Location: Sri Lanka
It’s not the gypset boho-chic interior decor I’ll take away with me from this little gem of a hideaway, nice though it all is. No, it’s the warmth of the team who looked after me, made me smile over and over, took photos of us dancing and drinking Champagne on the sun deck of the dhoni as the sun went down, then clapped ecstatically as we accepted the invitation to join in with the band playing their goat skin Maldivian drums. We saw so many spinner dolphins that evening that we all lost count. Then, when we got back to our villa after a fabulous meal at the Sanctuary, we found our bed and bath decorated with fresh Hibiscus blooms gathered from the meticulously kept garden. The message spelled out on the bed in carefully folded palm-fronds was “come back” and we intend to.
The welcome had been just as enthusiastic, a large group of staff all with beaming smiles had massed on the jetty to hold the “Welcome to Kanuhura” banner as we approached in the sea-plane. The General manager was there to shake hands and introduce us to our multi-talented villa host who took us on an orientation tour of the island by golf cart, then demonstrated all the features of our beach pool villa. We laughed out loud when we realised, stepping into the bathroom, that we were now outdoors, sheltered under a palm-fringed canopy, but definitely outdoors. The villas at Kanuhura may not be as big as at some Maldivian resorts but they are beautifully designed with contemporary touches to appeal to the gypset traveller. In any case, when you are surrounded by such beauty, who is going to sit indoors?
On our first evening, we dined in Bottega the Italian style restaurant in the heart of the island with lovely views of the sunset over the beach. I have never eaten better lamb cutlets anywhere in the world. My partner said the same about the octopus. We could have chosen one of the sumptuous looking pizzas or pasta and salad, just like a great Italian Ristorante anywhere but with dreamy views and exceptional service.
Next morning, on our way to breakfast, we were greeted at Amano Restaurant on the beach by a bunch of waiters grinning conspiratorially. “We have set up a table for you in the sea” they said. And they had, there was our table and sunshade complete with pristine white tablecloth and place settings, with the crystal clear turquoise water lapping gently round the chair legs. Mad and delightful. So we took our places and sat smiling at the daftness of it all as the waves slowly lapped higher until our shorts were wet while the waiters rolled up their trousers and waded out to serve us. You just can’t help smiling. The table was exquisitely decorated with fresh flowers from the island gardens.
Ah, the gardens. Actually, the whole island is Nimal the gardener’s personal passion and fiefdom. After an hour with him in his orchid nursery we were bewitched and knew enough to go home committed to starting our own orchid nursery. Walking the little lanes under the hibiscus and jasmine at night was like being in a fairy tale.
The beach at Kanuhura is a major feature. It is simply huge for an island of this size. Huge, white and clean. The soft coral sand just begs you to go barefoot. As if that wasn’t enough, the resort includes two further islands, one of which, Jehenuhura has another gorgeous wide beach where turtles nest and a pretty restaurant hidden under the shade of the palm trees. We had a great lunch there, some of the best tuna salad ever. The chef has a deftness of touch, nothing is overdone. Simple and excellent.
The Asian fusion restaurant Veli at the tip of the island is another great place to watch the sunset with a cocktail before dinner. There is something to please every palate here.
So many happy memories from a stay of only three nights, so many stories to tell, hundreds of photos of sunsets, dolphins, food and smiling faces. Next time we intend to stay for at least a week.
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.