The Maldives offer an incredible range of luxury resorts, from diver’s paradise to secluded hideaway. The Per Aquum Niyama resort is one of the more stylish and trendy resorts in the Maldives.
The Niyama style starts at their website and is continued on-site all the way through to the restaurants and weekly events from cocktail parties to the DJ by the pool. We went to Per Aquum Niyama to see if it lives up to our expectations.
The Per Aquum Niyama resort which opened in March of 2012 is located on the Southern crescent of the Dhaalu Atoll. Last year the resort was extended to a total of 134 villas spread over two connected islands which are called ‘Chill’ and ‘Play’.
The island is reached with a 45-min sea plane flight from Male’s Seaplane Terminal which is a short 10 min shuttle ride from Male’s International Airport. Per Aquum has a dedicated lounge for their two resorts directly at the International arrivals where you are welcomed with a cold towel and some refreshments. We heard that work is underway on the development of a domestic airport near the Niyama resort which will cut travel times and increase flight frequencies but for now the seaplane is the only way to get to Niyama from Male.
The seaplane flight is an experience in its own right, the pilots wear shorts and flip-flops and on arrival the plane arrives directly at the resort’s main jetty. Here you are welcomed by resort management and your dedicated villa host.
The islands are located on the Southern side of the Atoll and are surrounded by pristine white beaches. Even on the ‘deep sea’ side of the islands there is a very wide beach with shallow waters where you can swim. The best area to go snorkeling is on the lagoon side near villa 25.
The islands feature dense vegetation and all villas have their own garden and most villas offer enough privacy. In addition to the beach villas there are 34 water villas with either sunset or sunrise views and a very special private retreat called the Crescent.
The villas at Per Aquum Niyama are dubbed either studio, suite or pavilion. Apart from a few beach studios all feature private plunge pools which is a big plus. The rooms are among the best equipped we have come across in the Maldives and feature everything from flat screen TVs to a nespresso machine and even a small popcorn machine. Also the outdoor spaces are very well designed and feature sun loungers, a dining table as well as outdoor bed where you can just chill while looking at the ocean.
We stayed in a Beach Pool Suite which has a separate living room, spacious half open bathroom with double sinks, bath tub, indoor- and outdoor showers and a tropical garden. The master bedroom comes with a large double bed, sofa and a desk. The modern style features wooden floors combined with white furniture and sheets combined with subtle red accents. Our pool suite featured a very spacious infinity pool and unspoiled views to the ocean-side lagoon.
At Per Aquum Niyama there are a number of extra spacious villas ranging from a one bedroom water pavilion to three bedroom beach pavilion with two private pools (#150). These are great for families with kids or couples looking for something really special. The villas and grounds are all very well maintained and staff will regularly surprise you with a fresh coconut or ice cream.
The ultimate villa at Niyama is called ‘the Crescent’ and features a combination of 5 over-water villas grouped together. This little village can host up to 14 adults and 8 children and includes five private pools, a private chef, two butlers, a housekeeper and several complimentary extras like a dhoni cruise, private barbecue, outdoor movies and music appearances. The Crescent is reached via a private jetty and has excellent sunrise views.
The restaurants at the Per Aquum Niyama resort offer a lot more than just a fine meal, they offer true experiences. There are two all-day dining restaurants; Epicure and Blu. Both overlook a pool and the beach and are open for breakfast, although Blu only serves breakfast during high-season. The menu offers a nice mix of local seafood, European and Middle Eastern inspired dishes.
Edge is Niyama’s fine dining restaurant set out on an artificial island 500 meters out in the ocean. It offers the best fresh seafood and Wagyu beef tenderloin for those that prefer meat. We tried the five course Edge Signature menu and were blown away by the setting, the food and the implacable service. On the same island you will also find Edge bar ideal for a sunset cocktail or after dinner drink and Subsix, the resort’s underwater bar and restaurant.
