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Spa Hotels|Spa Resorts|Wellness Retreats

Review – Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Mimi SpencerBy Mimi Spencer

Arriving by sea plane guarantees an A-list feel before even stepping foot on the island of Halaveli…

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Visitors can get here by speedboat – but the view from the tiny plane window as it swoops low over this green comma of land is simply astonishing, almost a pastiche of the perfect Maldivian idyll: a shallow aquamarine sea, the protective ring of coral reef, the emerald islet collared with brilliant white sand, and the sweeping curve of the jetty (one of the longest in the Maldives) with its private villas and individual plunge pools. I have come from Constance’s sister resort of Moofushi, just half an hour away, so I’m already halfway to paradise before being greeted by a committee of barefoot staff who usher guests along the wooden boardwalk, past lush gardens of gardenia, banyan and pandanus, towards a warm vanilla tea dotted with hibiscus petals.

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Constance acquired Halaveli in 2009 and redesigned it to its own exacting spec, including perhaps one of the most blissful spa settings in the world. It sits halfway along the jetty, making the journey there feel as though you’re walking out to sea. The reception seems to rest on a pair of giant driftwood trees, giving a fittingly Robinson Crusoe vibe, though the service and the brands on offer (Constance’s own line and the trusted clinical excellence of Sisley) are all about style and delivery.

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

The 10 treatment rooms, wooden built huts with dhoni-shaped thatched roofs, are an object lesson in calm. You can choose your own playlist – though the lullaby of the gentle waves lapping below might be enough to hush you to sleep. As one fellow guest puts it to me, ‘it feels as if you’re cradled in the arms of the ocean’. Better yet is the view from the treatment bed through a porthole window in the floor directly onto the reef below. There are dashing parrot fish here, a resident blue octopus, darting schools of neon-yellow fish, and a disconcertingly large black-tipped reef shark, clearly on patrol. I later discover he has been christened Bob by the staff.

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Treatments here take the ‘smart and effective’ approach rather than being faddish or particularly fashionable. In common with all the Constance spas that dot the Indian Ocean (including the excellent spa set-up at Moosfushi), this place is about performance products and highly trained staff. My signature 90-minute treatment with Amelia is Balinese in style, working with pressure points and including a moringa, honey and lemon facial as a finale. After an intense hour and a half in very expert hands, I waft on a gentle breeze towards the relaxation room which must rank as one of the best in the world: 180 degrees of citrine-coloured sea to gaze upon from the squashiest marshmallow of beds, while eating cool yoghurt with a very tiny spoon. It occurs to me that I might never leave. There’s a cold-water plunge, a warm pool, a sauna and steam room to explore – if only I could stir myself.

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Eventually my water villa beckons. Unusually for the Maldives, these are the entry-level accommodation at Halaveli and they really pack a punch: a secluded, substantial villa set on stilts, with its own private terrace and infinity pool. I take to dipping in the pool at random moments – at midnight with a host of stars overhead, or early in the morning after a night storm. Inside the villa, there’s a vast bed (often strewn with petals) and an almond-shaped bath from which to contemplate your very own stretch of ocean with its dozens of blues and greens. And this, I realise, is the point of Halaveli. Everything rests on the water. Just a few ladder-rungs below is that limitless expanse of the Indian Ocean, and encounters with wildlife are ten a penny. Baby sharks. Spinner dolphins. Whiptail rays. The water is almost exactly as warm as you are. The only reason to leave is to eat.

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Needless to say, eating and drinking is taken very seriously here, and Constance is renowned for its chefs and its cellars. The premium restaurant here, Jing, rests on stilts over the sea and offers clever fusion cuisine which would do well in London or New York, and the wine cellar (where tasting menus can be arranged) is as impressive as any in Paris. For more relaxed eating, there’s the Jahaz buffet with its noodle, pizza and pasta stations and daily theme change. Otherwise, there’s grilled lobster on the beach at the Meeru, or sashimi at the beach bar – which does a handy line in afternoon tea, just in case there’s any earthly reason you may be hungry. In the evening, it is lit with lanterns and turns out a mean caipiriniha. Nowhere ever seems busy, even with the resort at full occupancy. Breakfast is a particular highlight, served under the curve of a coconut palm right on the beach, with miniature banana muffins, tiny handmade croissants, pots of bircher museli and collagen or ginger shots aplenty. It’s all very 2024, very moreish, and makes exercising at the state-of-the-art gym something of a necessity.

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

I try an early morning session at the gym with resident personal trainer Dema, who has clearly decided not to take any prisoners. As an antidote, I head out for gentle yoga on the beach, under the watchful eye of the resident heron. The roster of activities available at Halaveli means that there need never be a dull moment between meals. One day I swim with dozens of manta rays, the next I paddle across the bay on an SUP, then kayak to the furthest reach of the jetty on the look-out for turtles. I consider tennis. Or a dive to Shark Pass (I pass). Moofushi also offers an extensive and exhilarating programme of exercise, exertion and enterprise, including what is widely regarded as some of the best diving in the region, with underwater ‘scooters’ on offer to satisfy any visiting daredevils. But generally, I decide to chill, like the fine Chablis served by the sommelier at supper. Because, on the whole, this is a gentle place, tranquil and serene. It is barefoot and relaxed, but underpinned by an expert, seasoned eye for detail and personal service. As the sun takes a dip in the sea it makes sense to me why people revisit Halaveli time and again, like migratory birds. For the lucky few, this feels like home.

Review - Mimi Spencer Checks in to Constance Halaveli, Maldives

Stay 3 nights at Constance Moofushi in a Beach Villa on an all inclusive basis followed by 3 nights at Constance Halaveli staying in a Water Villa on an all inclusive basis from £3,849 per person. Offer includes up to 40% discount on accommodation saving £2,400 per couple. (£1,200 saving per person)    Including return seaplane transfers, inter island speedboat transfers and international flights departing from London Heathrow. Further details from Turquoise Holidays 01494 678400.  Further details on Constance Hotels & Resorts on www.constancehotels.com 

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