London-based luxury hospitality studio Muza Lab, in collaboration with Hirsch Bedner Associates, has redesigned Kanuhura – an island resort in the Lhaviyani atoll in the Maldives – as a paradise for the world’s free-spirited jetsetters.
Taking 18 months to complete, the project included the redesign of existing areas and the introduction of new spaces. The redesign covered the big picture down to the smallest details that tie together the whole resort experience, from enlarging guests rooms and refurbishing restaurants to creating bespoke items – such as leather trunks and picnic baskets that guests can take for a stylish excursion to neighbouring islands, and staff uniforms that draw from the local culture.
“We found inspiration in the legends, culture and natural world of the islands – their stories, colours and sculptural forms,” says Inge Moore, founder of Muza Lab. “By bringing these influences into the experience of Kanuhura, we have created a sense of free-spirited timelessness and wellbeing where guests can escape from their normal lives and find a place to create their own special memories with family and friends.”
The starting point of this extensive project was the word ‘gypset’ – a portmanteau of gypsy and jetset used to describe a coveted lifestyle that combines the vibrant free-spirited life of the gypsy and the speed and opulence of jetsetters.
“They have an intuitive understanding of modern sophistication and international tastes, and they seek to be emotionally and creatively connected with wherever they land,” describe the designers of this new tribe of travellers for whom the resort was reimagined.
The renovated resort is notably more connected to its context. The facilities, while complex and extensive, cleverly share the stage with nature – amplifying it to maximum effect or, when necessary, receding to the background to provide guests with an emotional connection to their breath-taking surroundings. Timber structures were retained and lime-washed to create lighter, brighter material palette more suited to the contemporary sensibility.
On the island, walls and barriers were minimised and volumes extruded and opened, spilling the indoors out and inviting the outdoors in. The centre of the resort is a sun-dappled village with a social lawn surrounded by facilities for eating, pampering and playing. The centrepiece public space is the Cowry Club – a new, organically shaped venue with 360-degree views where guests can dip their feet in the pool while sitting in a swing and waiting for the sunset.
There are three types of villas offered: Palm Houses, Shell Houses and Suites. The Palm Houses each offer an extended entrance lobby that provides an uninterrupted view of the ocean. Here, bedrooms and bathrooms spill outdoors. Raised over the ocean, the Shell Houses were given additional width and a social library area, as well as a large outdoor terrace where guests can lounge on nets suspended above water.
The Suites are available with one, two and three bedrooms – each with a unique feature like an infinity pool built directly over the sea, or shared living quarters and oversized pools that encourage the carefree lifestyle favoured by gypsetters
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