This is out of the price range for most holiday-makers to the Maldives but if you have the means and are attracted to the classic over rustic or minimalist, then this island has everything you could hope for.
This is not an ostentatious place but you feel its quality over time, as you settle into your room, discover the facilities and receive some genuine care and attention. The island itself has always been an aristocrat among Maldivian islands.
The 'straight' side of this D-shaped island looks into an ideal lagoon - crystal clear, gently sloping and soft underfoot (all good for children). The beach is among the best and goes all the way around the island, although narrower on the sweeping curve of the 'D' as that side faces out to sea. The reef can easily be reached on this sea-facing side for snorkeling. Surprisingly, the snorkeling is good, rather than excellent. I don't know why that is, especially as this area of Ari Atoll is famed for its diving.
Ellaidoo and Maayafushi are neighbouring resorts that attract many a hard-core diver, keen to minimise other expenses. Halaveli is the luxurious way to enjoy the great dive sites. A short boat ride away are four Protected Marine Areas –two major shark points and two spectacular thilas. A good number of channel dives are also just a few minutes away. There is even a 'house wreck' just 20 metres off the housereef.
The dive base, the main jetty with boats and the water villa jetty are all on the straight side of the 'D', that faces West into the lagoon. This makes it visually busy for the 8 Beach Villas on this side and for the early Water Villas, but you do get to see the sun set everyday. Otherwise you can of course sit on the beach to enjoy it or get along to the Sunset Bar half way up the water villa jetty. With its deep, curving verandah and beautiful, restrained decoration, this is a delightful place for for a sundowner. A resident mixicologist goes between this bar and the main bar, doing a spectacular job of interacting with the guests and making up classic cocktails and brand new ones built around your favourite flavours.
The water villas on past the sunset bar are the ones most requested. Obviously they are quieter, which is good, but they are also distant. This is the longest such jetty in the country and at 850 metres it is a good bit longer than the 500 metre island. Then again, with the speciality restaurant, great bar and the spa nearby, cosy couples don't need to go far from their beautiful room very often.
The speciality restaurant is next to the sunset bar. The cuisine is an imaginative Asian with European touches, such as Thai Green Curry Risotto. The setting is impressive, with its domed roof based on the traditional dhoni hull and its sweeping curved glass walls looking out to the lagoon. Although the wine cellar is small, there is a sommelier for each of the three resort restaurants.
The spa is more or less opposite this bar and restaurant on the water villa jetty and it is quickly obvious why it is such a successful place for the resort. There are double rooms, single rooms, a thai treatment room, an ayurveda room and a beauty salon. The products are organic, specifically made in Thailand for Constance Halaveli and the treatments are varied and thoughtful. 'Space for Togetherness', for example, is a variable package for honeymooners that lasts at least two hours and includes massages, scrubs and wraps. Indeed, each treatment room seems to promote a time and space for togetherness. They are not rectangular and viewless, like many a spa, but they are curved and wood paneled, with cushioned seating both inside and outside on the overwater deck.
The curved shape of the traditional dhoni is used as a design element throughout the resort, bringing a natural elegance in place of unnatural hard, straight lines and also reflecting the cultural history of the Maldives. Naturally again, the whole resort is under thatch. On the other hand, the interior decoration is not rustic, it is modern but not minimalist. Nature is brought inside with a tropical leaf motif used on textiles and cut out of brass for decorative light fittings. Maldivian culture is echoed in wooden panels copying the forgotten craft of coral carving.
All these elements come together in handsome and very generously sized rooms. The Water Villas (57) are 100 square metres, the Beach Villas (20) are 350 square metres, the Double Storey Beach Villas (8) 410 square metres and the Presidential Beach Villa is 700 square metres. Every room has a plunge pool, while the beach rooms have inside/outside bathrooms, deep wooden decks for both sunshine and shade and a pretty, private garden. The double storey beach villas are ideal for families - not forgetting here the kid's club for 4-12 year olds.
One other aspect I would like to highlight is the media set-up in every room. I haven't come across better anywhere. There is a single, small and simple handset that controls everything via an intuitive interface on the large tv screen. With this one can run through the satellite channels, choose a film, select some digital music, go online or find out resort information such as excursion options and restaurant menus. Simply excellent.
Indeed, 'simply excellent' and 'naturally elegant' sum up Constance Halaveli well. This is out of the price range for most holiday-makers to the Maldives but if you have the means and are attracted to the classic over rustic or minimalist, then this island has everything you could hope for.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville