Every single one of the country’s some 280-some inhabited islands appears to come with crystal clear waters and bleach-white sandy beaches, not to mention enough aquatic life to please Jacques Cousteau-lovers. But all is not what it seems.
The best hotels in the Maldives pair the sun, sea and sand with top-notch service, and build upon the natural beauty of the island with award-winning accommodation and amenities (and the odd infinity pool here and there doesn’t hurt, either).
The benchmark for what a five-star luxury property in the Maldives should look like is surely the OneOnly Reethi Rah, a palm-fringed island that’s a favourite among Hollywood A-listers, and is perfect for couples and families looking for laid-back luxury.
The island is located just 40-minutes by speedboat away from the capital Malé – which makes it far easier to get to over the usual seaplane – and is one of the largest in the North Male Atoll.
Reethi Rah’ translates to ‘beautiful island’ and we can understand why. When it was first unveiled more than a decade ago, it instantly set the bar for luxury properties in the Maldives, and it continues to do so today. Expect design influences from traditional Maldivian, Chinese and Balinese architecture, but with all the mod-cons you’d expect from a five-star in 2018.
What makes the stay here extra special are the staff. There are more than 800 individuals on the island, and each is dedicated to making every guest’s stay that much more exciting (the property boasts one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios in the country).
Reethi Rah operates on its own time zone – island time – which is one hour ahead of the capital. That allows guests to better enjoy the picturesque sunsets that the country is known for, not to mention have a little extra time at happy hour.
Being one of the largest properties in the Maldives, there is a truly dizzying array of things to do – including 12 beaches, a dive centre, tennis and a FIFA-certified football pitch, rock climbing, cookery and art lessons, as well as shopping in the resort’s very own luxury boutique. And to get around, the hotel puts on a chauffeured fleet of golf buggies (or if pedalling is more your style, the resort provides bicycles to each guest).
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention he world-class ESPA, which is almost a destination itself. There is a range of uber-relaxing treatments to be had, ranging from massages to facials. There are even specially-tailored wellness programs; helpful for guests who want to leave the island looking – and feeling – that much better.
The rooms are various, ranging from generously-sized beachside villas – with their private strip of beach – to huge overwater villas, complete with infinity pools and private cabanas (though all were designed by Jean-Michel Gathy).
The Grand Sunset Residence – with a private beach, outdoor cinema and choice of pool – gives guests the ultimate level of exclusivity (and has previously hosted such high-fliers as The Beckhams, Tom Cruise and Gordon Ramsay). All villas have high vaulted ceilings and feature natural wood and stone elements. As you’d expect from an island this grand, each is incredibly spacious.
Food and drink is an important aspect of any luxury stay, and Reethi Rah doesn’t disappoint. Botanica champions ‘garden-to-fork’ dishes, while Reethi is an extraordinary space that takes inspiration from Asian, French and Italian cuisine. Tapasake – right on the edge of the property – provides a generous Tapas-style Japanese menu (and idyllic views of the sunset) while Fanditha Bar is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a shisha or afternoon tea.