Where Four Seasons’ resorts land, their legions of fans will faithfully follow, safe in the knowledge that they are guaranteed luxury with a difference. With the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, that is certainly the case as it is located in a natural and remote UNESCO Biosphere Reserve wilderness and is deeply committed to environmental programmes to safeguard its environment.
There are 103 villas designed in the native Maldivian style both on water and on land; four separate swimming pools; an Indian-influenced Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat; eight restaurants and bars for acclaimed sustenance and a whole host of water activities available at the Blu Beach Water Sports Centre on their pristine beaches. Sign up for the Manta on Call service to be whisked away to snorkel with the manta rays when they appear near the resort, swim around the more than 4,500 coral frames or help rehabilitate sea turtles.
Families are welcome here with open arms with everything from Family Friendly Villas to a whole host of kid’s activities with the Kids for all Seasons programme at the Kuda Velaa Club and the Marine Discovery Centre. There are also three on site boutiques as well as a Rossano Ferretti hair Salon for when you need to look your best.
It is also possible to island hop, combining a stay here with Four Seasons’ other Maldivian property, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, just a short flight or luxury catamaran voyage away, aboard the Four Seasons Explorer.
On the 44-acre remote northern Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve located on the site of a former coconut plantation with the original vegetation preserved, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru combines a luxury innovative resort with wellbeing and conservation. The resort is a 35-minute seaplane flight from Male International Airport (MLE) – around 120 kilometres distance - giving visitors a unique birds-eye view of the resort and its magnificent ocean setting.
Take a leather seat on the eight seat Four Seasons Flying Triggerfish DHC-6-300 Twin Otter seaplane or the 14-seat aircraft by Trans Maldivian Airways aided by Four Seasons’ representatives who will greet you in a private lounge on arrival for the transfer to the resort.
Designed by Sri Lankan architect Murad Ismail, the resort’s design aesthetic is a blend of native Maldivian style with accents of Sri Lanka, the villas and bungalows featuring steep thatched roofs, traditional coral walls and pared-back contemporary interiors with a light and airy feel and a neutral palette.
Amenities include a choice of down or hypo-allergenic pillows and duvets; 140-centimetre Smart TVs with satellite channels; AV system with DVD and MP3 cable; fresh daily fruit, Landaa Spring drinking water coffee and tea; organic bath toiletries by ila; outdoor showers and beach essentials for children aged 12 and under. Complimentary activities include a Dosha-determining consultation with the resort’s Ayurvedic Physician and Lifestyle talks at the Ayurveda Wisdom Centre to start you on your wellness journey.
The beach villas are sited with abundant foliage plantings ensuring privacy whilst the over water villas sit on stilts over a lagoon, their vistas away from their neighbours. Their floor to ceiling windows showcase those spectacular Indian Ocean views whilst the abundant outdoor space includes sundecks and nets for lazing over the water with infinity pools extending out into the ocean.
With seventeen categories of villa, five of these are orientated at families – with Family Oceanfront Bungalows with Pools, Family Beach Villas with Pools, Two Bedroom Family Villas with a partial sea view, Sunrise family water villas with pool and Sunset Family Water Villas with pool.
The Premier Beach Villa with Pool (78 square metres) and Beach Villa with Pool (137 square metres) sees you walking onto sand as soon as you exit your garden-based pool. There is also a sea-gazing loft and a hammock for whiling away the sunny afternoons. The Sunrise and Sunset Water Villas enjoy that invigorating, unobstructed ocean view with steps down directly into the sea.
The Family Oceanfront Bungalows (99 square metres) are all about al fresco living and include an outdoor living area, outdoor showers and a long, sleek 12 metre pool. The master bedroom features an airy vaulted ceiling with fan and four poster bed with the master bath being enormous. There is also a study which can be used as an additional bedroom. For those with older children, the Two-Bedroom Family Villa (182 square metres) is perfect with two separate bedrooms linked by a corridor leading into a huge al fresco family room with dining area. The Family Beach Villa with Pool (164 square metres) is literally as close to the beach as you can get. The Sunrise and Sunset Family Water Villas with Pools (112 square metres) are located over the serene turquoise lagoon, elevated by stilts and offering spectacular views over the ocean.
There are seven Speciality Suites which follow a similar design feel but with much larger spaces ranging from two- and three-bedroom water suites (154 – 294 square metres) and a two-bedroom Royal Beach Villa (310 square metres). There is one three-bedroom villa which features both Land and Ocean (680 square metres) whilst the principal suite at the resort is the 800 square metres Three Bedroom Landaa Estate.
The Three-Bedroom Land and Ocean Suite can host up to nine guests and uniquely features bedrooms on both land and over water. Hidden away and accessed via a jungle-lined pathway, this suite features a large over-water pool and shaded dining and living areas.
The premier Three Bedroom Landaa Estate is all about beachside living with its own 80 metre stretch of prime sandy shoreline. There is a stunning waterfall-linked two-tier pool – the larger 25 metres, a Stargazing Lounge and wall free living spaces, rooms cooled by the ocean breezes – services offered by a personal attendant.
AyurMa is a spa and wellness centre like no other, offering guests the opportunity to reset their awareness, embarking on a new path to health, harmony and happiness. There are a range of Ayurvedic Doctors, Naturopaths and Yoga Therapists on hand to share their expertise with all treatments supported by the four pillars of Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Wellness and Planetary Wellbeing. Bespoke treatment programmes are created, helping with ailments such as sleeping disorders, back and joint pain and more. Each guest is offered a complimentary Dosha-Determining consultation with an Ayurvedic physician and may attend lifestyle talks at the Ayurvedic retreat.
The Maldives is a great place to relax and unwind … contemplate life. The resort’s resident “mind healer” Dr. Shylesh Subramanya is (also Director of Spa) on hand to advise and counsel on the stresses and strains of life. He really does instill long-lasting change.
There are a wide range of rituals focusing on the AyurMa philosophy plus massages, scrubs, wraps, face therapies by ila and Teresa Tarmeyu, TDA face and body therapies and body contouring. AyurMa also offers a range of yoga sessions including the Five Elements Trail alongside Mud Therapy, Acupuncture & Moxibustion and Naturopathy consultations. For looking your best, there are manicure and pedicure treatments and the Rossano Ferretti Hair Spa.
Other resort amenities include four separate pools including the main 50 metre infinity pool, the first Olympic sized pool in the Maldives, a 20 metre Seawater Pool and the Blu Pool whilst the fourth is a free-form shallow kid’s pool. There is a 24/7 fitness centre for keeping those muscles engaged.
Led by a team of marine biologists, one of the resort’s most interesting features is an extensive Marine Discovery Centre which allows guests to enjoy unique encounters with marine life whilst learning more about their welfare and conservation. Guests may even contribute to the Reefscapers programme which builds new coral reefs or help Maldivian sea turtles with the Turtle Rehabilitation Programme. There is also a Maldivian Manta Ray Project founded by Senior Marine Biologist Guy Stevens with the support of Four Seasons and Save our Seas which has amassed the largest number of identified manta rays on record anywhere in the world – active conservation combined with education. The Fish Lab meanwhile is breeding ornamental fish with the intention of eventually developing an alternative source of income for local communities.
Guests who want to know more about marine life may attend the ongoing marine-life presentations, can snorkel with a marine biologist around the coral reefs or swim with dolphins, can attend a turtle talk and safari or can even be a Manta Ray Scientist for a Day. There is even a manta on call service which alerts guests to the imminent arrival of a mass of manta rays.
The Water Sports Centre offers complimentary snorkels, masks, fins, kayaks, catamaran sailing and windsurfing gear. There is stand up paddleboarding, fun tubes, jet skiing, parasailing, hydro foils, kitesurfing, sunset fishing and scuba diving. For any adventurous Jane or James Bonds out there, the resort has the latest X-Jetblades and X Jetpacks for airborne acrobatics or taking a scooter out on the water with the world’s fastest underwater scooter – the seabob.
