It is just a 45-minute sail on a luxurious yacht from Malé International Airport to the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. This is a perfect and relaxed way to make a Maldivian entrance after a long-haul flight. The property’s chic, contemporary and tech savvy guest accommodation stretches over three pristine private islands and a reef and offers a total of 119 generously sized villas, all with private pools, located on the beach, over the reef or over water.
For those who would like more privacy, there are also two stand-alone duplex Stella Maris Ocean Villas accessible only by boat. The ultimate accommodation however has to be Ithaafushi Private Island, a 32,000 square metre private Eden where a three-bedroom beach villa, a two-bedroom overwater villa and a four-bedroom residence are housed alongside five swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, entertainment club house, a spa, a gym, a children’s pool and a playground – complete with dedicated chefs and a personal concierge to fulfill any whim.
The resort is served by eleven tempting dining venues, including the internationally renowned Zuma, Terra where there are private dining nests crafted from bamboo up in the treetops, Glow - the garden to table concept, The Ledge by Michelin-starred chef, Dave Pynt and Amber, the signature Champagne bar for a perfect sundowner.
Activities wise, walk from the sandy white beaches onto the private reef and explore the copious marine life waiting to be discovered or choose from a wide range of water sports such as fishing, scuba diving, windsurfing, waterskiing, X-Jets Jetpacks, surfing, diving and sailing. For pampering, there is the Waldorf Astoria Spa, a thatched oasis with ten treatment villas including some over water, offering curated treatments designed to rebalance, relax and enjoy. Complementing the spa’s facilities, there is the Aqua wellness centre, the first of its kind in the Maldives, featuring a purpose-built hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, steam room and sauna. For yoga lovers, head over to the Ocean Pavilion for Sunset Yoga and for the energetic, there is a well-equipped fitness centre, tennis and Padel courts. Private tutored sessions for both racquet sports are available.
For the younger members of your family, there is the Stars Club for up to 12 years old and Club Nova for teens up to seventeen.
Guests arriving at Malé International Airport simply need to walk to the nearby quayside and alight onto one of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi’s seven luxury yachts for the 45-minute voyage over to the island, a distance of around 21 kilometres.
Drinks and canapés are tempting dining companions en route to the resort and this is by far the most stylish of any resort transfer. Although the property is relatively close to the city and airport, it certainly does not feel like it with no other island visible on the horizon whilst sitting on the beach.
The resort encompasses three islands and a private reef, surrounded by a 3.6 kilometres length of pristine white sandy beach, tropical greenery, a lagoon and the deep turquoise ocean in the South Malé Atoll. The Atoll is made up of 30 islands of which 17 are resorts, three are inhabited and ten uninhabited. It is divided from North Malé Atoll by the 4.5-kilometre-wide deep channel of Vaadhoo Kandu.
Bicycles are provided - gratis - for each villa.
There are 119 one, two and three-bedroom villas located across the three islands making up the resort all offering contemporary luxurious living, most with traditional thatched roofs with ceilings open to the rafters, ceiling fans and a neutral colour palette ensuring the destination is the focus. All offer privacy and come with a private pool, a deck or a terrace, in-water loungers, swing daybeds and shaded dining gazebos. There are also 165-centimetre HDTVs and sound systems for in-villa entertainment.
Bathrooms are huge - accessed via walk through closets – and come with standalone oversized tubs, indoor and outdoor showers and twin vanities. Other amenities include the signature Waldorf Astoria bed; 400 thread count Frette bed linens; bathrobes & slipper; tea and coffee making facilities; personal safes; air-conditioning; black out curtains and a complimentary pillow menu. Tech-smart, all the blinds, curtains, lights and air-conditioning are easily operated via an iPad too.
The choice of accommodation really comes down to the type of villa preferred – beach, reef with garden access or over water. Size wise, the entry level King Beach Villa with Pool is a roomy 234 square metres of space housed within a private garden whilst the King Grand Beach Villa with Pool is slightly larger and more expansive at 276 square metres of space. The twin Queen Bedded Grand Beach Villas with pools starts at 286 square metres of space.
All the structures have high ceilings, open to the rafters and floor to ceiling windows which open out onto the deck and thereafter, through the undergrowth, onto the beach. There are also two- and three-Bedroom Beach Villas with Pools and Grand Beach Villas with Pools available sized from 599 square metres – 1,023 square metres of space, perfect for friends and families with a large garden and twin infinity pools.
There is direct ocean access and double hammocks for the King Reef Villa with Pool offering 279 square metres of living space, whilst sunrise views are guaranteed with the King Grand Reef Villa with Pool at 319 square metres of space and the Two Queen Bedded Grand Reef Villa with Pool at 333 square metres of space. The Two Bedroom Reef Villa with Pool is sized at 601 square metres of space, accessed from a sandy tropical garden.
