Where is it?
In the north west corner of the scattered archipelagos of the Maldives. It is 45 minutes by speedboat or 10 minutes by seaplane from Male Velana airport, in the North Male atoll. As your boat churns through the Indian Ocean, the Varu island appears in a flash, dotted with coconut palm trees and a rich coastline.
Atmosphere’s newest five-star resort opened last December. Varu signifies ‘strength’ in Dhivehi. It attempts to articulate what an authentic Maldivian experience is, alongside the international luxury of the Fairmont and Four Seasons.
Arriving guests are greeted with a musical Maldivian welcome committee with drums and horns. The staff are dressed in traditional South Asian kurtas.
The traditional villas are adorned with faux-thatched roofs and big windows. The verandas have steps leading straight into the sea, allowing for a refreshing morning dip. In the evenings, music drifts across the water from the lounge bar.
Who needs a pool when the sea is a step away? Varu’s answer is a plunge pool in every villa, and a full-length swimming pool by the café lounge. The Elena spa, a staple of Atmosphere resorts, puts on vigorous yoga classes alongside its array of massages, reflexology and oil treatments. The gym is compact, and personal trainers are on hand for assistance.
The island also fits in tennis courts and even a futsal court (look it up). The café lounge provides attentive servers to bring drinks to sunbathers and live music in the evenings included a saxophone-singer duet playing European classics.
Food & drink
At Varu, all food and drink is included within the room rate. They have a hearty drinks menu, including local cocktails like Varu punch, classics like the Negroni and a full wine list including organic wine from Chile and Austria.
The resort has two restaurants. Chilli & Lime is a buffet-restaurant, offering continental and local cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their South Asian food, a mixture of Indian and Maldivian cuisine, is a rank above the continental and European stuff they offer. Chefs are on live stations to cook omelettes, waffles, wraps, chapatti and puri to your heart’s desire.
Nü is the other restaurant, with a modern Mediterranean feel. It offers a set menu with meat, fish and vegetarian options. The windows look out onto the lagoon, so servers can refill your drinks while you’re distracted by the view of endless sea.
The resort has adopted a Carbon Free Dining motif, inviting diners to offset their carbon footprint by planting trees on the island. They are also building a biowaste unit for leftover food.
The resort offers trips to other islands and boats for cruises and night fishing. For families, the resort puts on activities for young children in their Kid’s Club.
The aquatic centre offers every sport imaginable, from windsurfing to jet skiing. Every guest has the right to a snorkel (too right), which they can use off their deck or with a guide. The surf looked a bit too rough for us, spoilt by Devon and Cornwall, and we contented ourselves to swim around the reef, marvelling at the white sand and clean turquoise water, better than any Instagram filter could construct.
We stayed in a beach villa with pool. The fully stocked, complimentary minibar is hard to stay away from, especially when it’s refilled twice daily. A larger group might prefer the family villa, with a private entryway, multiple bedrooms and a veranda fit for an army.
Families, couples and honeymooners looking for a warm reception and a glimpse of the authentic Maldives from a sun lounger.
The resort reopened for guests on August 29. A beach villa with pool at VARU by Atmosphere starts from £515 per night based on two sharing. This price includes all inclusions within the VARU Resort Plan – villa accommodation, food and beverages, speciality dining experiences, non-motorized water sports, selected excursions and selected spa treatments. varu-atmosphere.com