Honeymoon review: Per Aquum Niyama, Maldives

Catherine Hudson discovers the perfect honeymoon combination on the ‘Play’ and ‘Chill’ islands of this idyllic resort
Per Aquum Niyama
Per Aquum Niyama

Welcome to the Maldives

The Maldives is honeymoon territory for good, tried and tested reason: but, which resort to choose? Picking which of the many luxurious resorts in the Maldives will best suit you and your specific newlywed needs can prove a lovely yet overwhelming part of ‘wedmin’. Relative newcomer to the scene, Per Aquum Niyama, has seemingly got it cracked. Unfettered luxury coupled with seriously cool dining options and modern décor. We found life here unhurried and discreet, with plenty of activities to keep us busy and intrigued. It offers classic island holiday must-haves (hello, private infinity pool) but keeps it cutting edge, too (treetop and underwater restaurants, check): in short, few resorts live up to their Instagram feed. This one surpasses it. 

READ MORE: How to choose the perfect Maldives island for you

Arriving by seaplane
Arriving by seaplane

What can you expect?

Arriving at the resort on a 45-minute seaplane ride from the capital, Malé, our growing anticipation was almost unbearable. All the tension from sitting on a long haul flight dissipated as we touched down and were welcomed by our personal ‘thakuru’ (butler), who whisked us away by golf cart to our new, overwater villa home. We weaved around the natural curves of the island (no trees were removed in the building process), passing just one or two guests. This was it, the moment I felt we had truly arrived. Doesn’t everyone wish they might one day hole up in an overwater villa suite in the Maldives? 

Stunning suites with pools
Stunning suites with pools

Our thakuru, Ibba, (who was on speed dial during our stay), showed us around our suite, after we had clocked the pushbikes parked just outside – ours for the next week. We had expected a certain level of glam, but nothing prepared us for the ‘jackpot’ moment that awaited us. Our pad was cool, dude: big, bright and breezy, with a bathtub for two, a deck with an infinity pool and Jacuzzi, and steps down to the lagoon. Cute additions included a popcorn maker, (YES!) a freezer stocked with that homemade ice cream (WOO HOO!) and (especially for us lovebirds), a bottle of champagne on ice.

Pathway to paradise
Pathway to paradise

What makes this resort different?

Per Aquum Niyama has a strong environmental code; its tagline is ‘nature’s playground’. At risk of sounding ever so slightly cheesy, you really do feel connected to, and considerate of, the natural world, here. Every room has an outdoor shower, you can get around the island by walking or by bike, and everywhere you look is a vision of natural loveliness: a vibrant lagoon here, a coral reef or tropical forest there.

There are 134 studios, suites and pavilions and the resort caters for everyone from loved-up couples to families. But, where does everyone go? You can walk down the beach and not see a soul. And that’s the very clever part. Beach villas have been designed to be tucked away, the weaving paths twist around the middle of the island, there are tonnes of Watersports on offer, and plus, the two islands ‘Play’ and ‘Chill’, keep guests busy in very different ways. 

Treetop restaurant on Play Island
Treetop restaurant on Play Island

How are the islands different?

The clue in the difference between the two islands is in their names. Play Island has the kids’ club, (which is why most families choose to stay here) the diving centre, Nest treetop restaurant with Teppenyaki grill, Blu Mediterranean restaurant and pool, a tennis court and football pitch, surf club, and most of the larger beach villas, plus, the chef’s wonderfully insightful spice and vegetable garden, which you are welcome to explore.

Chill Island is home to the over water villas, the outdoor cinema (which you can organise a private screening at, with buffet food), the Lime Spa, the Watersports and excursions centre, Tribal African restaurant, and three other dining options. Personally, we’d say Chill Island is the most honeymoon-appropriate – heaven is surely found in an overwater villa.

Subsix underwater restaurant
Subsix underwater restaurant

What is there to eat?

Dining at Niyama is the antithesis of bland. Now, remember that by this time you won’t have to be worrying about fitting into any wedding outfit (hoorah), so, do indulge. Edge, the half-a-kilometre out to sea restaurant, was our favourite. We sailed on over by boat, and chose from a menu of modern fine dining, highlights including Tom Yam fish and Wagyu steak. I’d recommend going over for sundowner cocktails at the bar, before dinner, then heading down to Subsix, the resort’s underwater restaurant and nightclub, for a nightcap, while watching the fish dance around the coral reef: totally dreamy. We also loved Nest, on Play Island, a restaurant built in the treetops serving Malaysian curries that also has a Teppenyaki grill, underneath. You can also arrange, via your thakuru, incredibly romantic sunset surprises: dinner, or a Champagne and canapés table, for two on the sand. 

