Review: Velaa Private Island, Maldives

Velaa Private Island Review
Velaa Private Island

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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Velaa Private Island Review - Avi Pool Bar

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.

Welcome Drinks, Velaa Private Island, Maldives

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.

Beach Pool Villa, Velaa Private Island Review
Velaa Beach Pool Villa Interior

There are double sinks across from closets and storage space.

Sink and Vanity, Velaa Beach Pool Villa Bathroom

The mirrored vanity opens, for convenient shelf space for toiletries, and there's also a nail kit, shower cap, and even insect repellent provided.

Velaa Toiletries
Insect Repellent, Velaa Review

There's a rain shower, with Clarins bath products:

Rain Shower, Velaa Beach Pool Villa
Clarins Bath Products

The soaking tub is outdoors, with additional lounge space, along with an outdoor shower.

Stepping Stones to Velaa Beach Pool Villa Outdoor Soaking Tub and Shower
Stepping Stones to Outdoor Soaking Tub and Shower, Velaa Beach Pool Villa
Velaa Beach Pool Villa - Outdoor Soaking Tub
Velaa Beach Pool Villa Outdoor Soaking Tub

Velaa's pool is 25 feet long, while Cheval Blanc's villas' infinity pools are over 40 feet long.

Velaa Review-Beach Pool Villa-Pool with Ocean View
Velaa Beach Pool Villa Pool and Loungers

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.

Velaa Beach Pool Villa, Outdoor Dining Table
Velaa Beach Pool Villa Loungers
View of Beach and Ocean from Velaa Beach Pool Villa Loungers

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.

Velaa 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.

Sunrise Water Villa Living Room, Velaa Private Island Review

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.

Sunrise Water Villa Glass Bottom Peephole, Velaa Review

You can slide back the glass door and walk straight out onto the deck:

Velaa Review-Sunrise Water Villa Living Room View

Here's the bedroom, with its king bed facing the deck and ocean:

Sunrise Water Villa Bedroom, Velaa Review

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.

Sunrise Pool Villa and Stairs into Ocean, Velaa Private Island Review

Sunrise Water Villa Pool, Velaa
Sunrise Water Villa Pool, Velaa Private Island

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:

Velaa Breakfast Buffet at Athiri

There's also sushi, cold cuts, smoked salmon, cheeses, salad, Swiss yogurts, and all kinds of breads, muffins, doughnuts and pastries.

Velaa Breakfast Buffet: 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.

Maldivian Food, Velaa Breakfast Buffet

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.

Breakfast at Velaa Private Island

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.

Athiri Breakfast Menu
Athiri Breakfast Menu, Velaa
Velaa Breakfast Menu

Our favorite a la carte item was the 9-grain toast with avocado and a poached egg:

9-Grain Toast with Avocado and Egg, Velaa Review

My husband and I always ordered a Velaa cappuccino, not only for the taste, but for the cute turtle shell decoration:

Velaa cappuccino

Athiri and nearby Pool/Cocktail Bar Avi are a great place to enjoy the sunset over drinks and a casual dinner.

Main Pool at Sunset, Velaa Private Island Review

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.

Laksa, Velaa Review

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:

Velaa Golf Course

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.

Covered Tennis Court, Velaa Maldives Review

Other sports include volleyball and ping pong:

Volleyball and Ping Ping, Velaa Maldives Review

Next to the Squash Court there's even a climbing wall:

Climbing Wall, Velaa Maldives Review

My husband and son also enjoyed playing basketball:

Basketball, Velaa Maldives Review

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.

Water Sports for Adrenaline Junkies, Velaa Maldives Review

The Verdict

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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