Maruhaba — “welcome” in the native language of the Maldives — comes easily on Naladhu, an island oasis across the lagoon from Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort. After all, you actually are assigned your own house, one of only 19 on the private island.
When you check in here, you are greeted by native drumming at the arrival dock, along with the scented, chilled towels that are the staple of Maldivian hospitality. As is that’s not enough to conjure the “maruhaba,” your house master (a.k.a. butler) then scatters flower petals on the dock just ahead as you step into another world.
At Naladhu — which actually means “pretty little island,” and it is — you can have it your way all the time. Anything, anytime. So of course that means spa treatments are brought to you.
Our house master, Ahmed Rafeeq, attended to our every need, including rescuing a tiny crab from our see-through tub attached to our spacious plunge pool. So come spa time, he brought the side-by-side spa tables to our outdoor deck, and filled our ceramic bowls with the necessary ingredients for the now-familiar footbaths.
Soon therapists Wilawann “Kookkei” Boonsing and Jatong “Poa” Pompha had the tables ready and handed over our “pajamas” for our couple’s Thai massage.
Talk about instant comfort. The super soft, loose-fitting, lightweight pj’s were perfect for Thai massage, which is a “dry” massage — no oil — that is as much pulling, pushing and stretching parts of the body as it is rubbing. We soon found we loved the various pretzel positions.
The Anantara resort, just across the way, wisely offers five-minute mini massages each morning in its lobby, and we always begged for the Thai movements once introduced to them.
The massages were made more special by the fact that we simply had to lift our heads to see the amazing view that attracts some groups — Russians and Middle Easterners, for instance — to rent out the entire island.
Wouldn’t we love to do that for 18 other special couples!
Later, we sit on our oversized outdoor hanging swing — a luxurious take on a Maldivian house feature — and talk about someday returning to the magic that is the Maldives. (Update 2018: Still our favorite of 76 countries in all our world travels!)
We’re sure Rafeeq, with his warm smile and humor, will happily bring out the flower petals.