Overnight cruises are a possibility too on the resort’s sleek private yachts or perhaps take a traditional dhoni for a Maldivian sail with a picnic or charter the stunning Viking 56 for a day of island hopping. There are a range of boats on offer including, for luxurious overnighting to a few days’ sailings, the beautifully designed Four Seasons Explorer. With a 22-guest maximum, this floating “hotel” is as luxurious as the Maldivian resorts and offers ten en-suite Staterooms and one Explorer Suite. Dining is all inclusive with dishes drawn from the Maldives, Europe and the Americas whilst other facilities include both an indoor and outdoor bar, perfect for sundowners, and an indoor lounge for all day drinks and refreshments and general relaxation. Gastro highlights include the Captain’s Dinner and beach barbecues. Travelling around five Maldivian atolls, every day offers a different marine experience from exploring coral caves, to swimming through tunnels, saying hello to a shark or diving down to a shipwrecked relic on the seabed - the vessel has its own PADI five-star dive centre on board with a marine biologist at hand to offer insightful experiences. There are water sports galore on offer or for those who like to cast a line, a fishing trip is easily arranged too. Four Seasons can even organise a secluded spa treatment on an uninhabited island – yes, there is also a resident spa therapist on hand for general pampering!
Families are well catered for at Four Seasons Resort Maldives Landaa Giraavaru with the resort’s Kids for all Seasons programme for four- to twelve-year-olds, keeping little rugrats entertained at the dedicated facility, the Kuda Velaa Club. There is craftmaking, games, cycling, educational activities at the Marine Discovery Centre and beach fun. Very popular is the Passport to Adventure programme where kids can enjoy up to eight daily activities a day or the Mission: Landaa Giraavaru programme aimed at nine- to 12-year-olds, encouraging youngsters to explore the resort with a booklet of 14 mission levels to complete. For teens aged between 13 and 18, there is the Majaa Maizan Young Adults’ Club entertainment lounge for games and entertainment plus opportunities to participate in individual and team sports.
The Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is an extraordinary endeavour which combines the very best of the worlds of hospitality, of wellbeing and of sensitive and dedicated environmental conservation. Uniquely situated within the BAA Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this is about being at one with nature in some of the most luxurious accommodation to be found in the islands, partnering up to help fellow marine species whilst digging deep into yourself to be the best you can be. The ripples from the resort’s Planetary Wellness concept at AyurMa has threaded down into a culinary initiative with acclaimed chef Gaetano Trovato, allowing young chefs to deepen their connection to local ingredients.
If all this introspection is not for you, never fear, you can simply soak up the luxury, dining on Michelin-starred cuisine, staring out over an endless deep turquoise horizon, cocktail in hand, safe in the knowledge that the resort has done its bit for the environment. Each to their own.
I personally continue to be surprised that this forward-thinking property opened way back in 2006 and that there are not more like it with such deep seated pioneering initiatives as there is a great deal to be admired here. Four Seasons as ever, leading by example.
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts operates four distinct offerings in the region – Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa, Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Four Seasons Explorer and Four Seasons Private Island Maldives at Voavah, Baa Atoll.
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The all-day dining Blu Beach Restaurant is at the heart of the resort’s culinary world serving sophisticated Italian menus in a relaxed airy blue and white setting, reflecting the colours of the ocean. Italian two Michelin starred chef, Gaetano Trovato, is working with the resort’s young brigade to inspire, nurture and mentor them in the culinary arts and has debuted a unique menu at the restaurant. This initiative - Arnolfo at Four Seasons - combines several curated ingredients from Tuscany to Maldivian and island-grown produce and guests may enjoy chef Trovato’s endeavours in person twice a year at the restaurant. The young protégés will continue their development at Arnolfo The Frame in Tuscany on an ongoing basis whilst that restaurants customised china, linens and a vertical selection of Omellaia, the legendary cabernet sauvignon-dominated Super Tuscan wine, will grace the tables at Blu.
