Review — How to do barefoot luxury in real style

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.

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island photo by Kerstin Pilz
Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island photo by Kerstin Pilz

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.

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island
Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island photo by Kerstin Pilz

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!

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island
Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island photo by Kerstin Pilz

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.

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island
Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island photo by Kerstin Pilz

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.

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island
Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island photo by Kerstin Pilz

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!

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island
Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island photo by Kerstin Pilz

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!

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Coco Privé Private Island

Secluded, secret and serene, Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island is one of the world’s most exclusive private islands and the pinnacle of the Coco Collection experience. There’s nowhere in the Maldives, or anywhere on earth, quite like Coco Privé; an entire island that is dedicated to you, your family and friends.

Every Coco Privé guest is given a totally individual experience, tailored to the finest detail. Before you even arrive, we get to know your likes, loves and longings; matching your exact needs with genuine local hospitality and inspirational moments.

Coco Privé aims to create a sense of intimacy and enjoyment for each and every guest. It is a personal and private space for the most discerning to enjoy and savour.

Kuda Hithi Island is the result of a remarkable collaboration between Coco Privé and award-winning architect Guz Wilkinson. Here, you will find luxurious living enhanced with every amenity imaginable and the discreet butler services of your personal host.


Coco Collection Presents ‘Savour 2015’ At Coco Bodu Hithi

Coco Collection looks forward to welcome a gathering of Michelin Starred Chefs as well as an expert Mixologist to the sophisticated culinary scene at Coco Bodu Hithi. Guests can look forward to experience the exclusive opportunity to indulge in award-winning creations by Chefs Frédéric Doucet, Nigel Haworth, Aktar Islam, Andrew Pern as well as Food & Beverage Specialist, Rogers Benham.

Coco Bodu Hithi dining

To the delight of food connoisseurs, these experts will take turns to demonstrate Master Classes showcasing some of their signature dishes, allowing guests of Coco Bodu Hithi to interact with the Chefs and Mixologist at the eclectic dining venues of Coco Bodu Hithi. Furthermore, guests can experience Michelin Star Dining with these Chefs at the helm of the kitchen at Coco Bodu Hithi, serving exclusive dinners inspired by fresh ingredients.

For USD 2,345 per person, enjoy 7 nights on Half Board meal plan at a spaciously luxurious Island Villa, a dinner at one of the specialty restaurants of Coco Bodu Hithi, with an exclusive menu by one of the Michelin starred Chefs, a Master Class with these Chefs demonstrating a signature dish, a Wine Tasting session with the Mixologist and a choice of either a Cocktail class, Japanese cooking class, Maldivian cooking class or Pastry lessons by the Resident Chefs at Coco Bodu Hithi. Additionally, guests will enjoy a 10% discount on all wines during the stay and have the opportunity to upgrade to an Escape Water Villa or Escape Water Residence for USD 300.

“Coco Bodu Hithi has always been a haven for food aficionados and ‘Savour 2015‘ offers an impressive lineup for our guests to indulge in world-class dining experiences throughout their stay. Holding true to our promise to offer an inspirational stay, this culinary journey will create moments to treasure for a lifetime!” comments Georgios Papazoglou, General Manager at Coco Bodu Hithi.


Preluding this exclusive event in February is Chef Frédéric Doucet. Aromas, flavours and wholesome ingredients from the Charolais countryside make up the fine creative cuisine crafted by Frédéric and his devoted staff at Restaurant Frédéric Doucet. Apart from one Michelin star, Frédéric‘s gourmet restaurant received 3 Gault & Millau toques and 15/20 in the Guide Champérard. Mentored by the infamous Paul Bocuse and having worked alongside Chefs Michel Troisgros and Alain Ducasse, he brings eclectic approaches to cuisine.

Chef Patron at Restaurant Frédéric Doucet, One Michelin Star
Chef Patron at Restaurant Frédéric Doucet, One Michelin Star

In March, Coco Bodu Hithi will host Nigel Haworth, chef patron at Michelin-starred restaurant and country-house hotel Northcote in Langho, Blackburn. Renowned for his seasonal, British food — long before they became buzzwords — today Nigel celebrates an Egon Ronay Chef of the Year Award and a Michelin star that has been retained since 1985. Since winning Great British Menu in 2009 with his now-legendary Lancashire Hot Pot, Nigel continues to make regular appearances on television – returning to GBM in 2012 to mentor a new generation of young chefs – and frequently showcases new dishes to James Martin on Saturday Kitchen.

Nigel Haworth, Chef Patron at Northcote, One Michelin Star
Nigel Haworth, Chef Patron at Northcote, One Michelin Star

Joining Nigel is Birmingham born and bred, Aktar Islam. The Winner of Great British Menu 2011, Aktar‘s exposure to British cuisine and the strong influence from his culture are what have shaped his unique style. Aktar‘s passion for creating modern South Asian cuisine has ensured his meteoric rise as one of the most talented Chefs in the UK. With notable TV appearances, he has secured a reputation as an entertaining and engaging television Chef with recognition by Buckingham Palace for his contribution to the British hospitality industry.

Chef Patron at Lasan, Gordon Ramsay’s Best Local Restaurant 2009
Aktar Islam, Chef Patron at Lasan, Gordon Ramsay’s Best Local Restaurant 2009

Andrew Pern, Chef Patron at The Star in North Yorkshire, will also be joining the lineup at Coco Bodu Hithi. A talented self-taught Chef whose hearty northern dishes have been influenced by the likes of Paul Heathcote and Raymond Blanc, Andrew has a reputation as a gastropub pioneer and his dedication to local, seasonal produce has had a huge influence on the industry. Having regained their Michelin Star status in 2015, The Star was also voted 19th in the National Restaurant Awards Top 100 UK Restaurants.

Chef Patron at The Star, One Michelin Star
Andrew Pern, Chef Patron at The Star, One Michelin Star

Completing the roundup is Rogers Benham, a Food & Beverage Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry. Having worked for some of the worlds most renowned hoteliers among which are Four Seasons, The Savoy Group and Starwood Hotels, Rogers has also trained and worked alongside creative restaurateurs. He will bring his worldly expertise to the culinary scene at Coco Bodu Hithi, with interactive cocktail classes and wine tastings for guests to enjoy the art of Mixology.

Rogers Benham, Food & Beverage Specialist, Mixologist
Rogers Benham, Food & Beverage Specialist, Mixologist

Coco Collection Unveils The Lucky Winner Of 5 nights At Coco Bodu Hithi

With the festive season approaching fast, even in the warm tropics of Maldives, Coco Collection announces the lucky winner of the online contest, “Win a luxury stay for 5 nights at Coco Bodu Hithi”. Launched on 01st October 2014 to celebrate the re-vamp of the corporate websites, this contest asked eager entrants to familiarize themselves with the Coco Collection brand and individual properties and then submit their responses to related questions.

Congratulations to Gillian Lowes who won the lucky draw for the luxurious prize! Gillian Lowes, along with a companion, will receive 5 night’s complimentary accommodation in a secluded Escape Water Residence to explore the romantic and timeless charm of Coco Bodu Hithi.

Escape Water Villa, Coco Bodu Hithi
Escape Water Villa, Coco Bodu Hithi

“As an exciting contest attracting strong participation from our online community, this was an incredible opportunity for our audience to get some insight on Coco Collection as a luxury boutique hotel brand. I am delighted to congratulate Gillian on the opportunity to experience the raw beauty and warm hospitality of our chic resort, Coco Bodu Hithi. Gillian will be experiencing the seclusion of one of our Escape Water Residences, which in 2015 will see the introduction of privileged benefits such as private butler services to enhance the experience for discerning travelers.” comments Shafa Shabeer, Coco Collection’s Director of Marketing. “I thank each and every one of our participants for entering the contest and look forward to the New Year as our team prepares to roll out more surprises for guests to Rediscover Life’s Beauty.”

Beach Cinema, Coco Bodu Hithi
Beach Cinema, Coco Bodu Hithi

With the joyous announcement of this Coco Gift, Coco Collection is delighted to start the festive season off with a bang. To rekindle the merry spirits this Christmas, Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu are channeling the state of ‘Ufaa’, a Dhivehi word that translates to ‘Happiness’. Some of the festive program highlights at the Coco Collection resorts will be the Christmas tradition of opening the Gingerbread Village at Air Restaurant at Coco Bodu Hithi, while Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu invites guests to join the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. With a signature tropical ornament designed around the elements of ‘Ufaa’ that guests can expect to encounter around the resorts and Coco Collection’s online platforms, the moments spent with Coco Collection will be a celebration of a joyous Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Starting off the festivities with good vibes, Coco Collection is excited to offer guests unforgettable moments, and 2015 will be the beginning of new experiences to recognize the evolving needs of the discerning traveler.

General Manager for Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island appointed

Coco Collection has announced the appointment of Paul Vincent Benedict Brown as the General Manager of Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island.

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island is one of the world’s most exclusive private islands and the ultimate top experience of the Coco Collection. The island offers plentiful space for a family or group of friends, with various amenities, sparkling waters of the surrounding lagoon, the colorful house reef gardens and the riches of the natural beauty of the Maldives.

Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island
Coco Privé Kuda Hithi

Apart from cultivating an exceptional stay by ensuring nothing but regal treatment for his guests, Paul is assigned to oversee the efficient operation of Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island while working closely with Armand Chaudhary, the newly appointed COO of Sunland Hotels and Coco Collection. Trained by the Household of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Paul is the founder and owner of White Glove Consultancy Services, a company that specializes in educating resorts, villas, private households and butlers on everything pertaining to first class service.

It is noted that during his time at Buckingham Palace, Paul’s duties bestowed him with the privilege to serve at Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s pleasure, as well as taking care of visiting Heads of State. On numerous occasions, Paul was also chosen to work privately for individual members of the immediate Royal Family in Buckingham Palace and at their private residences. Paul received The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic as well as the President of Iceland’s Medal of Honor in 1990.

