1. Taj Maldives
With a legacy spanning 116 years and over 200 properties around the world, the Indian Hotel Company Limited (IHCL) has earned a stellar reputation built around its values of trust, awareness and joy. Known as ‘Tajness’, it is a hallmark of excellence and is exemplified in the brand’s world-renowned hospitality. In the wake of Covid-19, IHCL is restrengthening this Tajness commitment with an added comfort of prioritising safety, hygiene and physical distancing throughout its properties, inviting guests to stay with peace of mind. For example, technology will be used for seamless yet personalised check-ins and check-outs alongside digital payments and non-invasive thermal screening, allowing physical touch to be replaced by a touch of safety.
So, as we enter into this ‘new normal world’ with IHCL, the question is, where to stay? Two jewels in IHCL’s crown have to be Taj Exotica Resort & Spa and Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa in the Maldives, two stunning island retreats that double-down on that marooned in paradise feeling. Laying claim to its own lagoon, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa spreads itself across the Emboodhu Finolhu Island (known as Three Coconut Isle), and is just a 15-minute boat ride from Malé. With a world-class butler on hand, an award-winning 500sqm Presidential Suite beckoning and Jiva Spa ensuring serenity for mind, body and soul, time truly stands still here.
Just 50 minutes by boat from Malé, you’ll find Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa plumped beautifully in the middle of a coral reef. A diver’s dream, the aquatic life here is second-to-none with an original shipwreck around Hembadhu Island waiting to be explored. Contemporary in its interior design, the resort offers beach villas, overwater villas and the incredible duplex Nirvana Presidential Suite, with its own plunge pool. Laid-back luxury at its best.
If a stay in paradise isn’t enough, both properties are offering guests special offers throughout the summer, further fuelling any far-flung fantasies. Guests staying more than three nights at Taj Exotica Resort & Spa can avail 40 per cent off, as well as complimentary airport transfer, and an upgrade from either bed & breakfast to half-board, or half-board to full-board. Those making Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa their home can dive into a 15 per cent summer saving, with complimentary shared speed boat transfers, and the same meal plan upgrades. Travel that is safe for your wallet and your wellness.
2. Soneva Fushi
Eco-chic has never been, well, chicer than at Soneva Fushi, the original desert island hideaway. With the resort’s villas dotted around the island, either on the sunrise or sunset side, each is masterfully hidden by lush foliage, immersing guests in immediate nature and privacy. For those seeking ultimate seclusion, choose the sunrise side, perfect for early risers who want to make the most of a Maldivian morning’s tranquility. The sunset side offers three house reef access points, where dolphins often swim in the channel, making it perfect for those after unrivalled aquatic adventures.
For those travelling en masse, the Private Reserve on the sunrise side offers a truly unique home-away-from home, where its nine bedrooms allow for up to 18 adults, three children and a nanny. Sitting at 5,540sqm spread across three floors, the space features a spa, steam room, gym, sauna, massage room, lounge, study, kitchen and multiple sun decks, swimming pools and water slide. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a Robinson Crusoe moment, but with all the trappings of five-star rustic luxury, this is it. Few places on earth are quite as exquisite as here.
3. Cheval Blanc Randheli
The hushed haven of Cheval Blanc Randheli whispers refinement from every crevice of its white-washed walls. Step off the resort’s private plane and sink into the island’s calmness as its contemporary design serenades with serenity, and oak wood tones contrast against crisp whites and sunburst yellows. Fringed by exotic gardens and flanked by the aquamarine Indian Ocean, nature is stamped across every view. Here, privacy is everything, and days can be spent interacting with nobody other than your private Majordome, who will help you curate and live out even your wildest island fantasies.
The calming Lagoon Garden Villas have room to breathe for a stay between land and ocean, whilst the 1,000sqm Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island is the purest expression of exclusive privacy.
4. One&Only Reethi Rah
Pure island utopia, One&Only Reethi Rah consistently tops ‘best hotel in the Maldives’ lists, so honoured for its elevated luxury, ramped up hospitality and no-holds-barred approach to exquisite island living. Wherever you bed down, you’ll be in the lap of luxury, but for those seeking true sanctuary, both the Grand Residence and Grand Sunset Residence are the last word in island exclusivity, with the latter featuring two private swimming pools.
The hotel also boasts 12 beaches dotted around the island, three swimming pools, an outdoor cinema, a KidsOnly club and the Maldives’ first ever Sun Spa, which promises to keep your sun-kissed skin in check. There are also eight restaurants to choose from, including Botanica by Brent Savage, a garden-to-fork concept that highlights all-natural ingredients, where guests can dine under the canopy of Banyan trees for a truly inspired experience.
5. Coco Bodu Hithi
The tropical vibe at Coco Bodu Hithi embraces a slower rhythm of life, letting guests gently leave behind the stresses and strains of the everyday. The resort’s interiors play to their natural surrounds, with thatched roofs and outdoor showers offering Maldivian charm, balanced with modern fixtures and contemporary comforts for those seeking a slice of laid-back luxury.
With island or over-water villas to choose from, guests are spoiled for choice, but the Escape Water Villas pip the others to the post. Here, the lapping Indian Ocean will become the soundtrack to your summer holiday, while floor-to-ceiling windows and a private infinity pool will make you feel like you’re walking on water. Snorkelling, fishing, sunbathing and sand-bank escapes by day and sunset cruises, movies under the stars, and private pergola dinners by night will all make you feel like you’re experiencing heaven on earth. Indulge at will.
6. Grand Park Kodhipparu
One overriding silver lining to come off the back of Covid-19, has to be a greater appreciation for the natural beauty of our planet when left to bloom with reduced human impact, and with it comes a reawakened desire to protect its future. Whilst renowned for its island idylls and aquatic world, the Maldives’ eco-system is a fragile one, so green globetrotters must look to resorts aiming to lessen their own impact on the environment in order to offer a more sustainable and soulful escape. Grand Park Kodhipparu is one such hotel, having just received its first prestigious Green Globe Certification, which recognises the resort’s commitment to operating at the world’s highest environmental standards. What this means for you, is an ongoing plan to reduce plastic throughout the resort, a recently-opened on-site water bottling facility to provide drinking water to all guests and staff, solar panel installations to provide renewable energy for use in resort operations, and ongoing installations of coral ‘nurseries’ in its house reef.
With this kind of peace of mind, guests can relax and turn their attentions to their holiday at hand. Just 20 minutes’ speedboat ride from Malé airport, Grand Park Kodhipparu’s state-of-the-art resort awaits, all contemporary designs, neutral tones and spacious villas in which peace prevails. Designed by award-winning hospitality firm, Hirsch Bedner Associates, here it’s all natural woods, rattan furniture and palm-fringed roofs that play on the Maldives’ agrarian allure.
With exclusivity stretched out before you on this one-resort-island, true escapism is top billing. Serving up a combination of beach-front and overwater villas, peppered around the island’s spotless white sand beaches, a Reef Pool Villa will allow you to slip into cerulean heaven with its direct access to the ocean and reef. Then wallow in your own private infinity pool or drift away in your personal hammock Ω whatever your whim. The Grand Residence takes things up a notch, with a glass-bottom floor that takes in-villa experiences to new levels, as well as a private pool, sun-deck, sea-facing bedrooms and bathrooms, and an outdoor terrace for starlit revelry. Spend a day with the island’s resident marine biologist to witness the resort’s coral reef restoration for yourself, then let your reward be a sunset sandbank dinner, complete with a personal chef.