Dream destination: Discover the JA Manafaru Maldives
Dubai to dream island
S itting pretty in the island archipelago of the Maldives, the Middle Eastern-owned JA Manafaru hotel provides a home away from home for discerning desert travellers looking for a lush tropical oasis — an oasis with white gold sand and blue diamond-like water.
With close proximity to the GCC — it's just a four-hour plane flight followed by a one-hour seaplane ride over the atolls from Dubai — JA Manafaru is an obvious choice for a haute holiday. Passport in hand, here's what to expect on the island of Manafaru.
With your selfie sorted — picture a seaplane docked in the background and a soft breeze ensuring your hair game is strong — be buggy'd to one of six different villas. We opted for the aptly titled 'Sunrise Water Villas with Infinity Pool'. Directly opposite are the 'Sunset Villas', naturally. Then culminating at the end of the winding wooden jetty is the epitome of luxury living, the 'Grand Water Two Bedroom Suite' with a private infinity pool. It's gasp-worthy. There are also the two- and three-bedroom 'Royal Island' pads on shore, along with one-bedroom beauty suites and beach bungalows too. Each has their own unique outlook on life and a piece de resistance. Hello, open-air bathroom! Ooh and did we mention the fish-tank-esque viewing portal through the floor of the bedroom. It's so magical you'll be inspired to swim underneath for yet another selfie.
Lunch is served. If you're bambinos are onboard with you, then experience pool-side dining at Andiamo. The a la carte restaurant is brimming with Italian fare, gluten-free pizza included. The seafood and salads are also a refreshing treat.
Now it's sunset. Board a beautiful batik fishing boat, equipped with hand reels the colour of coral fish. Here you'll learn the art of traditional Maldivian fishing and catch your cuisine too. It's often said that dolphins wander the waters of these islands and while Buro 24/7 didn't spot any sea life above board (or catch any fish for that matter) fellow islanders did. Below the surface it's a very different enchanting sea story.
Snorkeling and diving are perhaps the ultimate ways to explore the island of Manafaru. Beneath the horizon lives an aquatic smorgasbord. Think a fashion pack full of fish, jellyfish, turtles and stingrays (one of which has taken up residence outside the stretch of sunrise villas). JA is equipped with a PADI dive centre too, so skirting out to the fringe is a cinch to explore.
Dinner is a delight at the Ocean Grill. Tables line the shores, while a live band interjects tunes to match the lapping water's edge. Seafood is also a serving not to be missed at this restaurant, especially when the plates come complete with a sparkling night sky. White Orchid and the Horizon Lounge are also worth every inch of the experience.
Noshing and exploring aside, it's now time to indulge. In 2016, the JA Manafaru garnered an impressive six awards including the Maldives' Leading Hotel Suite and Seven Stars for their Spa. Tucked away on the epicenter of the island, the spa is a retreat that promises to send you into a relaxed stated rivaled by few. Indulge in the Manafaru signature massage, think coconut oil and pressure-point focus. The Maldivian massage and the Elelmis intensely cleansing salt scrub also come highly recommended. Finish your fix on the day swing under the open palms. It's the sign of a divine day.
As you ready to jet back to the sandpit, recount the boutique island with bountiful treasures that is the JA Manafaru.
Did you know...
1. The Maldives is an archipelago of 1,192 islands and the JA Manafaru is located in the most northern atoll, of which there are 26.
2. JA Manafaru is home to The Cellar, an exclusive award-winning bar. Blink and you'll miss the entrance but once you're inside, it's another world altogether.
3. Fish feeding takes place on the island almost daily. It's a must-do! For this experience have the selfie stick at the ready and the GoPro in hand. While you can't be underwater in the frenzied feed, your camera certainly can.
4. Whether it's sunny skies, rain-covered horizons or wind-swept weekends, the islands' average temperature sits at a pretty 30 degrees all year around.
5. The island has three running routes, which makes exercising a dream. Explore the 1.2-metre, 915-metre or 418-metre tracks by foot or push your fatboy around the sandy track too — every villa owns two bicycles.
A stay at the JA Manafaru is priced at Dhs3,870 per room, per night, for four nights, breakfast included. To learn more or to make a booking, visit the JA Manafaru website now.