Subsix is as the name suggests located 6 meters below sea level and provides a large panoramic underwater view to the surrounding corals. It is open every day for lunch and on Wednesday and Saturday the staff organizes Glow parties here. You can also book Subsix for a private champagne breakfast or romantic dinner. Sitting by the window it is just great watching all the fish as they do their thing.
The next restaurant we visited was Tribal which offers a mix of African and South American cuisine. Expect lots of fire and tribal music, a true feast for the senses. The restaurants at Niyama are certainly different from a lot of Maldivian resorts. Not only the wide variety but also the attention to detail makes you want to stay on the island a lot longer.
Our final night we had dinner in Nest, a beautiful restaurant built like a tree house with several terraces and private dining areas. The kitchen is Asian with a focus on Thai, Chinese, Indonesian and Teppanyaki. So many delicious dishes on the manu that it was hard to choose, luckily we could share them to taste as many as possible. Near Nest you also find the chef’s garden with a large selection of fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits. Walk through here and you might bump into one of the chefs as he is selecting fresh ingredients for his next meals.
Besides these main restaurants there are also two bars: the beach bar Dune and the rooftop bar Fahrenheit and the popular Deli where you can get small bites and snacks all day long. The in-room fridge is well stocked and has everything from complimentary ice cream to full size wine bottles. A lot of guests also enjoy the benefits of in-room dining and the menu as well as the delivery service are excellent. The only thing we missed on the room service menu was a pizza.
The Lime Spa
The Niyama Spa is set out in a tropical garden on the side of the lagoon. It features six over-water treatment rooms and two treatment sanctuaries in the garden with an outdoor bath, rain showers and day bed. The Spa offers treatments and rituals from all over the world including a signature massage. In addition you can also visit the spa to enjoy the sauna and steam baths, jacuzzis and plunge pools. The Spa also offers daily yoga classes.
The Facilities & Activities
The island packs a lot of facilities; there are two main pools and lounge areas near the Blu and Epicure restaurant. There is a very large kids club with daily activities for the little ones. A great feature as it gives parents time to relax and at the same time maintains the relaxed atmosphere on the island. There is a surf shack where you can learn to surf or enjoy the best waves with a guide. The dive center offers equipment and excursions, from diving at various locations around the atoll to snorkeling tours and dolphin cruises.
On the chill island there is an art center as well as a playroom where you can play pool and various other games. A simulator room allows you to play golf, football and basketball against the computer. At the play island you also find tennis and volleyball courts. You won’t get bored at Niyama easily and the activity program is packed with things to do, there is also a DJ on site who provides tunes throughout the day at various locations around the island.
Especially for honeymooners and couples getting married on the island there is a photography service called Snap and there are various boutiques where you can buy a new outfit or some presents for your loved ones.
Upon our arrival we were shuttled to our villa, the stunning beach pool suite on the new play island that opened last year. You can see that this island is relatively new as the vegetation is not as dense as on the older chill island which opened in 2012. The villa is great and among the best equipped private villas I have ever stayed. The outdoor bathroom is like a tropical dream and with the doors to the bedroom open I could see the ocean from the shower.
We arrived with a mid-day flight from Male but since there is no service, let alone a toilet, on the seaplane we were quite hungry so we ordered room service. The food showed up exactly on time as mentioned by the room service staff and we enjoyed the bites on the terrace. The inside of the villa is great but the terrace is next level. Besides a dining table there was a swing bed and a separate day bed. Other resorts can take note as this is what I want during my holiday: plenty of places to chill!
The pool was very large and featured a built-in bench from where you can stare out to the beach and ocean. At some point a resort staff member walked past on the beach and asked if we want a coconut. Of course we said yes :) So there we were sipping fresh coconut juice while sitting in the pool taking in the majestic sight of the Indian Ocean.
