Monday, July 1, 2024
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Top 10 best luxury resorts in the Maldives


best hotels in the maldives

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today: Top 10 best luxury resorts in the Maldives

Widely considered to be the planet’s most exclusive holiday destination, the Maldives is home to a string of ultra-luxurious hotels and resorts that embody the ultimate tropical paradise getaway for honeymooners, sun worshipers, discerning travelers, scuba divers and celebrities. A collection of more than thousand small coral atolls, the Maldives is located on the equator towards the south of India and stretches across 800 km (500 mi) of the Indian Ocean on a north-south axis. The stunningly beautiful islands are the visible coral tips of an oceanic volcanic mountain range whose outer edges at some points plunge to depths of over 3 km (10,000 ft). The archipelago is blessed with some of the world’s most astonishing beaches, crystal clear turquoise lagoons, phenomenal underwater wildlife, and unrivaled luxury resorts that take up their own private islands.

It’s difficult of course to select 10 resorts in a destination which is home to dozens of sublime hotels. The resorts in this list represent my favorite properties in the Maldives for a variety of reasons and they all feature magnificent locations, superb accommodations, terrific fine-dining restaurants, spectacular beaches, world-class spas, excellent leisure facilities, and a sustainable ethos. Importantly, all the resorts in this list are set on natural islands, contrary to the artificial islands which are springing up like mushrooms in the Maldives’ North & South Atolls. Although some of these artificial islands are home to mind-blowing resorts, the beauty of these islands can never compete with the lush tropical beauty of natural islands and they also destroy the local eco-system (hence why you won’t find in this list resorts that are built on 100% man-made islands).

Here’s my selection of the 10 best luxury resorts and hotels in the Maldives. These resorts definitely come with a hefty price tag (a daily room rate of more than $3000 USD per night is the norm at some of these hotels in high season), so make sure to read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel. Spoiler alert: once you have experienced the otherworldly luxury of a Maldivian resort, any other beach holiday experience will pale in comparison. I also have some great news as I can offer you complimentary VIP perks at the Maldives’ most exclusive resorts! Read more here.

There is more information (with trip reports & YouTube videos) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite resort in the Maldives in the comments section.

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*** Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to the Maldives with my online Maldives travel guide ***


10. ALILA KOTHAIFARU MALDIVES

Set on a 27.6 acre  (11.2 hectare) island in the remote Raa Atoll, Alila Kothaifaru Maldives can be reached via a 45-minute seaplane journey from the Maldives’ capital Malé. The resort’s elegant minimalist architecture by Singapore-based Studiogoto encompasses terraced pavilions, villas and a treetop spa that are carefully integrated into the existing landscape to immerse guests in the picturesque natural surroundings. The low-rise structures and contemporary interiors feature open-air spaces and a calming palette of island-inspired colors and textures, creating an idyllic setting for complete relaxation and connection with nature. There are 80 pool villas, of which 44 are along the beach and 36 are perched overwater with direct access to the sea. The property offers a delightful variety of culinary experiences including Seasalt, the resort’s beachside all-day dining restaurant, and Umami, which offers Japanese-inspired  menus. Alila Kothaifaru Maldives deserves a spot on this top 10 list since it ranks among the most affordable 5-star hotels in the Maldives.

ALILA KOTHAIFARU MALDIVES


9. JUMEIRAH MALDIVES OLHAHALI ISLAND

Surrounded by the sapphire seas of the Indian Ocean, Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island is a secluded sanctuary dedicated to all things luxury. The intimate resort is located on the northernmost tip of the North Malé Atoll and is easily reachable by a 60 min speedboat ride or 15 min seaplane flight. Each of the 67 expansive villas features a private rooftop terrace, infinity pool, and 24/7 butler service. The overwater spa offers decadent signature rituals inspired by Ayurvedic tradition. The resort’s surprising panoramic architecture and calming interiors are the work of Singaporean design studio, Miaja, who have created an elegant contemporary ethos in harmony with the natural environment, echoing modern Mediterranean chic. Activities ranging from yoga classes and underwater photography excursions to a beachside splash park (and babysitting services) ensure a rejuvenating stay for everyone.

