Four Seasons’ first resort in the Maldives started life at Kuda Huraa, a speedboat ride from Male, and developed a faithful following. It was only a matter of time before the group would inevitably add another string to its bow. And so it was that about ten years ago, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru was born – Kuda Huraa’s slightly funkier, slightly more playful, younger sibling.
A 30-minute seaplane journey from Male, this Four Seasons is more lively and imaginative than some of the other hotels in the group. There are both over-water as well as beachfront accommodations. The overall aesthetic, especially in the villas, is a nod to my favourite Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, thanks to the design by Murad Ismail, Bawa’s former colleague, who has used colour and polished concrete in conjunction with wood to give what might otherwise be a bland style some warmth and character.
The medium-sized (by Maldivian standards) island packs a punch when it comes to dining, diversions and general entertainment. With a fabulous Kids’ Club as well as tennis, extensive water sports, four restaurants, two bars and a mammoth spa complex, you could easily spend a week or two here and not run out of things to do. Villas are either in over-water or beach locations – most with private pools – and the larger villas are ideal for families and groups of friends.
Of course, Four Seasons has a following and its hotels can tend towards a predictable formula. However, elements such as incredible service, attention to detail and superb food are what make the hotels and resorts such a success. Landaa Giraavaru offers all of these but I would go one step further to suggest that this particular property is stylish and individual enough that, if you didn’t know it was a Four Seasons, you could be fooled into thinking it was an outstanding, independently owned hotel.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Served in Café Landaa and à la carte breakfast at Blu
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Spa credit
- US$100 or equivalent for treatments at the spa, not valid for spa products
- VIP welcome
- Welcome amenity in room on arrival
- Departure gift
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
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- Facts & Amenities +
I arrived at the resort by speedboat rather than seaplane and was greeted by the sales manager, who was waiting on the jetty with a few other members of the front office. I was escorted to a very pretty lobby lounge with plenty of comfortable seating. It was a light, welcoming area with hot and cold drinks served and I was offered the choice of checking in here or heading straight to the room. I opted for the latter and by the time I reached my villa, the luggage was already there. After a brief orientation of the key room features, I was left to unpack.
Rooms and suites
The Beach Villas are dotted around the circumference of the island and mine faced east so I had the beauty of the sunrise. My villa was set in a pretty, three-sided walled garden with the ‘fourth wall’ being the view out over a narrow beach to the sea, which was fairly rocky in parts. However, the view was marred somewhat as it overlooked some of the Water Villas. One clever design element was that the private pool was on a terrace, sandwiched between the villa and a large, raised, lounging sala, which did offer a degree of privacy from any passing guests walking along the beach.
Inside the villa a vaulted roof with distressed white beams lent the room a sense of space, and the rattan ceiling gave it a relaxed character. There was a living area at the front and a desk to the side, but the four-poster bed dominated the room with its pretty net drapes. The palette of white and sky blue invited the beachscape inside and the combination of all these things gave the space a supremely welcoming holiday atmosphere.
The TV, offering a multitude of channels as well as a DVD player, was on a pivot so was visible from either the living area or the bed. Wheelchair-adapted villas are also available.
The bathroom was set behind the bedroom and featured twin vanity units on either side of the door. It had atmospheric but decent lighting, a shaving mirror, a professional-standard hairdryer and plenty of plug points.
The bathtub, long enough for two, had a polished concrete surround, and this material features throughout the bathroom. Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru uses Ila, whose products are decanted into ceramic containers and refuelled daily. I was surprised at how limited the stock of amenities was, with a nail file and the odd cotton bud but certainly no sign of a toothbrush or a razor, both of which I actually needed.
On arrival at the hotel and glancing through the list of dining outlets, it felt as if I wouldn’t have time to explore all the venues but it quickly became clear that even in two days I was likely to exhaust most of the options.
Blu is an all-day-dining restaurant with mostly Italian fare. It is an incredibly pretty, beachside setting and the blue-and-white tones and the trendy yet casual atmosphere gives this place an almost Ibizan feel. The food was delicious and the Blu bar, to one side of the restaurant, was a great place to kick off or wind down in the evening.
