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9. April 2021
by Varun Sharma
The Maldives offers the ultimate beach resort holiday. Located in the Indian Ocean, some 700 kilometres south-west of India and Sri Lanka, visitors can expect amazing resorts on islands that boast fine white sand beaches, turquoise seas, amazing overwater villas, outstanding service, and some of the most amazing starry night skies on Earth. Add to that, a delightful year-round climate and delicious cuisine – not to mention fantastic diving and indeed for those who seek it, just peace & tranquillity. The Maldives has it all.
The BusinessClass.com guide to the finest resorts in the Maldives.
There are four different and wonderful Four Seasons experiences in the Maldives – a private island (Voavah), a luxury cruising/diving yacht (Explorer) and two island resorts – Kuda Huraa (North Malé Atoll) and Landaa Giraavaru (Baa Atoll). While they have unique qualities and offer superb facilities, service, and memories, Landaa is quite special. The island is a 35-minute seaplane flight from the Maldives capital, Malé in a northerly direction. The Baa Atoll is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. On arrival, the legendary Four Seasons service kicks-in and remains for your entire holiday. The resort has 103 villas – either on the beach or on stilts above the crystal blue water of the Indian Ocean. The villas – complete with Maldivian architecture - are among the most sizeable in the Maldives and are the height of comfort and sophistication. They all enjoy superb views and sport ila products in the bathrooms.
The Four Seasons Resort Landaa Giraavaru has five restaurants and bars: Café Landaa, Blu, Fuego Grill, Al Barakat (Lebanese and Armenian fare), Sea Bar and Shisha Bar. There are four swimming pools including one that is of Olympic size. The spa has ayurvedic leanings and will focus on your dosha (mind-body) in its healing practices. The Marine Research Centre is an amazing place to learn about the wildlife in the Maldives. Between June and November, manta rays swim in the waters surrounding the resort. When they are spotted, a 30-minute warning is issued, giving guests time to grab fins & snorkels and head into the Indian Ocean. Swimming with a manta ray is a truly remarkable experience.
One&Only Reethi Rah - 9/10
With 122 thatched-roof villas, One&Only Reethi Rah is one of the largest luxury resorts in the Maldives. The Reethi Rah island paradise is 109 acres in area and boasts 12 delicious beaches on its 6 kilometres of coastline. The resort can be found in the North Malé Atoll – just 45 minutes from the capital Malé by boat or just 15 minutes by seaplane – making it convenient for families. The island is set up for large numbers of guests and this is reflected in the facilities on offer. There are two all-weather tennis courts, a FIFA-accredited football pitch and even a climbing wall. Younger guests are catered for with their own KidsOnly club – which mixes sports with crafts and the odd educational activity! ClubOne is a beach club that is open to guests of all ages and offers an activity for everyone.
The 122 villas at the One&Only Reethi Rah are either beach or overwater villas – both offering superb amenities. The beaches are – of course – fine grain, white sand leading into the warm Indian Ocean. The resort offers every kind of water sport imaginable from snorkelling and diving to Hobie Cats and kayaking. The spa has 13 rooms with a plethora of treatments on offer and the PEDI:MANI:CURE studio from the “king of hands & feet” – Bastien Gonzalez. There are a host of restaurants and bars on the resort but Tapasake – Japanese cuisine, Fanditha – Middle Eastern fare and Botanica which serves only organic food & wines are the highlights.
Soneva Jani - 9/10
In 1995, Eva & Sonu Shivdasani opened Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. It was to revolutionise the concept of the luxury island resort. Using the moniker - no news, no shoes - guests were encouraged to immerse themselves in their holiday and forget any & all troubles. Footwear was discouraged as were telephones or the internet – they still are today! Soneva promoted sustainability when that word was hardly uttered. It also lavished all its guests with the kind of service you would expect in a palace hotel. In 2016 when Soneva Jani opened in the Noona Atoll, much was expected … and was delivered - in spade-loads. It takes around 45 minutes to fly by seaplane from Malé to Medhufaru – the main island that Soneva Jani sits atop.
This intimate Soneva Jani resort is made up of five islands and has just 24 water retreats and 27 new water reserves. There are private beaches, private lagoons, private cinema showings, private breakfasts, private cruises, and a private wine tasting room … but Jani is as much for families as it is for couples. Nearly all the villas feature its own water slide – great fun for younger - and indeed older - guests! The villas offer the very best of well, everything - some even with a retractable roof, offering amazing night skies. There is a four-room spa, a kid’s centre, gym, dive centre, water sports club and one of the finest observatories in the Indian Ocean. The resort has its own astronomer who is on hand to show you the stars. With more stars in the solar system than grains of sand on Earth, you can easily lose yourself in the spectacle that is the Jani Observatory. The Gathering is the main breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant offering but there are a plethora of other dining locations including on any one of the beaches, the resort yacht, in-room and the Crab Shack.
