The PlayPen Maldives is an adults-only tropical experience like no other.
At US$17,000 ($23,700) a night, The PlayPen is one of the more extravagant villas in the Maldives. It’s not uncommon for villas at the top resorts in this island nation (last count 1192 coral islands) to reach these lofty prices, but in this price range accommodation usually caters to people travelling with families or entourage and includes multiple bedrooms. What sets The PlayPen apart is that it’s for one couple only, a kind of adult romper room that’s private and seriously sexy. The owners characterise it as an “an architectural hymn to pleasure.” We felt we should check it out.
The PlayPen is a reimagining of the largest villa on Huvafen Fushi, a tiny island in the North Malé Atoll known for having the first underwater spa in the Maldives. The island is easily reached by speedboat from the capital Malé, which is a relief, as flights to the Maldives often arrive late at night, and further atolls have to be reached by domestic flight and then speedboat. Our Singapore Airlines flight lands at 10 pm and we’re at the resort before midnight. It’s 5am back home, so we’re a little fragile.
After cold towels and drinks, we’re whisked directly to the villa, a short walk from the dock. There’s no reception, so check in happens in-villa. We’re led through a heavy door to a private pathway, candle-lit, that leads to the vast living room where Bollinger on ice is waiting, along with a few post-flight snacks. The curtains are drawn, so we have to wait until the morning to see that the room opens onto a terrace, a large swimming pool
(illuminated risqué red at night) and a private beach
The stairs leading up the bedroom are lit with candles. Waiting for us upstairs is the centrepiece king sized bed on a pedestal, swathed in a faux mink throw, and an oversized ocean view bath, full of bubbles, with a greeting spelled out in flowers. This is the ‘playroom’ and, clocking in at a couple of hundred square metres, there’s plenty of space to romp.
In grand residential style, there is an opulence of seating, from a cushion-smothered sofa to eclectic chairs, an enormous walk-in wardrobe with his n’ hers (or hers n’hers, his n’ his) hanging spaces, multiple mirrored drawers, desk area, Bang and Olufsen sound system, giant screen plasma TV, all opening onto a balcony with views to the blue lagoon. The wardrobe area has so many drawers it feels like the lingerie department in a particularly elegant upscale boutique. The décor in general is on the good side of blingy.
The bathroom or ‘wet area’ is discreetly separated from the bed by a screen. The shower stall could fit a small cocktail party in it and there’s the luxury of private sauna and separate steam room. Amenities are by Bottega Veneta.
Morning reveals the famous turquoise-green Maldivian sea water
and the powder white sand of our own beach, which has a pavilion in the lagoon, perhaps for yoga or a wedding ceremony. Although the villa is strictly for one couple to sleep in, the infinity pool area looks perfect for a big party, as there’s a BBQ and plenty of outdoor furniture, including cosy daybeds, for a slew of guests. It would work brilliantly for a celebration.
There’s a thakuru, or butler-personal assistant, on call 24/7. It’s possible never to leave the villa, to have meals delivered, or cooked in the fully-equipped open kitchen. The dining table seats nine and there are plenty of private alfresco dining spots. An oddly modest collection of cereals is on hand if you’re hungry before breakfast and there are also essential items such as a Nespresso machine, a cellar fridge stocked with vintage champagne and premium wines, and hand-rolled Cuban cigars. (There’s a great selection of current magazines in the villa, we’re pleased to note.)
If you’d rather mingle with the other guests (there are 44 villas, each with private pool, in total), Huvafen Fushi offers plenty of eating and drinking opportunities, from the chic Celsius restaurant on the water’s edge to the Japanese-Latin izakaya-style eatery, Feeling Koi, which sits over the lagoon and captures the exquisite sunsets.
A new addition to the spa is RAW, a café specialising in fresh juices and healthful raw dishes. There’s also UMBar, a rustic beach bar hangout for drinks and snacks, around the resort’s main infinity pool. Or share a table at Vinum, the most formal dining option, a circular underground cellar. It’s literally very cool.
What’s a sexy villa without massages? The new signature massage is the Dhimaali,
where guests are scrubbed with island salt and sand in an airy tent and then sent into the lagoon to wash it off. Masseurs will come to you, of course – but then that means missing out on PEARL, Huvafen Fushi’s extraordinary underwater spa, plunged into the coral reef
, where fish look at you as you’re treated. The spa cleverly provides mirrors for you to watch them back while you’re face down.
There’s even a cushion filled relaxation room in the aquarium that feels very James Bond. Spa guru Beata Aleksandrowicz’s tailored therapies and techniques are powerfully healing.
The PlayPen requires a minimum stay of four nights. There are plenty of activities on hand, such as snorkelling and parasailing, if you’re the sporty type. The resort’s 45-foot luxury launch, Veloce, is available for escapades, as well as a traditional Maldivian dhoni or hand-crafted sailing boat for gentler adventures. The rest of what you do is up to your imagination.