Cafe Landaa is the setting for an extensive beach buffet with a few live stations and staff on hand to cater for any specific requests or dietary requirements. There is so much choice that breakfast regularly merged into lunch. The cafe is also the hotel’s multi-cuisine, all-day-dining venue. Interestingly, I felt the harsh lighting gave the place a somewhat inelegant feel in the evening, whereas at breakfast it felt convivial, light and relaxed.
Fuego Grill is essentially a pop-up beach restaurant adjacent to Café Landaa specialising in a selection of fresh fish and exquisite meat that changes daily. Its setting on the beach is very pretty, and when it’s a little windy or it rains, guests are moved indoors to the cafe.
Nearby, Seabar is perched on a jetty over the water and is a wonderful place to take in the sunset. It’s also very popular so do book a table or arrive in good time to ensure a spot.
Other restaurant options
The hotel makes good use of the island to create lots of private dining areas and experiences, and it’s worth booking these in advance, especially if you are visiting for some time and want to avoid things feeling somewhat repetitive.
There are a number of excellent island resort hotels in the same atoll, within a 20- to 40-minute speedboat journey, and some of them allow outside guests for lunch or dinner, provided you book in advance.
Spa and wellness
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru takes a holistic approach to its spa concept, encouraging guests to follow a course of treatments preceded by a lifestyle assessment.
The spa is divided into two distinct areas. The largest part is set in a very pretty garden, inland from the beach, and is where most of the Ayurvedic and Asian-inspired treatments are hosted. Six sprawling, open-air garden villas, immersed in nature, have an area for treatments leading to a platform with twin stone bathtubs and a further area with a shower and steam hammam. Here therapists generally use natural ingredients, plants and oils, some of which are produced in-house.
The section that is over water consists of four treatment villas each with their own steam rooms, relaxation decks and private bathrooms. A nice touch is the glass floor under each massage bed. Treatments generally feature Ila products. Here you will also find the beauty salon offering nail and hair treatments with magnificent sea views.
If you are a keen spa bunny, do check out the packages on offer, which will structure your time and are also good value for money.
Pool and beach
Almost all the villas have their own pools, though they are generally merely plunge size. There is a main pool, large enough for laps, which overlooks a beautiful beach and has a swim-up bar and plenty of loungers.
Obviously, the biggest draw is the beach and the sea itself. The sunrise side of the island has a narrower beach and the sea bed can be slightly rocky. The sunset side tends to offer a much broader beach with pristine sand all the way out to the far side of the island’s lagoon. The water is crystal-clear, calm and deep enough to swim but without the danger of strong currents.
As with many Four Seasons properties, children are well catered for with a superb Kids’ Club and an emphasis on crafts and outdoor activities when the weather allows. The marine-conservation projects, on which the resort prides itself, form a focal point for many of the activities, which children are encouraged to explore through games, treasure hunts and getting in the water, making it fun as well as educational.
In case of inclement weather, there is a children’s beauty salon, fancy dress and magicians. Babysitting services are also available.
For teenagers, the hotel provides Majaa Maizan as a dedicated meeting place. It offers ping pong, pool, computer games and other distractions, but in practice it provides the space for older children to meet and get to know each other so they can explore the island.
Staff and service
Service at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru was impeccable. The staff went out of their way to make me feel at home, and while I often feel there is a slightly corporate edge to service at Four Seasons hotels, I really didn’t get that impression here. Turndown was immaculate, fussy food orders were handled with panache and the bar was even reopened late in the evening to cater for a late-night digestif request. All in all, the service justified the amount of time Four Seasons devotes to its staff training.
Who stays at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru can depend very much on the time of the year, school holidays, national holidays and so on. During my stay there was a mixture of nationalities, mainly couples, of all ages. Everyone was well dressed, elegant and quietly sophisticated. I understand that during traditional school breaks, as facilities for children and accommodations for families are so good, there is more of a mixture of guests.
The seaplane was delayed on departure and there was a degree of confusion over timings and when I needed to be where, but the luggage was in the right place at the right time and the bill was quick and simple to settle.
How to get here
30 minutes by seaplane from Male International Airport