Don’t plan a stay on this evergreen honeymoon destination without consulting Condé Nast Traveller’s guide to its best new resorts
SHANGRI-LA’S VILLINGILI RESORT AND SPA MALDIVES
Room to book: The Tree House Villas soar three metres above the ground and come with elevated infinity pools with breathtaking views of the ocean.
CNT tip: Indulge in a night excursion on the resort’s 69ft yacht and dine over the equator. Diving enthusiasts should also visit the British Loyalty shipwreck, 30 minutes from the resort.
“The villas are absolutely stunning. The resort also lies next to two deep-water channels so, even when you snorkel around the island, the variety of marine life is spectacular,” says Suman Manghnani, a hotelier.
Villingili Island, Addu Atoll (+960 689 7888; www.shangri-la.com) Doubles from Rs 37,900; Tree House Villas start from Rs 57,900 a night
HUVAFEN FUSHI MALDIVES
Room to book: The Ocean Pavilion has two bedrooms, a private fibre-optic infinity pool and butler service.
CNT tip: Opt for a romantic dinner for two at the beautifully-lit fibre-optic infinity pool with your feet in the water and stars overhead.
“Huvafen Fushi has some stunning features. Take the underwater spa, where I had an unforgettable massage while watching a magnificent shark circle just inches from me. Vinum, their wine cellar, has a great selection. I loved the sense of solitude I experienced at this resort,” says Ambika Hinduja, a film producer.
North Malé Atoll (+960 664 4222; www.huvafenfushi.peraquum.com) Doubles from Rs 41,850; Ocean Pavilions start from Rs 2.04 lakh a night
FOUR SEASONS RESORT MALDIVES AT LANDAA GIRAAVARU
Room to book: The two-bedroom Royal Beach Villa has a 30-metre lap pool, a garden courtyard, guest pavilions and private beach access.
CNT tip: Snorkel or dive with whale sharks and manta rays at Hanifaru Bay between June and October.
“I did a shoot at the resort and it was the most memorable experience of my life. My suite had a private lap pool and sunset bed which I used for yoga. I also stayed on the Four Seasons Explorer, a luxury yacht. I’ll never forget the azure waters stretching for miles—it felt like heaven,” says Jacqueline Fernandez, an actor.
Baa Atoll (+960 660 0888; www.fourseasons.com) Doubles from Rs 39,600; The Royal Beach Villa starts from Rs 3.33 lakh a night
ANANTARA KIHAVAH VILLAS, MALDIVES
Room to book: Built over the water from groove-lined timber with high ceilings and hardwood floors, the Over-Water Pool Villas have walk-in wardrobes, wine chillers, private pools and sun decks.
CNT tip: Borrow an iPad from the library, if you’ve forgotten yours.
“My wife and I stayed at an Anantara property in the Maldives. We got excellent service—the staff organised a tailor-made menu for us, as we are both vegetarians. We dined by the beach and by the pool, and in all the lovely restaurants,” says Niraj Bajaj, an industrialist.
Kihavah (+960 660 1020; www.anantara.com) Doubles from Rs 51,500; Over-Water Pool Villa starts from Rs 64,200 a night
SIX SENSES (SONEVA FUSHI, SONEVA GILI AND SIX SENSES LAAMU)
Room to book at Soneva Fushi: The Retreat, an 11,937sq ft villa with a spa suite and sea water swimming pool.
Room to book at Soneva Gili: The Private Reserve, with two master suites, a spa and a private motor boat.
Room to book at Six Senses Laamu: The Water Villas come with an outdoor bathroom and an ocean view glass tub.
CNT tip: Don’t miss a session at the Six Senses’ award-winning spas. Try the Kurumbaa Kaashi Coconut Rub (Rs 7,790 for 90 minutes) at Soneva Fushi, the Jet Lag Recovery Massage (Rs 7,790 for 90 minutes) at Soneva Gili and the Tropical Bamboo Mist (Rs 9,800 for 60 minutes) at Six Senses Laamu.
“The understated luxury and privacy make SonevaFushi quite special, while at SonevaGili I love the villas in the middle of the crystal lagoon. The resorts emphasise the importance of preserving the reef around them and I love the fact that the diverse marine life around the island always has the right of way,” says Arvind Dubash, an industrialist.
(www.sixsenses.com) Doubles at Soneva Fushi from 26,600; Retreats start from Rs 1.73 lakh a night. Doubles at Soneva Gili from Rs 41,200; The Private Reserve starts from Rs 3.7 lakh a night. Doubles at Six Senses Laamu from Rs 26,000; Water Villas start from Rs 38,200 a night.
TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA, MALDIVES
Room to book: The Rehendi Presidential Suite with a glass-walled bathroom, sand-deck and infinity pool.
CNT tip: Spend some time exploring Malé, only 15 minutes from the resort. An added bonus—the luxury speedboat is available 24 hours a day.
“The Taj Exotica is a great place to bond with your family. The chef from one of the restaurants actually taught me how to bake a chocolate mud pie, a recipe I still use frequently. Also, the resort is very calm as it is surrounded by coral reefs,” says Pinky Reddy, a socialite .
South Malé Atoll (+960 664 2200; www.tajhotels.com) Doubles from Rs 30,000; The Rehendi Presidential Suite starts from Rs Rs 2.2 lakh a night
W RETREAT & SPA MALDIVES
Room to book: The Ocean Haven, a 5,000sq ft two-bedroom suite with floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open, infinity pool, wraparound sundeck and glass-panelled floors that reveal lagoon fauna below.
CNT tip: Take a ride on the SeaBob, a water-rocket (part jet ski, part body-board) that propels you at speeds of up to 20 km/hr—both over and under water.
“This is one of W’s best properties. It has a very young, hip feel yet exudes luxury. The staff live up to the W’s ‘whatever/whenever’ policy, and greet you by asking what you wish for. It made me feel like I had my own personal genie,” says Priyanjali Mariwala, a designer.
Fesdu Island, North Ari Atoll (+960 666 2222; www.starwoodhotels.com) Doubles from Rs 41,200; The Ocean Haven starts from Rs 3.55 lakh a night
ONE&ONLY REETHI RAH, MALDIVES
Room to book: The Grand Water Villa, a one-bedroom villa with 24-hour butler service, a private pool, platforms for sun beds, outdoor dining and hammocks dangling over the ocean.
CNT tip: Avail of the Kids Only and teenage clubs, which cater to children from four to 17 with a wide variety of activities, from pirate cruises to cooking classes.
“I visited the resort with 11 friends and the staff catered to our every wish. One day they served us a picnic on a sand bank off the island, and the next, they organised a private dinner at an unoccupied villa with our very own DJ,” says Radhika Mehra, a graphic designer.
North Malé Atoll (+ 960 664 8800; www.oneandonlyresorts.com) Doubles from Rs 41,200; Grand Water Villa start from Rs 1.95 lakh a night
Room to book: All eight Island Revive suites come with jaw-dropping panoramic views. Each of the suites have deep marble baths, an outdoor rain shower, infinity-edged windows, 24-hour butler service and a private beach, massage room and pool. The resort also arranges for speedboat or private seaplane transfers.
CNT tip: The resort, which opened in March, has an exclusive opening offer valid until September 2011. Rates from Rs 2.07 lakh for three nights including airport transfers and a romantic candlelight dinner, which includes champagne, a spa treatment for two and a sunset cruise.
Meradhoo Island, GaafuAlifu Atoll (+971 4364 7171; www.jumeirah.com) Doubles from Rs 91,200; The Island Revives start from Rs 1.65 lakh a night.
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