On the private island of Emboodhu Finolhu, surrounded by one of the largest clear lagoons of the Maldives, sits a very private resort, the Taj Exotica, dotted with straw-thatched Maldivian-style huts and offering every comfort and luxury — as well as a Jiva Grande Spa.
One of its great attractions is that it is but a short boat ride from the international airport, so your holiday heaven starts almost immediately. This is true Robinson Crusoe territory, with nothing to do but laze, swim, snorkel, dive and laze again.
There are three restaurants to choose from, as well as the Jiva Grande Spa, the first truly authentic Indian spa in the Maldives, offering Ayurveda therapies among others and with a traditional bathing pavilion.
Located at one end of the little island and fanned around a central courtyard are the over-water spa pavilions, offering a serene and near silent retreat, with just the lapping of the waves. The spa has been designed using design principles of Vastu Shashtra, with particular attention to light and space. There is a sauna, a steam room, relaxation area and a yoga and meditation platform, while the treatment menu offers a selection of body and beauty treatments. There is also a spa choice of delicious and healthy meals.
Couples and honeymooners, families and divers along with solo travellers and groups of friends.
Close to the equator, the Maldives has sunshine all year round — even in the wet season when the temperature is just a few degrees lower. The wet season is from May to October and while the rain may be heavy at times, it clears into brilliant sunshine.
If you’ve never tried Ayurveda, this might be the place. First up is a consultation with the resident Vaidya, or Ayurvedic doctor, who will prescribe exactly what you need. Or you can indulge in the signature treatment, the Anointing of the Body, at the Alepa Bathing Pavilion, alone or as a couple. This is a sensual mix of herbal pastes and muds, a fragrant hammam, an outdoor spray with rosewater followed by relaxation time in the sun, then a jet spray or rainforest shower and finally a deep-tissue massage with essential oils. It is two hours of perfect pampering.
Snorkel — the clear lagoon is ideal for spotting the darting jewel-coloured fish of the waters. Also try some gentle yoga in the morning — and then relax.
It has to be Alepa — the Royal Bathing Experience, a unique treatment where you can choose from a range of muds made with a choice of some 40 Indian herbs, from neem to sandalwood.