Singaporebrides | Editors' Notes
You Need To Honeymoon At Finolhu Villas
I was invited to the worldwide launch of Club Med Finolhu Villas, an exclusive eco-chic paradise in the Maldives, where I was one of the first few guests to experience three nights in heaven.
The conserved island of Gasfinolhu, or “sand bank” in the Maldivian language, lies north of the Kaafu Atoll, about an hour away from Malé International Airport by an exclusive speedboat, depending on the wind. The island is small—you can walk from one end to the other in less than 15 minutes, but why bother rushing when you’re surrounded by the Indian Ocean and a 1000 metre private beach?
On 31st January, Club Med officially opened its brand new Finolhu Villas, an exclusive, all-adult, eco-chic resort. This new holiday destination is a collection of 52 lagoon and beach villas built on either side of a walkway, resembling the fronds on a fern leaf. The walkway, or the stem of the leaf, is modern and minimalist in design, and has a roof made up of solar panels that support the energy needs of the entire island. That is just one of the amazing things about Club Med Finolhu Villas.Club Med Finolhu Villas Aerial Overview. Photo courtesy of Club Med.
Often, when arriving by plane at night at any city, I would be hypnotised by the colourful lights beneath me that line the buzzing city’s infrastructure. But when I looked out of the plane moments before arriving at Malé, it was as if the stars in the sky had fallen into the ocean underneath me. The Indian Ocean was pitch black, save for a scattering of twinkling lights, each island a constellation. When the wheels hit the tarmac, it felt like I had descended onto heaven.
We arrived at the Finolhu Villas’ private jetty past midnight, but were greeted warmly by the G.Os (otherwise known as Gentil Organisateurs, or the Club Med staff), whose bare feet were powdered with the white sand from the beach. We were driven to our overwater villas in a buggy, as we passed the Clubhouse, the Pool Bar, and Motu Restaurant & Bar. There are 22 Beach Villas with a Sunrise or Sunset view, and the remaining 30 are Overwater Villas.
My personal butler was waiting for me at the door when the buggy dropped me off in front of Number 29. It was a Sunrise Overwater Villa. Quickly, I was brought on a tour around the villa where I was to spend the next few nights alone. Yes, I went alone. To the Maldives. Yes, you would enjoy it more if you went with a loved one. On your honeymoon.Club Med Finolhu Villas Sunset Overwater Villa Night View. Photo courtesy of Club Med. Supper in the room when I arrived. The deck at night with stairs leading down into the sea. Bonne Nuit.
There was supper and a bottle of champagne waiting for me on the table. I brought them out with me to the deck, walked halfway down the steps and sat there, both feet wet from the Indian Ocean lapping right up to the stilts. That night, I was sleepless, knowing this heaven was not mine to have forever.
I woke up before sunrise the next day, but the sun was hiding behind the clouds, so I decided to do a more detailed walkabout in the villa before I met my fellow travellers for breakfast. The room was enchanting at night, but it looked really different in the day. Meriem Hall, the Club Med Designer for Interior and Advisory, chose a colour palette of ocean blue, green, and orange, which blended in with the natural surroundings, and high quality furnishing to make sure the Villas represent the ultimate luxury destination in the Maldives. It’s true. The colours did remind me of Hermès bags.
From the main door, you see the living area, and the entrance to the bedroom beyond that. On the right, full glass balcony doors open out to the private deck that overlooks the sea. Flanking both sides of the bedroom are the same full length balcony doors, one side for you to gaze upon the sea from your bed, while the other side leads to a sheltered patio, where, right in the middle, sits a stand-alone bathtub. The bathroom, accessible by yet another set of full-length balcony doors, was very spacious. It was obvious the villa was designed with the couple in mind, but the designer was thoughtful in providing enough space, so holidaymakers and honeymooners alike can experience the villa in harmony with the vast ocean. “Communication through space” was what Hall had in mind.Club Med Finolhu Villas Sunrise Overwater Villa Living Room. Photo courtesy of Club Med. View of the ocean from the bed. Light shining in through the sheltered patio. Spacious bathroom in the villa with his and hers basins.
Back out onto the deck, you can choose to walk straight down into the sea and meet the sea life hanging out under the stilts, or take a dip in the private plunge pool at low-tide. I made a mental note to order a private breakfast at sunrise the next day so I could sit out at the deck and have a slow morning, something I haven’t had in a long while.
Walking out from the villa towards Motu Restaurant where I was to have breakfast, I began to fully appreciate the beauty of the island and the ingenious design feat New York-based Japanese architect Yuji Yamazaki had accomplished with this eco resort. At night, the walkways at the jetty and outside the lagoon villas were LED-lit with changing neon lights. But in the day, these same walkways house the solar panels that provide 100% of the entire island’s energy needs. During the night and on rainy days, the power supply will come from a battery storage system, which will have been charged during the sunny days.Club Med Finolhu Villas Entrance to the Villa. Club Med Finolhu Villas Deck View. Club Med Finolhu Villas Solar Paneled Walkway. Spotted reef sharks on my way to breakfast. Club Med Finolhu Villas Beach Villas.
Finolhu Villas also uses a desalination process to produce fresh water for consumption on its own. Imagine the amount of energy and costs saved from operating a luxury destination like this. Club Med is even looking into installing a zero-waste management system to commit to the cause of sustainability in the Maldives.
Perhaps due to Yamazaki’s east-meets-west design sensibilities, the modern, Space Age-like solar system seems strangely at home beside the wooden villas and buildings, the cerulean sea, and the white sandy beach.
From afar, Motu Restaurant looks like a large kelong, but once you step in, you know you’re in for a fine-dining treat. The first thing you see is an impressive sunken bar with glass floor panels and a high, domed shaped ceiling, best experienced in the evening. We headed left to the air-conditioned section of the restaurant, where we still got great views of the ocean. Motu is the only restaurant on the island, so you get to have all your meals here, with a choice of sets or a limited à la carte menu. Breakfast was served with a bread basket, with pastries baked right here on the island.The walk to Motu, where I spotted puffer fish and stingray. Fine dining at Motu.
After breakfast, we took a walk around the island, watching egrets and herons soaring in the wind, and spotted some staff raking the shores on the pristine white beach. Such was the level of pampering Finolhu Villas offers to guests on the island—clean, new beaches to awake to every morning.
Is this really Club Med? But what about the fun? The food? The nightlife? The parties?!
With Finolhu Villas, Club Med continues to provide upscale personalised holidays with their premium all-inclusive packages, but it is steered towards being its most high-end yet.
Finolhu Villas is actually the latest addition to the Club Med Kani Premium Resort, which is just a five-minute shuttle boat ride away. I had a short chat with Guillaume de Quatrebarbes, the Villas Manager at Finolhu Villas about honeymooning on the island.
“The Maldives is the ultimate honeymoon destination for couples or for couples who want a romantic getaway. To cater to that need, the Villas on the island are adults-only, making it the perfect choice for couples and honeymooners who want more privacy and shared experiences.”
But that doesn’t mean it is going to be boring. There are all kinds of recreation available, such as water sports, cruises, and tours. I went on a “Blue Lagoon” discovery tour, where we were taken out on an activity-filled scuba-diving and island-hopping trip. Couples who dive will already know the marine life is gorgeous in the Maldives, and its clear waters are too inviting even for a non-water sports lover like me. We spotted tortoises swimming in pairs, stingrays that were trying hard to hide from us, and a large Manta ray surfing just under the surface of the water. Quite an experience, but slather on your sunscreen!Sunrise from the sunbed in my villa. The nearby sandbank is accessible on foot at low tide. Breakfast served on the deck by Priscilla, my personal butler. The solar paneled walkway in the evening with changing LED lights.
The next two mornings, I managed to have breakfast on the deck while watching the sunrise. It was breathtaking and only lasted a few fleeting minutes, but it was a sight to behold, especially on a day with clear skies. In the evening, all I did was take a walk to the beach, and I could still have an unobstructed view of the sunset. Hint: The view makes for great honeymoon photos.
“There is a premium honeymoon package for couples that includes a welcome surprise in the villa with floral arrangements, champagne, special gifts, and extra privileges like spa treatments for two and a romantic dinner under the stars on a nearby secluded sandbank,” says Guillaume. “But if you want to stay in the villa all day, your personal butler can arrange for all-day room service, and make your stay as romantic as you want.”
You can also take the shuttle over to Club Med Kani and enjoy all the facilities there, a special privilege as a Finolhu Villas guest. You can enjoy your meals at the bustling buffet restaurant, and stay up till late with the nightly performances and dancing that all Club Med fans have come to love. That was exactly what we did on our last night there.The famous Themed Nights at Club Med. White with a touch of blue.
While waiting for the shuttle boat to take us back from Kani Resort to Finolhu Villas, my fellow travellers and I laid on our backs, trying to take in as much of the Maldives as we could. Above us, stars twinkled brightly to the beat of the music that was still playing from the clubs as we bid our goodbyes.
Yes, the stars have gone back to the skies. It’s back to reality for the rest of us.
The adults-only Club Med Finolhu Villas is an all-inclusive resort. A four-day three-night twin-sharing package starts from SGD2,853 per person for the Sunrise Beach Villa, and includes Club Med Membership, accommodation, food and drinks, and most activities. For reservations and further information, please contact 1800-258 2633 or email [email protected]. Visit the website at www.clubmed.com.sg.
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