Kanuhura is indeed the one and only resort that combines such an array of spa and beauty treatments, and health and fitness activities, with an unmatched Kids’ Club, fine dining and a luxurious setting.
Not a single groyne breaks up the beach and no sea walls impede the view. The west side is nonetheless preferable for its width and softness. The east side looks out to the ocean and the beach is consequently narrower and a little less fine. The southern and northern tips of the island alternate a big bulge of fine sand as the two seasons drive it from one end to the other. It's a rare island now that leaves the beach to nature's course.
The vast, empty lagoon is perfect for swimming and for water sports. The wind cuts across at an ideal angle to sail the catamarans and windsurfers up and down. There's plenty of protected water too for waterskiing, wakeboarding and kitesurfing. The centre does regular catamaran excursions to nearby islands and to Kuredu for the snorkelling. A big bonus is the frequent sighting of dolphins, and occasionally pilot whales, in this tip of Llaviyani Atoll.
The downside of such a lagoon is the absence of house reef snorkelling. To compensate, the dive base runs guided trips every day to a number of good local spots, the most fascinating of which is 'The Shipyard', where two wrecks are located, one of which is partly above the waterline. Wolle, the dive base leader, describes this as the best wreck site in the country.
Though the diving setup is excellent, it is the spa complex that takes centre stage on Kanuhura. The prominence of the large and attractive thatched building seems to set the resort's priorities. It invites you to use it on a daily basis as an integral part of your holiday.
The interior of the spa, though, doesn't quite fulfill the promise of the entrance. It has all the facilities one could wish for but the setting and the eight smallish treatment rooms are more straight-lined and formal than open-aired, soft and natural. That is not to take anything away from the very experienced masseuses.
In the same building is a very busy beauty salon, a gym and an aerobics space. In some ways these are as central to the resort concept now as the spa itself. There is a full weekly schedule of complimentary classes in everything from Pilates and Yogacise to Power Stretch, Absolute Abs and Aero Combo. One & Only Kanuhura is really into the whole family, with something for everyone to be doing.
A key policy of the owning company is being attractive to children and so it is here. An active Kids’ Club runs throughout the day, while trained babysitters can care for smaller children. No other resort offers swimming lessons for children, or treasure hunts or lessons about the reef, the stars and local crafts. Understandably, the resort entertains a lot of children, during the school holidays in particular.
At these times, and others, there is an over-demand for the 5 Duplex Villas, which have a double bedroom with a twin bedroom interconnected. 3 Beach Suites could also be used for families. The other rooms are the 70 Beach Bungalows, 18 Water Villas and two Water Suites. The Water Villas are the same as the Beach Bungalows but just a little wider. They and the Beach Suites are on the east side but the most popular rooms are those on the west side, with the advantages of sunset, a finer beach and better foliage in between the rooms.
Dining is an unadulterated pleasure here. The venues, the choice and the quality are excellent. Half board guests (the great majority) may choose between all 3 restaurants: Thin Rah (the main), Olive Tree (Mediterranean) and Velhi Café (seafood, meat and live cooking). Velhi Café is on the northern tip overlooking the water, a beautifully lit, romantic place in the evening. The Olive Tree is just like the real thing, a classic and classy taverna. And the main restaurant serves up a changing menu of outstanding buffets. The breakfast buffet is perhaps the best anywhere. One small example is the choice of jams, with blood orange marmalade, quince preserve, lemon curd, two honeys and, it seemed, every berry!
Kanuhura offers something for everybody, wonderful food and tip top service. It seemed to me, however, the mix of clientele, the differences in ages, attitudes and expectations, just fail to make the place click as a single resort. Otherwise it’s one of the best.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville