LHAVIYANI ATOLL, MALDIVES: Sun Resorts owned and managed Kanuhura Maldives has shared the wishes of its coterie of high profile, long-term guests with the world, reimagining a property consisting of three islands in the northern quadrant of the Lhaviyani Atoll for the first time since it opened almost two decades ago.

The thoughts and aspirations of the lovers and dreamers who first set foot on the soft sands of Kanuhura as couples or young families were the cornerstone for the evolution of an island experience they had taken to their hearts over as many as 15 annual visits and whose kids called their second home.

The result is a nautical bohemian concept courtesy of the deft touch of former Gold Key Designer of the Year and Founder of London-based Muza Lab, Inge Moore, in cooperation with Hirsch Bedner Associates, that revitalises the identity of the resort by focusing on the idea of “Gypset”.

Gypset is a new way of life, according to New York-based journalist and author Julia Chaplin, who wrote about a generation of travellers who she defined as part Gypsy, driven by freedom and escapism, and part Jetset, a reflection of their success and appreciation of the finer things in life.

The concept forges an inseparable bond with Kanuhura which for over 1,000 years has been a sanctuary for traders, seafarers and fishermen due to its sheltered location, favourable sea currents and lush vegetation.

It is the main island for accommodation and activities, with Jehunuhura a short two-minute boat ride or 300-metre swim away across the translucent Indian Ocean, where rests dapple-shaded Drift restaurant courtesy of the broad-leaved indigenous pandanus trees; or the recently purchased Masleggihura next door where guests can cast themselves away from reality with just the lapping waves, sea herons and hermit crabs for company.

Kanuhura’s boatman is on standby round the clock to whisk guests away to the outlying Jehunuhura and Masleggihura islands. For high res image please click here. View from Drift Restaurant, peaking through the lush foliage back to Kanuhura, on Jehunuhura island. For high res image please click here.

The USD42 million design overhaul of Kanuhura, combined with the buying of the Masleggihura island, was overseen by Sun Resorts CEO David Anderson, who appointed Robert Hauck, formerly of Raffles Hotels and Resorts and Asia’s top sports and lifestyle complex, Thanyapura Phuket as General Manager to lead the resort.

“We have a uniquely sheltered location over three islands and are blessed with a heritage of repeat guests over the past 20 years,” said Mr Hauck. “We have grown up together and are now enhancing this by developing experiences for guests where they can be free, unconventional, open, stay fit and totally relax.”

“We offer everything from total escapism and tranquility on Masleggihura island to a 300-metre sea swim to Jehunuhura island, a 2.25km round island run on Kanuhura and soon to be launched Project South which will be the first martial arts academy in the Maldives led by two-time world Muay Thai champion, Irshaad Sayed.”

Other active sports programmes include football with Kanuhura’s inter-island team, tennis cardio clinics and the chance to join sections of world-famous, disabled endurance athlete Jason P. Lester when he will attempt a Guinness world record at the island in June and run 100 miles criss-crossed across the island in November.

Design highlights include the Heart of Kanuhura where guests can find a cluster of structures such as the Cowry Club, named after the local cream and black cowry shell that was once used as currency between regional traders and Kokaa Spa, named after the all-white local butterfly. Kokaa features Marma therapy that concentrates on releasing the energy from 103 pressure points in your body and was recognized recently as one of the world’s best spas in National Geographic’s Spa & Wellness Collection.

The sheltered shores of Kanuhura provide ideal nesting grounds for sea turtles. For high res image please click here. Dolphin pods love to swim up to the boat during crossings. For high res image please click here.

In the Heart of Kanuhura guests can also discover a local culinary masterclass at A Mano. A Mano translates as “touched by the hand”, an ethos that is celebrated throughout every aspect of the island kitchen. All produce is free range, seasonal and mainly from small growers and producers – a celebration of traditional home cooking found on the trade routes. The design embraces all that is handmade and natural, with lime washed timbers, local stones, and woven fabrics. Table settings are eclectic handmade ceramics.

Simple and elegant lime washed villas and suites have been given more flexibility and space – with the room count coming down from 100 to 80 – to cater to larger families and teenagers with one- to three-bedroom beach and over-water pool villas from 59 sqm to 385 sqm in size.