Eco escapade: A luxe, intimate retreat for couples

Secluded on an island in the Maldives that is just a 10-minute walk from one end to the other, Finolhu Villas offers couples a luxe, intimate retreat.

From $1,900 a night, they can cocoon themselves in one of 52 villas overlooking the sunrise or sunset, with a personal butler to indulge their every whim.

The adults-only Club Med resort on Gasfinolhu is a short speedboat ride from Male International Airport.

Snug beneath thick, fluffy covers and soft pillows in my Sunrise Overwater Villa, I am torn between lounging in bed and luxuriating in my villa.

Full-glass doors on my left open onto a private terrace, with daybed, infinity pool and steps leading down into the ocean and, on my right, a semi-outdoor tub tempts.

There is a second bathroom indoors, a dressing room with a large wardrobe, as well as a plush living room. I feel ensconced in a modern home in the city, except with the caress of the sea breeze and roar of waves in the distance.

And all this is powered by the sun. Shiny solar panels line the top of open walkways and utility buildings, providing shade while absorbing energy.

The eco-friendly resort, opened in February, also purifies its own water using desalination, uses biodegradable waste as compost and filters waste water to flush toilets and water the plants. It is looking to install a zero-waste management system.

I awake at dawn every day, sitting by the infinity pool as the sky lights up in various hues of pink, to catch the sunrise. Waves lap gently against the villa and a tiny crab scuttling around the wooden steps to the sea is the only sign of life I see.

Shortly after is my favourite meal of the day. My personal butler Priscilla delivers to the terrace my American breakfast. There are four other choices: Deluxe Continental, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

The stay also includes afternoon tea, as well as lunch and dinner at in-house restaurant Motu, which serves European and Asian specialities.

A wide range of activities is also included, from sports such as yoga and wakeboarding to recreation such as board games and "cinema under the stars". There is also a small gym for fitness buffs.

For those who love to snorkel, there are corals as well as a house reef nearby, and life vests are provided in the wardrobe. I sight baby blacktip sharks, small stingrays, octopuses, needlefish, batfish and a lone pufferfish around the island, but only on occasion.

Finolhu has a coral propagation programme, which could attract more marine life. Guests can buy a frame from US$100 (S$135), on which coral fragments attached will grow into new colonies. Proceeds support the resort's marine conservation research programmes and local community environmental initiatives.

For a different ambience, our group heads to Club Med Kani Premium Resort, a five-minute boat ride away.

Every night, Club Med staff, also known as GOs or genteel organisers, put on a show and lead guests in the company's signature Crazy Signs dance, a fun communal dance with choreographed moves which everyone joins in. We dance till midnight, then go stargazing at the jetty while waiting to catch the boat back.

Our group also tries the buffet-style selection at Kani during breakfast - the spread will please those who prefer a wide variety, compared with the a la carte and set menu options available at Finolhu.

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