Compared to its sister resort and neighbour, Banyan Tree, Angsana looks younger and more modern, almost funky, with its zestful colour scheme of citrus yellow, earthy orange and the green of a fresh bamboo shoot.
A lighter touch to the service and in the atmosphere is noticeable too, in part the result of a clientele that is younger and less accustomed to having only the finest things in life. In part it is the result of a happy group of staff, mostly Maldivian, who have worked on the island for many years and who love it as their own.
The essence of Ihuru is diving and snorkeling, simple luxuries and a fine spa on an idyllic island. Appropriately, the spa is very big relative to the size of the island. Its 8 luxurious double pavilions cover an extensive area behind the rooms. They are usually busy as the guests take seriously the island’s motto of ‘sensing the moment’ and succumb, frequently, to the sensual pleasures of a great massage. Therapeutic touch and aromatherapy treatments are the spa’s specialities.
The rooms have been transformed by enlarging them by a quarter. The old deck is now a part of the new interior and a new deck laid. This leaves plenty of room for a king-size bed rather than the previous queen-size bed. Modern tiling has also been installed. Of the 45 total, 20 villas come with a jacuzzi in the inside-outside bathroom at the back. In front, each room has a swing joli in a small garden made private by enclosing bushes and trees. And from inside every room, you can see out to the beach and lagoon. Despite this being a very small island, there is no staggering or arcing of rooms to fit more in, as is happening on many a new or refurbished resort.
The resort is popular with peace, quiet and privacy seekers. Daytime sees some use of the complimentary non-motorised watersports facilities and an uptake on excursions (admirably there is a guide for every couple going to Male) but there is little organised entertainments in the evening, just a bodu beru evening after the Maldivian buffet.
Wifi is all around the island but there is just one television on the resort; that is in the bar. The single main bar is a delight as the navy blue sky deepens into night, and the lights of Male flicker on the horizon. Spotlights around the perimeter, hanging lamps above the bar and candles on the low tables help create a truly cosy, privileged feeling.
The bar’s lovely deck over the water is matched by the even broader restaurant deck. It’s an idyllic place for lunch (always buffet) and dinner (6 fine set plates and one Maldivian buffet), though the quality of the cuisine is not quite matched by the wine list. It used to be full-board only for everyone but now every meal plan is possible up to all-inclusive.The perfect geography of the island itself has claimed many awards and the commendably green attitude of the owners should ensure more to come. After a global search the beach was named the second best beach in the world in a book on the subject. And if that wasn’t enough, the housereef has been named by Asian Diver the best resort housereef in Maldives. I can confirm that it remains in excellent condition, despite a bleaching event in 2010.
Over 140 fish species and strong coral regrowth at the steep drop-off and inside the lagoon, that is neither too big nor too small, make this a snorkeler’s dream. Dive sites on both sides of theatoll are accessible from here and the new big base and great base leader, Mirka, add up to a really rewarding dive holiday, if that is your focus.
For a sun and beach dreamer it is equally good: an unbroken, broad, fine, white sand beach. There are no groynes or walls at all, only temporary sandbagging on alternate sides of the island to counter the free movement of the sand over the 2 seasons. Pumping, however, has been used to shore up the depleting side and, over time, this less fine sand has brought the beach quality down from perfection. Nonetheless, this is one of the best small resorts in the whole region.