Hotel Review: Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas
Anantara Kihavah is one of the most well-known resorts in the Maldives for its incredible, lush island and unique activities. We were elated to finally have the chance to experience Anantara Kihavah on our recent trip to the Maldives and it lived up to every expectation.
Anantara Kihavah is located in Baa Atoll, one of the most bio-diverse atolls in the Maldives, and one of our personal favorites. Baa Atoll is a UNESCO biosphere reserve that has allowed the sea life to flourish, including the nearby Hanifaru Bay, home to the largest Manta Ray feeding station in the world. The property is located a short, 40-minute seaplane ride from Male. Guests can also choose to take a domestic flight with a spead boat if the arrival or departure time is before sunrise or after sunset.
The island itself is lush and full of trees and greenery. It’s a natural island, meaning the beaches and landscaping are breathtaking and allows for a very private feeling between the villas and buildings on the island. While there are neighboring islands in the distance, there is very little light pollution on property, meaning your evening strolls are perfect for stargazing.
Lobby & Check in experience: 5/5
We judge Lobby & Check a little differently in the Maldives, thanks to the unique experience of arriving into the country. Upon arriving at Velana International, guests are greeted at the arrivals hall by Anantara Kihavah staff and taken straight to a luxury van to be transferred to the seaplane terminal. The actual greeting was seamless and within minutes we were in a comfortable, cold car.
Anantara Kihavah has partnered with Manta Air, a newcomer to the seaplane game, to transfer guests via Seaplane to the hotel. Manta Air has a shared lounge and it’s very new, clean and offers all the standard amenities one would expect. There is coffee, tea, water, juice and some snacks. We weren’t seated for long and within just 20 minutes, we made our way to the seaplane just outside the lounge.
A short, and beautiful, flight later, we arrived to paradise. We were escorted by our butler to our villa directly and shown around the property. Overall, the arrival experience could not have been better.
We had the opportunity to test out both the beach villas and the overwater villas – both of which were equally amazing. We will break down the room types, but it’s worth noting that deciding on a beach villa or a water villa really comes down to your personal preference.
Both overwater and beach villas offered spacious accommodations, large swimming pools and ample privacy. In neither room were we able to see other villas or people. Beach villas afford you the option to go straight into the shallow lagoon from your room, whereas, the water villas are already overwater, but will sometimes have a bit deeper water with beautiful corals to explore while snorkeling.
Beach Pool Villa
The Beach Pool Villas offer over 2700 square feet of living space. They are beautifully designed with tall archways, ample windows and lush greenery surrounding you. Indoor, you will find the bedroom, with a full minibar, desk area and seating nook. The outdoor patio features a dining pagoda for four, large swimming pool and two chaise lounges as well as a hanging daybed.
My favorite part of the villa is the bathroom. The bathroom sits behind the villa and is entirely outdoors. There is an “indoor” covered rainshower, outdoor shower, large soaking tub, sitting area and double vanities. It’s a true spa bathroom, fit for royalty.
Each villa also comes with two bicycles for guests to use around the property. Believe it or not, this was the only hotel we’ve ever stayed at that personalized the bikes with our names on them.
Over Water Pool Villa
The Over Water Pool villa sits at over 2800 square feet and features an open air living space that opens directly onto the large swimming pool. There is a beautiful entryway, full minibar and his & hers closets like in the beach pool villa as well as a spacious bedroom and large patio. The bedroom is just like beach villas. The difference is really in the bathroom. The bathroom is “indoors”, however all the doors in the villa open up to create an outdoor living space. The bathroom has a beautiful indoor shower as well as the al fresco waterfall shower. There is also a glass bottom tub- a very unique feature of this room. There are multiple glass floors in the bathroom to connect you to the lagoon.
Outside, you will find the large pool, a dining table for four, hanging chair and a lowered deck with chaise loungers. There is a ladder that connects you to the lagoon below and uninterrupted views.
Larger villas & residences
The property also features 2 bedrooms villas as well as Residences that offer gyms, spa rooms and full kitchens. These larger suites feature the same style, design and aesthetic as the “standard” villas, but with more bedrooms. These are perfect for families or friends traveling together, looking for a bit more privacy and space.
The service throughout our experience was truly exceptional. Every staff member we encountered was respectful, polite and genuinely seemed to love their job. It is very clear that management is trying to craft the best guest experiences, from aerial yoga classes to impeccable spa treatments overwater and wine tastings in the underwater restaurant.
Our butler was wonderful, making sure we were always on time, scheduling and managing our covid tests and generally making sure we had everything we didn’t even know we needed. We heard from several other guests that they had the same experience with their butler.
The food & beverage staff were always so excited to share their favorite items on the menu and worked very hard to make sure every experience was perfect. Each morning, the the staff at breakfast already knew what our preferences for coffee & juices and were willing to recommend different items and share their favorite dishes.
One of the things that makes the service at Anantara so excellent is that staff members were allowed to be creative and come up with their own cocktails, activity ideas and find creative ways to increase engagement with guests. The Wine Guru on property was one of the most passionate people we’ve met in the Maldives. His knowledge and love of wine was so engaging that we left our tour with him wanting to get a sommelier certification!
