Three heavenly retreats in the Maldives
The Maldives is packed with luxury resorts, but these three stand out, says Chris Carter.
The Maldives is packed with luxury resorts, says Susan d'Arcy in The Sunday Times. One newcomer, Kudadoo, has taken a bold step in a bid to get noticed. The resort calls it the triple-A promise. Guests are encouraged to order anything, anytime and anywhere.
Kudadoo is the "classic Indian Ocean idyll" a "tiny bouquet of coconut palms on bone-white sands" in the Lhaviyani Atoll, a 40-minute flight from the capital, Mal. At one end of the island, 15 pool villas are strung out over a lagoon. At the other end, the retreat houses an overwater restaurant, bar, gym and spa.
The food is "seriously good" thanks to chef Antoine Lievaux, who has worked with the Michelin maestros Alain Ducasse and the late Jol Robuchon. There is an extensive menu, and themed dinners Spanish, Japanese, even a Sunday roast. D'Arcy, however, had the spa tally firmly in her sights. "By 6pm on day one, I'd chalked up three fabulous hours, including sound therapy Tibetan singing bowls stimulating my theta brainwaves to induce relaxation," she says. "I was indeed mellow", which made it all the harder to work up the kind of prima-donna pique necessary to test the resort's triple-A promise. "Dialling up the divadom isn't easy" when you're that relaxed.
Villas from £1,992 a night, all-inclusive kudadoo.com
A spell of the blues
"Hidden away on a remote coral island in the Raa Atoll region, Faarufushi started welcoming guests in March this year," says Lucy Coghlan in The Mail on Sunday's You magazine. The island only has 80 villas, "but be sure to request an Ocean Retreat". These overwater bungalows are "the true showstoppers". With "crisp, modern interiors" that reflect "the graphic lines of the seemingly never-ending horizon the floor-to-ceiling windows ensure you never miss a sunset or even a dolphin splash in the distance". Each villa is "perfectly private, with no nosy neighbours overlooking your own personal paradise". You can enjoy a drink on the decking, or elect to dip a toe into the "clear blue sea or slip into your own infinity pool that effortlessly merges into the skyline It's all blue from here."
In the bathroom you'll find a bath that is more of a "freeflow art installation" than a tub one that is big enough for three. It also faces out to sea, which makes it yet "another perfect spot to while away the time".
If you should opt for a beach bungalow instead, these come with "a very enviable outdoor rainforest shower". But whichever room you choose, "you are not going to be disappointed".
From around £600 a night in October, faarufushi.com
A Maldivian classic
The Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is something of an original, says Matthew Hardeman in Spear's magazine. In 1993, it became the first resort in the Maldives to have overwater villas. Today, after several makeovers, "it still prides itself most on the hotel giant's trademark Indian hospitality, not least the myriaddining options brought to guests byits multi-Michelin-starred chefs".
The Taj is located in South Mal Atoll, Emboodhu Finolhu a short half-hour hop by speedboat from the capital. As guests arrive, "a lone drummer plays on the jetty as a familiar Maldivian welcome of cool drinks and cold towels sets the tone for sunny refreshment in the sticky heat".
Each of the superior overwater villas "comes with a private pool, hammock, lounge chairs,
day beds, bathrooms with his-and-hers sinks, indoor and outdoor showers, Molton Brown toiletries and other bathroom amenities". But to experience the island at its best, check in to the presidential suite. At $10,000 a night, it has everything the wealthiest of visitors could expect, "not least the large deck with its own pool overlooking the ocean in privacy".
All in all, those looking for the sleekest new resort in the Maldives will have to venture further afield and pay for the privilege. "But for those looking for a dependable and easily reachable tropical paradise that has stood the test of time the Taj remains an excellent choice, and a Maldivian classic."
From $800 a night, tajhotels.com