10 Things To Do at Alila Villas Hadahaa

Posted on November 27, 2009 by Aun

NOTE: The resort is no longer managed by Alila. It is now the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa.

So you’ve finally amassed enough leave days (and moola) to plan that dream vacation. She’s been pestering you about escaping the cold weather for weeks now. And you want to surprise her with something really stunning — so special that all her friends’ husbands and boyfriends are going to be hating you for months to come. You’ve scoured travel magazines and surfed the right websites and you’ve made your decision. You’re going to bring your hunny bunny to Alila Villas Hadahaa in the Maldives.

It meets all of your requirements. It’s the first (and currently only) Green Globe certified, sustainably built resort in the country. Eco-responsible travellers? Check. It’s also the first (and again only) resort to open in this part of the country. Desert island paradise? Check. Alila is fast becoming synonymous with personalized luxury, so you know she’ll be well-looked after. Pamper her into a romantic stupor so she’ll reward you with passion and affection? Check.

Sure, it’s a bit of a bitch to get to (you catch a short 55 minute flight from Male after an annoyingly long layover, after which you take a 75 minute speedboat ride), but if it were easy, it wouldn’t be so special. And if anything, Alila Villas Hadahaa is special, not just because of its stunning architecture, the unparalleled diving, its sustainable practices, the surprisingly fabulous food, or the postcard perfect views, but because the staff are passionate about ensuring every guests’ stay is an unforgettable experience.

Here’s an almost too short list of 10 things that S and I feel, after an all too brief visit, every visitor and his loved one should experience at this stunning Maldivian resort.

10 Explore the reefs

Every seasoned diver we met at Hadahaa couldn’t stop talking about the reefs here — the very best they’d ever had the pleasure of exploring, they’d tell us rather giddily, like excited children on Christmas eve. With a house reef that is gorgeously preserved, drops an average of three times deeper than most, and is teeming with marine life, the diving and snorkelling around the resort is breathtaking. The dive team also runs trips throughout the atoll. And as Alila Villas Hadahaa is the first property to open up in the Gaafu Alifu (North Huvadhoo) Atoll (which also happens to be Maldive’s largest) you’ll be among the first in the world to get the chance to dive these waters. It’s an opportunity that no scuba buff will want to miss.

9 Enjoy the water

One of the sad realities of visiting most resorts in far-flung locations around the world is that you’re forced to consume a lot of bottled water. Not only is it pricy (for both you and the hotel), but it’s really bad for the environment. I love that Alila Villas Hadahaa, the Maldives’ first truly sustainable property, has created an elegant solution. The hotel filters, purifies and bottles its own water. And they offer both still and sparkling options. Served in reusable and chic glass bottles, this process saves the hotel from discarding over 100,000 plastic bottles a year. That’s reason enough, for me, to raise a glass.

8 Learn to cook a Maldivian curry

While Maldivian food may not have made its mark on the world’s culinary scene, it does offer up some rather delicious dishes. One of the pillars of this cuisine is curry, often made with fish, other seafood or chicken. One of the best ways to spend a fun afternoon at the property is to take a cooking class with the resort’s very friendly and very knowledgable kitchen team. S and I had a blast working with the local chefs, learning a variety of dishes, from a spicy pumpkin salad to a dry squid curry and a really yummy, saucy chicken curry. It was especially interesting trading notes on the kinds of spices used in their curry powders and looking at the differences between their flavour preferences and those of the rest of South Asia and Southeast Asia. During the class, wine was poured rather liberally — which just made us better cooks. And at the end of the class, we got to eat our creations.

7 Watch the sun set over the ocean

Is there anything possibly more romantic and soothing than sitting back on a comfy lounger, either on the gorgeous white sand beach or on the deck of your private over-water villa and watching the sky turn from blue to pink to orange, watching as the light plays off the waves, and snuggling up to a loved one? Yah, we didn’t think so either.

6 Try a Maldivian breakfast

I love rich savoury breakfasts. I don’t get to have them too often. During the work week, I’ll usually start my day with an espresso and a granola/muesli bar or a hard-boiled egg. But if I had the time, I’d love to tuck into a big nasi lemak, a roti prata with curry, or a traditional English fry up. So I was thrilled to try some of the local breakfasts offered at Hadahaa, tweaked of course by the resort’s very able chefs. I love the tuna curry, served with chapati and some spiced, roasted coconut, raw vegetables and a side order of rice. Filling and simply sensational.