Housekeeping was excellent, always coming when we were out and meticulously cleaning the room every day. Turndown service, one of my favorite things ever, was excellent as well and always felt so cozy to come. home to. While there wasn’t anything particularly personalized or customized with housekeeping, it was still well done.
Overall, the service was excellent. We loved our encounters with Anantara team members. It’s clear that management is engaged and works hard to craft unique service experiences for guests.
Every sip and every bite at Anantara Kihavah was above and beyond expectations. Food and beverage experiences at the property were beyond compare, from the overwater sky bar to the 6 meters below restaurant.
There are many different dining options on property and they cater to every palate. Whether you’re looking for healthy “wellness” options, or spicy Maldivian-Indian cuisine, there is something for you. Guests can dine with their toes in the sand, or above the lagoon with the setting sun. Every dining option is unique and spectacular in its own right. A must-do experience is the underwater restaurant, SEA. The reef at Anantara is SO vibrant and alive, that every day, you will see endless amounts of wish, sharks and turtles.
Guests can also enjoy room service, including the quintessential Maldives experience: the floating champagne breakfast.
There are also a few bars on property that are 100% worth checking out. SKY offers exceptional sunset views and comfortable lounge chairs to enjoy a delicious cocktails from right below the observatory . Manzaru also features an exceptional gin bar, with gins from all over the world. If you’re into gin, do not miss this bar for a cozy after-dinner cocktail.
You could stay at Anantara Kihavah for months and never tire of the facilities and experiences on property. In fact, you can return every year for your whole life and still be surprised and delighted by their offerings. I’m not making that up, there are numerous families that return year after year because the hotel offers so many incredible experiences and keeps coming up with new ways to compete against the other hotels in the area.
The Spa at Anantara offers 6 overwater treatment rooms with beautiful views and a tranquil environment. The relaxation area includes a cold plunge, steam, sauna and relaxation areas for men and women. There is also a medi spa and a room dedicated to nail care. The spa environment is so relaxing and the treatments are divine. I had the chance to try the Anantara Signature Massage and it was absolutely 5 stars.
Anantara Kihavah also has the only overwater observatory in the Maldives. Thanks to the lack of light pollution, the stargazing is fabulous. The hotel offers a stargazing experience for guests that includes a history of our galaxies, canapes and champagne as well as a look into our galaxy and beyond through the massive telescope. It’s a really unique experience that we can highly recommend doing. Our guides were so passionate about stars and spent a long time with us showing us every star and planet they could find.
Excursions at Anantara Kihavah can be managed by your butler. We had the chance to try both the Manta Ray snorkeling as well as a scuba dive and both were excellent experiences. Hanifaru Bay is home to the largest Manta Ray feeding station in the world and it’s located only about 35-40 minutes from the property. This unparalleled access to some of the best sea life in the world is something to consider for your vacation. We were extremely lucky the day we went on the Manta excursion, as we saw about 100 mantas and a whale shark.
Yoga and wellness activities are a huge part of the Anantara experience. The hotel offers a number of activities throughout the week, as well as private lessons with the gurus. We partook in a private aerial yoga class at sunrise and it was a blast. They say vacation is the time to try new things, right? Anantara has so many unique activities, it’s worth trying some of the unusual ones.
While we were there, Arun, the wine guru, was finishing up the plans for a sommelier certification that guests can take part in if they stay for more than 4 nights. This unique experience includes a number of tastings around the property: over water, in water, on sand bars and more. Continuing to innovate and provide experiences that are unique like this is what differentiates Anantara Kihavah from a lot of other high end hotels in the area.
Elegant, classic and Asian-inspired are three words that come to mind when we think about the style on property. The white and brown tones, mixed with the pops of color and modern touches make for a romantic, beachy vibe on property and it’s consistent across the board. While light touch ups and tech updates would even further elevate the style, we fell in love with the beautiful decor, personalized touches of books and magazines in the rooms and the connection to nature that is felt across the property.
Overall, we absolutely fell in love with the Anantara Kihavah. The service, the lush & beautiful island and the incredibly unique guest experiences make this resort one of our top properties in the Maldives thus far. We cannot wait to return in the future to see what creative new experiences they’ve come up with since our last visit. If you’re considering this property, look no further- you won’t regret it.
COVID-19 Safety Rating: 4.5/5
Finally, our hopefully temporary COVID-19 Safety Rating. This rating is not factored into our overall rating system, but will give you a good idea of what to expect on property.
Anantara Hotels have a number of protocols to help protect guests on property. One of their rules is around arrival. Minor Hotels, who owns Anantara, is not allowing split stays where a guest arrives from another resort before Anantara, unless it’s another hotel in the portfolio. Therefore, Anantara Kihavah must be your first stop.
Hand sanitizer is available all throughout the property and staff all wear masks pretty consistently. To be honest, everything is outdoors on property, with the exception of the spa rooms, so there is naturally a more comfortable environment for this reason. They are not offering a breakfast buffet at this time, and rather, offering an a la carte experience.
Guests can get COVID tests on property for their departure, organized by the butlers at the guests expense.
Overall, we were extremely comfortable throughout our stay. While they did not test on arrival, we felt the rest of their COVID protocols were extremely thorough and well executed.
Disclaimer: We were hosted by Anantara Resorts on a media stay. Please know the opinions expressed are all our own and may not reflect the hotel’s own views.