  • Hotel website: Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, $75 USD resort credit, enhanced recognition through VIP status at all touch points throughout the guest experience, and complimentary one way airport transfer to suite guests).
  • Review: read my review of Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island here.

JUMEIRAH MALDIVES OLHAHALI ISLAND 


8. THE ST REGIS MALDIVES VOMMULI RESORT

Located in the Dhaalu Atoll – a 40 minute seaplane ride southwest from Malé – the iconic St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is surrounded by dreamy landscapes, thick tropical vegetation, a fine white-sand beach, a pristine lagoon, and the glistening turquoise Indian Ocean. Combining contemporary design and local craftsmanship, with a profound appreciation for the ecological environment, the resort’s 77 luxuriously appointed villas feature expansive private terraces leading to pristine beaches and infinity pools with the magnificent Indian Ocean as a tranquil backdrop. The resort also boasts one of the largest three bedroom over-water villas in the Maldives, the John Jacob Astor Estate. Guests can savor epicurean delights from all over the world in the six restaurants and bars and restore their well-being at the over-water Iridium Spa.

THE ST REGIS MALDIVES VOMMULI RESORT


7. INTERCONTINENTAL MALDIVES MAAMUNGAU RESORT

An exclusive private island resort, situated on the southernmost tip of the remote Raa Atoll, next to UNESCO biosphere reserve Baa Atoll, InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort enjoys one of the most secluded and magnificent locations in the Maldives. The property’s 81 spacious villas and residences – either located on the beach, around the lagoon or overwater – are combined with extensive wellness & leisure facilities, bespoke experiences and six restaurants & bars. A highlight of the resort is its world-class service, including being the first resort worldwide to offer Club InterContinental benefits to all guests (e.g. daily afternoon tea, evening aperitif and and all-day refreshments by the pool or beach). The luxury property is surrounded by a myriad of marine life and home to a unique and spectacular manta ray sanctuary, making it the best hotel in the Maldives to snorkel with manta rays year round (which truly sets it apart among luxury resorts in the Maldives).

INTERCONTINENTAL MALDIVES MAAMUNGAU RESORT


6. JOALI MALDIVES & JOALI BEING

The Joali brand manages two spectacular resorts in the Maldives: Joali Maldives and Joali Being. Both properties share a common vision while each has its own distinct identity. The JOALI story began with the launch of Joali Maldives, a 73-villa property tucked away in the stunning Raa Atoll where travelers can experience the joy of beachfront living through an incredible collection of artworks that unfold across the island. Innovative dining concepts include Japanese restaurant Saoke, authentic Asian Vandhoo and Levant restaurant Tuh’u, and Tuscan-inspired Bellinis, as well as numerous destination dining experiences. Opened in 2021, Joali Being is situated on Bodufushi Island in the same atoll as its sister property, offering 68 magnificent beach & overwater villas. Joali Being is the Maldives’ first immersive wellness resort, blending ancient wisdom with modern science to bring guests on a transformational journey.

  • Hotel website: Joali Maldives and Joali Being
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $150 USD food & beverage credit).
  • Review: read my review of JOALI BEING here.

JOALI MALDIVES & JOALI BEING


5. VELAA PRIVATE ISLAND

Located in the Noonu Atoll, 187 km (110 mi) north of Malé, Velaa Private Island is the realization of a dream to create a ‘beyond luxury’ exclusive hideaway where guests are treated like royalty. Its name derived from the generations of sea turtles that flock there to nest and hatch, Velaa was developed to embody the very best of this unique archipelago, bathed by azure skies in the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean. The resort comprises 45 private villas, houses and exclusive residences – sleeping from 1 to 10 guests – and also includes a romantic pool residence which can only be reached by boat, allowing even more exclusivity. Each villa comes with stone pavements from the desert in Jordan, Indonesian flowerpots, luxury wood paneling from Borneo, and glimmering Italian marble. Privileged guests can relax in luxury at Velaa Spa, hone their short game at the Velaa Golf Academy by Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal, or explore the undersea world with a Seabob or a James Bond-style semi-submarine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffAxSt5sjfk