The adjoining Blu Bar is the perfect spot for a spot of relaxation with exotic juices, tropical cocktails or perhaps some bubbly before moving onto the Italian restaurant next door.
Al Barakat meanwhile, named to honour a 12th century North African scholar who made the atoll his home, serves a menu of dishes from Armenia, the Lebanon and Morocco. This stylish over water restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, according to preference and the weather. Every Thursday night, the restaurant features the Sultan Meze, a feast of traditional breads, dips, kebabs, tagines and more.
On the restaurant’s lower levels, head to the Shisha Bar, an Arabic setting with sofas, ornate lanterns for either a cocktail or two, some Turkish coffee and some shisha.
For Asian and regionally inspired dishes, head to one of Café Landaa’s three thatched pavilions separated by calming reflecting pools. Enjoy dishes from the tandoor and curry kitchens or join the chefs for teppanyaki for more interactive enjoyment. Every Friday is Indian night and every Sunday is Fisherman’s Night, celebrating the freshest catches from the islands and surroundings. Fuego Grill is a casual beachfront grill in the sand and offers an Asian and local menu with fresh fish, organic and prime cut meats and Asian dishes.
For laidback enjoyment, lounging on comfortable cushions over water, head to the Seabar for signature frozen margaritas and tapas-style dishes whilst watching the sun set.
The Poolside Bar is on hand during the day to serve sandwiches, salads, light bites, drinks and long iced cocktails to keep you fueled and hydrated as you lay down by the pool.
Four Seasons Resort Maldives resort at Landaa Giraavaru has partnered with Parley for the Oceans, the NOW Force for Good Alliance and EarthCheck to ensure their presence on the atoll is as positive as it can be, rehabilitating sea turtles and more in a conscious collaboration between people and the planet, travellers and hospitality.
The Resort with its sister property in the Maldives has, over the years, undertaken a great many innovative sustainability programmes including being the first Maldivian resorts to have marine biologists and the first and most extensive Marine Discovery Centre for conservation and research. They have also pioneered the first coral frame structures to regenerate reefs and established the Maldivian Manta Ray Project instrumental in designating Baa Atoll as Maldives’ first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2011. They have inaugurated the first Turtle Rehabilitation Centre in 2011 returning more than 155 sea turtles back to the world and have installed one of the Maldives’ largest resort-based solar installations. Teaming up with Parley for the Oceans since 2018, they have channelled plastic waste from Resort operations as well as from neighbouring islands, sending it to Taiwan to be recycled into Parley initiated Adidas sportswear which is available to purchase at the resorts. The resort is implementing, as of 2020, a tailor-made product to plant trees locally to offset plane travel emissions.
The property has also shone a spotlight onto traditional arts and crafts supporting the employment of bands to promote local culture, engaging with a co-operative on the nearby island of Fulhadhoo to produce the coral frames programme and supports the Maldives’ last surviving lacquerware artisans. They have also teamed up with Design for Sustainable Development, a Sri Lankan non-profit charity, which champions design innovation, sustainability and women’s empowerment while preserving local craft heritage.
In a new culinary initiative, two Michelin starred Italian Chef, Gaetano Trovato, is working exclusively with Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru to mentor young chefs at the resort. Guests may sample his menu in person twice a year at Blu but his on-site protégés will travel to Tuscany regularly to consolidate their learning at Arnolfo The Frame, thus broadening their horizons and inspiring their culinary creations. The resort already purchases locally grown fair trade fish and fruits such as melons, bananas and coconuts.
The resort is no stranger to apprenticeships – the Four Seasons Hospitality Apprenticeship has helped more than 640 Maldivian students graduate from its programme joining the greater hospitality industry.
This just lightly touches on the good work undertaken at the resort – for more information, head to www.itmustbenow.com.