Overwater Pool Residence
Maldivian rhapsody and Anantara Kihavah Villas go hand in hand. Guests will find out how now that its 78 overwater and beachfront villas are open. GX Associates Pvt. Ltd. was responsible for architectural design, while a trio of design firms filled out the resort: August Design Consultant Co. (all accommodations); Poole Associates Private Limited (public spaces); and Abacus Design (spa).
The setting, on the Baa Atoll, is a pear-shaped island that was converted from an old palm tree plantation, and villas feature traditional Maldivian design, creating a smart flow between indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Every room is angled differently so the same view is not shared by any of the guests,” says Khun Suthichai Bonchuay, a design associate with August Design. “The layouts have features in common, but each room has a unique twist, such as some rooms having coconut trees penetrating through the bathroom space.”
Beach Villa infinity pool
William Heinecke, founder and CEO of Minor Group, owner of the resort, says that the architectural and design firms were selected because they are “known for their innovation and ability to combine the natural surroundings into their concepts.
"I wanted the designers to encompass every environmental aspect of the island. No tree was removed during construction, for instance; they were actually encompassed into the building.”
He adds that several features, particularly in the villas, were discussed prior to construction and included in the final project.
“In terms of day-to-day lifestyle, guest rooms recreate the traditional Maldivian lifestyle, but with more luxurious touches,” says Heinecke.
One of the more interesting elements of the resort is the four-level Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky dining complex, which includes an underwater dining room and wine cellar. “The roof of Salt is used as an iconic form and is visible as one arrives via sea plane,” says Ed Poole of Poole Associates, which designed the restaurant experience. “It’s shaped to resemble the bone of a cuttlefish and an ancient Japanese Edo helmet.”
Overwater Pool Villa bathroom
The spa includes six overwater treatment suites.
“Our goal was to blend [the spa] with the nature of the surroundings, but at the same time use vibrant colors from the sea and underwater world, brining out the reds, yellows and oranges found in the shells and corals,” says Samantha Lightbody, creative design director at Abacus Design.
Two main materials served to create the resort: wood and palm thatch (locally known as Cajan).
“These are traditionally the main building materials for the buildings of the Maldives,” says Mohamed Shafeeq of GX Associates.
“The inspiration for the design was derived from our research into tropical lifestyles and this way of living combined with traditional forms made it possible to give form to the designs.”