by Olivia Blair, The Independent, April 20, 2017
Ah, the Maldives: it’s all white sands, blue seas and honeymooners enjoying their first moments of wedded bliss on that ultra-lazy dream holiday, right?
Well, not at Kandima Maldives, a resort hell-bent on changing the status quo. Part of the newly formed Pulse resort group led by native Maldivian businessman Sanjay Maniku, Kandima opened in March pledging to be “the new Maldives” – one in which partying to the soundtrack of world-class DJs, hitting the waves with every water sport under the sun and letting creativity run free in the in-house art studio takes precedence over out-and-out relaxation.
Visiting the resort just a couple of weeks after its official opening, not everything is finished yet – something I’m reminded of every now and then as trucks of Maldivian construction workers drive past. Already an impressive prospect, Kandima will be even more so when fully completed in May. There will be 10 restaurants ranging from the Mediterranean-infused Azore to authentic Maldivian Sea Dragon, while Flavour acts as a central food hall offering up an array of dishes, including exquisite Sri Lankan curries and Thai beef salads, sizzled and prepared in front of your eyes by the resort’s team of talented chefs.
Eventually a beach club will open which the Kandima Krew – everything starts with a ‘K’ in Kandima, sort of like the Kardashian family – hope will attract world-famous DJs and host legendary parties. In another bid to distinguish itself from the rest of the chill-focused Maldives, Kandima offers an extensive range of activities, from an art studio to Aquaholics, a water sports centre offering nearly every water-based activity imaginable. I managed to glimpse a pod of dolphins while snorkelling, a memory that I’ll not soon forget. And for children there’s Kandiland, a sizeable kids’ play area-cum-educational centre where babysitters are available on request and children can learn Maldivian.
For all that Kandima is trying to mark itself out as something different, it hasn’t completely abandoned the Maldives’ culture of relax and unwind. A wellness centre comprising a gym and spa is ready to sooth tired muscles – and a Balinese massage is mightily recommended.
Kandima is not just a hotel, but an entire island unto itself – one of the 1,190 that make up the Maldives. Turkish Airlines flies from London Heathrow to Male’s international airport via Istanbul, with a journey time of around 13 hours – there are no direct flights. From there, guests can catch a sea-plane to get to the island in 40 minutes, before continuing on to the jetty by boat, where staff are waiting to greet them with a welcome drink. It’s then a swift golf buggy ride to the room – helpful on a resort measuring 3km across.
Accommodation ranges from studios to villas, with private porches, airy bedrooms and huge bathtubs with ocean views. Villas come with their own Jacuzzis, while Ocean Pool Villas, a cut above, have their own private infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. Witnessing a school of dolphins diving past while taking a dip in my own pool is one of those once-in-a-lifetime Maldives experiences that even action-packed Kandima can’t get away from – and why would it want to? All Kandima’s rooms overlook and lead out onto the beach, perfect for a morning dip before breakfast.
Kandima Maldives, Dhaalu Atoll, Republic of Maldives (booked through Kandima Maldives). Doubles from £412, half-board.