For bygone charm – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa offers an earnest dose of authentic Maldivian culture in the most idyllic tropical setting.
For couples seeking the classic Maldivian honeymoon, fly-and-flop style, with all the luxury trimming and right-on service. Four Seasons Kuda Huraa is particularly appealing for those wanting to experience a slice of traditional Maldivian culture rather than jetting across the world for ‘just another exotic resort.’ Instead, the hotel employs many locals and embraces the natural culture through its design, cuisine and experiences, which certainly sets it apart from other more generic luxury resorts.
Set the scene
The wild contrast of colours and Maldivian magic starts as soon as soon as you board the Four Seasons’s very own Princess Yacht from the airport (Malé) jetty. The excitement builds and stresses melt away as you dock into Kuda Huraa, one of the Maldives’ ‘originals’ that has stood the test of time. The reception area beckons like a lantern amid a calming and utterly surreal scape of smooth blue water, white sand and wide open sky with colourful lanterns and a mosaic tiled floor. Here honeymooners meet their dedicated guest experience manager who tailors itineraries to every couple’s whim and adjusts this throughout their stay. Villas are situated on a sandy lane that snakes through the resort, bordered by colourful native flowers and soaring coconut palms. Two pools mirror the other-worldly blues of the Indian Ocean, blending seamlessly into the horizon with a swim up bar in one of them. Meanwhile, an affable team wearing traditional dress – natural linen finished with gold embroidery – have a nothing-is-too much attitude that renders any stay a breeze. Come evening, expect to take part in crab racing (a favourite local game) and sip specialty cocktails as the sun casts its pink, coral spell on the horizon . Four Seasons Kuda Huraa even have their own time zone, an hour ahead of Malé to ensure those melting sunsets are never missed.
True to Four Seasons form, the resort has been designed to echo the architecture of a traditional Maldives village (the group is known to nod to the local culture and rhythms or its various locations). While the thatched beach bungalows are painted in pastel yellows with quaint wooden doors, the overwater villas have a more contemporary feel with their blackened wood structures. Inside, off-white textured walls contrast the dark wood to almost monochrome effect, while bright pinks, reds and patterned soft furnishings are a welcome, playful touch. Couples can cosy up in their superking-size with direct views through floor-to-ceiling windows onto their very own infinity pool, and beyond it, the shifting shades of the Indian Ocean. Rooms spill onto a spacious (and exceedingly private) terrace, with multiple hammocks, an infinity plunge pool and sheltered sun deck with a table for romantic breakfasts à deux. The bathrooms maybe indoors but their large windows pull in the tropical surroundings and make morning showers a truly ethereal experience.
Food and drink
Aside from the knockout exotic surroundings, Kuda Huraa’s allure lies in its culinary appeal, one that caters to all palates. Among a series of restaurants, beautifully-lit poolside Baraabaru serves swishy Indian food – try the soft shell masala crab for a main course – while Reef Club offers the classic al fresco Maldivian dining setting, overlooking the lagoon, with spanking fresh seafood pasta dishes and moreish stone-fired pizzas. Shaded by palms, it’s the spot for long, drowsy lunches and easy-going evenings with a live acoustic band and children dancing in the sand around you are their parents sip wine, deftly paired by the sommelier.
The main pool area serves flavour-packed light lunches and sandwiches, best enjoyed from your pale yellow sun lounger or cabana for two, or there’s the Kandu Grill, which specialises in steak and freshly-caught seafood.
For a truly unforgettable honeymoon, guests can step on board the resort’s Princess Yacht and be whisked off to a private sandbank for a BBQ or picnic Four-Seasons-style banquet (lunch or dinner). Fruit-laden floating breakfasts make for a novel (highly Instagrammable) start to the day.
It may be one of the original resorts in the Maldives, but Kuda Huraa was prophetic in its soft approach on the surrounding environment and culture, and continues to thrive and lure in a well-heeled, understated bunch. The beach villas are currently undergoing a head-to-toe makeover and are set to reopen in late 2023.
Children are no afterthought at Kudu Huraa. The spoiling begins as they step off the boat onto the jetty and are presented with a soft toy to treasure (in our case, a colourful turtle made from canvas). A hamper awaits in the rooms for babies with all the toiletries parents would need (wipes, nappies and sensitive products) plus a super-soft baby towel. The hotel has even thought ahead to that sacred moment when you first put your feet up with a bottle of wine after the long-haul slog, with some blended pear and apple puree (or something similar) for little ones to also enjoy.
For older kids, there’s Kuda Mas (“little fish”) Kids’ Club offering a range of activities including beach games, snorkelling, yoga sessions and cooking classes. There’s classes at the marine biology centre plus babysitters available at request. And at the main pool area, you’ll discover the chic children’s pool with mini sun loungers – bliss.
The spa here has a near-mystical appeal – situated on its own island and accessible only by boat. There are seven treatment rooms, each designed with couples in mind. Interiors are beautifully ornate throughout the spa, think white-washed walls, pretty dressing tables and deep marble roll top baths. There’s little need for background music with the waves gently lapping against the shore. For a divine treatment for two, book the nighttime ritual – two-and-a-half hours of pampering under the stars, rounded off with a rose petal bath and Champagne. If every there was a way to ease into married life together…
There are many pioneering green initiatives at Kuda Huraa and, in true Four Seasons style, it’s all about gently and collaboratively educating their guests. The island is home to its very own marine biology centre where the team of scientists focus on the rehabilitation of sea turtles amongst other critical environmental and marine wildlife projects. Guests can build their own coral frames in-tune with the hotel’s coral restoration programme – now with 2000 frames and counting, and the resort will send you updated pictures of yours every six months. The sunset Dolphin Cruise takes guests out on a traditional Maldivian fishing boat to marvel at the beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, while learning all about their feeding patterns and social skills.
Just 30 minutes by speedboat from Malé, the island is unusually accessible (as Maldives islands go) and a welcome fact after a long haul flight. Whilst staying at Kuda Huraa you can board a traditional Maldivian boat to the neighbouring local island Buddha (‘big’) Kurra. Your tour guide will likely live on the island, offering a true sense of Maldivian life and culture.
To book, visit: fourseasons.com/maldiveskh
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