Maafushivaru T Club, to give its full name, is operated by Turisanda and is entirely Italian.
The resort, formerly known as Twin Island, had always been Italian but now, after a complete rebuild, it has moved up to the top rung. It looks stunning, feels classy and comfortable and delivers a great Maldives holiday.
The country has taken a long while to find the right resort style to express itself, something true to its history and unique setting. This resort is a great example of the new thinking and the new way forward. Not insignificantly, it was designed down to its smallest detail by a Maldivian.
In many ways the new style is a reflection of how it used to be at the beginning of tourism here: thatch on the roof, sand on the floor, woven matting and plenty of wood, including coconut wood. The walls are minimal, affording sightlines through to the beach and water. And at the same time, it is now absolutely modern, with quality fixtures and fittings and luxury interior decor in tans, cream and ivory.
What makes Maafushivaru particularly special, design-wise, are the specific Maldives references. The buffet table is a close copy of the decorative coral base of Hukuru Miski, the historic Friday Mosque in Male. And the dishes rest atop small Thundu Kunaa, the unique Maldives reed mats. A single line of coral decorates the exterior room walls, while inside every room the plastering is carefully laid to echo the look of a full coral wall.
The water bungalows are simply beautiful. Apart from those coral walls everything is of either wood or glass. Two sides are floor to ceiling windows and glass doors, bathing the room in light. But with the blinds drawn down, the spot lighting lit and the designer CD player on, it's a cosy heaven. A wardrobe and dressing room (with a Pininfarina Lavazza Blue Ultimat Espresso machine!) leads to a light and very stylish bathroom and shower, which itself leads through to the sun deck. The 10 bungalows facing southwest get more sunshine on the decks than the 10 facing northeast.
The Beach Villas are a little smaller and less glamorous but each has the bonus of a large veranda looking out to the beach and lagoon. Very unusually, this is a triangular shaped island with the public buildings and the first five rooms on the one side without a decent beach and with a sea wall. The other two sides have a wide and fine-grained beach leading to a sandy lagoon of a good swimming depth.
During the day much of the life of the resort happens on the beach in front of the swimming pool and beach bar. And similarly in the evening, after dinner, the beach bar becomes the cabaret theatre, with seating flowing back through the pillars of the open sides to the swimming pool deck. The pool now sparkles in the dark with coloured stars, as it's lit from beneath with fibre optic spots.
The prominent spa faces the main beach one way and, the other side of the treatment rooms, clear out to the horizon. It is exceptionally well equipped and offers a wide array of treatments from Indian and Thai massages to head, shoulder and neck work, manicure and pedicures, body wraps and hair and beauty treatments. The masseuses are from Thailand and Kerala, while the beautician is European.
There is a decent extent of snorkelling along the reef and the quality is good but not exceptional. The dive school is located on its own jetty and has the luxury to choose from a large number of excellent nearby sites, as this is the renowned area of southeast Ari Atoll.
If I could find fault at all with this gorgeous resort, it would be that the food did not quite hit the heights that one might expect from an Italian 5-star establishment. But, with a 5-star management on the job, that might not be the case any longer.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville