For most people, Maldives is a once in a lifetime destination visited on special occasions. Featuring crystal clear waters, endless horizons, beautiful sea-life, and luxurious accommodations. What more could you want from a beach holiday?
Those who love the ocean and water sports will have the time of their lives in the Maldives. Its calm and waveless waters are ideal for canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, and sailing. While surfing can be found in certain resorts such as Six Senses Laamu and Soneva Fushi, avid surfers may want to choose a destination like Jimbaran, Seminyak, or the Gili Islands in Indonesia for choppier waters. For travelers looking to stay somewhere with great snorkeling opportunities right off the beach, we recommend staying in a resort within the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Soneva Fushi or Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru), or at a resort with a resident marine biologist (Jumeirah Vittaveli, Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Soneva Fushi, or Six Senses Laamu).
Since the Maldives is so widespread, and mainly feature accommodations on private islands, we thought we’d write this article a little differently by giving our readers more hotel choices (three in each category) and highlighting the accessible activities and dining options at each property.
For Luxury Choose:
One & Only Reethi Rah
Resort and Accommodations:
One & Only Reethi Rah is a huge resort that stretches across 44 hectares of space, making it one of the largest private island resorts in the North Malé Atoll. Guests can easily reach this jewel of an island by a quick 20-minute seaplane journey or 45-minute yacht or speedboat ride from Maldive’s Velana International Airport.
Since its opening in 2005, the resort has quickly become a leading example of luxury accommodation within the Maldives and has continuously won awards year on year. Recently, One & Only Reethi Rah has received honorary mention on Condé Nast Traveller UK’s Readers’ Choice Awards, World Travel Magazine Australia’s 100 List in Asia, and Elite Traveler USA’s Top 100 Hotels in the World List. Considering the resort offers its guests top-notch service, gorgeous accommodations, and a wide range of activities and adventures, we agree that their accolades are wholly deserved.
The resort’s 122 villas all span across the soft white sands of Reethi Rah or above the tranquil turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. Guests can’t go wrong with either type of accommodation. The property’s Beach Villas are well spaced out in front of the beach, along the water’s edge, with copious amounts of foliage to provide privacy. Water Villas, on the other hand, are all spaced out with wooden deck walkways leading from the island to each villa and individual staircases that lead right into the waters of the Indian Ocean.
All villas are incredibly large, containing a minimum of 1,453 square feet of space, providing guests with the option of staying in a room with one king or two queen-size beds. With the ability to cater to families, guests can even choose to stay in one of six of the property’s two-villa residences that can be enjoyed separately or easily linked together to share the additional space and private pool.
Whilst staying in a One & Only resort, guests can only expect some of the best amenities. This includes twin vanities, a large soaking tub complete with exotic bath salts, separate shower space, ample closet spaces that include jewelry storage, and private outdoor hammocks (hung amongst trees for Beach Villas, and a hanging net provided as part of the outdoor deck for Water Villas). In addition to the luxurious furniture and fixtures, all guests will also receive daily fresh fruit, bottled mineral water, a One&Only Beach Tote, one piece of garment pressing per guest, and laundry service for children 2 years and under.
Stay in the resort’s three bedroom (all equipped with ensuite bathrooms) Grand Residences to receive more added luxuries including your own private entrance with gated access, a fully equipped kitchen with an outdoor dining area, complimentary daily breakfast cooked by a private chef in the privacy of your villa, two private luxury 4-seat buggies, personal bikes to tour the island, a customized private bar, and a personal wine cellar.
Activities Available on Property:
One & Only Reethi Rah provides its guests with a ton to explore amongst the expansive resort grounds. While having a private swimming pool within your villa is an added advantage, guests who have booked rooms without them are also blessed for choice since the resort features 3 different pools: one for families, one dedicated to adults only, and a lap pool for avid swimmers. In addition to this, the island is home to 12 separate pristine white coral beaches which can be accessed on your own by foot or using the resort’s complimentary bikes.
Head over to the property’s SPLASH Water Sports Centre to enjoy the turquoise waters of the Maldives. As a PADI Gold Palm Resort Dive Center awarded as a 100% Project Aware Member, guests aged 10 and above can enjoy a plethora of themed dives ranging from wrecks, night, turtles, stingrays, sharks, and even whale shark diving adventures. Scuba diving aside, SPLASH also offers guests the opportunity to go Flyboard, kite surf, waterski, wakeboard, Stand Up Paddleboard, windsurf, catamaran, line fish, SEABOB, and snorkel around the island. All non-motorized water sports (with the exception of catamaran, line-fishing, and kite surfing) are complimentary with options to take private lessons and become certified in certain areas.
Guests looking to stay dry can visit the Artist Studio, where they will learn to master the art of painting, creating stained glass, scrap bookmaking, ceramics, Venetian mask decorating, and more with the resort’s resident artist.
Whilst most vacations in the Maldives consists of enjoying water sports on the calm waters of the Indian Ocean, One & Only Reethi Rah provides guests with a variety of land fitness options as well. In addition to the property’s state-of-the-art fitness center, the private island resort is also home to an over-water Chi Pavilion offering yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and Pilates classes, a large soccer field, two tennis courts, beach volleyball, and a rock climbing wall with five different routes with varying difficulties appropriate for all ages.
Although the Maldives is known to be infamous for its honeymoon vacations, families will also absolutely love One & Only Reethi Rah. The resort has three different complimentary clubs dedicated to minors (with certain chargeable activities): KidsOnly, OneTribe, and Teens. KidsOnly is dedicated to children from the ages of 4 to 9 where kids can partake in arts and crafts, fashion shows, and sports overseen by a team of certified counselors. Children under the age of 4 are permitted at KidsOnly, but must be accompanied by a guardian or resort babysitter available for hire at least 24-hours in advance.
OneTribe is dedicated to children between the ages 9 to 11, where they will be able to hang out in their own space directly on the beach. Tweens at OneTribe will partake in numerous hands-on experiences and adventures similar to those at KidsOnly, but adjusted to be more age-appropriate for their skill levels.
Teens is a designated place for minors 12 years and older to connect with peers from around the world while participating in teen counselor guided activities, including over water paddle boat races, and other exciting games. At all of these clubs, families are encouraged to spend time together by participating in various activities to create everlasting memories.
One & Only Reethi Rah also provides youth fitness activities since they believe in inspiring young guests to be focused on their health and wellbeing at a young age. Consequently, minors have the opportunity to take swimming lessons from their resident swimming coach. There are three levels of swimming courses: Starfish for 3 to 5 year olds where infants learn basic movements and improve their confidence in the water, Octopus for 6 to 8 year olds to encourage young swimmers to develop their strokes and learn lifesaving skills, and Dolphin for children ages 9 and up to master all strokes including Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly. Group youth beach boot camp classes (encompassing hand-eye-coordination exercises, stretching, endurance, and light strength training) are also offered to promote an encouraging workout environment instilling the philosophy that exercising is fun.
Families can also take the opportunity to enjoy some private spa time, with designated spa programs dedicated separately for mothers and fathers so they can spend some quality time with their children one-to-one.
Dining on Property:
One & Only Reethi Rah has six dining establishments and three bars and lounges for guests to enjoy throughout their stay.
BOTANICA is a dinner-only restaurant that provides guests with the opportunity to enjoy “field-to-fork” cuisine by trying the delicious produce grown on Reethi Rah’s private vegetable and herb farm and enjoying natural produce from the land and sea from local suppliers. Dine with nature indoors in the glass-made orchid house, filled with hundreds of vibrant orchids, or outdoors beneath a Banyan Tree gleaming with bird nest hanging lights.
Reethi serves both breakfast and dinner amongst its three areas of dining space: Earth, Fire, and Aqua. Breakfasts here are buffet-style and offer guests a fresh selection of baked goods, tropical fruits, and healthy dishes. Dinners, on the other hand, are a fusion between French, Asian, and Italian cuisines featuring world favorite dishes from around the world. Join Reethi on Monday Aqua Nights to enjoy fine Italian charcuterie, homemade pasta, and delectable desserts. On all theme nights (including those at the Beach Club and Fanditha), we highly encourage making advanced reservations to secure your booking upon arrival.
Tapasake is also a dinner-only establishment that serves contemporary Japanese cuisine served Tapas style. In addition to their a la carte menu, guests can enjoy cooked dishes from one of four open-air Teppanyaki stations on the water’s edge providing guests with the best views of the island’s sunset whilst enjoying a culinary show.
Rabarbaro is a lunch-only restaurant that serves Italian cuisine including pasta dishes, salads, and pizza baked their traditional wood burning pizza oven.
Fanditha is another dinner-only outlet that serves a fantastic range of Middle Eastern cuisine native to Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, and more. On Fridays, the restaurant hosts Masala Night which offers guests traditional cuisine from India. Join Fanditha Bar’s “magical hours” from 6 pm to 8 pm (offered every day) to enjoy buy one, get one complimentary drinks, whilst lazing on plush divans and Arabian carpets and maybe enjoying a mezze or two.
The Beach Club at ClubOne serves lunch offering patrons a large selection of salads, seafood, and grilled meats whilst enjoying the views of the Indian Ocean on the most southern beach of the island. Afternoon snacks are also available here, serving a number of Latin American favorite comfort foods. At the Beach Club, guests will also be able to enjoy dishes from the newest establishment, Sweet Paradise, that will satisfy any ice cream cravings you may have. On Sundays, join the Beach Club on their Sultry Jazz Night and enjoy fresh seafood to the sounds of live jazz music.
One & Only is more than happy to accommodate any dietary restrictions you or your party may have, but please provide them with advanced notice so they can prepare for this before your stay.
Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
Resort and Accommodations:
The Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is one of three #NoFilter listed hotels that are located within the Baa Atoll, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that contains the largest group of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and is thus a great destination to be in to observe wild marine life.
Guests staying here will have the luxury of enjoying a villa or bungalow consisting of at least 807 square feet of space. The entire resort has been designed by Murad Ismail, a Sri Lankan architect who decided to build this hotel in contemporary simplicity based on traditional Maldivian building techniques blended with modern Sri Lankan styles. This includes purchasing lacquer crafts from locals in Thulhaadhoo island, the only craftsmen in Maldives who are still in this trade.
With a total of 103 rooms, guests are given the choice of staying on the beach where all accommodation is equipped with its own private pool, or in an overwater villa with floor to ceiling windows providing gorgeous views of the coral reefs. All accommodation choices are well appointed and provide ample privacy. Guests staying in water villas will appreciate its well staggered design, and those staying in beach villas will be greeted by turquoise gates surrounded by recycled coral walls and lush greenery, thus allowing guests to enjoy copious amounts of sunshine in their room without having to draw any curtains.
With the height of luxury in mind, all guests are provided with large bathrooms with twin vanities as well as an indoor and outdoor shower, and a large private deck space to enjoy. In terms of technological equipment, all rooms include a 55-inch Smart TV with an MP3 cable and DVD player all hooked up. Although the resort has its own extensive DVD collection available for its guests on a complimentary basis, feel free to bring some of your own favorites in the event of a rainy day.
The Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru also practices many acts of sustainability and promotes wellness. In addition providing fresh fruit in all rooms on a daily basis, it also produces its own still and sparkling water that can be found in all guest rooms and restaurants to eliminate single-use plastics. The resort has also consulted with Trudy Rilling-Collins, a mosquito expert, to find eco-friendly methods of avoiding the pests.
Guests with a larger party may consider staying in the hotel’s Landaa Estate, which can accommodate up to 9 guests. This three-bedroom and three-and-a-half-bathroom villa gets the best of both worlds since its 8,611 square feet of space provide guests with communal spaces over the beach and bedrooms over water. Within this estate, guests will be able to enjoy a private beach, two pools, a full kitchen, and 24-hour assistance from their own dedicated staff.
Activities Available on Property:
Being located right in the Baa Atoll definitely has its perks. Divers and snorkelers will especially love the region since it’s in close proximity to numerous virgin dive sites, which includes over 30 healthy coral gardens to explore. The resort is also just a short boat ride away from infamous areas to swim with manta rays and whale sharks (such as Hanifaru Bay, Bathalaa island, and Veyofushi Reef). Guests who have a keen interest in these gentle creatures can even join the resort’s Maldivian Manta Ray Project by helping their resident marine biologists in recording essential environmental information and learn to take identification photos to help the conservation keep track of each ray and whale shark they encounter. The resort also has a Manta-on-Call service where guests can choose to be contacted immediately when manta rays are sighted near the resort so you can hop on a speedboat and swim with these incredible creatures. Manta rays and whale sharks are most typically seen in the area from June to October due to high plankton concentrations, but may appear from May to December as well.
While the resort’s Five-Star IDC (Instructor Development Course) dive center offers the most to those with PADI Open Water certificates (by providing two-tank morning dives and one-tank afternoon dive excursions in some of Maldives hotspots), the center also offers courses to guests from the age of 8 through 12 in a swimming pool environment, with the option to explore the blue waters of the ocean from 10 years and up. But, don’t fret – Guests can become PADI Open Water certified at Landaa Giraavaru in just two days!
The Water Sports Center located on Blu Beach offers tons of complimentary activities to guests. This includes snorkeling equipment, kayaks, catamaran sailing, stand up paddle boarding, and windsurfing. Those who are looking forward to trying some motorized water sports can find jetblading, X-jetpacking, kitesurfing, SEABOB-ing, parasailing, jet skiing, fun tubing, wake surfing, wake boarding, and wake skating at the property, but this will incur an additional cost.
With their own fleet of boats, guests can ride on a traditional Maldivian dhoni to go island hopping and enjoy the culture of various places including Dharavandhoo (the original capital of the Baa Atoll) or go fishing and return with some of your own fresh catch that the chefs will be more than happy to prepare to your likings. The resort has also acquired their own three-deck luxury catamaran that provides divers with easy access to some of the best untouched reefs as well as overnight trips to see some islands and areas that are further away from the resort. In addition to this, the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is also home to the world’s first 3-person DeepFlight submarine, which offers two passengers 360° views at up to 120 feet under the ocean without getting wet.
Highly aware of the need for marine conservation, this resort has partnered with its sister property, Four Seasons Kuda Huraa (also in the Maldives), in creating their Marine Savers program. Landaa Giravaaru is home to the Marine Discovery Centre where guests of all ages can have a hands on experience in learning about marine biology and the efforts needed to keep the oceans clean for future generations.
In addition to joining the Maldivian Manta Ray Project in gathering research, guests can join the Reefscapers team in attaching coral fragments to a frame, or help transplant the healthy grown corals back into the ocean’s sand beds. Guests can also sponsor their own coral frame and watch it grown on their website, where each coral frame is provided with photographed updates approximately every 6 months.
The resort’s Fish Lab consists of 40 tanks that are used to grow ornamental fish, namely clownfish, gobies, humbug damsels, and pipefish, to harness sustainable breeding methods with hopes to provide local communities with an alternative source of income in the future.
Landaa Giraavaru also happens to be a nesting island for hawksbill and green turtles that are commonly sighted around the waters of the island year round. A specific team of marine biologists have also been designated to the resort’s on-site turtle rehabilitation center to care for sick and injured turtles from the wild. Guests can meet Trooper, their resident Sea Turtle found as a baby who unfortunately lost both of his front flippers whilst in the wild and cannot be released back permanently. The team has since provided him with prosthetic flippers and takes him regularly to the ocean for a dive and swim.
Spanning across 44 acres of space, Landaa Giraavaru has tons to explore with the help of personal bikes. Guests can visit the resort’s exotic orchid garden filled with Dendrobiums, Cattleyas, Vandas, and Rhynchostylis and learn some tips from the gardeners on how to grow your own.
Relax on the 1 kilometer stretch of Blu Beach. With top notch service, guests can expect to receive complimentary iced water, chilled towels, spritz, sunscreen lotion, and refreshments whilst working on their tan. Guests can also stop by the resort’s library to pick up a book or magazine to read so they can further enjoy lounging in the sun.
In addition to its state-of-the-art fitness center filled with Life Fitness and Cybex equipment, runners will also appreciate the expansive jogging trail that circles around most of the island. The resort also has a floodlit tennis court with complimentary rackets and balls to use.
With an infinity pool spanning 164-feet long, this is the only resort on Maldives to offer an Olympic sized swimming pool. Two other public pools are available for use, one is a 66-foot seawater pool, and the other is a shallow pool for children to enjoy.
Yoga enthusiasts can encounter a unique experience at Landaa Giraavaru when partaking the Yoga Energy Trail. By melding different yoga poses at 15 different stations that offer some of the island’s most scenic views, yogis will feel at one with nature by following directions from a wooden sign and practicing sun salutations on the jetty, balancing with the tree pose overlooking the lagoon, and attempting the hanging firefly beneath the island’s largest Banyan tree. While this can be an individual adventure, guests can also choose to join a daily class by the resort’s resident yogi.
Families will love the resort, since children between the ages of 4 and 12 can be dropped off at the Kuda Velaa (Little Turtle) Kids Club where they can enhance their motor skills and let their imaginations run wild on a wooden pirate ship. The club also runs a Passport to Adventure program where children can challenge themselves by attempting different puzzles and activities ranging from snorkeling, herb hunts, and mocktail making to earn stamps. Once a child collects 7 or more stamps they will earn a toy, but collecting all 14 results in a free ice-cream sundae at Blu.
Teenagers aged 13 and up also have their own space, Majaa Maizan, where they can play pool or computer games, learn to windsurf, sail, or enjoy beach dinners with friends.
Dining on Property:
Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru offers its guests 4 restaurants and 4 bars and lounges.
Blu is one of two all day dining establishments at the resort. During breakfast hours, the restaurant serves a wide range of à la carte items from healthy granola and yoghurt options, traditional Maldivian breakfasts, to waffles and french toasts. After breakfast, the restaurant transforms into a contemporary Italian restaurant with light Mediterranean options during the day, and a fine dining southern Italian restaurant at night. Every Tuesday Blu also hosts Lobster Night, which features a five-course lobster feast that can be complemented by a selection of Italian and Sardinian wines.
Café Landaa is another all day dining establishment that is set within three different thatched pavilions that are separated by reflecting ponds. For breakfast, guests can enjoy a similar menu to that of Blu’s consisting of vitamin smoothies, muesli, different flavored pancakes or waffles off the griddle, and egg dishes; however, the biggest difference is the availability of Asian breakfasts in lieu of a Maldivian breakfast instead. After breakfast, Café Landaa serves a variety of Asian cuisines from Southeast Asia, India, and Japan. This restaurant also hosts two different themed nights. On Fridays, join the establishment for “Oh Calcutta!” night featuring a wide range of Indian cuisine whilst enjoying a live performance by the resort’s Bombay Boys. On Sundays, the restaurant hosts Fisherman’s night which features a wider range of sushis, as well as fresh oysters, spider crabs, grouper, and various other dishes. On nights that the restaurant is not hosting a themed dinner, guests can enjoy a seven-course teppanyaki meal with the option to choose wagyu beef, scallops, and lobster at Café Landaa instead.
Al Barakat is named after Abu Al Barakat Yusuf Al Barbari, a North African scholar who lived in the Baa Atoll in the 12th century. This overwater restaurant offers its patrons a large range of Arabic cuisines from Lebanon, Morocco and Armenia including many favorites such as hummus soujouk, shawarmas, falafels, and tajines. Al Barakat also operates a shisha bar on the lower level. Decorated with ornate lanterns and curtained sofas, guests can relax with cocktails, turkish coffee, and shisha whilst enjoying open views of the sea in front of them.
Fuego Grill is another dinner-only establishment. Set on the beach, guests will be able to enjoy a large selection of prime meats and seafood fresh off the grill as well as a delectable selection of salads and raw foods.
Another lounge that is worth visiting at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is Sea Bar, which is perched on a wooden deck overwater. Here guests can enjoy music from a live DJ while drinking signature frozen margaritas or sample some tapas-style dishes.
If you’re lucky enough to find a halfboard or fullboard option at this hotel, we suggest taking it since the offer typically includes all à la carte dining on your listed plan including themed dinner nights.
Resort and Accommodations:
Located on Bolifushi Island in the South Male Atoll, Jumeirah Vittaveli is one of the closest private island resorts to Maldive’s capital (just a 20-minute motorized catamaran ride away from Velena International Airport), which eliminates the hassle and costs of a seaplane transfer.
