Some people dare to dream. Some dream big. For some, dreams take wings to turn real. One such man whose dreams found fruition is P Mohammad Ali, better known as Galfar Mohamad Ali.
Today, the sizzling spot in the middle of the crystal blue Indian Ocean waters which stands out for its unique land and seascape, is the dream come true of Mohamad Ali who dared to dream about it 25 years ago. It happens to be one of the brightest and classiest of tourism spots a Malayali could ever hope to call his own and that too in one of the most sought after sea resorts in the world, the unbelievably beautiful Maldives.
The genesis of Kuda Villingili
The Kafu North Atoll in the Maldives on which the MFAR Group’s Kuda Villingili Resort stands is one of the finest in the five-star category. The resorts had its genesis during a trip the Galfar chairman undertook more than two decades ago when he went for a short break from work. He chose a place which was not far from Kerala and the choice fell on the Maldives group of islands. That trip was the beginning of things. The Maldives with its shimmering blue waters, pristine beaches, colourful corals and fishes that criss-crossed the transparent aquamarine waters had the businessman in thrall. The vision of the picturesque islands refused to leave him. He soon found himself going back to the place as often as he could. That was how the dream took shape.
As the Kuda Villingili took shape and became one of the best resorts on the islands, it was not just a matter of business; it was also the fulfilment of a dream. The resort stands on a combined stretch of sea, lagoon and sand, a total of 200 acres. The resort by itself stands on 40 acres of solid land. The rest is a vast stretch of 140 acres of sea and lagoons. The lagoons here are unique in that they curve into the land which is why the sand in the Maldives is a pristine white and the fishes so colourful. Kuda Villingili is blessed with a long stretch of shore, extending to several kilometres with gently lapping waves bordering exquisite sandy shores onto which the sea calmly comes rolling in at night.
A surfer's paradise
The resort is striking in that it stands close to one of the most attractive of surfing spots in the world, flanked by the mighty Indian Ocean with its thunderous waves on one side and a calm blue sea on the other. Surfers of course go for the high waves that come rolling mightily, curl and then crash out. Kuda's jetty offers the best of both sights… the rolling waves and the calm waters that lie on either side of the resort. It's these facilities that make Kuda one of the finest surfing hotspots in the world.
The resort sports 56 beach villas, all huge, sprawling and regal. They are actually houses that open out to the sandy beaches, some of them with two floors. The feel one gets from within is surreal. There’s the sea that comes crawling in and there you are in the midst of an ocean of blue. Along the sides are lovely mangroves and colourful Maldivian creepers and flora which hold your interest as you amble along the lanes of the islands, all redolent of village charm.
Much before the resorts came up, trees were planted all around. The resort was designed by URBAN, Singapore’s famous architectural enterprise with its ambience, timeless design and quality service visualized by Hans R Jenni, the biggest name in General Hotel Management who has specialized in classic Maldivian design and aesthetics.
The ultimate in luxury
The resort comprises 36 overwater villas, all made of solid wood. The bridge that runs in front of the villas, as long as 1000 metres, is a fine walkway where holidaymakers can go for an early morning stroll or an evening saunter. The villas spread out on either side of the bridge present an interesting visual. One can step out into the sea from each villa. It’s like you own a part of place, your own sea space. Apart from this joyous experience, each villa has its own swimming pool. A striking feature of the resort is its exclusive design that offers utmost privacy to each villa. The sight below is stunning, to say the least. There’s a wealth of fish in myriad colours making merry in the placid waters. The sea here is as calm as it can be. There’s no roar, only the gentle lap-lap of the waves.
The rooms, though a synonym for luxury, are warm, inviting and very homely. Kuda’s king-sized beds, exquisite carpets and inviting furniture remind you of your own home. The colours within gel with the ocean blue outside. In short, everything here spells class. There’s a special place for yoga, where there’s only the breeze, the stillness and the sea to aid you as you stretch out or twist yourself into knots. Close by stands the well equipped gym complex and also the restaurants.
There’s a special spa complex, a tiny island in reality. The bridge will lead you to this spa-only islet. Here you are free to luxuriate in the spa of your choice while enjoying the feel of the sea all around. The spa is in the midst of thick foliage, almost like a forest, where one can enjoy a full day’s outing. On the other side of the spa lies the roaring sea.
The seven restaurants spread over the island serve the best of global cuisine, all got up by renowned chefs from the world over, specialists in their right. Be it night or day, one can dine inside the restaurant or have a spread on the sandy shores. The choice is yours, whether to dine by the poolside restaurant or the one by the beach. The open kitchens are a pleasure to look into.
The resort is also home to the biggest swimming pool in the Maldives. It’s a mesmerizing feel that drives folks in their dozens to chill out in the pool by night as it lies bathed in moonlight. There’s food in plenty all round the clock. The truth is that the resort never goes into a state of slumber. It’s always abuzz with activity. There’s no special time of the day or occasion to have a stroll on the beach. A lot of tourists can be seen dining on the verandah or in the garden of their homes. Perhaps it’s the kids who make the most of their holiday here as they run around or make sand castles even at midnight.
Luxury is customized here for all categories…for kids, honeymooners, holidaymakers, families and others. As all the rooms open out into the sea, the splendour of the sunrise and sunset can be viewed by just stepping out into the open. A 360 degree view of the sea…that’s what Kuda has to declare and offer to its guests. Simply put, the sea is all around you.
Where else can you get your own villa, your own beach and your own sea? This is how Kuda sells itself to the world. Where else in the world can you drop your legs into calm blue waters and feel the gentle rub of bright fishes as they skim the waters?
Affordable luxury in the pipeline
The MPHAR Group has invested about Rs 1000cr into the project as an initial initiative. There’s yet another island with all facilities coming up on 12 acres of beach land where resorts offering affordable luxury are being planned. Work on the project is already underway, says Mohamad Ali.
A 30-minute ride on a boat that spells world-class luxury will take you to Kuda Villingili. It’s a ride for keeps, for such is the ever-changing blue hue of the sea. The boat jetty opens out into dense, luxuriant vegetation, through which one has to navigate one’s way to the resorts. The walk gives you the feel of a village. The trees and flora were planted and nurtured months before the resorts came up.
In a nutshell, Kuda Villingili is the summation of one man’s dream, that of Galfar Mohamad Ali, who spends his days just like any other tourist in one of the resorts. As he walks along the beaches, dines in his restaurants or does yoga by the sea, there’s a sense of fulfilment that washes over him.
This has been no small dream for a small-town boy from the coastal village of Thalikulam in Thrissur who worked hard to give reality to his dream. From being part of a seaside village to being owner of a part of the sea is a feat only a few have achieved!