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THE GOOD LIFE Travel


The aesthetic of COMO Cocoa Island carries the signature of billionaire hotelier Christina Ong


Having arrived for the first time in the Eighties, he set up Trans Maldivian Airways (whose seaplane carried us from Malé) and has been developing the islands as a destination ever since. On Kudadoo, guests benefit from his long


experience. The motto here is ‘Anything, Anytime, Anywhere’ – and they really do mean it. Before arrival we were invited to download the Kudadoo app, which served to connect us with our ‘private butler’ who built an itinerary based on what we’d said we’d like to do. The three-As approach is aided by the ‘fully-inclusive’ pricing, which means that unlimited activities, treatments, food and drink (with very few exceptions) is included in the price of the residence, which starts from $4,742 per night. If you wished, you could spend all day jet-skiing, sailing catamarans and windsurfing – or having back-to-back spa treatments in the treatment rooms overlooking the sea. The spectacular main building on the


island serves as a hub, housing the front desk, main pool, restaurant, bar, as well as a temperature-controlled, glass-walled cheese room and wine cellar – and a salt chamber built from pink Himalayan salt rock shipped in from Pakistan. On our first night here, we had dinner on the wooden deck that surrounds the building and peered over the edge and into the shallow sea that laps at the coral reef. Occasionally, as we ate, we would catch sight of a shark – some of them up to 2 metres in length – darting towards its own meal. Above the surface of the water, the menu and the quality of the food would be a match for almost any luxury hotel in New York or California – which is testament to the French chef Edouard Deplus and to Lars Petre himself. When I speak to Petre over the phone some weeks after our visit, he explains that when he first arrived in the Eighties, it was practically impossible to get hold of fresh fruit or vegetables. Much of the food – other than the bounteous supply of fresh fish –


was tinned. The development of luxury tourism here has helped to transform the Maldives economy and boost GDP per capita – which grew by 265 per cent in the 1980s and then an additional 115 per cent in the 1990s. Today tourism accounts for two thirds of GDP, directly or indirectly. The primary reason for the success of the


Maldives, however, is its natural beauty. At Kudadoo we took a boat trip with a Swiss marine biologist named Aline, whose goal was to help us swim alongside some of the gargantuan manta rays that patrol the local waters. The manta rays eluded us, but we did snorkel alongside bright-green parrot fish (which change sex and colour over the course of their lives) and a hawksbill turtle. Later on, once we had moved on to


Kudadoo’s sister resort Hurawalhi, we took another boat trip – this time at sunset, to go in search of dolphins. We had more luck, spotting dozens and dozens. There were spinners, which are around 1.5 metres in


MARTIN MORRELL, HENRY SPIERS


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