Paradise beckons: 7 new and upcoming resorts in The Maldives worth a splurge
With a wealth of luxury resorts that have opened or are opening in 2019, there’s no better time to plan a visit to The Maldives. Here are seven properties to check out.
The first hotel outside Europe for this venerable Italian chain lies a plane-ride southwest of The Maldives’ capital, Male. Rooms feature a clean white, cream and beige colour scheme, the pick of them being the Water Villa Sunset (fret not, there are 16 of them), perfectly positioned to watch the sun lazily sink into the Indian Ocean. Water enthusiasts can pick from stand-up paddle boards, canoes, pedalos, or join the three daily snorkelling excursions, including one every sunset, done by torchlight. Expect unforgettable cuisine.
Highlight: The Italian food
How to get there from Male: A 40-minute flight from the Seaplane Terminal
What to pack: Elegant, chic beach wear
Good for: Divers, foodies
EMERALD MALDIVES RESORT & SPA
A member of Leading Hotels of the World, this property opening in mid-2019 bills itself as a “platinum all-inclusive”. It features its own house reef, private marina, and a cool, St Tropez beach club-style atmosphere. The 120 rooms are split evenly between beachfront and overwater, and have a predominantly white palette enlivened by bright slashes of colour on a bed throw or piece of furniture. Dining choices range from a grill restaurant to Mediterranean, from Asian to Central and South American. The complimentary kids’ club has its own restaurant and pool.
Highlight: The Presidential Water Villa with a private butler and an indoor/outdoor pool
How to get there from Male: A 40-minute flight from the Seaplane Terminal or a 30-minute domestic flight with a 15-minute boat transfer
What to pack: Loose, comfortable clothing. With the all-inclusive set-up, you’ll eat plenty
Good for: Honeymooners, yachties, the restless
INTERCONTINENTAL MALDIVES MAAMUNAGAU RESORT
In the northern Raa Atoll, and opening in the third quarter of 2019, this resort supplies 81 thatched-roof villas divided among the beach, lagoon, and overwater. Meals options include Spanish, Italian, and seafood with Southeast Asian flavours. Relax at an overwater spa with vitality pools, steam rooms and ice fountains, or at a pool where the swim-up bar and adjacent terrace serve gelatos, juices, cocktails and snacks all day. The brave might try out SeaBobs, water jetpacks, and X-Jetblades, while everyone can learn about the local aquatic environment at the marine discovery centre.
Highlight: The Retreat, open to all adults staying at the resort, with its own pool, lounge area, and bar
How to get there from Male: A 35-minute flight from the Seaplane Terminal or a 20-minute domestic flight with a 35-minute boat transfer
What to pack: Active wear, waterproof cameras
Good for: Adventurers, water babies, outgoing families
JW MARRIOTT MALDIVES RESORT & SPA
Duplex villas on the beach and over the water are among the 61 rooms at this property in the northern Shivayani Atoll, an area of the country with few luxury resorts. Guests can also look forward to a range of cuisines, from Italian to Thai to Maldivian curries. A kids’ club caters to youngsters while night owls can drop by three fully serviced bars or the cigar room, shisha room, and insulated karaoke venue at Lounge 18. Anticipate a solid selection of water-sports, with a marine biologist on hand to demystify the secrets of the sea.
Highlight: The Wine Room, with approximately 1,620 bottles and 320 labels
How to get there from Male: A 55-minute flight from the Seaplane Terminal, though a domestic airport being built nearby will open by the end of 2019
What to pack: Something a little dressy for the evenings
Good for: Multi-generational families, wine lovers
Comprising 26 beach and ocean houses on a Lilliputian island – just 250 metres across – and surrounded by coral reefs, this resort calls the Unesco Biosphere Reserve Baa Atoll home. The mantra at the property, named for the curved marine mollusc, could be ‘anything, anywhere, anytime’: There are no dress codes, no set restaurant hours, no fixed menu choices, no real rules, and service and activities parallel the guests’ whims. Large, bright, open rooms have thatch roofs and soothing tones, come with ocean views and private pools, and are attended by House Captains (butlers). Activities include the usual water sports, daily yoga and meditation sessions, and treatments at the spa.
Highlight: Swimming with whale sharks and manta rays at Hanifaru Bay
How to get there from Male: A 35-minute flight from the Seaplane Terminal
What to pack: Whatever you want
Good for: Tech multi-millionaires, rock stars, boho-chic free spirits
RAFFLES MALDIVES MERADHOO
The first Raffles property in this nation proudly offers signature cocktails like the Singapore Sling at its Long Bar, as well as Japanese and South American concoctions at the overwater Bar. Beach villas come with private pools, opulent marble bathrooms with sunken bathtubs and outdoor showers, while overwater rooms – accessible by boat – have glass-panel flooring on their terraces, allowing guests to watch marine life like turtles and baby sharks below. Try Peruvian-Japanese dishes at Yuzu and flame-grilled meats and seafood under the stars at the Firepit.
Highlight: The Raffles Royal Residence, which can sleep eight, with its own private beach, shaded outdoor terraces, and 24-hour butler service
How to get there from Male: A 55-minute domestic flight followed by a 15-minute speedboat transfer
What to pack: Smart island wear – plenty of light cotton and linen
Good for: Moneyed Asian couples, families, retirees
WALDORF ASTORIA MALDIVES ITHAAFUSHI
Situated a quick boat ride from Male International Airport, this resort with its own private reef spreads across three islands. All of its 122 villas have broad decks with a daybed, dining gazebo, infinity pool, outdoor rain shower, and Indian Ocean views. Meals present a range of options, from a treetop-dining experience at Terra to Middle Eastern and Chinese.
Highlight: The two overwater residences – accessible only by boat – with 17-metre infinity pools and large upper deck offering mouthwatering ocean views
How to get there from Male: A 30-minute boat transfer directly from Male International Airport
What to pack: Plenty of beach gear
Good for: Long-weekend romantic getaways