Chef Gaushan De Silva brings internationally inspired cuisine to Aragu
Nestled in the archipelago that forms the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives, Private island of Velaa takes exclusivity to the next level with facilities and service that go beyond traditional resorts. Designed by Czech architect Petr Kolar as an elegant fusion of Maldivian culture with contemporary luxury, intimate with Maldivian nuances, Velaa Private Island is the realization of a dream to create a luxurious exclusive boutique retreat in the Maldives.
Velaa means “turtle” in the local language, named after generations of sea turtles that flock here to nest and hatch. From a broader bird’s-eye view that greets seaplane arrivals, the island’s overwater villas are also constructed to resemble a turtle’s head, with the island forming the body. The resort includes 47 private villas, houses and exclusive residences. While 18 of the 47 are built over water, the Romantic Pool Residence can only be reached by boat, allowing for even more privacy and exclusivity.
A multitude of accommodations include the Ocean Pool House. In its own domain, this overwater pool home is elegantly designed with tasteful touches such as venetian blinds and cathedral ceilings. The two bedrooms benefit from spectacular sea views and the bathrooms have walk-in closets and circular baths. The dining area opens onto a spacious terrace with two gazebos, one with a sunken Jacuzzi and the other with luxurious day beds and plush cushions. The sun deck invites you to relax and cool off in the private pool or head straight into the sea for a secluded swim day or night.
Home to three fine dining restaurants, two bars and one of the most extensive wine cellars in the Maldives, Velaa Private Island’s dining offering caters to the most discerning of palates. With delicious menus spearheaded by Chef Gaushan De SilvaVelaa’s restaurants offer internationally inspired cuisine with carefully curated recipes that ensure every taste is full of flavors.
Born and raised in Sri Lanka, chef De Silva initially taught himself to cook when he was faced with the responsibilities of supporting his family from the age of 10. At the age of 16 he was already working as an intern in the kitchen of a Swiss hotel. He was Executive Chef for the Royal Family at the Royal Palace in Jordan and has worked at some of Europe’s most notable Michelin Star restaurants including Denmark’s Noma, often cited as the best restaurant in the world.
The first and only restaurant in the Maldives to be voted in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards, Arago at Velaa Private Island offers a fresh Asian twist on modern European cuisine. The menus combine Chef De Silva’s passion for the culinary arts with sustainable practices, using only the finest organic produce and carefully selected ingredients from around the world. An incomparable dining experience and space for up to 36 guests. Aragu’s sophisticated cuisine and bespoke tasting menus are perfectly complemented by a wine list curated by Ibrahim Waheed, Food & Beverage Director. Alongside his team, Waheed offers his expertise and bespoke service to an extensive and ever-evolving wine collection.
“Day by day, minute by minute, we push ourselves to the highest level to create experiences that will be remembered forever,” says Chef De Silva. Its main focus is on three things: simplicity, respecting the taste of the main ingredient and cooking quality with a surprising taste. “I’m fascinated by the historical, the allure of classic soul foods of yesteryear, so I spend time learning, studying, reinventing and reconstructing the classics with the modern takes. The art of classic European cuisine and Asian cuisine are two from the great culinary repertoire that has influenced many of my dishes.” All the dishes on the Maldivian tasting menu are unique, but the tuna yolk is one of his favourites. “It’s a contemporary Maldivian sushi take on raw, sliced local yellowfin tuna, served on aromatic Theluli Fai drumstick leaf rice, topped with local confit egg yolk,” he says.
Velaa Private Island is home to some of the latest hi-tech watersports toys and equipment, from flyboarding and hoverboarding to electric foil surfboards and the latest tandem jetovator, as well as a full line of exciting towables. Personal yoga and meditation sessions take place in the elevated yoga pavilion, a private garden, or on the beach. Velaa Spa is a haven of tranquility where you can reconnect with nature, rejuvenate your body and relax your mind. Using natural and organic ingredients, the spa offers a fresh interpretation of healing therapies in a place of overwhelming beauty.
“Velaa is more than a resort, it’s a couple’s passion project to create the perfect home in the world,” says Chef De Silva. “It’s a place where you can truly be carefree and enjoy the best that the world has to offer, such as food, wine, adventure and delight.”