5 Enjoy a perfectly mixed cocktail or mocktail

One of the dangers of vacationing on a private island resort is that if the food and the drinks are bad, then you’re, well, kind of stuck suffering through your stay. You can’t pop off property to a nearby bar or restaurant simply because the nearest other bar or restaurant is on another island, and in the Maldives, most likely in another hotel. Thankfully, when I saw the drinks list at Hadahaa, I have to admit, I was all smiles. And when I tasted some of their mocktails and cocktails, I was really happy. Not only has some smart hotelier put together a fantastically well-curated list of wines and booze (especially the hard stuff), he or she has crafted some delicious concoctions and trained his or her staff to make them perfectly and consistently. The drinks list, I should say, wasn’t huge. Rather, it was tight and well-crafted, with choices clearly made by someone who knows his or her stuff. I was amazed, for example, that the bar stocked gins like Hendricks, Juniper and Citadelle; and offered two gorgeous Japanese single-malts. S was equally pleased that the mocktails all tasted great. We especially enjoyed the hotel’s Electrolyte Lemonade, made with coconut water and several fruit juices, and the English Garden Fizz, made with mint, cucumber, soda and lime.

4 Make time for a massage

Spa Mandara at Alila Villas Hadahaa has just won AsiaSpa’s Award for Eco-Spa of the Year. And the award is certainly fitting. The spa itself is beautiful, with private villas built around an old uni tree (a native tree with spiritual significance for locals). The charming and very pretty therapists are all from Bali. And the treatments are fabulous. S and I pampered ourselves with not one, but two treatments each during our three day visit. The first day we indulged in totally relaxing back, shoulders, neck and head massages. The treatments were so good we immediately signed up for full body massages the next day.

3 Eat really well

Several years ago, S and I visited another resort in the Maldives. It was also a beautiful property, with over-water villas and really nice staff. But the food was awful. Which just made us never want to return there or visit any of its sister properties, ever.

For greedy people like S and me, good food is such an important criterion in deciding where we want to stay. Fortunately, the food at Hadahaa was surprisingly, really quite outstanding. There are two restaurants, Relish (pictured above), which is open all day, and Battuta’s (below), which is only open for dinner. We especially loved Battuta’s, which has a bar counter built around an open kitchen. The concept here is Maldivian and Modern Moroccan-Maldivian. Battuta, whom the restaurant is named for, was a 14th Century Moroccan explorer who navigated his way through much of the Maldives’ southern atolls.

Both the modern dishes and the classic Maldivian dishes were delicious. Another culinary highlight of our stay were the homemade ice creams. Not only was there a huge list of flavours, but all of them were sensational. S was especially crazy about the hotel’s rose ice cream while I went nuts over the honeycomb one.

2 Take cool or silly photos of yourselves and the resort’s stunning architecture

Well, this is what couples do on vacation, right? They take photos of each other. And with a backdrop like this — the natural beauty of the Maldives and the abolutely stunning SCDA-designed buildings — it’s only natural to run around trying to create the coolest holiday shots to show friends, families, and colleagues (and to post on the Web for the world to see).

I think at least 60% of the couples we saw during our stay were toting big DSLRs (except for the one couple with the super cool white Panasonic GF1) and could be found setting up shots on the beach, on the jetties, on the decks of their villas, even on the rooftop of Relish, throughout the day. We, of course, were doing the same thing.

1 Do nothing

And of course, one of the best things to do in a place as beautiful as Alila Villas Hadahaa is to simply do nothing but relax. Take the time to do the things you don’t have time to do normally — like snooze in the afternoon, wander aimlessly, read a book, catch up on favourite movies and TV shows, etc. The luxury of simply chilling out is becoming more and more rare. So when you get the chance to do nothing, relish it and enjoy every moment.

And of course, doing nothing with the one you love makes even the cheesiest, laziest or craziest thing all the more special.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Fred November 27, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Congratulations on having a stunning and well deserved vacation! The place does look absolutely stunning, but in whole, seems rather laid back activity-wise though…

  2. Hansel Tan November 27, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    My wife and I just visited Hadahaa too few days before you were there. The place is simply gorgeous. Your photos really captured the peace, serenity, and the pure magic of the the people, the architechture, and the resort.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Chubby Hubby November 27, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Fred, there’s actually loads of activities. They have these “luxury concierges” that have created tons of personalized “journeys” that guests can sign up for. But we opted to be lazy and not do a lot of these. :-)

    Hansel, glad you also liked it. I can’t wait to return.

  4. The Purple Foodie November 27, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Okay, this place definitely goes on my list. Thanks for sharing such stunning photos.

  5. Chris November 27, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Aun, absolut a stunning place to chill out! Got to visit this place, especially loved the nice touch of a Nespresso machine and a bottle of Bombay Gin. Would be close to heaven!
    Chris from Dubai

  6. desmond koh November 27, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    looks absolutely amazing. It’s a plan then. Will kidnap my N and bring her to this beautiful place for pure relaxation. p.s. No yoga or gym facilities?

  7. Chubby Hubby November 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Purple, hope you get there one day.

    Chris, yah, I was so happy to have Nespresso in the villa. And they had my favourite pod type too — dulsao! Before you arrive, the hotel asks you what things you want in your room. Boozehead that I am, I asked for gin. ;)

    Des, they do have a good gym, not that I ever set food inside it. And they also have 2 yoga instructors on property.

  8. Hansel Tan November 27, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Just wanted to share my pictures of the place as well though am sure you have many, And yes I was one of those toting dSLR and a tripod too like everyone else:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/19248171@N00/sets/72157622852130284/show/with/4123599831/

    Desmond: Certainly bring N there. Its absolutely gorgeous. They have several sessions of Yoga daily, and you can choose which time you want to attend (even if more than 1). And the gym has only one threadmill but its more than sufficient cos not everyone is rushing to use it. You can do runs round the island or swim round the island together with the wonderful fish on the house reef (like we did and admire the happy fish at the same time).

  9. Rain November 29, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    This place is amazing! I love the pictures. Makes me want to book a ticket and just leave! But alas, you are right about the vacation credits and the moola, so will need to care for that first.

    This though, is GREAT inspiration!

  10. Adrian @ Food Rehab November 30, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    just stunning. I’d go with option #1. Do nothing hehe

    Oh…eat like a pig as well of course!

  11. joanna goddard December 1, 2009 at 5:00 am

    oh my goodness, i can’t believe how beautiful this is!

  12. DC December 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Aun, amazing photos you’ve got there. You absolutely did the beautiful resort justice. Ecoluxury is certainly THE way to go…

    Daniel

  13. Doris Goh December 2, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    what wonderful pictures you took Aun… I luv all of them & S looked stunning with the backdrop… thanks for the shortlist – it reminds us how to vacation and do it in style..
    doris

  14. Lea @ Little Rock Wedding December 5, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Wonderful post.. Thanks for sharing…

  15. Emy December 7, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Looks heavenly! Must nudge hubby to see this post!

  16. Quay Keng Wah December 7, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful Indonesian lunch at Alila Uluwatu in Bali yesterday. He was on conference and we had a bit of time to check out this new resort…fantastic food…we had snail satey with a decadent coconut sauce, not the usual peanut sauce, the most tender pork ribs and jackfruit in a spicy stew, soto ayam and a spicy young papaya and prawn salad…nothing like the ones you eat in a Thai restaurant…this is one is unmistakably Indonesian in sensibilities. The architecture is stunning, views to die for and although we weren’t live-in guests we couldnt resist running around with our little idot proof cameras taking in the vistas and structure. I think I’d like to have the rest of my holidays in an Alila property for the rest of my life! ;p

  17. KW December 18, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Great photos and thanks for the simple, yet thorough description of Alila! My wife and I are planning a 8 night trip there in April 2010. Did you have a chance to compare the Aqua Villas to the Island Villas? Also, did you do a night flight to the resort? Darn Singapore Airlines only has night arrives from Singapore to Male!

    Thanks :)

  18. Hilary June 7, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I can see it is a simply fabulous resort but did anybody do any diving? What is the diving like?

  19. Troy - Central Coast Accommodation July 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    We visted the Maldives late last year and can attest that it is a true paradise. I can’t say we tried all the activities listed here but we definately enjoyed the local curry.

  20. Trish September 5, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Hi you two! Just came across your blog and I love it! My hubby and I are huge foodies too and we are going to Alila next week so I’m thrilled to hear the food is amazing! May I ask which resort it was that you didn’t love the food? I recently started a blog too and wrote about our trip to the Maldives last year. We went to Shangri La, One & Only and Huvafen Fushi and we loved the food at all the resorts… http://principessabeautyblog.blogspot.com/

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