Over water villas start with the King Overwater Villas with Pool at 283 square metres of space with King Grand Overwater Villa with Pool roomier at 334 square metres of space. Both come complete with a unique glass floored dressing room revealing the reef below. Larger accommodation includes the Two Queen Bedded Overwater Villas with Pools, the Two Queen Bedded Grand Overwater Villas with Pools. The largest accommodation in these categories is reserved for a Two Bedroom and Three Bedroom Overwater Villa ranging in size from 624 square metres to 1,113 square metres of living area. These rooms offer the true Maldivian experience, sitting overwater and looking out over an azure ocean and an endless horizon.
The two Stella Maris Ocean Villas are stand-alone duplex structures which are more like contemporary homes, accessible only by boat, ensuring a complete castaway experience. The stars of the show, no pun intended, these stunning modern villas feature horizontal design lines rather than the typical Maldivian pitched thatched roofs of the rest of the resort, with overhangs lending shade and uninterrupted views out over the Indian Ocean. Named for the Star of the Sea used by ancient mariners to navigate, the Stella Maris Ocean Villas offer an open plan layout and tall ceilings allowing the soft ocean breezes to find their way through the villa. The upper floors, which are entertaining spaces, are linked by a custom-made spiral staircase. Even better, guests wake up to a complimentary floating breakfast delivered in villa whilst high up on the second floor, there is a chef’s barbeque for a custom designed menu for that à deux moment.
The upper deck is also the perfect place for a private couples’ romantic massage which uses warm heart shaped Himalayan salt stones to improve circulation, exfoliate the body and eliminate stress. The treatment concludes with an exclusive gold infused oil, champagne and heart and star shaped chocolates. The resort gifts a heart-shaped salt stone to each couple as a memento of their stay.
If that is not enough, the resort also provides a dedicated cabana on the main resort’s beach offering both sun and shade with dining tables, couches and lounges looking out over the ocean.
With indoor and outdoor spaces, a private infinity pool, a hot tub, overwater hammocks and direct ocean access, the villas are allocated a dedicated personal concierge, enjoy daily breakfast and feature daily use of the beach cabana. Décor is muted and California- cool allowing the blues of the ocean to be the star. There is also a state-of-the-art audio-visual entertainment system. In the spacious bathrooms, the deep soaking tub takes centre stage overlooking the ocean whilst there are twin vanities and indoor and outdoor rain showers.
The ultimate in accommodation however has to be the 32,000 square metre Ithaafushi Private Island – a private island within a private island complex – perfect for VIPs looking to escape from the glare of the world. There is a three-bedroom beach villa, a two-bedroom over water villa, a four-bedroom residence to offer nine bedrooms serviced by five pools, a private entertainment clubhouse and a Padel court. Other amenities include water sports and a yacht mooring, with private chefs and personal concierges on call. There is also easy boat access, of course, to the main resort’s amenities.
There is something for everyone here at this stunning resort. There are two main pools – the Lagoon Pool and the Mirror Pool, situated close to the white sandy beach, serviced by menus of light bites, crafted cocktails to the backdrop of a resident DJ. Close by, surrounded by lush greenery, there are four Lagoon cabanas offering that extra bit more for a special day in the sun. Packages are available including one offering Champagne and oysters.
The Waldorf Astoria Spa in contrast offers a welcome sanctuary away from the heat of the sun with ten treatment villas including some over water. Situated within the confines of the tropical gardens, this serene retreat offers a wide range of holistic treatments and exercise programmes designed to achieve results whilst being a relaxing and rebalancing experience. With The Maldives first-ever Wellness Concierge service, offerings are personalised with a consultation process with treatments offered either in-residence or in the Spa. There are also hair stylists, nail therapists and makeovers available. Private meditation, yoga – including aerial yoga, personal training, beach bootcamp, boxing, TRX training, Aqua coach and Pilates sessions are also available or head over to the Ocean Pavilion for Sunset Yoga. There is also a well-equipped fitness centre to maintain gym routines whilst on holiday and for the energetic, there are tennis and Padel courts available. The over water Aqua Wellness Centre meanwhile features a purpose-built hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, steam room and sauna whilst the 270 square metre pool is designed in zones for water therapies targeting different areas of the body.
This being a luxury resort in the Maldives, there is just about every water sport opportunity you can think of from Windsurfing to catamaran sailing to stand up paddle boarding to kayaking. There is also water skiing, wakeboarding, parasailing, X-Jets jetpacks, Seabobs and more together with tuition for beginners. The resort’s Diving and Snorkelling programmes range from the beginner to the experienced with exhilarating experiences for everyone – even diving down to shipwrecks - together with PADI courses for beginners and the advanced diver. For snorkellers, there are opportunities to explore the house reef, go night snorkelling, nurse shark, dolphin and whale shark snorkelling. For the eco-conscious, adopt a coral frame and help restore the beauty of the ocean.
A variety of excursions are also available ranging for desert island picnics, to a Malé city tour, to sunbathing on a sandbank and game fishing and cruising on a luxury yacht. For animal lovers, try a Dolphin Cruise.
