With an expectedly sublime spa and a revamped accommodation offering, Six Senses Kanuhura has breathed new life into one of the dreamiest islands in the Lhaviyani atoll. And the new, more mature aesthetic the brand has drawn on in recent years, sets the resort apart from Six Senses’ much-loved first entry into the Maldives, offering a very different – albeit equally appealing – Indian Ocean escape.
It’s hardly news that the Maldives are home to some of the world’s prettiest beaches, but even in a tropical paradise so blessed with white-sand crescents, some islands stand out. Kanuhura is arguably prime property thanks to a stupendous beach that’s far wider and longer than what your usual Maldivian isle will offer (while being just as serene). Previously run under a local hospitality brand particularly popular amongst Germans, the island’s rebirth as the Six Senses Kanuhura in September 2023 has matter-of-factly put it on the world stage. Though drumroll and high-profile rebrand (which would obviously come with some refurbishments) aside, Six Senses was intent on not over-developing, and instead retaining the island’s somewhat lowkey vibe – cue their eco-friendly modus operandi on reinventing ‘what’s already there’.
The hotel is far too easy on the eyes to be called ‘upcycled’, however, and nowhere is Kanuhura’s glow-up more apparent than at its northernmost tip, which has seen the addition of twelve top-of-the-range Beach Retreats as well as The Point. A restaurant, bar and ‘moment’ split across two levels, the latter overlooks a circular pool as well as a blazing sunset in the evenings in a spectacular fashion, making it the resort’s most recognisable (and indeed Instagrammable) feature. This, we thought, is evocative architecture at its best, tying into the somewhat more futuristic design vocabulary a new generation of Six Senses properties has endorsed in recent years, and which has no doubt helped cement the brand’s status among leading, and zeitgeist-hitting, luxury hospitality players.
With 91 beachfront and overwater villas, many of which include private pools and direct access to the beach, as well as a show-stopping three-bedroom Beach Reserve, there’s a shell for every hermit crab. We stayed in one of the twelve newly constructed Beach Retreats near The Point, and couldn’t help but be impressed by a general sense of generosity: our villa’s sheer size and open layout, paired with an enormous private pool and outdoor terrace equipped with a BBQ, dining and relaxation areas as well as an outdoor shower, made it feel more like a private residence than a ‘hotel room’. It also came with a few features that are far from standard in the Maldives, like a small upstairs lounge area in our living room, and a balcony-style hideaway up a spiral staircase, where we sat at night to watch stars shoot across the sky.
There’s plenty of joy to find in the details, too. From playful ‘privacy please’ signs that nod to Six Senses’ appeal as a ‘friendly’ and decidedly more ‘human’ brand than most of its competitors in a similar price bracket, to original woven strap slippers, the provision of everything from reef-safe sunscreen and aftersun lotion to aloe and natural insect repellant in our bathroom, or the personalised wooden name tag on our bike. Welcome snacks of mouthwatering variety, including energy balls, chocolates, pastries, nut and seed bars, coconut water and much more still, added to the overall sense of the hotel always trying to be one step ahead: the overarching message is that you’ll want for nothing during your stay.
Interiors-wise, our bathroom was airy and beautiful, with teal-coloured tiles and a bathtub of dreams. Other spaces included nods to the Maldives’ stunning natural seascapes – we adored the shell-shaped lampshades and ample use of textures – with some colours being a little naive for our liking (think silver tables with bright blue tabletops). Fortunately, these were only used as accents and didn’t take away from our Beach Retreat’s altogether stylish appearance. The one thing we thought could’ve been executed better is the spacing between these villas, however, as though we had a huge outdoor area facing the ocean all to ourselves, our neighbours on both sides (and their walls) seemed curiously close. Mind you, once the newly planted shrubs and trees have fully grown in, accommodation on the northern tip of the Six Senses Kanuhura will feel more private and ‘encased by nature’, too.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
The whole point of a Maldivian holiday is to not fill your itinerary with too many activities, but stopping by the beautiful orchid garden comes highly recommended. Amazingly, the resort has hybridised a new species of orchid endemic to the island. If you don’t see it here, you won’t see it anywhere. For those keen on learning more about the industry-leading sustainability initiatives at Six Senses Kanuhura, we’d also advise you to ask a member of staff to tell you all about the fabulous efforts the hotel engages in to keep its stunning island home healthy.