4. CHEVAL BLANC RANDHELI

The world-famous Cheval Blanc Randheli Resort calls the spectacular Noonu Atoll its home. The fabulous property is built on a handful of tiny islands protected from the ocean by a large coral reef which houses a dazzling sampling of multicolor fish, rays and sea turtles. Getting there involves a trip onboard a Twin Otter of Havilland seaplane that has been exclusively designed for the Maison, combining the brand’s signature taupe with Randheli’s solar yellow. The luxurious resort offers 46 island, water and garden villas in neutral colors and tones that complement the open design of the space. The accommodations feel like elegant cathedral-style lofts, each featuring a variety of contemporary design elements, high doors and ceilings, outdoor areas for relaxation, stunning private swimming pool and lagoon-side pontoons. Cheval Blanc Randheli was the playground of Kate and William during their Maldivian getaway a few years ago.

CHEVAL BLANC RANDHELI


3. ONE&ONLY REETHI RAH

Ultra-luxe One&Only Reethi Rah resort offered a level of style and sophistication unsurpassed in the world when it opened in 2005 and it still delivers as the Grand Dame of the Maldivian archipelago. Set on a partly man-made, octopus-shaped island in the North Male Atoll, the resort is blessed with an extraordinary 6 km (3,7 mi) of coastline, dotted with white sand coves and turquoise bays. All 130 spacious villas are discreetly placed amidst beautiful landscaping, each occupying its own secluded piece of sandy shore or private deck over the lagoon’s crystal clear waters. Food is innovative and of the finest quality, prepared in an inspiring variety of ways, and staff are always receptive to the personal requirements of each and every guest. Set apart from the rest of the resort, the spa is located within tranquil gardens and manicured lawns. One&Only Reethi Rah is a favorite among royals and A-list Hollywood celebrities.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCyaDbJfikc


2. SONEVA FUSHI

Soneva Fushi, the first ‘Robinson Crusoe’ style hideaway in the Maldives, is set on the privately owned tropical island of Kunfunadhoo in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The island – which is 1,400 m (4,600 ft) long and 400 m (1300 ft) wide – ranks among the largest islands in the Maldives. Apart from the crystal clear waters, white beaches and tropical climate, the island’s unusually rich vegetation offers a unique natural experience. Massive, multi-bedroom, fairytale-like luxury villas and private residences are hidden among dense tropical foliage. In keeping with the castaway theme, many are built to resemble tree houses. All open to their own private stretch of sugar white sands, and most boast their own private seawater swimming pools. In summer 2020, Soneva Fushi also unveiled eight fabulous water retreats, which are the largest and most luxurious overwater villas in the world.

A stay at Soneva Fushi can be combined with a stay at Soneva Secret, Soneva’s newest ultra-private island

Contact me to get complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Fushi (e.g. best rate, resort credit, and two personalized Soneva experiences).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VFah69nnBY


1. SONEVA JANI

Located on an uninhabited five-island cluster in the Noonu Atoll, the Maldives’ most exclusive resort is fringed by pristine beaches, blanketed with lush tropical greenery, and surrounded by a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) lagoon of crystal clear waters with uninterrupted Indian Ocean views. The world-famous resort features 51 overwater pool villas, spread along two jetties that curve into a 5.6 km (3,4 mi) magnificent lagoon of crystal clear waters. Known as the North Jetty and South Jetty, both jetties are connected to the Maldives’ largest resort island, a tropical paradise fringed by pristine beaches and blanketed with lush tropical greenery. Highlights at Soneva Jani include the villas’ retractable roofs, private water slides, a wide range of sublime restaurants, personalized experiences & excursions, and a spectacular new spa facility, Soneva Soul. When booking Soneva Unlimited, guests can benefit from an all-inclusive way to experience the best of the resort.  

A stay at Soneva Jani can be combined with a stay at Soneva Secret, Soneva’s newest ultra-private island

Contact me to get complimentary Soneva ambassador benefits at Soneva Jani (e.g. best rate, resort credit, and two personalized Soneva experiences).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2eKSeWyfvE


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