Anantara Kihavah Villas sets a distinctive precedent in naturally inspired design. Seamless harmony is achieved by exquisite reflections of Maldivian culture, both above and below the Indian Ocean’s surface as the concept responds to the individual purpose and mood desired for each space. Beyond this ingenious duality, unique perspectives of the island’s natural wonders are embellished, ensuring that guests experience the greatest paradise on earth up close, and extremely personally.
As with each Anantara resort, the Kihavah Villas property draws its strength from the natural beauty of its destination, local cultural traditions and historic heritage. Set on one of the most pristine islands in the awe inspiring island archipelago of the Baa Atoll region, the successful synchronicity of four architectural and interior design companies kept the private Kihavah Huravalhi Island’s environment of untouched lush vegetation intact, harnessing its brilliant tropical nature and rich local culture to excellent advantage. The resort was built in or around the vegetation; no tree has been removed during construction.
Designed to Embellish the Maldives’ Natural Beauty
Male-based architect Mohamed Shafeeq (aka ‘Sappe’) from Group X Design Associates has ensured the stylish resort’s structural design draws on native building methods traditional to the Maldives. Using age old techniques such as thatched palm roofs, each building of Anantara Kihavah Villas is a simple, natural sanctuary, belying the more intricate and significant design within.
78 spacious private pool sanctuaries, ranging from 260 to 2,730 square meters, are either poised over the water with sweeping ocean views or nestled along a pristine stretch of private beach. The villas are at one with the natural tropical surroundings with coconut trees jutting through some of the luxury villas’
ceilings and lush canopies offering shade and seclusion. Every villa is angled differently, ensuring that each view is completely unique and only moments away from the crystal clear ocean.
“Anantara Kihavah Villas as a holistic concept stands out from other Maldivian resorts due to its marriage of meaningful style and spacious privacy of the individual guestrooms and the feeling of intimacy within the spaces of the public areas,” says Sappe. “The fluidity of interior spaces merging as a whole without losing the different distinct features of each space is exceptional.
“The mood is total surrender to the ambiance and peacefulness and the feeling of welcome that
emanates as soon as guests enter their private sanctuary.”
The core visual theme running through the entire resort is an Indian-Moroccan fusion with colonial touches, originating from Bangkok-based August Design who was responsible for the interior design of the guest accommodation, recreation centre, Thiththi Boli Kids Club and dive centre.
According to August Design’s Suthichai Bonchuay, the continuous style is achieved with contemporary interiors featuring local accents in every room and colour schemes that take inspiration from the surrounding coral reefs. “We strived to seek out the most natural materials at every point of the design process, combined with local fabrics sourced from nearby countries such as Sri Lanka, India and even here in the Maldives.”
Delectable Dining Experiences
‘Sea. Fire. Salt. Sky.’ is a unique under-and overwater gastronomic concept that highlights the resort’s idyllic location in the dazzling Indian Ocean. Consisting of four separate restaurants, including one of the few underwater wine cellars and restaurants in the world, ‘Sea’, each outlet is as unique as its perspective. Situated on the edge of the house reef, this highly visible group of buildings resembles a small village from afar.
The octagonal shaped ‘Sea’ was designed to optimise the underwater views from a diner’s perspective; the acrylic windows are set lower than the dining tables and extend past the guests’ peripheral vision, giving the illusion that they are part of the surrounding reef. Each chair has a hand embroidered lumbar pillow that is derived from the reef occupants, such as Filefish, Leopard Wrasse, Grouper and Angelfish.
Other food and beverage outlets include ‘Plates’, featuring a main sand floored sala and an alfresco deck on the beach, and ‘Manzaru’ pool bar and restaurant, featuring one of the longest swimming pools in the Maldives at 49 metres and Jhoola swing beds that hover over the water, facing a relaxing view to the India Ocean.
Ed Poole of Poole Associates heads the interior design company responsible for the resort’s food and
beverage outlets, the library and reception building. According to Poole the design is inspired by the
surroundings. “The most iconic ocean image is undoubtedly the Edo roof of ‘Fire’, shaped as the one of a cuttlefish to reflect the establishment’s magnificent over water position. Yet hints of the sea can be found in almost every nook and cranny of the resort.”
Cawry and capiz shells are used as decorative wall or lighting elements due to their transparency, and crushed oyster shells are used to create decorative walls called ‘tabby’. Pendant lamps at ‘Plates’ are made from fish bone vertebrae and strung in chains to form semi translucent conical lamp shades. ‘Manzaru’s bronze door pulls are derived from the textures of coral, and spiky bronze pendants are shaped like clusters of sea urchins perched on the roof.
Poole says that attention to detail places Anantara Kihavah Villas on an elevated design platform. “With the ambience of each separate space playing a crucial role, structure and décor have been cleverly combined in the beautifully decorated columns that are interspersed throughout the resort, giving character to each area.” A striped sarong motif is carved into the black structural columns in the reception building and the library, generating a feeling of simplicity and strength. Within ‘Plates’, which serves authentic Maldivian cuisine, columns are shaped as scrolls as a reminder of the islands’ ancient roots. The ornate star shaped columns at ‘Sky’ bar reflect the view of the heavens above, while the blue columns at ‘Salt’ resemble Japanese sake bottles.
The Retreat Within – Anantara Spa
Other island journeys steeped in exotic rejuvenation and deep relaxation is the Anantara Spa. Inspired by the endless sea, the calming effects of the spa were created by Abacus Design, one of Thailand’s leading design firms.
The spa comprises of six over-water treatment suites, a beauty salon, hair and nail salon and two single facial suites accompanied by a relaxation area with large sweeping decks and a Jacuzzi in between two oversized plunge pools that are suspended over the ocean. Each treatment room features a private soak tub or Thai massage area, shower and changing facilities.
Drawing inspiration from above and below the Indian Ocean, Creative Design Director, Samantha Lightbody enthuses, “Our goal was to harmonise with the natural elements of the island, as well as
harnessing the vibrant colours from the underwater world. Our response was to incorporate the reds,
yellows and oranges of shells and corals while retaining a true sense of peace and tranquillity.
“Furthering the notion of a voyage, we created a journey from the white sandy beach to the spa, guiding guests from the aquamarine waters directly into the treatment zone where the scent of oils, colourful fabrics and sun baked timbers combine to achieve a sensual homely greeting, enhanced by the freedom of uninterrupted Indian Ocean views.”
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