylish and distinctly different settings, both on and off the island, with bespoke menus and entertainment tailored to special occasions. In-villa dining additionally allows guests privacy and personal space round the clock with “Velaa Express” and “Served in Room” menus.

A sublime spa with six secluded treatment rooms nestle dover the lagoon showcases the first ‘snow room’ in the Maldives – a cloud-shaped reclining pod by Klafs and Sha that slowly sways and cradles guests into deep relaxation. Velaa is one of only a handful of hotels in the world and the only resort in Asia partnering distinguished spa brand My Blend By Clarins, featuring exclusive My Blend facial products and personalized facial and body treatments by Clarins.

A Yoga Pavilion features sessions with a yoga master, and personal training can also be conducted, either on a raised tree meditation platform in the garden or by the beach.

Recreation and wellness extends to world-class fitness equipment, covered tennis and squash courts, a football field and beach volleyball court. Golfers can practice at the only Troon Short Game Golf Academy in the Maldives, designed by two-time Masters Champion Jose Maria Olazabal.

A dive center offers excursions, PADI certification courses or simply snorkeling adventures over breathtaking marine vistas. Water activities extend to windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, wake boarding, water-skiing and kite surfing – and the truly adventurous can embark on an exclusive semi-submarine expedition, in the Maldives only two-passenger private submarine.

Sunset cruises, dolphin watching and private boat excursions can be arranged either aboard a luxury Prestige yacht or traditional ‘Bahtheli’ boat. Additionally, an excursions team is on-hand to take guests on fishing expeditions.

Resort design by Czech architect Petr Kolar is an elegant fusion of Maldivian culture with contemporary luxury, intimate with Maldivian nuances.

Styling adopts a motif of the turtle, after which the island is named, with the colors and patterns of turtle shell pervading the property. From a broader “bird’s eye view” which greets arrivals by seaplane, the island’s exclusive over-water villas are also constructed to resemble the head of a turtle, with the island forming the body.

In another tribute to turtles, Velaa Private Island is ensuring plenty of room for its marine visitors, with a hatchery and conservation plan in place.

“Our dream is bring new meaning to “private moments”, where the essence of Maldivian culture, lifestyle and landscape meets limitless opportunities, where no request is too much, and each guest will ultimately feel this is their own private island,” said Jiri Smejc.

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Maldives on course to reach 1 million tourists

Nine months into the year, Maldives is on course to reach the one million tourist mark in a calendar year.

tourist_arrvTourism authorities had set the same target last year, but fell just short of the mark with 958,027 tourist arrivals by the end of last year.

Tourism ministry statistics publicized Thursday showed that 818,183 tourists had arrived in the Maldives by September.

With the upcoming tourism season, authorities estimate around 90,000 tourists will arrive in the Maldives on average.

If the estimate turns out to be accurate, the country would easily hit the one million target in the coming month or two.

In September alone, 92,206 tourists visited the Maldives which is a 20 percent increase from last year.

Due to the issues faced in obtaining information from the new border control system, the statistics for October have not been publicized yet.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb believes that Maldives has the best chance of reaching the target this year than any other.

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A British couple has tied the knot underwater in Centara Grand Resort and Spa in Alif Dhaal Atoll Machahfushi.

Haveeru Online – Operations manager of the resort operated by a Thai company said the symbolic wedding of the British couple was held underwater near the reef of the island on October 24.

underwaterwedding“This is the first wedding held in our new underwater wedding package. The ceremony was held near the reef of Centara. Our first attempt was highly successful,” Shan said.

According to Shan, the ceremony will attract more couples to the Maldives.

“The wedded couple, Chris and Janet was very pleased. They said the arrangements were excellent. To promote our new package, we held the ceremony for them at a very low price,” Shan said.

“Lots of honeymooners come to this resort. So we hope that the new underwater wedding package will attract more couples.2

Shan said this was the first underwater wedding in Maldives.

“Before we introduced the package we determined whether it was done before in Maldives. We found out that another resort had held a rather ordinary underwater ceremony before us. But a ceremony in this scale has not been held before,” Shan said.

The resort said the event has already attracted more offers for the underwater wedding ceremony.

“After the ceremony, another tourist has requested for the package. So we’re now looking at specializing the package to the Asia market,” Shan said.

Shan assured that the set up for the ceremony would not harm the reef in any way as mostly locals were used to set up the wedding.

“Only one foreigner works at the diving school of this resort. All others are Maldivians.”