After his departure from Buckingham Palace, Paul served as House Manager and Butler for Timothy Landon in the UK and for notable TV producer Aaron Spelling in the USA, before deciding to move to Asia, where he joined The Royal Phuket Yacht Club as Director of Guest Services and was personally responsible for the VIP guests while training and managing the butler service team at the club. Before joining Coco Collection this June, Paul inhabited the role of Executive Assistant Manager at The Village Coconut Island in Thailand, where he oversaw the day to day operations of the property.

Palm Residence, Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island
Palm Residence, Coco Privé Kuda Hithi

Paul Brown, General Manager at Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island, commented “I am excited to have taken on the responsibilities of General Manager here at the magnificent Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island in Maldives, and it is with great pleasure that I look forward to working with the team that has so successfully launched this extravagant island. With my experience of etiquette and protocol in the performance of butlering duties, I am confident that we will elevate service levels to new heights, ensuring a Uniquely Coco stay for our guests!”

Paul’s main focus will be to ensure that guests of the island will be treated like real royalty and to create a sense of familiarity and intimacy for each guest that genuinely symbolizes the vision of Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island Maldives.

Both Coco Palm Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu awarded the 2014 TripAdvisor outstanding hospitality

The TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is known to honour excellence in hospitality by recognizing establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. It is noteworthy that Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu has been receiving this prestigious accolade since 2011 and are believed to be delighted to add the 2014 achievement to an impressive list of accomplishments.

“TripAdvisor is pleased to honour exceptional hospitality businesses for consistent excellence,” said Marc Charron, President of TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award gives top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers.”

Raffaele Solferino, General Manager at Coco Bodu Hithi said “We are thrilled to win the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence yet again this year as it is such a great source of pride for the entire team at Coco Collection. Our aim is to not only provide guests with the best service imaginable, but to create unique experiences beyond what would usually be expected of a resort vacation. To know that our guests recognize the efforts of our team by expressing their sincere appreciation in return is truly the best seal of approval!”

Located on a picturesque island in Baa Atoll – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, this stunning property offers 98 luxurious villas set in a unique natural setting. The island that opened in 1998, is well-known for having one of the greatest sunset beaches within the whole Maldives and is surrounded by the impossibly blue lagoon with its exotic marine life.

Based in North Male’ Atoll, Coco Bodu Hithi is known to first welcomed guests in 2006, radiating luxury chic fusion with traditional Maldivian touches. This boutique resort includes 100 uber-stylish villas, a variety collection of modern restaurants and bars, a Coco Spa, and water-sport centre. Along with a portfolio of an unforgettable ‘Uniquely Coco’ experiences, Coco Bodu Hithi is set to give wonderful moments made up of pristine beaches, palm trees and with a lively coral reef.

A winner of World Luxury Hotel Awards 2013 and a nominee of World Luxury Spa Awards 2014, Coco Collection is a eminent hotel group, also a subsidiary of Sunland Hotels. Since opening the hotel in July 2007, the company continued to grow and developed its reputation as a stylish, sophisticated with sustainable hospitality.

Coco Collection’s comes with three unique brands, Coco Resorts – Retreats, Coco Privé and Coco Palm.

The Retreats includes the luxury resort Coco Bodu Hithi; Coco Palm features the environmentally conscious getaway Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu; and Coco Privé consists: the private and exclusive Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island.

Coco Collection ranked as top submitter by Manta Trust

Coco Collection has been ranked as the top submitter for sightings of newly identified Manta Rays as well as the second top submitter for overall sightings to the Manta Trust for the year 2013.

Manta Trust envisions to create a sustainable future for the oceans where Manta Rays thrive in healthy and diverse eco systems. The Maldivian Manta Ray project was initiated by the Manta Trust in 2006. According to a press release by Coco Collection, Chiara Fumagalli, Resident Marine Biologist at Coco Bodu Hithi and Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu, has contributed the details of 24 new Mantas and 93 Manta sightings to the project’s database. This information is a tremendous help towards attaining the research objective of Manta Trust: to estimate the size and structure of the Maldivian Manta Ray Population.

Manta Ray - M1696 “Tofu”
Female Manta Ray – M1696 “Tofu”

Coco collection is also one of the leading contributors to the Maldives Turtle Identification Program. Marine Savers and Seamarc, founded this program in 2011, This is a government endorsed initiative aiming to conserve turtles by protecting their nests, rehabilitating injured turtles and tracking turtles through photo identification. With 159 sightings reported, Coco Collection has been ranked the second top submitter of turtle sightings for the year 2013.

The press release also states that Coco Collection’s environmentally conscious efforts have been recognized for its sustainable hospitality by EarthCheck, the leading environmental certification agency in the travel and tourism industry. Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is EarthCheck Silver certified and Coco Bodu Hithi holds EarthCheck Bronze certification.

Coco Collection’s portfolio includes the luxury resort Coco Bodu Hithi located in the North Malé Atoll, the environmentally conscious escape Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu in Baa Atoll and the private and exclusive Coco Privé Kuda Hithi Island, which right in front of Coco Bodu Hithi.