Words by Ashton Rigg
Opportunities for indulgence just doubled in the Maldives' South Western atoll of Dhaalu, with a new island officially open for less business and more pleasure.
NIYAMA Resort has unveiled 'Play' – sister island to the already well established Chill. A 45-minute seaplane from capital Malé will get you to the isolated atoll, where it's just you, the sand, sea, fellow resort dwellers and your own private butler. Yes, you read that right.
The aptly named isles of Play and Chill are connected via footbridge, boasting 48 villas, innovative dining opportunities aplenty, and a family-inclusive persuasion throughout.
While the kids are busy playing jungle safari or honing their mini-master-chef skills at the dedicated Children's Club, parents can polish up with a coral sand and coconut oil body treatment or a bespoke massage at Lime Spa.
The menu of treatments includes pampering specifically designed to bid jetlag adieu, with a cold plunge pool to awaken the senses afterwards.
When it comes time to dine, everything from tribal camp grills to a poolside ice cream parlour is at your fingertips. Dining at NIYAMA literally reaches new heights with the addition of Nest – a one-of-a-kind dining concept perched high among the Banyan trees.
The tree-house dining venue includes six private pods suspended metres above the ground in the heart of the jungle, where 'culinary theatrics' are on show. Needless to say, this is not just any Maldives resort.
There are no less than 11 different ways to dine at NIYAMA, whether it's a gourmet picnic out on the water or a champagne breakfast under the sea at Subsix, located 500 metres offshore, six metres below the sparkling ocean surface.
If possible, options for slumber are even more impressive. Humble beach studios (the term humble is used loosely here) come with rain showers and direct beach access, while roomy pavilions lead to private pools, cocoon loungers and Jacuzzis primed for star-gazing after sunset.
Upping the ante in terms of luxury, spacious and magnificent overwater bungalows at The Crescent come with two dedicated butlers, a private chef and housekeeper, resort buggy and live entertainment brought right to your doorstep. It's all too much, yet somehow feels completely necessary to a Maldives holiday.
Eleven seems to be NIYAMA's lucky number, with a variety of dwellings ranging in price, size and extravagance across the dual islands. Direct ocean access? Check. Private pool? No worries. Butler service? You've got it.
While the base level of luxury is enough to tickle most travellers' fancy, even the hard to please are bound to be impressed at this Maldives retreat. A night at NIYAMA could set you back anywhere from $870 to $13,000. The five-figure stay is, of course, drenched in five-star opulence.
NIYAMA's parent company, the Per AQUUM group, is known for luxury that dares to be different. Everything is exquisite and the experience extraordinary at every step, from spa rituals to bold interior furnishings.
While a stay at the islands of Play & Chill might require a bit of skimping and saving, it's worthy of an inclusion on any bucket list.
Per AQUUM's introductory offer to celebrate the expansion of NIYAMA Maldives includes a 30 per cent discount on the best available rate, with the choice of one extra such as a 60-minute spa treatment for two or an underwater lunch at Subsix.