Nestled within the group of islands that form the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, Velaa Private Island takes exclusivity to the next level with facilities and service beyond traditional resorts. Designed by Czech architect Petr Kolar as an elegant fusion of Maldivian culture with contemporary luxury, intimate with Maldivian nuances, Velaa Private Island is the realization of a dream to create a luxurious, exclusive boutique hideaway in the Maldives.
Velaa means “Turtle” in the local language, named after generations of sea turtles that flock here to nest and hatch. From a broader bird’s eye view which greets arrivals by seaplane, the island’s over-water villas are also constructed to resemble a turtle’s head, with the island forming the body. The resort comprises 47 private villas, houses and exclusive residences. While 18 of the 47 are built over water, the Romantic Pool Residence can only be reached by boat, allowing even more privacy and exclusivity.
A variety of accommodations include the Ocean Pool House. In a domain unto its own, this over water pool house is elegantly designed with tasteful elements such as louvered privacy shutters and cathedral ceilings. The two bedrooms benefit from spectacular ocean views and the bathrooms feature walk-in cupboards and circular baths. The dining area opens onto a spacious deck with two gazebos, one with a sunken hot tub and the other with luxurious daybeds and plush cushions. The sun deck invites you to relax and cool off in the private pool, or step directly into the ocean for a secluded swim, day or night.
Home to three upscale restaurants, two bars and one of the most extensive wine cellars in the Maldives, Velaa Private Island’s gastronomic offerings are designed with the most discerning palates in mind. With delectable menus spearheaded by Chef Gaushan De Silva, Velaa’s restaurants offer internationally-inspired cuisines with carefully curated recipes ensuring every taste is packed with flavor.
Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Chef De Silva first taught himself how to cook when he was faced with the responsibility of feeding his family from age ten. By the time he was 16 years old he was already working in a kitchen at a Swiss hotel as a trainee. He has been Head Chef to the Royal Family at the Royal Palace in Jordan and has worked in some of Europe’s most notable Michelin-starred restaurants, including Denmark’s Noma, often hailed the world’s best restaurant.
The first and only restaurant in the Maldives to be voted into Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, Aragu at Velaa Private Island offers a fresh Asian twist on modern European cuisine. The menus combine Chef De Silva’s passion for culinary art with sustainable practices, using only the finest organic produce and carefully selected ingredients from around the world. An unrivaled dining experience and seating up to 36 guests, Aragu’s refined cuisine and bespoke tasting menus are perfectly complemented by an extensive wine list.
“Day by day, minute by minute, we push ourselves to the highest level to create experiences that will be remembered forever,” says Chef De Silva. His main focuses are three things: Simplicity, respecting the taste of the main ingredient and quality of cooking with a surprising taste. “I am fascinated by the historical, the allure of classical soul foods of the yore, therefore I am spending time to learn, study and re-imagine and reconstruct from the classic with the modern takes. The art of Classic European cuisine and Asian cuisine are two of the vast culinary repertoire that influenced many of the dishes of my cooking.” All the dishes from the Maldivian tasting menu are unique however the Tuna Egg yolk is one of his favorites. “It is a Maldivian contemporary take on sushi, with raw sliced local yellowfin tuna served on aromatic theluli fai drumstick leaf-fried rice, topped with confit local egg yolk,” he says.
Velaa Private Island houses some of the newest hi-tech water sport toys and equipment, from flyboarding and hoverboarding, to electric foil surf boards and the latest tandem jetovator, as well as a complete range of exciting towables. Personal yoga and meditation sessions are held in the elevated yoga pavilion, a private garden or on the beach. Velaa Spa is a sanctuary of peace where you can reconnect with nature, rejuvenate your body and relax your mind. Using natural and organic ingredients, the spa provides a fresh take on healing therapies within a location of resounding beauty.
“More than a resort, Velaa is the passion project of a couple to create the world’s perfect home,” says Chef De Silva. “It is a place where you are truly carefree and able to indulge in the best the world has to offer such as food, wine, adventures and delights.”