Cheval Blanc Randheli – 9/10
When Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced that it was opening a resort – under its Cheval Blanc brand - in the Maldives, fashionistas and oenophiles around the world rejoiced! And their adulation was fully vindicated as LVMH produced one of Indian Ocean’s most stunning resorts. No expense has been spared on this Noonu Atoll, 45 – one- and two-bedroom villa - property. The experience begins at Malé where guests are transferred to Randheli island in a beautifully appointed Cheval Blanc Private Airways DHC-6 Twin Otter seaplane aircraft. On arriving on Randheli, they are introduced to their majordomo (butler) and the ultimate luxury beach Indian Ocean resort experience takes hold.
The Cheval Blanc Randheli was designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, a Belgian who specialises in making hotels & resorts, extra-special. He has worked with brands including Aman, Mandarin Oriental and One&Only. The villas are superb – complete with high-ceilings, plush and comforting furnishings, hammocks, daybeds, and loungers. Guests walk or bicycle around the resort. Facilities include tennis, yoga, fitness bootcamps, a golf simulator, and the only Guerlain Spa in the Indian Ocean. There is a plethora of water sports on offer – including diving and snorkelling. Pods of spinner dolphins and turtles can be seen in the waters surrounding the resort. The cuisine served at the resort is sensational. Enjoy Japanese and Asian-inspired dishes at Diptyque, curries at The White, pizza at Deelani and haute cuisine at 3 Michelin-starred winning chef Yannick Alléno’s 1947. The Owner’s Villa is one of the finest suites in the Indian Ocean. It sits on its own 2-acre island, boasts 4 bedrooms and an 25 metre swimming pool. It is only accessible by dhoni. Superb.
Six Senses Laamu - 9/10
It is a one-hour flight – due south – from Malé to Kadhdhoo Airport – the gateway to the Laamu Atoll. From there, it is a short speedboat journey to the Six Senses Laamu. A warm welcome awaits - followed by a holiday of superlatives. The resort features 97 water and beach villas – all constructed from sustainable materials. The island on which the resort sits – Olhuveli – is close to some of the best surfing in the Indian Ocean and the property is popular for lovers of water sports – especially between May and September. The Six Senses is renowned for its spa offerings and the spa at Laamu is superb – offering nine nests and a plethora of treatments from some of the most highly trained aestheticians in the world.
There are two main restaurants at the Six Senses Laamu including LEAF which serves incredible organic dishes with ingredients from local fishermen and growers. Zen is a laid-back live kitchen that offers Japanese fusion food and Sip provides guests cocktails and casual dining – pizza and burgers. Deck-A-Dence has 6 glass-bottomed tables where guests can enjoy a meal over the ocean. Chill Bar serves Vietnamese cuisine, stiff cocktails, and a resident DJ spins tunes to suit the mood. Along with an outdoor cinema, ice cream outlet, daily yoga classes and endless walks on – often deserted – beaches, the resort really does tickle the … Six Senses.
LUX* North Malé Atoll - 9/10
Located at the northern tip of the North Malé Atoll sits the island of Olhahali – home to the LUX* North Malé Atoll resort. Unlike most of its peers, this resort is unashamedly contemporary in design and features. No thatched roofs here – there are 67 water and beach villas, residences, and retreats. They boast two floors – giving each a penthouse. Starting at 350 square metres in area, the villas are sizeable for Maldivian resort standards. Every roof features a terrace and deck, and each property comes with an Island Host. They are a personal concierge. Sleek and modern is the style chosen throughout for this family-friendly resort.
Set on 15 acres of Indian Ocean island, the LUX* North Malé Atoll is just an hour by speedboat and 15 minutes by seaplane from the Maldives capital, Malé. This part of the North Malé Atoll offers some of the finest diving in the world. The Dive Shop is the first stop for any keen diver but also loans out flippers for snorkellers. The resort has a yacht and offers a semi-submarine experience. Also on offer to guests are every kind of water sport imaginable - tennis, cooking classes, art & photography classes, yoga, and there is an overwater spa. There are special spa treatments for children too. INTI serves incredible Japanese/Peruvian fusion dishes – think NOBU, Glow provides buffet food, Café LUX – coffee, ICI – ice-creams and Beach Rouge is Maldives answer to Miami Beach. Guests can sit here and sip cocktails or dance until sunrise with the resident DJ spinning his tunes.
Velaa Private Island - 9/10
When it opened in December 2013, Velaa Private Island was hailed as the ultimate, ultra-exclusive, “beyond luxury”, experience in the Maldives. With a reported 1-million-pound (GBP) wine cellar, Clarins amenities in every bathroom, a José Mariá Olazábal golf academy and snow room in the spa, Velaa certainly has much on offer. The 50-acre island is located in the Noonu Atoll, a 45-minute seaplane flight from Malé. Velaa translates as turtle in the native language and the design of the resort keeps this beautiful sea creature in mind. Indeed, the kids club is called Lha Velaa – little turtle. There are 43 private villas, houses, and residences, four four-bedroom residences and the Romantic Pool Residence – a 1-bedroom villa only accessible by boat (dhoni) – which like all the accommodations boasts a private pool … and stunning views. Back on the mainland 18 of the 43 guest-retreats are over water.
