This Review of Velaa Private Island in the Maldives is from our March 2019 stay. The top competitors to Velaa Private Island are Cheval Blanc Randheli and Joali, both of which can be reached by speed boat. Velaa is owned by Czech financier Jirí Smejc and his family, and opened in 2013.
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TravelSort Clients enjoy Virtuoso benefits at Velaa:
- Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability
- Full breakfast for two daily for duration of the stay served in Athiri restaurant
- $100 USD equivalent Resort/Hotel credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
Getting to Velaa
If coming from Male (MLE) Airport, you'll be met by Velaa representatives and assisted to Velaa's lounge, to wait for your seaplane to Velaa. It's a 45 minute flight. The cost at the time of our March 2019 vist was $420 + tax each way for adults and kids 12 and older, with a 50% discount for kids ages 2-11. You could also visit Joali and/or Cheval Blanc prior to Velaa, and as noted above, take a speed boat to Velaa.
We arrived by boat from Joali, and were met at the arrival pier with a choice of welcome drinks; we chose the fruit smoothie.
We were then taken asked if we'd like a brief tour of the island before being taken to our Beach Pool Villa; we agreed, as we wanted to get a sense of where everything was. Here's a basic resort map of Velaa Private Island:
Velaa Beach Pool Villa
Velaa's entry level category is a Beach Pool Villa, which accommodates either two adults or 2 adults and a child on an extra bed. It's open plan, so unlike the entry level villas at Cheval Blanc Randheli and Joali, there's no separation between the King bed and living area, and the villa is quite a bit smaller: ~860 square feet of interior space to Joali's ~1160 square feet of interior space.
There are double sinks across from closets and storage space.
The mirrored vanity opens, for convenient shelf space for toiletries, and there's also a nail kit, shower cap, and even insect repellent provided.
There's a rain shower, with Clarins bath products:
The soaking tub is outdoors, with additional lounge space, along with an outdoor shower.
Velaa's pool is 25 feet long, while Cheval Blanc's villas' infinity pools are over 40 feet long.
Next to the pool is a covered outdoor sala, with a table for al fresco dining, and additional loungers in the shade with a view of the ocean.
Here's our Velaa YouTube Video Review:
Velaa Sunrise Water Villa
Velaa's Water Villas are located on their own pier, and offer both sunrise and sunset facing water villas.
Water villas have a living room separated from the bedroom, with a sofa bed in the living room, so they offer greater privacy for parents traveling with a child.
There's a glass peephole in the floor, although it was quite shallow, without coral in that spot, so we never saw fish underneath it.
You can slide back the glass door and walk straight out onto the deck:
Here's the bedroom, with its king bed facing the deck and ocean:
The deck offers two pairs of loungers, the infinity pool (slightly smaller than the Beach Pool Villa's), and stairs directly into the ocean for swimming or snorkeling.
Velaa Breakfast and Dining
Velaa's breakfast is served at Athiri, the all day dining restaurant. There's an extensive cold buffet, with plenty of fresh fruit, both whole and cut:
There's also sushi, cold cuts, smoked salmon, cheeses, salad, Swiss yogurts, and all kinds of breads, muffins, doughnuts and pastries.
I was also very happy to see a section with traditional Maldivian specialties, including mashuni tuna and Kopee leaves salad, which were delicious.
We usually started off with a trip to the buffet and a request for fresh squeezed watermelon-pineapple juice, or an off the menu passion fruit smoothie.
In addition to the buffet, which you could easily make an excellent breakfast from, there's a menu with a la carte selections, such as egg dishes, pancakes, waffles, etc. cooked to order.
Our favorite a la carte item was the 9-grain toast with avocado and a poached egg:
My husband and I always ordered a Velaa cappuccino, not only for the taste, but for the cute turtle shell decoration:
Athiri and nearby Pool/Cocktail Bar Avi are a great place to enjoy the sunset over drinks and a casual dinner.
We were impressed by the wide range of the cuisines on offer. I loved my very authentic laksa with sambal, and my husband had a great Thai green curry. We later learned that the culinary team includes chefs from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and more.
I'll be writing a separate review of Velaa's signature restaurant, Aragu, where my husband and I enjoyed an excellent tasting menu.
Velaa Sports and Activities
Unusually among Maldivian resorts, Velaa offers a number of land-based activities in addition to snorkeling, scuba diving and water sports. Particularly unique is Velaa's golf course, which even draws guests from other Maldivian luxury resorts because it's the only golf course in the Maldives:
There's also the only covered tennis court in the Maldives, with fans helping to cool down players playing during the heat of the day. Next to it is even a squash court (see the above video) although at least for my son, it was just too hot to play very long–at least in NYC, most squash courts are air conditioned.
Other sports include volleyball and ping pong:
Next to the Squash Court there's even a climbing wall:
My husband and son also enjoyed playing basketball:
Of course, there are all kinds of water sports as well, albeit at a price, from water skiing and kite surfing to sea bob and jet pack rides. Then again, since entry level villas are often $2700 + tax or more per night, the activity cost isn't an issue for most guests. Velaa is a great choice for adrenaline junkies, given all that's on offer.
As befits a passion project of a Czech multi-millionaire, Velaa delivers in many ways, albeit at a steep price. It's the ideal choice in the Maldives for guests where at least one person is worried about “island fever” and wants plenty of activities and sports, including all the latest water sport toys (jet packs, hoverboards, seabobs, etc.) as well as land activities such as golf (the only golf course in the Maldives), tennis, basketball, badminton, volleyball, and even squash. Plus, there's a great lounge area on the second floor of Avi with pool tables and foosball that my husband and son spent a great deal of time at, and would be a good bet on a rainy day, even though weather was perfect during our March stay.
Relaxation is also taken seriously at the Clarins Spa, and fortunately, amenities such as the sauna, steam room, outdoor jacuzzi, and even snow room are complimentary even without booking a treatment.
We enjoyed the great ocean view both from our entry level Beach Pool Villa and from the Sunrise Water Villa that we stayed in, although the villas frankly can't compare to the villas at Cheval Blanc Randheli or to those at Joali. If an extremely spacious, vaulted ceiling villa and a larger infinity pool is key, choose Cheval Blanc Randheli or Joali.
Dining at Velaa is very good; we had our second favorite high end meal in the Maldives at Aragu (review forthcoming), only bested by Le 1947 at Cheval Blanc Randheli. On the more casual front, we enjoyed sumptuous leisurely breakfasts at Athiri, where I also enjoyed a superb Singaporean style laksa one evening, and the Butter Chicken that one of the Athiri chefs gave us a cooking class in was the best we've ever had, period. Athiri desserts were very good, but overall Cheval Blanc, as you'd expect, has the best French pastries, macarons, chocolates, and other sweets.
If you've stayed at Velaa Private Island recently, what was your experience?
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