Close your eyes and think about a typical Maldivian coral island and there is a good chance you think about a resort that looks exactly like the Park Hyatt Hadahaa. With a near perfect round shape, surrounded by white beaches and turquoise waters with breathtaking corals and a set of overwater villas stretching out to the edge of the reef; Park Hyatt Hadahaa embodies the Maldives at its best.
First opened in 2009, Hyatt took over management of the Hadahaa resort in 2011 and rebranded it as Park Hyatt Hadahaa. It is home to 50 villas including 14 water villas and 36 beach villas, some of them with their own private plunge pools. The resort is located in Gaafu Alifu Atoll in the South of the Maldives.
Normally most Park Hyatt guests arrive at Kooddoo Airport which is on the East side of the atoll and only a 25-30 minute speedboat ride away from the hotel. But because we came from Gan and there was only one direct flight from Gan to this atoll, we arrived at Kaadedhdhoo Airport which is on the West side of the atoll. We were picked up directly at the arrivals room of the airport and driven by golf cart to the island harbor in only a few minutes. The speed boat ride is very scenic as you pass several uninhabited tropical islands with swaying palms and beautiful turquoise waters.
The Park Hyatt Hadahaa resort is located quite remotely inside the largest atoll of the Maldives. In the direct vicinity there are no other islands and only on the horizon on the Eastern side you can see some small islands. The general manager was waiting for us on the dawn jetty at our arrival. We were escorted to the ‘Dhoni’, the Park Hyatt’s reception area, which received its name due to its roof which is in the shape of an upside down boat (Dhoni is the word for boat in the Maldivian language).
Our villa host Charles then showed us to our beach villa number 35. This is the ‘entry level’ accommodation at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa. It features a large bedroom with en-suite bathroom and outdoor bath tub and shower. On the beach side there is a small deck with a small dining table and two chairs. The island is fairly small so you can see and hear your neighbours through the tropical forest in some villas. A small path leads from the villa out to the beach. Two sun loungers are located near the beach.
We were keen to explore the resort so we quickly changed into swim shorts and headed to the main pool for a swim and some refreshments. Although there are 51 villas on the small island it felt very private throughout our stay. It was only during breakfast and dinner when we encountered some of the other guests. For most of the times, we were alone at the main pool or spa pool.
We picked up our snorkelling equipment at the dive center and explored the underwater world in front of our villa briefly. And wow! Only a few steps into the sea from the white sandy beach and you can see the first corals that stretch about 150 meters from the beach out to the edge of the reef. We enjoyed snorkelling directly from the beach as well as snorkelling along the reef’s edge from both dusk and dawn jetties. During our first minutes in the water we saw several big and small fish including a black tip shark and a stingray. Throughout our stay we saw several sharks, rays and even a sea turtle up close.
The first night we had dinner at the Dining Room – delicious food and a great mix of Asian and European dishes. The Dining Room forms the heart of the resort with a large open facade that spans nearly the entire length of the Olympic sized pool. Right next to the pool and Dining Room you can also find the bar and access to the beach. Behind the Dining Room you can find a small shop, the reception and library. The Spa is hidden away behind the reception and includes a Spa garden, another adults-only pool and five spa treatment villas. The treatment villas are complete with dressing rooms, showers and outdoor lounge areas.
In total the resort has two restaurants – the Dining Room open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the Island Grill only open for dinner. There is a Bar with lounge seats on the main beach. In addition there is an extensive in-villa dining menu and there are several special dining options where dinner is served on the beach or the jetty with spectacular sunset views.
The entire resort is very slick and sports a modern design throughout. The rooms also have a modern design with wooden shutters and large marble floor tiles as well as a bathroom garden with outdoor bathtub and outdoor shower. It has modern amenities including a flatscreen tv, a Nespresso machine, mini bar and power plugs and light switches next to the bed.
