At a Glance
The Four Seasons legendary service is served up in a remote tropical paradise with the unique distinction of being a UNESCO Marine Biosphere.
- The innovative programs at the Marine Discovery Center such as the tropical fish hatchery, turtle rescue and manta research
- Biking around the island because it sets you on laid-back island time
- The Ayurvedic treatments and consultation at the spa and how each menu includes dosha symbols next to each dish so you know what to eat for your body constitution
A thirty-minute seaplane ride north of Malé brings you to a floating platform with a sign that reads “Welcome to Baa Atoll, UNESCO Marine Biosphere. Altitude: 0 meters. Population: Happy.” This is not your typical Four Seasons, though all of the amenities and service that you expect from the brand are here. For example, the lowest category room is an 800-square-foot beach bungalow with its own plunge pool, private garden and sundeck. But every room—whether it’s a beach villa or an overwater bungalow—comes with guest bicycles, the old-fashioned kind that brakes by pedaling backwards. (Honeymooners can request tandem bikes, and tots are given tricycles or ones with training wheels.) Yes you can always call for a buggy but experiencing a Four Seasons by bike sets the tone for this natural paradise.
Beaches surround the 44-acre island and its lush jungle interior, traversed by sand pathways that are just wide enough for a buggy and a bike to pass. Hidden within the greenery are the fifty-some beach bungalows and villas, ranging from bungalows to two-bedroom family villas, including the Royal Villa with its own lap pool. Amongst the fifty overwater options are villas with and without pools and two bedroom suites. For those who cannot choose between beach and overwater, there is even a Land & Ocean Suite with its living and dining pavilion on land with overwater bedrooms reached via wooden walkway. The designs incorporate Maldivian traditions such as thatched roofs, coral walls and outdoor showers as well as modern comforts like enormous bathrooms, plasma Tvs and Nespresso machines. Cotton throw rugs, bright pillows and organic wood lamps lend a modern beach house feel to the rooms.
The island’s two main activities revolve around its state-of-the-art Ayurvedic spa and its two-kilometer lagoon. Based on the Indian healing traditions of Ayurvedic medicine, the glorious spa (with ten treatment pavilions, including some overwater) offers beauty and wellness treatments, most of which begin with a consultation with one of the two on-island Ayurvedic doctors. There are 7-, 14- and 21-day healing and detox programs. Resident yogis teach complimentary group and private yoga classes, and an herbal garden supplies natural ingredients for many of the treatments.
For more active pursuits, most guests head to the beach, though there is a tennis court. In addition to offering a slew of water sports activities, including kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing and sailing, guests can water ski, parasail, kite surf, banana boat and, of course, dive. The five-star PADI dive center makes the most of its access to Baa Atoll’s UNESCO marine reserve, which includes 30 coral gardens and Hanifaru Bay, where manta rays and whale sharks gather in the summer months. Regular excursions include dolphin cruises and turtle safaris. Five marine biologists work at the resort’s Marine Discovery Center on such innovative projects as a turtle rescue and satellite tracking program, a coral regrowth program and a hatchery for breeding tropical fish. The first project of its kind, the fish nursery was the idea of a local and the hope is that communities might raise tropical fish for export to retail aquariums as a means of income as well as to provide an alternative to aquariums’ current practice of taking fish from reefs. The center shares its knowledge and research in daily talks and interactive exhibits for children and adults. In fact, the Kids’ Club incorporates sessions with the resort’s biologists, yogi and chef. For older kids who have had enough beach time, there is a club with ping pong, pool, PlayStations and other teen-age diversions.
The four dining options at the property range from the Middle Eastern restaurant, Al Barakat where Lebanese mezze and Moroccan tagines are served in an exotic ambiance by the water, to Blu, a beachy blue and white Italian restaurant with curtains strung with sea glass. Café Landaa near the main pool area features Indian and Asian specialties, while Fuego Grill serves fresh seafood and meats grilled on the beach. And for really special meals, the resort organizes private dinners on the beach or on sandbar all your own.
Tip: Be sure to book a trip over to the nearby Anantara Kihavah Villas' underwater restaurant. You will dine under the sea, which may be an expensive meal, but it will be unforgettable.
Who Should Stay
Families who love water sports and marine life as well as couples looking for a castaway island with all of the indulgences of a Four Seasons. Someone looking to see many islands of the Maldives or who comes here for surfing should sign up for the Four Seasons Explorer instead.
Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley