Our seaplane to Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi is officially scheduled to depart the Maldivian capital, Malé, at 1pm, but it seems this isn’t actually fixed—it’ll leave when there are enough passengers to make up a flight or when the weather conditions are right. That could mean an hour’s wait, maybe two, but when you’re in the Maldives, time is truly a construct, and it makes you wonder how we’ve allowed clocks to become our ball and chain.
Part of the Shaviyani Atoll, Sirru Fen Fushi (“secret water island” in the local Dhivehi language) doesn’t even operate in the same time zone as Malé; it sits with Bangladesh at GMT+6, a practice common among Maldivian resorts to give their guests an extra hour of daytime leisure. And visitors will definitely need that here, when there’s so much to be diverted by, all packed neatly into this 16‑hectare island.
Once my flightmates and I step onto the island’s pier, we’re met with an energetic welcome accented with traditional Boduberu beats, a rousing song and dance by the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi team, and perfectly chilled coconuts. It takes a few minutes to collect myself and remind myself that I haven’t stumbled into a postcard or a simulation, because the colours we’re met with are exactly as dazzling and saturated as every photo of the Maldives has led me to believe.
A breathtaking property that blends tropical modernism and what its design team, the hospitality architecture firm Hirsch Bedner Associates, calls “a barefoot luxury aesthetic”, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi was conceptualised to honour the beauty of its locality, and built and decorated with traditional craft, natural materials from rattan to wood, and a harmonious, inviting warm‑neutral palette. The property’s 120 villas comprise those sited on the beach and above the water as well as tented ones—the newest being the intimate Beach Tented Villa, which reimagines the glamping experience—and all are equipped with private pools. (I hear that British and Russian guests favour the sun‑drenched beachfront properties, presumably as an antidote to the more sombre climate at home, whereas Asian visitors gravitate towards overwater villas because they’re an instantly recognisable signature of the Maldives vacation experience.) A defining landmark is the narrow swimming pool that stretches for 200m; branded as the Maldives’s longest infinity pool, it slices across the airfoil‑shaped island and juts towards the lagoon.
I check into the airy 235‑sqm Grand Water Sunset Villa, which is connected to the island by a jetty, and has its own sand beach surrounding the private pool and offers direct access to the open waters via the back deck. After settling in, I embark on an ambitious journey to get a taste of what Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi has to offer. There’s snorkelling and diving at the 9km‑long house reef, a long stretch of corals home to bluestripe snapper, clownfish, lobsters and more; cruising to visit the spinner and bottlenose dolphin pods that reside in the neighbourhood; an invigorating yoga session at sunrise; and a Maldivian cooking class. Activities such as yacht tours, catamaran sailing and sea kayaking can be arranged too. And taking place on the beach every Thursday at dusk, during Guest Cocktails night, is a wholesome and surprisingly enthralling hermit crab race, a popular pastime on the islands.
Despite the island’s relative isolation, there’s no lack of dining options with the resort’s four restaurants and bars: the seafood‑forward Azure; the Japanese‑inspired Kata; Raha Market for Maldivian and international fare; and the laid‑back Onu Onu for beach‑side beverages sans footwear, at an open‑air bar under a roof crafted out of bamboo. On‑location options include the famously Instagrammable floating breakfast, set up in the villas’ pools, and barbecues on the beach prepared by a private chef. But for all the massive variety on the menus, don’t skip the chance to sample Maldivian food here, which is laden with coconut, spices and locally caught seafood from the Shaviyani Atoll, and bursting with robust freshness and heady flavours that see‑saw between rich and tangy; mas huni, a local salad of grated coconut, tuna flakes, onion, Maldivian chilli and lime juice, is as simple as it is sublime.
A hallmark of staying at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi is experiencing its commitment to protecting nature up close. Sustainability and environmental responsibility efforts here don’t stop at bamboo toothbrushes and water refilled in glass bottles. Its Sustainability Lab, the first resort‑based recycling facility in the Maldives, houses machinery that transforms plastic waste into new objects such as souvenirs, and serves as a recycling centre on the atoll to process and recycle plastic waste the local communities collect. An easy swim out from the beach, the Coralarium, conceived as a semi‑submerged art installation, encourages coral regeneration and even glows at night to draw in coral larvae. The resort has also partnered with Olive Ridley Project, a Maldives‑based NGO, to launch the Turtle Ranger Programme for sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation, with the resident marine biologist leading guests to study turtle nests, collect tracking data and even assist hatchlings back into the ocean.
Even if you’re tempted to pack your itinerary with every activity available at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, make space to take in the view, savour the tranquillity and experience time slowing down. An atmosphere of ease and a general feeling of expansiveness, repose and contemplative calm seeps into every corner of the resort. Golf buggies and bicycles are the fastest ways to get around. Rope swings at remote spots on the beach, wide breezy decks and stretched‑out shorelines invite languid lingering. Going from day to night, the sea and sky turn every conceivable shade, from turquoise to chrysoprase and even grey mother‑of‑pearl. And the smell of salt and minerals stays on the skin long after a swim in the ocean—the Maldivian experience endures, literally.
After a heartfelt send‑off, I’m back on the seaplane, now heading south towards Malé. I can’t yet say for sure when I’ll be back at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, but in the spirit of island time, I figure it’ll happen eventually.
Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi
Sirru Fen Fushi, Shaviyani Atoll 20209, Maldives