The beach villas all feature direct beach access from where you can go snorkelling directly. The water villas offer direct water access and most amazing sunset views but no outdoor shower. At our beach villa we missed a shower on the beach side – having to walk with wet feet to the shower on the marble floors is a bit of challenge. We also missed a day bed outside which would make it more inviting to spend time on the terrace. The pool beach villas and overwater villas both do have this so we recommend booking one of those room types. Other remarks we had about the room is that the double beds are quite small in both length and width compared to those offered at other resorts. Also the air-conditioning in our room was not able to cool the room quickly so it was important to keep the doors closed as much as possible otherwise the room would be around 27 degrees by bed time. In the ocean view villa, the air-conditioning seemed to work fine.
The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has 200 employees all living on the island including the general manager. About half the staff is from the Maldives, the other half is a very international mix with employees from China, Malaysia, Germany and South Africa among others. Our villa host could be reached by phone but he regularly checked-in with us to see how things were going and to update us on upcoming events and spa-, activity- and restaurant bookings.
The Park Hyatt Hadahaa island has a near perfect shape surrounded by a 360 degree reef of amazing beauty which make it a must visit destination if you are interested to see the best of the underwater world the Maldives has to offer. Just with snorkelling equipment you can surrender yourself to an underwater world that we had never seen before with an abundance of tropical fish, turtles and (harmless) black and white tip reef sharks. Although we didn’t try the diving, the Park Hyatt Hadahaa has been awarded for the excellent diving locations in the direct vicinity and divers come to see manta rays and whale sharks (season dependent) among others.
One thing besides the amazing house reef we particularly enjoyed at the Park Hyatt was the food. The Dining Room serves a mix of international, Asian and Maldivian dishes for lunch and dinner. The burger we had for lunch was the best we had in a long time and the sushi offered as a starter made us feel like we were in Tokyo. The hot dishes of the breakfast are served a la carte but there is also a breakfast buffet with fresh croissants, pastry, cold meats, fruits and others. We particularly enjoyed the Hadahaa organic chili egg served with guacamole and toasted rye bread.
The Island Grill offers a range of grilled seafood and meat cooked to perfection in the open kitchen. The restaurant floor consists of perfect white sand so taking off your shoes is encouraged. All the dishes we tried; Jumbo Scallops, Yellow Fin Tuna steak and Australian Angus Beef Tenderloin were amazing. On some evenings there is a BBQ buffet on the beach as well as a complementary management cocktail on Saturday evening.
Like many other Maldivian islands, the Hadahaa island is prone to erosion. Depending on the seasons sand moves from one side of the island to the next. If you are a beach person ask for a beach villa with access to the widest beach at the time of travel. During our stay the main beach and the villas on the South side of the island had a larger than normal beach, whereas the North side had a very small beach. Another thing to take in account are the tides which can make a difference of over one meter between high and low tide. During low tide some of the corals are visible above the water surface so you have to be careful not to damage the corals. Park Hyatt puts a lot of effort on protecting the corals and being as environmentally friendly as possible. The resort uses reusable glass bottles instead of plastic ones and plastic straws have been replaced by biodegradable paper ones.
You can walk all around the island along the beach – it is only a mere 1.2 kilometres in diameter and takes about 25 minutes. Talking about the beach – the main beach is ideal to watch the sunset with a cocktail at hand and feet in the sand. During the weekly management cocktail a local band provided live music and some dancing while a group of dolphins passed near the resort. You can imagine that after a few days it was hard to say good bye. After a proper send off and heartfelt good byes from the jetty we were shuttled by the speed boat back to the airport.
The Park Hyatt Hadahaa is blessed with a perfect house reef with countless sorts of fish, from small tropical fish to reef sharks, tunas, turtles and stingrays. Just that makes the Hadahaa worth a visit – but there is more, a tranquil atmosphere, excellent food and service. The beach villas could get some upgrades to improve their convenience and it would be great if all beach villas would have a daybed and private plunge pool but overall it is a great place to stay and certainly one of the must visit resorts in the Maldives by our standards.