For children up to 12 years old, there is the Stars Club and Club Nova for teens up to seventeen. Lots of fun is arranged with a bit of education on the Ocean and sustainability thrown in for good measure.
When the name on the sign says it is a Waldorf Astoria resort, you know that you will be enveloped in luxury. So, it comes as no great surprise that the resort offers Maldivian luxury on a grand scale from the size of the island and the square meterage of its guest villas to the number of different cuisines offered by the resort’s ten restaurants to the size of its spa, one of the largest if not the largest in the area. With a design influenced by the natural beauty of its surroundings, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers everything you could possibly want in a luxurious holiday and more.
When you can even book a private island within the resort for your own private paradise to escape from the glare of the public, you know this property is something a little different. For me however, the contemporary styled Stella Maris villas are the icing on the cake – beautifully styled modernist over water dwellings only accessible by boat – that’s the kind of Robinson Crusoe luxury experience that I approve of. “Live Unforgettable” is their brand ethos after all.
You have to love a resort that offers their guests a total of eleven restaurants, lounges and bars all with diverse offerings. From the formal to the casual, from the beach to the treetops, there is something for everyone.
Dine among the treetops in one of seven bamboo spherical nests with unparalleled views out over the ocean in Terra. Enjoy premium dining with some of the world’s finest ingredients such as Miyazake Wagyu Beef and Alba White Truffle. To complement the dishes, there is a wide wine list including the resort’s signature Krug Champagne handpicked by the first Maldivian Krug Ambassador no less.
Yasmeen by contrast offers a heritage Arabian village setting complete with antique décor and artifacts to present a menu of Levant cuisine with traditional oven, mezzes and charcoal grilled meat and seafood.
For a touch of Shanghai, head to Li Long, the resort’s Chinese restaurant offering Peking Duck roasted in The Maldives’ first classic wood-fired oven and a menu of contemporary classics accompanied by a range of speciality Chinese teas. There is also a private dining room for family or group occasions.
The Tasting Table is a great name for a restaurant and guests may enjoy open theatre kitchens offering an array of international favourites from Asia to Europe either in the relaxed dining room or on the beachside terrace.
The Rock is a cave like structure built from Jordanian limestone and featuring a 200-year-old Jarrah wooden table. Seating 12 people, this space is perfect for exclusive wine dinners with an extensive wine cellar of the finest vintages from the New World and the Old.
The Ledge by Dave Pynt has been inspired by Burnt Ends, Dave’s award-winning Michelin starred restaurant in Singapore. It brings a modern barbeque style to the destination and by day, is a casual pool side venue which transforms at night into an intimate dining venue.
For garden to table cuisine, head over to the conservatory-style Glow for a menu devised from the resort’s own vegetable gardens and complemented by a range of organic, biodynamic, sustainable, and natural wines as well as healthy detoxifying drinks.
The serene lounge space of Peacock Alley is the perfect place to chill anytime during the day or night. Enjoy wonderful ocean views and music from the resort’s resident saxophonist whilst sipping a crafty cocktail or three, alongside wines and tapas.
The resort’s Champagne bar is Amber, orientated to enjoy those spectacular Maldivian sunsets with a coup de Champagne from the world’s finest vintages, custom champagne cocktails and a menu of caviar, oysters, and bruschetta.
The poolside beach club Nava offers a casual menu of wood-fired pizzas and small bites to a backbeat of a live DJ, alongside some innovative and refreshing cocktails.
If that is not enough, Chef Rainer Becker has brought Zuma to the islands! Expect delicious Japanese cuisine using local ingredients to create a memorable izakaya-style meal.
For that perfect romantic interlude however, the culinary team here will happily arrange custom dining either on the beach, in-villa, on a secluded sandbank, on a sunset dinner cruise or for a Cinema Paradiso night.
There is no formality here at Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi – just laid back dining in all the settings available.
Hilton as a brand is committed to leading the hospitality industry towards a zero-carbon economy and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in line with climate science. Their initiatives include responsible sourcing of products, increasing the use of renewable energy, promoting low cardon plant-based menus, conserving water by operational efficiency and reducing food waste through donation, recycling, composting and other opportunities. They also operate the largest soap recycling programme in the hospitality industry, collecting used guest soaps and sending them to a variety of recycling partners including Clean the World, Soap Aid, Soap Cycling and Sundara.
Sustainability is a key focus for Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi and for Hilton. The resort has its own nurseries growing fruit, vegetables and herbs with the resort’s chefs partnering up with local fishermen to provide a consistent supply of the freshest fish and seafood. The resort also produces its own still and sparkling water supplied in glass bottles with refillable, non-disposable in-villa amenities. Even the excess heat produced from the main power generators is harvested and re-used to generate hot water for guest rooms.
The three islands are manmade – only really visible by the sand - which is not coral. However, the eco-conscious, guests are encouraged to adopt a coral frame and help restore the beauty of the reef as part of the Ocean Conservation Programme.