Foodies, meanwhile, needn’t think twice about whether or not to visit. Several restaurants on the island entice guests with the freshest ingredients and proper ‘feel-good food’. From Italian Bottega to pool-side Sip & Sand (where you’d be forgiven for filling up on popcorn with your condiment of choice from an old-school popcorn machine) and the aforementioned Point, which serves up Mediterranean-inspired tapas alongside a wine menu to bring tears to an oenophile’s eyes. Though arguably the chicest of the resort’s dining outlets, The Point retains a casual ‘feet in the water’ kind of vibe, and daredevils can take this quite literally, as the baby blacktip reef sharks swimming around the shallow and illuminated waters just off the restaurant’s edge at night are of course perfectly harmless, and a sign of a healthy ecosystem. Others might prefer to marvel at these beautiful animals from the comfort of their seat.
We loved how spacious and generously laid out the restaurants at Six Senses Kanuhura are, allowing for intimate dining that to us has come to be a bit of a trademark of the brand. While there’s some real innovation here – the plant-based caviar made from agar agar is divine – some of our vegan meals weren’t very nutritionally balanced while others, like broccoli on Romesco sauce, were clearly sides-turned-into-mains, which, albeit tasty, felt uninspired (so did our desserts at times). The vegan-friendly choices at breakfast also weren’t what we’re used to from other Six Senses properties, and there were times when the staff either didn’t fully understand what constitutes a plant-based diet or simply forgot that we ate one, like when we were handed dairy yogurt with desiccated coconut upon asking for coconut yogurt.
Knowing that the brand normally does far better than most when it comes to catering to dietaries, we trust that the resort, which only opened days before our arrival, will only get better at this as it matures. Luckily, it can borrow from its sister hotel, Six Senses Laamu, which does an excellent job at creating bespoke meals for every diet. Those without any special requirements will enjoy Kanuhura’s gastronomic offering as is, and kids (of all ages) will no doubt gravitate towards Scoops, where Six Senses-typical complimentary ice creams and sorbets are served to help guests stay cool on hot Maldivian days.
It should almost go without saying that the spa on the island is a haven of tranquility, having clearly been built with plenty of consideration and love, as wellness isn’t just another area of interest for the brand, but fundamentally built into its DNA. Eight treatment rooms, including a couples suite and a VIP suite as well as a space with a hand-carved, Ayurvedic Shirodhara treatment massage bench from India sit alongside gender-segregated relaxation areas that each feature hot and cool pools. We loved having access to these prior and post our massage, as the thermal experience really added to our time in the spa, making it feel more like a wellness journey rather than just a ‘quick fix’. The offering here isn’t just limited to hands-on treatments, either, with singing bowls and ocean drum sessions easily joinable for a daily dose of sound healing, while a designated biohacking lounge with compression therapy boots, infrared masks and other Paltrow-esque tech is a joy to try out. Not a well-tech fan? Ask to bathe in the presence of stones that have been laid out to absorb lunar energy over night, instead. There’s something for everyone here.
The spa also serves as a gateway to the experiential side of Six Senses Kanuhura, its entrance area being home to the Alchemy Bar, where guests get to make their very own, natural skincare products with the help of the team – we chose to make a rose-scented body scrub that left our skin feeling amazingly smooth and smelling just delicious. Other experiences include scuba diving, sustainability and orchid garden tours, sunset dolphin cruises on a traditional dhoni, cinema-style film screenings under the stars or a castaway lunch at Drift on the nearby island of Jehunuhura.
Remarkably, and as if the resort wasn’t already home to one of the most magnificent beaches in the country, it also boasts not one, but two private islands reserved for guests. This is truly special and will prove a real draw for visitors, not least because one of the two can be reserved for exclusive access. In a destination that was once the ultimate go-to for a secluded island getaway, but has in recent decades seen a stratospheric rise in the number of luxury hotels dotting its pretty atolls, having your very own tiny island for a few hours is perhaps the ultimate dream. It’s the ‘Maldives of the Maldives’. What could be better than that?
Inspiring Travel offers 7-night holidays to Six Senses Kanuhura on a half or full-board basis, including flights and shared seaplane transfers. With almost 50 years of experience in creating luxury holidays, Inspiring Travel’s team of specialists takes the time to really get to know you, tailoring your holiday to you – and only you.
Photography courtesy of Six Senses Hotels, Resorts and Spas
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