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COUNTRY FOCUS: THE MALDIVES


Drawn from as far afield as Peru, the 16-strong Velaa spa team has been handpicked for its variety of treatment specialisms


Velaa Private Island


Developed around the core philosophy of providing the ultimate in privacy and variety, you could say that Velaa is an island of firsts. It claims to feature the biggest wine and champagne collection in east Asia, the only ‘snow room’ in the Maldives, a semi-submarine and the first four-storey tower constructed on a resort island. Guests are invited to ascend Tavaru tower’s open-air elevator to privately dine on the top floor and drink in the views. Owned by Czech entrepreneur Jiří


Šmejc and his wife Radka, Velaa is the real- isation of the couple’s dream to develop a palatial home away from home in a destination they’ve often visited and fallen in love with. Persuaded by local hospitality specialist Mohamed Nihaj to transform their personal venture into an exclusive resort business instead, the Šmejcs have gathered their own operational team to run the 45-villa, US$215m (€157m, £128m) island. While ensuring an array of gastronomic and leisure diversions,


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The customisable Spa My Blend By Clarins range is in keeping with the resort’s focus on personalisation and uniqueness


Wyton explains that her team is also primed to “entirely tailor programmes in line with the needs of individual guests.” Velaa receives many of its visitors from


the Šmejcs have also placed emphasis on service culture. A total of 300 staff includes a small army of butlers assigned to each villa. All this, in combination with a bold, witty and coolly assertive design by Czech architect Petr Kolar, means that Velaa has opened with the highest rates in the Maldives: US$1,500-US$3,100 (€1,100- €2,260, £890-£1,890) for an entry-level pool villa, per night, dependent on season. Velaa is also home to the first Spa My


Blend By Clarins in Asia. The concept – selected by Radka – aligns with the resort-wide philosophy of personalisa- tion and uniqueness. In addition to the customised facial therapies for which My Blend is renowned, the spa also offers seven My Blend wellness programmes designed around goals such as detox, vitality or relaxation. Spa director Becky


eastern Europe, Russia, China and the Middle East, typically staying at least a week. Recognising that travellers to the Maldives are also likely to be interested in holistic treatments, the spa menu incorporates rituals from Bali, Thailand, the Philippines and India. Drawn internationally from as far


afield as Peru, Australia and South Africa, the 16-strong spa team, including 10 therapists, has been handpicked for its variety of treatment specialisms. All members of the team were on-site four months prior to the resort opening in December 2013, and between January and March they collectively completed 1,100 hours of training. Wyton and other key members of the Velaa management team previously worked at Huvafen Fushi, the Maldivian hotel where the Šmejcs holidayed for years. As such, there’s notable camaraderie.


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