Luxury tends to be the default in the Maldives, its dream-like islands and atolls delivering the finer experiences in life with a resort to suit every taste and mood. But what about when traditional five-star luxury is simply not enough, and we want something really special?
For those taking a step beyond the ordinary, the luxury travel specialists at Red Savannah have rounded up some of the very best places to stay – private islands with standalone residences and beachside enclaves – and remarkable experiences that will take your trip to the Maldives to an entirely new level.
Maldives resorts with the best private residences
Some resorts by their reputation alone are synonymous with exclusive luxury. Cheval Blanc Randheli – the self-proclaimed ‘hushed haven of the Maldives’ – has long been a stalwart for those looking to pull out all the stops. Its private island is one of the finest in the archipelago, comprising an exquisite one-hectare island with three-bedroom house, guest villa, 25-metre pool, tropical gardens and team of ‘ambassadeurs’. There’s also a meditation pavilion, fitness centre, private spa and screening room.
At Velaa Private Island, exclusivity is the name of the game, with some of the most luxurious overwater bungalows in the Maldives as well as a number of sumptuous private residences including a four-bedroom private villa with its own outdoor cinema. Experiences here are curated by a butler on an entirely private basis and include delicious meals on desert islands followed by dolphin watching at sunset. Lovers of water sports will also particularly enjoy the thrilling sensation of flying above the dazzling lagoon on a fly board or tandem jetovator.
With an impressive A-List guest book, The ‘Amilla Estate’ is an exclusive 14-guest residence with its own spa, cinema and rooftop bar. Should all of this become a little de trop, you could take it back a notch and reconnect with nature in one of Amilla’s luxury treetop pool villas, or perhaps even spend a night in a glamping pod on the beach, where – after a private beach massage and champagne barbecue – you can fall asleep to unobstructed views of the night sky.
It would be remiss not to also mention the breath-taking private reserve at Gili Lankanfushi. Standing completely alone in the middle of a sparkling turquoise lagoon, this expansive, multi-level overwater villa boasts its own spa pavilion with sauna and steam room, fully equipped gym, bar and cinema. There is also a water slide descending from the top deck of the villa straight into the lagoon because, well – why not? Should the private reserve have already been snapped up, you can replicate the experience of seclusion in one of the resort’s seven Crusoe residences, also standing completely alone in the lagoon and accessed only by private boat.
New kid on the block, Patina Maldives, Fari Islands goes one step further with ‘The Beach Collection’. Set at the head of the island in a private enclave and with its own beach, it accommodates a total of 27 guests in a three-bedroom house and six adjacent one-bedroom pool villas. This piece of paradise has a private island feel and comes with various experiences exclusively for Beach Collection guests including movie nights, wine tasting at The Organic Garden and an opportunity to build coral reef with the island’s marine biologist.
The best fine dining experiences in the Maldives
What other destination in the world could attract world renowned chefs and grow and source such an eclectic mix of delicious, organic cuisine? Each Maldivian island has its own unique flavours and collectively is full of gastronomical delights.
Restorative dishes prepared with organic and healthy ingredients which don’t compromise on flavour can be enjoyed at One&Only Reethi Rah’s Botanica with Matthew Kenney. The imaginative plant-based menu, largely sourced from the island’s abundant vegetable and herb garden, supports its sustainability credentials and, as well as a treat for your taste buds, will ensure you head home with a happy gut.
For a dining experience unlike any other head to Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant welcomes diners five metres below the ocean’s surface for a colourful and sometimes surprising fine-dining experience. Every seat is the best in the house in this imaginative underwater dome as myriad marine life swims overhead. The restaurant can be exclusively hired for special occasions. Above ground, relaxed dining meets fine cuisine at Efaa by Jereme Leung with a menu inspired by the chef’s Chinese heritage.
Soneva Fushi’s Soneva Stars initiative sees a roster of celebrity and Michelin chefs join the team to bring fresh flavours and culinary innovation to the island. With guest chefs throughout the year there is always a delicious surprise and a different world flavour on the menu.
Gastronomes can complete a perfect day with a 12-course feast at Cheval Blanc Randheli’s Le 1947. Described as ‘a ballet for the senses’, the French fine dining experience is accompanied by equally elegant views over the fragrant tropical gardens.
The best experiences in the Maldives
While world class accommodation, Michelin-starred dining and million-dollar wine cellars are a given in the Maldives, the luxury experience extends beyond the obvious comfort factors as island resorts compete with each other to create one-off experiences.
At Naladhu Private Island guests can charter a vessel and learn traditional Maldivian fishing techniques from an expert, returning with their own catch to be prepared by the chef for dinner. Alternatively charter a dhoni at Huvafen Fushi and enjoy a day cast away on a deserted, powder-white sandbank, whiling away hours swimming, snorkelling and enjoying a tropical picnic with crisp, chilled wine. You may even wish to remain castaway for a night, awoken with mimosas at sunrise.
If a soothing massage on the shores of paradise sounds like heaven, how about relaxing beneath the waves at the world’s first underwater spa? Huvafen Fushi’s Lime embraces the gentle calm of the sea with a range of sumptuous treatments from eight metres below. The Underwater Rendezvous delivers serenity beneath the waves in a one-of-a-kind setting.
Finally, for the cachet of staying in the world’s first underwater villa, take a private speedboat to The Muraka on Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. Pioneers in all things submarine, the Conrad design team have pulled out all the stops in the creation of The Muraka private residence. Much of the dazzling white villa is above water to take advantage of the abundant sunshine and to access the private infinity pool and turquoise waters from the sun deck.
It is descending to the sleeping quarters of the villa where the world becomes completely transformed. Fall asleep to the utter tranquillity of life on the ocean floor, and wake to shoals of angel fish floating above, unhurried sea turtles being carried along by the gentle currents or perhaps the occasional manta ray or reef shark gliding through the pristine waters. Add a movie star element by enlisting a professional film crew to record a documentary based on highlights of your time at The Muraka, as well as your snorkelling and diving adventures.
Red Savannah can organise the most indulgent or low-key Maldivian escape. Their specialists have visited the islands and have the best contacts in the business. Find out more about Red Savannah’s ultimate Maldivian escapes here.