Resort Review: Amilla Fushi – a celebration of difference
What is in a name? Amilla in Dhivehi has two meanings; private and personal. And when coupled with another word, it can also mean ‘individual’ or ‘distinct’. These are all exemplified in the name Amilla Fushi, which the resort has cleverly, but not literally, translated as ‘My Island Home’.
Privacy is perhaps the quintessential characteristic of resorts in the Maldives that guests seek. And Amilla does not disappoint in this regard. Its accommodation, whether you are suspended over water in a Lagoon House, up among the treetops in a Tree House, or sitting by the beach in a Beach House, ensures that guests do not get in the way of each other.
The resort’s in-room dining, which they have dubbed ‘home delivery’, also enhances the privacy of guests. A wide range of items from Amilla’s restaurants are at your fingertips on an iPad in your room. “There is absolutely no need to leave your house,” says Claudia Klingbeil, Director of Public Relations and Social Media. “You can be as private or as social as you like. It’s completely your choice of what you prefer on your holiday.”
And the houses are spaces where you would want to hang out. Tastefully furnished without being ostentatious, great big couches with soft cushions, bare walls that do not seem as though they need adornments; grey matte or wooden floors with splashes of colour, it is minimalistic in a sense, but almost paradoxically, luxurious. Large flat screen televisions, and even one by your bed, surround sound, lavish baths, dual showers, Aesop products, it is all very indulgent. And of course, a sumptuous private pool is found in all tiers of accommodation. Who would want to leave?
What’s more, Amilla Fushi is unique in the fact more than 40% of its houses are more than 1-bedroom. In doing so, they created a destination for families, for friends and even for entourages. Their divine, and utterly enormous, 4-8 Bedroom Beach Residences boast their very own kitchens and have even thought to offer space for nannies and babysitters.
Amilla adds a distinctly personal touch in guest relations. Guests are taken care of by their Katheeb (male) or Katheeba (female), a Maldivian term for someone who is in charge. “We didn’t want to have butlers here,” remarks Michael Flynn, Chairman of TSMIC and General Manager at Amilla. “ butler has these connotations of subservience, of servility.” What Amilla wants is someone more dynamic and able to take charge. The Katheeb is essentially your connecting point to the resort. They check you in and out. Their service is personal and discreet, they welcome you from the airport, take you around the island on their buggies, help you out when you are unable to work the lights (it is a bit tricky the first time). They even take care of your laundry. For those in the larger residences, there’s the option to have your Katheeb live in with you, and on those nights you feel like nesting, they’re even happy to cook for you. They are always happy to help, and you get that feeling that they are genuine, that they are invested in you somehow. The Katheebs and Katheebas contribute that truly personal touch at the resort.
Amilla is not abashed about having its own way, whether with the Katheeb concept, or the structure of its accommodations; it has eschewed the traditional thatch found in most local resorts, for modern structures. It welcomes families and groups through its multi-roomed houses. It has a fresh approach to dining, embodied by the Baazaar (a play on words, as Amilla is located in Baa Atoll). The Baazaar is a cluster of restaurants by the sea and they are all a la carte, even breakfast, though there is a small breakfast buffet. “What we wanted was something more relaxed,” says Alasdair France, Director of Restaurants. “And we also wanted to give people a lot of choice. It was a bit challenging because our staff had to become familiar with so many items. But it’s working well now.”
The menus are indeed extensive and you can order whatever you like regardless of where you are dining. But the items are very reasonably priced. You will not find 80 USD burgers here; that is against the ethos of the resort. They really want to be reasonable.
Nor does this only extend to the restaurants. The spa, named Javvu, the Dhivehi term for space, also offers reasonably priced treatments, a departure from the norm at many resorts. It functions as a village; people are encouraged to visit, Javvu has an open door policy. Guests can lounge in comfortable chairs, sipping champagne or healthy herbal teas, reading books or simply taking in the charming blue-green vistas of the sea. The treatments themselves are unique, incorporating elements from East and West in the course of a particular massage.
Amilla departs from what is traditional, what is considered typically Maldivian. But it keeps what Michael calls ‘the roohu’ or the spirit, having at its crux that warm, cordial hospitality that the country is renowned for. It is private, intimate, while embodying the energy and dedication, the desire to become something more than what it is and the drive to go beyond what is considered safe, which resonates with many young Maldivians today. It is an island home, yes; you feel as though you belong, not least because you are attended to so well, but also because the resort provides you with the space and opportunity to do your own thing. But you would not want to get used to it, it makes leaving that much more painful.