Luxury resorts in the Maldives can get pretty formulaic – not to say that it’s a bad formula at all! – but between the picture-perfect ’50-shades-of-blue’ waters, powder white beaches, and luxurious over-water villas perched on said waters, they can all start looking the same. Which is why it’s the little things that matter.
And at Coco Bodu Hithi, there are lots of little things to appreciate. But let’s get the big stuff out of the way first.
The resort is located in the North Male atoll, about a 45-minute speedboat ride away from the airport. Accommodation options in the all-villa resort ranges from footsteps-away-from-the-beach options, to spacious over-water villas where the ocean is your private swimming pool with steps leading down to them from your sun deck (although there is an actual private plunge pool too!).
The Coco Residences are the address to have on this island – these luxuriously appointed oversized villas are not only set on a crescent-shaped jetty of their own at one edge of the island, but come with extra perks such as a private restaurant for à la carte breakfast (offering a much more civilised option to the usual buffets, however generous they might be!), Acqua di Parma toiletries, and a lifestyle concierge service.
With the friendly, smiling service, you’ll be wanting for very little in your own slice of paradise, and it can be tough tearing yourself away from the villa. But you definitely should, if only for a personalised massage at the over-water spa, where the balmy Indian ocean breezes flowing in through the French windows elevate the sense of relaxation to utter bliss; or a leisurely lunch with sand in your toes at the (glass-walled infinity, by the way!) poolside Latitude – also a great spot for sundowners.
Food is a big part of the story here – I was visiting during a guest chef pop-up by Scottish celebrity chef Tom Kitchin – with seafood-focused fine dining on offer at Aqua restaurant, set on yet another over-water boardwalk; Mediterranean-inspired dishes at Stars (which is also where Residences guests can take breakfast exclusively, as well as enjoy canapés every evening); authentic Japanese at Tsuki; and international buffets at Air. There’s also an intimate wine loft space, where private dinners can be hosted, and wine dinners are a regular affair.
I only wish that, with such a focus on gourmet offerings, there would be a bit more emphasis given to local produce (ingredients used in most high-end Maldives resorts are imported). This is particularly surprising considering Coco Bodu Hithi’s strong green credentials on every other front – the resort, part of Green Pearls Unique Places, has a resident marine biologist who, along with her team, are working hard at marine rehabilitation in the region, and are also active supporters of the global Olive Ridley project.
In fact, the Coco Collection group is locally-owned (which is quite unusual amongst the spread of international luxury chains), and have an underlying commitment to sustainability, with sister resort Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu featuring a strong eco programme. Just as an aside, the other resort that makes up the Coco Collection is Coco Privee, one of only two truly private island resorts in the Maldives – that’s the ultimate luxury for the one percent-ers, of course!
Coming back to the little things though. Whether it’s the pared-back, contemporary yet timeless décor of the resort, where all the mod cons you need are at hand, but nothing is too flash (trust me, there can be too much of a good thing – I’ve had experiences of slipping and fallen on too-shiny floors, and having to go to bed in complete darkness not being able to navigate ultra hi-tech light switches, both in Maldives resorts!!), or the friendly, ever-smiling service from the staff, there’s something about this island that makes it easy to slip into a more relaxed pace. It’s comfortable, and feels like home – but a very luxurious home in a town called paradise!
Room rates at Coco Bodu Hithi start from about US$950, going up to US$2,400, depending on size and season.