The best places to stay on your island getaway.
Story and Photos by Sery Kim
Every luxury brand in the world, from the Four Seasons to Jumeirah, has claimed one of the islands that make up the Maldives as their landmark resort.
Archaeology reveals the islands were inhabited as early as 1500 BC, yet this gorgeous chain of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean has remained pristine due to its remoteness. Even the more modern occupations by the Portuguese (in the 16th century) and the British (in the 19th) did not diminish the rugged splendor of this mostly uninhabited country — in fact, only 188 of the 1,190 islands are populated. But the increased access to the Maldives has meant that travelers’ imaginations have been imprinted with Maldivian sugary sands, pristine waters and pure romance as one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world.
For those looking to visit the Maldives from Washington, D.C., the fastest route is to take one of the Gulf Carriers over to Dubai before a 3 ½ hour hop south to the Maldives. Be forewarned: the airport in the Maldives is tiny, without air conditioning, and without wi-fi; however, the higher-end resorts do have air-conditioned, wi-fi enabled offices where you await transport via boat to one of the 116 islands.
Here are five luxury resorts to consider for travel to the Maldives right now.
At one of the best resorts in the world, the Anantara brand interweaves three islands with three unique styles, just a 35-minute boat ride from the airport. The popular Dhigu Anantara has 110 beach villas and over-water-suites with their own pools, each including a breathtaking standalone bathtub with a full wall of windows overlooking the nearly clear turquoise waters. Simply elegant food, impeccable service, and currently the most comfortable bed in all of the Maldives – if you want to buy the entire bed set, you can, for around $3,500 for the king bed and all the sheets and pillows. Be sure to stop by the spa for a restful massage, as well as one of their restaurants, Sea. Fire. Salt, for a mouthwatering Black Pizza, made with black wheat. For those seeking more couples-focused quiet, try the Veli Anantara with their multitude of private villa options.
The name Jumeirah is associated with impeccable luxury. The brand has created numerous signature skyline-defining properties in the world, including the Burj Al Arab , whose silhouette mimics a sail. Their two properties in the Maldives feel luxurious too. Vittaveli is the more family-friendly of the two, and has 25 different fun activities, with everything from a Dolphin Rock to a beautiful spa in Talise and unquestionably some of the best Indian food in the Maldives under the careful hand of Executive Sous Chef Francis Purification. Truly, the slow-cooked chicken in onion and tomato gravy, flavored with dried fenugreek and called Murgh Lababdar, can turn anyone who thinks they don’t like Indian food into someone who lusts for it. Magnificent.
For a more affordable choice than the over-the-water villas, the beachfront villas at Vittaveli have the unique combination of a spacious outdoor bath (with full mosquito netting), as well as two outdoor bathing options (large soaking tub and standing shower) and a wraparound pool nearby.
One of the Small Luxury Hotel properties in the Maldives, Baros combines a friendly experience with careful luxury. In one of the most idiosyncratic offerings within the Maldives, Baros puts together a dining experience you won’t forget on its own sandbank. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, can be served on your own private lagoon, with the lapping waves creating a lulling harmony. For those who prefer spas, Baros has one of those, too.
The originator of the ocean-villa concept, Adaaran takes pride in its place in Maldivian history. Quaint and more affordable than the impeccable Anantara, the luxurious Jumeirah or the boutique hotel concept in Baros, Adaaran is the choice for those looking to get to the Maldives and enjoy a more simple lifestyle. Because of its relationship to the Maldives’ government, it is also the closest resort to the airport.
The newest resort in the Maldives aspires to take travelers back to the time before the islands were known as an ultra-luxurious tourist destination. This hotel group focuses on being the most environmentally friendly, with an all-outdoors, no air-conditioning dining space and incredible food. The culinary genius behind the AaaVeee brand has come out of retirement, and it is worth going there to try the Sri Lankan food coming out of the kitchen – or for the exceptionally good price. Additionally, with the St. Regis opening its doors on the immediately neighboring island, guests will soon be able to hop between the more native style of AaaVeee and the St. Regis’ perfect luxury.