Review — “I want my guests to emerge from the natural jungle into a landscaped garden,” says Paul Vincent Benedict Brown in his clipped English accent. He makes me stop and open my eyes to this subtle yet dramatic change in landscape, marking the natural entrance of Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island, one of the world’s most exclusive private islands.
Approaching by private speedboat, Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island looks just like every other small Maldivian island, a speck of green jungle surrounded by white sand and crystal clear ocean. Except, once you step on it, you realize that everything on this island is pure luxury. Even the sand is just that little bit finer and whiter and I soon lose track of my flip flops as I follow a barefoot Mr Brown on a whirlwind tour of this luxury resort hidden in the heart of a 1.4 hectare island.
There are 4 plus 1 villas created by award winning architect Guz Wilkinson. The spacious bedrooms sleep a total of 12 guests, each villa has pool access, with two villas, “my twins”, as Brown calls them, sharing one pool. And there is enough space to accommodate the security personnel if you chose to bring it.
My guided tour of the resort is a flurry of wow effects. Super-sized flat screens emerging magically from stands that look like old fashioned travelling trunks, curtains opening via remote control to reveal uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean, a beach-side sculpture of jumping dolphins made from driftwood, bespoke furniture and art works, light fittings that look like art works, shell doorknobs, bathrooms to die for with backlit showers, outdoor baths and full-sized Acqua di Parma toiletries.
“Everything has to be full sized,” says Paul Vincent Benedict Brown, who was appointed as General Manager of Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island in June 2014. “It’s all about the guest here. If my guests want to have a spa treatment at 3 am, they can have it,” he says. Breakfast is from 2 am to 2 am, in other words, whenever. Wow!
Mr Brown certainly knows how to give his guests the royal treatment. He was trained in the Household of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and learned what guests want from a tropical luxury resort whilst working in LA for a Hollywood movie tycoon who had a beach house in Malibu.
“I can transform any space into an outdoor dining room or outdoor spa treatment room,” he says pointing out various spots under the canopy of native vegetation that provides cooling shade without obstructing views of the surrounding Indian Ocean. It’s all about my guests, they get whatever they want, he repeats his mantra.
There is also a small traditional old coral stone mosque valued by many of Mr Brown’s guests, amongst them no doubt those arriving by private jet from Saudi Arabia or Qatar, some are repeat visitors.
Like a stage choreographer Mr Brown has reserved the ultimate wow effect to last. Palm Residence, the split-level master residence. There’s a huge master bedroom, living and dining areas complete with a discreetly hidden work station he pulls out of the wall like a magician, indoor and outdoor showers with floor to ceiling views of the native jungle and ocean, a private Jacuzzi, a private infinity pool, a private library, a cocktail bar and an exclusive wine cellar. Wow!
All-inclusive luxury comes with a five-figure price tag a night. For that you get all of the above plus your private butler, your private chef, dive instructors and spa therapists on demand and a tailor made experience.
At the end of our tour Mr Brown checks his watch. It was a quick 50 minute tour he says, as if we’ve set some kind of record. If you are paying a small fortune for the privilege of an all-inclusive private island holiday, you certainly would want Mr Brown to be in charge of it.
Throughout our tour he’s discreetly instructed his staff, whom he addresses in his very formal English way as ‘Mr’ and their surnames, on how to improve their service. His magic has worked and my flip flops have reappeared on the jetty, just where the fine sand ends and my walk back into reality begins. Wow!