The spa provides a plethora of treatments with Clarins being the chosen brand of face and body care products. On the sports front, there is squash, tennis, a wall-climbing face, gym, football pitch, yoga, and everything that an aquaphile could wish for, from diving to snorkelling and jet skis to kayaking. The José Mariá Olazábal golf academy is quite special. The Masters Champion helped construct just 170 metres of greens and fairways, aimed at helping a player’s short game. It is very Velaa. The resort has three restaurants and bars – Aragu & Cru – modern European cuisine and Champagne, Tavaru – teppanyaki and fine wines and finally Athiri & Avi – all-day easy, casual dining – soul food with funky music.
Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa - 9/10
Being just 55 kilometres from the Equator, the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa offers guests the classic barefoot luxury Maldives experience but also the bucket-list opportunity to stand or swim on both the southern and northern hemisphere. The island itself is located in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll. It is a one-hour flight – due south – from Malé to Kooddoo Airport. From there, it is a short speedboat journey to the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. On arrival, guests walk through The Dhoni, a spectacular wooden walkway, bar. and meeting place. It resembles an upturned dhoni boat and is the focal point of the resort. Hadahaa has 50 villas – beach and overwater and twenty boast their own private pools. Branded a Park Hyatt, guests know that the quality of the accommodation and service is excellent.
Sustainability is the resort’s watchword, and it is indeed one of the greenest resorts in the Indian Ocean. The Virdhun Spa offers Maldivian holistic healing with the Dhivehi beys-inspired massage being a popular choice. There are two freshwater swimming pools, a fitness centre and yoga centre. The nearby Mutteyfushi Water Sport Island and lagoon offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a plethora of non-motorised and motorised sports. The Dining Rooms serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Island Grill is open for supper and the Bar at the pool is cocktail-heaven. The Drift – that sits over a lagoon – serves delightful international cuisine. While there are around 30 dive sites close to the Park Hyatt, its own house reef is one of the finest in the Indian Ocean. It sits next to the resort and is teeming with beautiful coral and wildlife. Incredible.
Amilla Fushi - 9/10
Amilla Fushi is a 30-minute seaplane flight from the Maldives capital, Malé in a northerly direction. Alternatively, it is a 10-minute boat ride from the nearest regional airport at Dharavandhoo. The Baa Atoll in which Amilla Fushi sits, is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Amilla boasts a number of room categories from treetop villas to estate houses and even a glamping bubble tent with a total of 68 units on offer. The resort is sleek, cool, minimal, and modern. Of the 26 atolls in the Maldives, Baa is arguably the best for diving and the resort is close to Hanifaru Bay where during May to November, manta rays and whale sharks congregate in vast numbers.
The H.U.B. – Home of Underwater Biosphere – is the resort’s cathedral to all things water based – from diving lessons to booking out a kayak. The Javvu Spa offers 10 treatment pods and every treatment imaginable is available. There is also a nail bar and hairdresser/barber. The resort has two tennis courts, a football pitch and two swimming pools. The Emperor Beach Club is the heart of the Amilla Fushi. From here guests can eat, drink, choose excursions or just rest and relax. The Sultan’s Village Kid’s Club keeps the younger guests amused. There is a photographic studio on site and there are outdoor cinema nights. Amilla Fushi fulfils every culinary need - from Feeling Koi – formal Japanese izakaya – to a traditional British Fish & Chips shop, Joe’s Pizza, and the Wine Cellar – which is an oenophile’s dream.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands - not yet rated
Due to open on the 1st June, The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands is the luxury hotel brands first foray in the region. Located in the North Malé Atoll, the resort is just 10 minutes by seaplane, 45 minutes by speedboat and an hour by yacht - from Malé. There are 100 beautifully appointed 1 – 3 bedrooms villas each with views over the Ocean – either from the beach or over water - an infinity swimming pool, sundeck, and butler or Aris Meeha. The rooms are contemporary in design – beach resort chic. The Ritz-Carlton Maldives offers a number of land and water sports including tennis, football, fishing, diving, badminton, pétanque and there is a state-of-the-art fitness centre.
The property has just announced a partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society and development of their Ambassadors of the Environment program. The Ritz-Carlton Spa Maldives has nine rooms and offers a host of relaxing and rejuvenating treatments. The Ritz Kids Club is designed for ages 4 to 12, with the island’s four pillars – land, water, environmental responsibility, and culture prominent in the activities that younger guests are offered. There are three resorts in the Fari Islands of which the Ritz-Carlton is one. Built around a Beach Club, the shared Fari Marina will offer guests numerous alternative dining experiences. The resort itself has seven restaurants and bars – the highlight being the Maldivian offshoot of Singapore’s Michelin-starred Summer Pavilion. Expect amazing Cantonese cuisine while looking out over the stunning Indian Ocean.
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands, will soon appear in the hotel search on BusinessClass.com.
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