A holiday in the Maldives may seem like a quick, three-hour flight away. But add layovers and transfers, and you could end up spending anywhere between seven to eight hours in transit. Factored both ways, that’s nearly a full day of your vacation. So what do you do if you’re desperate for some time off, but don’t have much to spare? Every minute in the Maldives is precious after all. Try the Ozen Reserve Bolifushi, which is just a 20-minute catamaran ride from Malé. This means you won’t have to check in after the sun’s gone down, or check out before the sun’s up.
In an earlier life, this was the Jumeirah Vitavelli. Last December, the property on Bolifushi Island, south of Male, got a new owner. The Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, founded by Odisha-born, Maldives-based hotelier Salil Panigrahi, retained the Jumeirah’s bits, including the first ice-skating rink in the Maldives (ocean-view of course!), adding a few of its own special touches.
At the Ozen, you can pick between a beach villa, with views of the sunrise or sunset, or the ocean villa. Fancy launching straight into the lagoon? There are ocean villas with slides as well. Whether you’re staying over the water or on the beach, you can opt for the Reserve category of villas, which can accommodate up to four people.
But if you’re looking for something more exclusive, go for the Royal Reserve, a three-bedroom mansion that feels like a world removed from the island. The 3,000sqm villa comes with a private waterfront boat-shaped restaurant, butler, gym, spa room, jacuzzi, a sun deck with hammocks, day beds and cabanas, a 72-inch smart TV, larger-than-life chandeliers and Hermes toiletries–you may never find the need to step out.
Whatever you choose, bumming around is serious business at Ozen, and you’ll find plenty of spots in your room to gaze at the sun as it settles gold on the lagoon or watch neon fish trace patterns in the waters. Each room, swish and well-appointed, has a generous deck kitted out with loungers, a couch and hammock at the water’s edge, table and chairs, and an infinity pool. Step out, and you’ll find swings and sunbeds in every nook and corner as well. They’ve really thought of everything, so you don’t miss a moment of the Maldivian magic.
For a sundowner, head to the overwater hammock at the bar Ozar, where cocktails concocted from elderflower and cacao make for good company. But before that, watch stingrays congregate at the beach for dinner.
As for you, there are four restaurants at the resort. The buffet restaurant Villa Del Mer is where you can eat dim sums for breakfast and sushi, tiger prawns, calamari or the fresh catch of the day for lunch. For dinner, choose between ORIGINE, a fine-dining European restaurant, with foie gras, lobster and wagyu on the menu, or Sangu, an Arabic spot that features mezze platters, tagines and skewers hot off the grill. Should you feel homesick, head to Saffron, the Indian restaurant, for a vegetarian or non-vegetarian thali of dahi puri, galawati kebabs, tandoori prawns, dal tadka, fish curry and more.
Given that there’s so much to do, it’s a good thing that the resort is all-inclusive—you don’t have to waste time making decisions or giving your room number at every stage. The Reserve Plan means all meals (except at ORIGINE), the alcohol at the bar and in your room (bottles of red, white and rose wine replenished twice a day), the spa (for a 4N stay), non-motorised sports such as canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing and stand-up pedalling are all part of your package. You also have a butler who will arrange for a bobbing breakfast, make appointments for activities at the PADI-certified dive centre, and basically spoil you silly. And a kid’s club, with activities such as pizza making and treasure hunts, and babysitting services, means you can truly put your feet up without a worry in the world.
At an extra charge, you can ride 10 minutes away and take the plunge to spot turtles and a three-decade-old shipwreck. But the coral-clad home turf at Bolifushi is so healthy that you really just need to peep out of your room to spot marine life that looks straight out of a jewel box. It may seem like a world away, but it really is just a quick zip from Malé.
Doubles from $1,800 per night (Rs1,31,000). Website.
Here’s a sneak peek: