The Maldives, the very mention of the name takes one to a world where you can own your life, undisturbed. Just about a three-hour flight away from the Gulf awaits this tranquil paradise in the Indian Ocean, coy to be discovered.
The Maldives comprises 26 natural atolls consisting of many island chains. The pearl-string-like islands are encircled by lagoons blessed with crystal clear water and are protected by a reef structure, home to a spectacular underwater life.
Amidst the exotic turquoise hues of South Malé Atoll lies the island of Maadhoo, home to OZEN, the flagship luxury resort operated by the popular Indian Ocean hospitality brand Atmosphere Hotels & Resorts.
Arabian Knight recently had an opportunity to experience the sun-kissed island resort and its superior facilities.
The resort is about 35 km into the ocean from the Male International Airport. As the boat speeds into the horizon, passing numerous Maldivian isles and resorts, you begin to conjure up a holiday where time ticks leisurely; devices don’t distract and you are not pushed to take the beaten track.
About a 50-minute ride later, in the yonder, a green patch emerges from the turquoise water. Pristine white sandy beaches; swaying coconut palms and shimmering waves join the drum beats, garlands and smiling OZEN staff in welcoming you. You are showered with flower and warmth as you make your way into the island. You are already in love with the blessed land and sea, of course.
OZEN by Atmosphere at Maadhoo has a plethora of attractions that could keep guests busy if they so choose to be – some open in the blue ocean or by its side and others hidden inside the lush green island.
A big attraction is the resort’s Indulgence plan, which offers an all-encompassing, all-inclusive hassle-free beach holiday experience – the wallet can stay in the vault. The plan covers all aspects of the guest’s stay with all dining and beverages included plus one sunset fishing trip, an adventure excursion and in-villa mini-bar replenished twice daily. Guests staying four nights or more are offered fine dining experience at the exclusive underwater retaurant Minus Six Meters (M6m) and a choice of spa treatment or PADI dive.
OZEN offers 90 luxurious stand-alone villas comprising 41 Earth villas and suites; 48 Wind villas (over-water); and one three-bedroom Water Suite.
Luxury and uniqueness define everything at OZEN and the villas epitomise this. I am ushered into an Earth villa on the beach as the sun went down into the sea, spreading a golden hue across the shimmering waves. The luxurious villa with high slanted ceilings is spacious, sporting interiors in warm earthy tones and fresh colours. Hand-picked showpieces adorn the spaces inside to enhance the exotic feel. Every villa has a large outdoor deck and a tropical garden along with a spacious outdoor bathroom, featuring a hand-crafted bathtub and a monsoon shower. Some of the Earth villas come with private pools as well.
There are also 10 Earth Family Suites, a two-bedroom villa complex with a large master bedroom and a twin-bedded second room, along with a large private pool with fibre optic mood lighting.
If Earth villas offer one kind of experience, the over-water villas offer another distinct feel. One of the first things that caught my eyes here was the see-through glass ‘window’ on the floor, which allows guests to view the sea life under the villa – the fish of different hues and sizes moving around will keep one engaged for hours. From the villa balcony, you can climb down into the Indian Ocean and be immersed in water with gay abandon. If you are in the middle of the ocean, make the most of it.
The best-of-the best villa at the resort is the one-of-its-kind OZEN Residence, a super luxurious three-bedroom suite at the tip of the pier with amazing views all around. It features an over-water pool with mood lighting, a personal gym, a maid’s room with separate access, a small kitchenette and an outdoor dining pavilion.
How will you spend time on the small island? Though most come here to enjoy the slow, quiet life, for those who want action, the resort offers many activities throughout the day.
Wake up to the sunrise workout in the superbly-equipped gym facing the lagoon; go kayaking or windsurfing at your own leisure; take the help of the resort’s PADI-certified dive school professionals for an exhilarating diving experience; wait for the fish to catch your bait on the fishing expedition; or just watch the sunset from around the island. In the interval, fill yourself with the choicest beverages and food at the various restaurants and bars. And don’t forget to enjoy the relaxing treatments or comprehensive wellness experiences at Elena Spa’s over-water treatment rooms.
Though guests can watch an abundance of sea life moving in myriad colours among the coral formations from the villas or other areas of the island, for an enhanced experience they can take the free snorkelling session or scuba diving arranged by the resort. The resort also offers an exclusive submarine experience with SUB-ZEN by Atmosphere.
Guests can also visit local islands and experience the warmth of Maldivian people and their culture.
There are umpteen spots to take photos and selfies to fill your social media pages, but don’t forget to stop to enjoy the magic of the moments.
Though the Maldives is known as a couples’ destination, OZEN has enough facilities for families too.
Meanwhile, a variety of restaurants and bars are located around the small island to satiate your hunger and thirst. The Palms, the dining hub of OZEN, offers a wide selection of delectable world cuisine and gastronomical delights for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Indo-Ceylon is open for dinner providing traditional South Asian culinary feast, while Peking, also open for dinner, has Far-East cuisine.
Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life) offers a vast selection of signature cocktails, drinks and mouth-watering snacks and nibbles throughout the day. Overlooking OZEN's turquoise lagoon, it claims to have some of the most beautiful sunset views in the South Malé Atoll. If you like things raw, there’s R.A.W at OZEN with a selection of sumptuous sushi platters and healthy food options and beverages.
The creme de la crème of dining at the resort is its exclusive underwater restaurant M6m, which is open for lunch and dinner. This speciality seafood restaurant showcases beautiful underwater views whilst diners enjoy exceptionally exotic seafood cuisine.
The resort is a great destination wedding venue too and is drawing an increasing number of young couples who wish to take their vows amid the serene surroundings.
The resort has luxury, serenity, calmness in-built and two things stand out – the ever-welcoming and ready-to-serve staff, and the all-inclusive holiday package. Enjoy the sun till it drowns on the other side, cuddle the waves till they moan, and count the stars till you fall asleep.
– By Sree Bhat