Dreaming of luxurious vacations may put you in mind of tropical island paradises and exclusive resorts. But what if you could combine those two things into a deluxe, private island paradise in the Maldives? Well, you can! That place exists, and it’s called Velaa Private Island. Located in the Noonu Atoll north of Male, this incredible island is a haven for guests where everyone can be treated like royalty.
With the holiday season nearly upon us, a vacation spent in a luxurious, boutique-style resort in a tropical paradise might just be the best solution! Escape the cold and snow and let someone else do the planning for you. We set out to learn what it’s like to stay on a luxurious private island by chatting with general manager of Velaa Private Island, Michal Smejc.
What is the story behind Velaa and its development? How did it get started as a private island resort?
Velaa Private Island is the realisation of a dream to create a ‘beyond luxury’ ultra-exclusive boutique hideaway. Owners, Jiri and Radka Smejc had a vision of owning their own private island, and after several inspiring visits to the Maldives they eventually turned that vision into a reality – building the most luxurious and exclusive resort in the Maldives, Velaa Private Island.
The construction material and equipment had to be brought from overseas, a veritable United Nations of luxury–wood panelling from Borneo, stone pavement from the Jordanian desert (which has a self-cooling system allowing you to walk barefoot even if the sun is shining on it all day), flowerpots from Indonesia, patio chairs from Italy. Even the palm trees had to be transported from neighbouring islands.
How do you define your typical customer?
The Velaa guest is a discerning luxury traveller, seeking adventure and bespoke experiences as well as an opportunity to disconnect and relax. Velaa guests are looking for memorable, unparalleled moments that become life-long memories.
You say Velaa is “home to the finest wine collection in the Maldives.” What would you say are your most popular varieties?
The 30-page wine list here at Velaa is paradise for true oenophiles, covering the whole spectrum from boutique wineries to grand vintners and organic and biodynamic producers. Guests can choose from rare gems such as a 1956 Domaine de la Romanée Conti “Romanée Conti,” a rare vintage Salon Champagne or two centuries old fortified wine 1870 Blandy “Verdelho Solera,” among countless other Bordeaux wines.
Each year Velaa partners with some of the world’s most renowned winemakers and chefs to offer guests a truly one-of-a-kind culinary experience. This year, Velaa Private Island will host an exclusive series of gastronomy and wine events, uniquely uniting the world’s finest winemakers and talented Michelin starred chefs here on the island. Taking place this November, Velaa will welcome Bibi Graetz – one of Italy’s most ingenious winemakers, Rajat Parr – owner of Domaine de la Côte in California, Frédéric Engerer – CEO of Artémis Domaines (the Pinault family wine properties including Château Latour, Clos de Tart, Domaine d’Eugénie, Eisele Vineyard and Château Grillet), Rodolphe Péters – owner of the historic Pierre Péters Champagne estate as well as Alvaro Palacios from the eponymous Domaine, one of the most prestigious Priorat wine estates.
Working with Artémis Domaines as an exclusive partner and Champagne Pierre Péters as a special guest, wines from Clos de Tart, Domaine d’Eugénie and Pierre Péters Champagne House will accompany the exclusive gourmet menu of Executive Chef Gaushan De Silva.
What types of special activities or experiences will be offered for guests during the festive celebrations?
Welcoming the festive season early, on the 20th of December the island will toast to its six-year anniversary through a vibrant celebration of Cuban rhythms, magically leading onto an unforgettable festive period where Santa will arrive to the island bringing an incredible array of festive activities including a delicious Christmas buffet. A NYE to remember, guests will enjoy a lavish New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner with breath-taking entertainment including world-class acrobats, DJs, pianists and opera singers, and will be followed by an indulgent New Year’s Day Brunch. The Velaa festive experience will be a visual journey centered around this year’s theme – enjoy your time, enjoy the Velaa surprise.
Can you tell us about the food that will be provided at the New Year’s Gala Dinner and the New Year’s Day Brunch?
The New Year’s Gala Dinner will serve a delectable menu using exceptional quality ingredients and flavoursome additions. Ingredients are sourced through top-end suppliers who specialise in obtaining rare and prized goods of the highest quality, with live stations, carving stations and the freshest seafood available.
Does your featured restaurant, Aragu, have a signature dish or item planned for the New Year’s celebrations?
Aragu will not be open for New Year’s Eve, however Velaa will be hosting two very special events during the festivities; one will be focused on The Art of Steak and the other will celebrate The Treasure of the Sea.
Your theme for this year’s celebration is “Enjoy your time, enjoy the Velaa surprise.” How do you define the Velaa surprise?
Now that would be telling! Guests staying with Velaa this festive season should expect the unexpected and prepare to be spoiled.
What types of exciting new offerings can we look forward to in 2020 from Velaa?
There are many new exciting additions set to be welcomed next year (stay tuned in 2020); however, in time for the New Year, Velaa has recently unveiled the fastest yacht of its kind in the Maldives; Yacht Rania. Designed with speed, space and style in mind, the 60-foot yacht is complete with two engines and boasts travel speeds of up to 34 knots; rivalling the energy and power of a speedboat.
If you had to choose, what would you point to as the most unique feature offered to guests staying on Velaa?
It would be hard to choose just one. Velaa is an island of infinite possibilities and one of the most secluded islands on earth, with an abundance of unique selling points and opportunities. Privacy is the hallmark of Velaa, and we work hard to ensure every guest feels completely at home, creating an environment of warm seclusion. As the only resort in the Maldives that has a strict no drone rule, it is a world where everything is taken care of before it is even a thought, where there is nothing to distract you, interrupt you, or intrude.
This, of course, is reflected in the many delights and amenities offered at this world class resort. From completely personalised experiences, Velaa understands every guest’s needs, remembering their preferences and finding small, unique gestures ensuring memories created here last a lifetime. From a personalised well-being programme that produces an in-depth genetic DNA report for each guest to an intimate submarine experience exploring the largest coral regeneration programme in the Maldives to stepping foot into the region’s only snow room, guests are completely spoilt for choice. The island is also home to a spectacle of exclusive wine and gourmet events, including the opportunity for guests to create their own personalised tasting menus served by award-winning Chef Gaushan de Silva.
How would you define luxury?
At Velaa Private Island, luxury is about making the inaccessible a reality. Velaa represents the true epitome of privacy and impeccable service and strives to exceed all expectations in creating an experience that is dedicated to ensuring each individual visit is one that surpasses any other. By capitalising on personalisation and quality above everything else – with a 1:8 villa to staff ratio and a dedicated butler for each guest – there is no request that is too big or small.
From requesting to have the island paradise all to themselves (without having to share the island with any other guests) to a romantic private beach BBQ with a personal chef to exploring the vibrant marine life in the resort’s private semi-submarine, the possibilities are endless.
For more information on Velaa Private Island, visit them online at velaaprivateisland.com.
All photos courtesy of Velaa Private Island.