Although we have classified Jumeirah Vittaveli as luxury accommodation, it also satisfies some of our lifestyle requirements due to its initiatives in corporate social responsibility. The resort has its own water bottling plant which has reduced the amount of single-use plastic bottles by approximately 70,000 bottles per year. In addition to this, the property runs on a heat recovery system that uses excess heat from the generators to heat the water supply on the island to 122°F which ultimately helps them save energy.
The property offers 75 villas and 14 villa style “suites” across the beaches of Bolifushi and on top of the turquoise Indian Ocean. With a minimum of 1,980 square feet of space in each villa, all guests are blessed with a private swimming pool, walk-in closets, adjustable mood lighting, LCD smart TVs, as well as impeccable bathrooms featuring deep soaking bathtubs and separate rain showers.
Jumeirah Vittaveli offers a wide range of overwater accommodation. In addition to the standard villas accessible by a wooden deck walkway usually found in the Maldives, the resort also offers private ocean villas that can only be accessed by boat transfers. Families will especially love these private ocean villas since they have all recently received upgrades in 2019 to include a waterslide that goes straight into the ocean.
This resort is also great for families planning a large family retreat since the largest villa contains five bedrooms which can accommodate up to 12 adults (or 10 adults and 4 children). Spanning over 37,673 square feet, the property features its own private beach, a dedicated Teppanyaki style restaurant, two swimming pools, a fully stocked overwater bar, a private Talise spa, private gym fully equipped with LifeFitness apparatus, and a private fully stocked modular kitchen by Nolte. Guests staying in the Royal Residence also receive a number of complimentary services, including private luxury return transfer to and from the airport, daily early evening champagne and canapés, 3 hours of spa treatments per day at the private spa, 24-hour resident butler service, personal fitness trainer service, and a dedicated chauffeur and private buggy.
Activities Available on Property:
Guests staying at Jumeirah Vittaveli have a ton of activities to explore whilst staying in the Maldives. The resort’s Best Dives Water Sports Centre offers flyboarding, windsurfing, waterskiing, jet-skiing, scuba diving, kneeboarding, banana boat rides, kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaks, sailing, deep sea fishing, luxury private yacht cruises, and scuba diving courses. All non-motorized sports here are complimentary.
In conjunction with its environmentally friendly initiatives, the resort has its own resident marine biologist to create a healthier reef. Guests can take part in her weekly marine talks or go on a guided snorkeling tour to learn more about reefs and to plant their own corals. Young guests can also join her in a Junior Coral Ranger session, where they learn about the importance of sustainability and take part in eco-friendly activities. The resort also has reef cleaning events on a regular basis where they invite guests and colleagues to remove species such as Crown of Thorns, a specific type of starfish, that destroy reefs.
Jumeirah Vittaveli also has its own semi-submarine, where guests can explore the resort’s house reef 4 feet under the water’s surface. Although the upper body of the vessel remains above water, the large windows of the underwater hull provide guests with the illusion of being in a real submarine while exploring the reef.
Guests looking to stay on land have tons to do as well. In addition to exploring the island on complimentary bikes, or working out at the resort’s overwater state of the art fitness center featuring LifeFitness equipment, Jumeirah Vitaveli also offers complimentary morning and sunset yoga classes on a regular basis. There are also private classes and workshops available for the avid yogi who would like to participate in aerial, Hatha, dynamic, Ashtanga, Nidra, Pranayama, and meditation classes.
The resort has also opened Maldive’s very first ice skating rink that functions entirely without water and at a zero-energy level through Glice technology. Guests can freely skate amongst the standard sized 1,830 square feet rink, practice any routines, or even gather people to play ice hockey.
Guests looking to relax can enjoy a therapeutic treatment at the resort’s Talise Spa. On Fridays, the spa also operates a coconut oil making demonstration made in the traditional Maldivian way. Participating guests will be able to sample the coconut oil during the different stages of the process and learn about the benefits of the oil towards hair and skin care.
Foodies will also love the activities available on the island since the resort offers cooking demonstrations and classes to learn how to cook Maldivian, Sri Lankan, and Indian cuisine.
