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Velaa Private Island is one of a new breed of super-luxe resorts catering for guests who enjoy quality combined with informality


VELAA PRIVATE ISLAND First-person: Liz Terry, editor, Spa Business


T


he sea plane circles before it lands, so you can see Velaa sitting


like a jewel in the aquamarine ocean, fringed with white sand – as all tropical islands should be. And as you step onto the


jetty, with the sun setting in a golden ball behind you and the stingrays lazily drifting by, you abandon all thoughts of the outside world, closely followed by your shoes – the island’s soft white sand paths and laid-back vibe make it easy to go barefoot for the entire visit. The most relaxing thing about Velaa is


how well things are done – the informality is juxtaposed with the highest standard in everything from the architectural fi nishes to the service: there’s simply nothing that jars. The resort is the most expensive in the


Maldives and tips are given as a percentage, making it a magnet for those who want to earn well and are at the top of their game. As a result, Velaa has attracted some of the highest calibre people in the region. Such is the luxuriousness of the island that our ‘entry level’ accommodation – at


US$1,500-US$3,100 (€1,100- €2,260, £890-£1,890) a night – has its own beach, infi nity pool, outdoor dining cabana, indoor and outdoor bathrooms, private gardens, indoor and outdoor lounges, mini kitchen, vast bedroom and on-call butler. Splash out on the next price


band and you’ll enjoy a private house with its own spa and gym, while top of the range is an over-water villa, accessed by boat, at US$40,000 a night, with live-in butler and its own diving reef, complete with tropical fi sh. Clearly, creating a spa to live up to an


off er at this level was going to require careful thought and Velaa’s owners, Czech banker Jiří Šmejc and his wife Radka, have wisely opted for a global brand with a high- end product line, choosing Spa MyBlend by Clarins – the customisable range. Clarins also helps to manage the spa. The spa is housed in an over-water


building with treatment rooms off wooden walkways. It has a beautiful Clarins shop and a juice bar, as well as a steamroom and a snow room, which turned out to be a


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fabulous addition. Although I was sceptical at fi rst, it’s very healing and enjoyable to step into extreme cold in such a hot climate. Challenges are few – the spa’s Cloud 9 is


housed in a rather plain room and would benefi t from the addition of some theming and aromas to complete the experience, while the open-air design of the spa will present a few operational headaches in rare bad weather, but these are small matters. The staff are relaxed and happy and you


feel they’re confi dent to let their personali- ties shine through. We had some very good treatments and a stiff wrist which had been troubling me for weeks was swiftly unlocked by the resident bodywork expert. One room has an outdoor deck which


has been so popular that when the resort closes for its low-season maintenance overhaul, more will be added, so each room has its own private over-water space. With its Michelin starred restaurants


amazing wine cellar, immaculate Troon/ Olazabal golf course, world class water- sports centre and Clarins spa, Velaa is one of a new breed of super-luxe resorts which are taking the industry to another level. ●


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