Water villa terrace
Water villa terrace

What is there to do?

So, back to getting off that sunlounger... Niyama somewhat cheekily claims to ‘double your pleasure’, with its twin islands having such distinct personalities. We certainly managed to pack our days with bits of both, starting with waking up to see the sunrise: which was originally by accident, having sampled a little too much of our in-room Champagne the night before. But, it was a happy accident nonetheless, since we found the sunrise to be more intensely beautiful than sunset, and could watch it from our sundeck and private pool.

There are classes, like yoga or Zumba, that you can start your day with, but I would recommend a stroll around both of the islands – especially when you first arrive, to get your bearings and so you don’t miss any particularly good patches of sand. Good luck for putting your camera away: every scene is a picture postcard. And, forward thinking, they would make ideal shots to use as ‘thank you’ cards for wedding guests. 

Making the most of one of the island's boats
Making the most of one of the island's boats

At the Watersports centre, you can try your hand at paddleboarding, sea kayaking, windsurfing and snorkelling. We took our own Tribord full-face snorkels because they are AMAZING, but they do lend all the gear at the hotel, too. We didn’t fancy undertaking scubadiving this time, but the dive centre has a totally comprehensive set up for anyone who fancies giving it a go. The house reef is clear, and crammed with schools of angel and clown fish. And keep your eyes peeled for (harmless) baby sharks! If you fancy swimming with turtles, and spotting manta rays and even a whale shark, take one of the snorkelling trips a little further afield. It’s really fun to spend time out on a boat, and watch flying fish zip away from the front of the boat.

Treatment room at the Lime Spa
Treatment room at the Lime Spa

What is there to do to relax?

You can easily spend your whole day at the resort having leisurely meals, but certainly don’t fill up too much on the day you decide to head to the Lime Spa. We had a couple’s massage, in a room that overlooked the lagoon. This should have been peaceful, but since we were both suffering from colds, I’m not sure whose ‘sniffing’ got on whose nerves more. Maybe this is one of those things that sounds romantic in theory? Why not take yourself off to the spa, solo, and enjoy a signature massage? It combines Lomi Lomi, Shiatsu and Thai stretching for feel super relaxation. I liked the sound of the treament sanctuary in the spa’s garden, with an outdoor bath, rain shower and day bed. One for my next visit, perhaps!

We (literally) sailed into the sunset on a Dhoni cruise, which is a 65-foot traditional Maldivian thatched sailboat tat you can also stay overnight on. We spotted a couple of beanbags at the front of the ship, which we were ushered towards and we happily jumped on and cheers’d with the Champagne that was poured out. We waited for others to join, but we were the sole sailors – our very own boat for the evening! No a better way to navigate the islands, than sipping away, watching the sun go down and looking out for dolphins.

Why go for a honeymoon?

I am struggling to find a reason why not. Even the temperature feels custom made for dream holiday territory. It’s beautifully warm but there is a gentle breeze that keeps heat irritation and humidity at bay, which means, hooray, no frizzy hair at night! Per Aquum Niyama is modern resort luxury at its best, with cool, calm décor, exciting activities to keep you interested and food that is more than worth busting the pre-wedding diet for. Champagne breakfasts in Subsix, wine tastings, and those special destination dining experiences – there’s so much choice, even beyond the restaurants themselves.

Plus, Niyama has its eco-friendly credentials, good to know in a world of five star big players. You can go on an adventure with an actual marine biologist, and snorkel out into the coral nursery where you can choose one to adopt and monitor. This is brilliant initiative, especially for inquisitive kids. The resort has an award-winning kids’ club, which is managed by Scott Dunn. So, if you are bringing kids, they are set to have the time of their lives – I couldn’t get my partner off the kids’ club trampoline, and I KNOW he wanted to give the climbing wall a go…

Feeling the wedding stress right now? Don’t worry; you’ll be leaving it all behind at the Niyama seaplane jetty. It is impossible that you will miss home, more likely that you will shed a tear when you leave. It’s really that good. 

Essential info

40% discount and complimentary half board offer

ITC Luxury Travel (01244 355 527; itcluxurytravel.co.uk) has prices from £4,219 per person based on 2 adults sharing a Deluxe Water Studio with Pool for 7 nights on half board basis including return economy class flights with Emirates from London Heathrow and seaplane transfers.

Saving up to £2,595

*Book by 31 May 2017, based on a departure date of 10 Sep 2017

For further info visit:

minorhotels.com/en/peraquum/niyama

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