Families can also have an enjoyable holiday since the resort has a separate kids and teens club. At Kuda Koli Kids Club, children will be able to participate in tons of indoor and outdoor activities ranging from t-shirt painting, swimming, island treasure hunts, and pizza making. The Teenage Lounge is a similar space with age-appropriate activities.
Dining on Property:
Jumeirah Vettiveli has a total of four dining establishments and two bars. Samsara is the resort’s all-day dining restaurant that serves Maldivian delicacies and international cuisine. During breakfast hours, the restaurant operates an extensive buffet including a selection of vegan items. For all other times, the restaurant offers both à la carte options as well as a buffet.
Swarna is the resort’s dinner-only establishment which has been continuously awarded “Best Indian Cuisine in Asia” by the World Luxury Restaurant Awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018. The restaurant only serves degustation menus, Signature Thali or Signature Journey, that allows guests to enjoy the rich heritage of India’s food culture.
Fenesse is another dinner-only dining establishment that serves fine dining French cuisine. Set over-water, this is a lovely restaurant for celebrations or to enjoy a romantic evening whilst enjoying fresh seafood and prime meats.
MU Beach Bar and Grill serves both lunch and dinner. This restaurant provides a much more relaxed atmosphere in comparison to Swarna and Fenesse, but still serves some delicious cuisine. The restaurant generally serves an Asian grill menu with the option to grill your own meats and vegetables at the table through the restaurant’s hot lava stone grill. Happy hour is also offered here on a daily basis between 5 pm to 7 pm.
While the resort does offer half board and full board dining plans, this does not necessarily include the full costs of each meal. Whilst dining at Fenesse, Swarna and MU Beach Bar and Grill, the restaurants will offer $75 credit per person during lunch hours and $95 credit per person during dinner hours.
For Lifestyle Choose:
Soneva Fushi, Kunfunadhoo Island, UNESCO Baa Atoll Reserve
Resort and Accommodations:
Soneva Fushi was established in 1995 by pioneers Sonu Shivdasani and his wife, Eva, who created the first barefoot luxury resort in the Maldives. A couple who have always been concerned with the environment, they created the resort with a mission to make a difference where possible. This started with constructing the resort by moving already existing structures to their island and slightly deviating the architecture to blend in with the surroundings, instead of depleting more trees.
However, since then the property has only increased in size as well as creativity in solving different issues to make the resort as eco-friendly as possible. With the Soneva Changemaker team’s waste-to-wealth mentality, they view all trash as treasure. By creating different machinery to help recycle, they have transformed simple things such as old tin cans into lampshades, dead branches into sculptures, waste glass into tables, and, the most impressive, polystyrene boxes (received in food and beverage deliveries) into cement blocks that are made out of 80% recycled materials by turning the polystyrene into powder then adding crushed glass and cement. People may even argue that these cement blocks more superior to those found in the mass market since they are lightweight, insulating, and responds well to pressure.
Although most furniture and fixtures amongst the resort grounds are made in-house by materials found on the island, certain items are out of their control. In such cases, the resort tries its best to continue minimizing their carbon footprint and maximizing their social responsibility by purchasing items from rural communities. This includes fabrics featured amongst the villas and restaurants, which are all hand-woven by Barefoot in Sri Lanka who mostly consist of female workers who have the ability to earn fair wages without having to leave their families.
Currently standing as a 57-villa resort across 24 different room types, the accommodations are split into two sections: sunset side which is best for snorkellers, and sunrise side for privacy. All villas feature open-air designs to reduce the need for air conditioning and are equipped with canopy beds, bathtubs, separate outdoor showers, daybeds, and plenty of complimentary drinking water produced and bottled in glass in the resort’s in-house desalination plant. With luxury in mind, each villa receives Mr. or Ms. Friday (butler) service to help with any needs during your holiday.
As a barefoot luxury resort, Soneva Fushi goes by the saying “no shoes, no news”. While they take the quote quite literally, where guests do not wear shoes while enjoying their holiday, this also means that the use of technology is not encouraged (though not prohibited). Consequently, each room is still equipped with a television, but is well hidden so that guests do not have the instinct to turn it on upon entering the room. WiFi is also available, but only in the villas and in the bar if asked nicely.