With our late lunch done it was time to explore the island. On request you can have two bicycles sent to your villa and they are ideal to explore the island and get around, alternatively you can call your villa host or Thakuru as they are called at Niyama to order a buggy. We preferred to cycle though and enjoyed every minute we could exploring this tropical paradise. However there were not enough bicycles for all guests and already at our first stop at Blu one of our bikes got ‘stolen’. I hope the resort will buy some more bicycles so all villas have at least two, also maintenance of the bikes could be a bit better.
Our afternoon went by super quick and in the evening we joined the management in villa 150 for the management cocktail. Most resorts in the Maldives organize these cocktails once or twice a week where the guests can meet the management and have an opportunity to socialize with each other. The snacks and drinks were great but after a few cocktails we had to leave again as we had a boat to catch.
The boat would take us from the main jetty to Edge, the restaurant located on an artificial island 500 meters off the chill island. Here we enjoyed the signature 5 course menu followed by a private tour of Subsix and a last drink at Edge bar. Subsix was very impressive and you could hear the fish eat the corals and see dozens of tropical fish do their thing. Since it was dark already – it gets dark around 6.30pm this time of the year – you can even see tunas swim past as they come out to hunt.
The next day we planned to go snorkeling and booked a guided tour out to one of the coral reefs in the atoll. Together with one other couple and two guides we headed out around 20 minutes by boat to a reef that hides about 1 meter below sea level. The guide showed us all kinds of special fish and different types of coral as we snorkeled our way around the reef. The visibility was excellent and we saw a wide array of fish and some turtles but it wasn’t the most spectacular coral we have seen in the Maldives. Due to its location on the outside of the Atoll there is no coral reef around the entire island but there is a part near villa 25 which you can explore from the beach as well.
After the snorkeling we returned to the villa and just chilled until the late afternoon. We cycled to the Spa for our Lime signature massage. We were guided to one of the overwater treatment rooms with beautiful views over the Indian Ocean. In the treatment room there is a separate dressing room with toilet and shower. The massage combines Lomi Lomi, Shiatsu and techniques from a thai massage. The pressure was adjusted to my wishes and the 90 minute massage made me totally relaxed.
We cycled back to our villa and from there walked to Nest. But before we entered this forest treehouse wonder we explored the ‘chef’s garden’ and had a look at all the bananas, mangos, herbs and other fruits and vegetables grown there. The chef’s garden is quite big and there are plans to extend it even further so it can supply even more produce for the restaurants on the island.
We then walked into Nest and passed the Teppanyaki station before going up the stairs to our tree top table. The atmosphere is very special and cozy with only a few tables per platform. The service was spot on and the food very good, only the satays were a bit undercooked but the staff quickly brought a new set which was well cooked.
If you arrive or depart from Niyama during daytime hours the seaplane lands directly near the main jetty. If you leave early or arrive late it arrives at a small dock a few minute boat ride away so there is less noise for the guests with villas at the North side of the island. We had to depart very early. But luckily the staff brought us breakfast in the room before our 6.30am flight to Male Airport to catch our 10:30 flight back to Europe.
The Per Aquum Niyama is a dream resort which combines two large islands with a broad range of activities and facilities with thrilling dining venues and excellent villas. Their chic style is consistently carried throughout; from their website to the villas and all venues on the island creating a unique high-end experience.
The villas are among the nicest and best equipped we have come across and offer excellent comfort and well-being. I highly recommend opting for a villa with a private pool though. The restaurants are great and offer a good variety as well as great dining experiences with top service. The underwater bar Subsix is a great feature not found at many other resorts in the Maldives and certainly something you will tell your friends about.
The islands are both beautiful and the beaches around the island are very nice. The snorkeling opportunities directly from the villa are a bit limited but there are plenty of other activities that will prevent you from getting bored. The Niyama is also a resort that is very alive, there is always something going on and if you fancy some tunes the resident DJ is never far away. This also sets Niyama apart from the other resorts we visited which are more focused towards honeymooners. Niyama is ideal for young- and active couples, families and people that are afraid of getting bored on a small island.