Villa sizes range from one bedroom to a whopping private nine bedroom reserve. Each villa type is designed differently, but those staying in larger villas receive more, ranging from private gyms featuring Technogym cardio equipment, spa suites, libraries, children play areas, kitchens, and waterslides that start from within the villa to the pools.
Activities Available on Property:
Soneva Fushi is blessed to be located on Kunfunadhoo Island, which is the largest island within the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (designated in 2011), that contains the largest group of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. Consequently, this resort is absolutely amazing for snorkeling, free diving, SEABOB-ing, and scuba diving. If guests are interested in learning more about the reefs and various species of marine life found in the Maldives, we recommend taking a guided snorkeling tour with the resort’s in-house marine biologist.
The property also offers a wide range of complimentary non-motorized water sports, which includes kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, windsurfing, and catamarans. Private classes for these water sports are also offered on an hourly basis. While not complimentary, Soneva Fushi is the first resort in the world to offer truly sustainable surfing, which consists of environmentally friendly boards, leashes, fins, rash guards, sunscreen, and board wax. While waves are uncommon in the Maldives, it only takes a 5 to 35-minute speed boat ride to arrive at a destination where the surf breaks.
In addition to this, excursions are also available to go dolphin watching, visit Edyhafushi Island (the capital of Baa Atoll) to learn about Maldivian culture, visit a neighboring traditional fishing island, or just go island hopping to see the various islands that the Baa Atoll has to offer.
There are also tons of activities to explore on the island itself. Since Kunfunadhoo is 1.4 miles in length, guests can grab their in-villa bikes and explore some of the islands untouched, villa-less beaches.
The resort offers a spa by Six Senses for guests to relax in therapeutic treatments. The spa team also offers complimentary group yoga and meditation at Turtle Beach Champa, with private sessions for different types of practices available, including pregnancy yoga, detox yoga, Soham breath awareness, amongst others. For those looking for a harder workout can also go to the resort’s fully equipped gym or their tennis courts.
Head over to the resort’s glass studio and learn how the resort upcycles the glass waste and turns them into remarkable items through various techniques including blowing, casting, and slumping through Soneva’s complimentary demonstrations. The studio also offers glass blowing courses to guests so they can take their own creation home with them. All of the unique creations by the in-house team are also available for purchase and can be seen on their eGifting site.
Enjoy a nightly classic film screening at their outdoor cinema while eating complimentary popcorn and any of their 60 flavors of homemade ice cream under the stars.
Go stargazing in the resort’s observatory that houses a state-of-the-art telescope that shows 3D astronomy. Introductory levels of astronomy education are offered by their resident astrologist on a complimentary basis, with private sessions available at a fee.
In 2019, Soneva properties will be hosting its Festival of Colours, featuring limited time guest star appearances by some of the leading practitioners in their field. This includes learning more about astronomy by award-winning Lars Lindberg Christensen, discovering fitness secrets by Rockstar Fit App Natalie Dau, and learning natural navigation using nature by author Tristan Gooley.
The resort is also incredibly family friendly and offers complimentary crèche services at The Den for children aged four and higher, with a separate lounge area for teenagers. This is an ultimate children’s retreat featuring a cinema, library, music room, learning area, and two pools with a waterslide. At The Den, young guests will learn, play, and create while being encouraged to think about environmental issues at large. Set activities vary and are listed in advance. An example of a week’s Den Programme can be found here.
Dining on Property:
Soneva Fushi offers food out of seven different kitchens so guests staying here are spoilt for choice! Out of the Blue is the hotel’s all-day dining establishment newly opened in 2018 serving buffet-style breakfast and lunches that feature both local and western dishes, including locally caught fish at the grill and freshly baked wood-fired pizzas. At Out of the Blue, guests can also find the property’s all you can sample Soneva made chocolate and ice cream rooms, as well as the hotel’s carefully selected cheese and cured meats room.
Out of the Blue also shares its seating area with the hotel’s Modern Japanese Kitchen and Chinese Kitchen which are open for lunch and dinner every day with the exception of dinners on Tuesdays and Saturdays which are designated buffet nights. At the Japanese Kitchen, guests can devour sushi and sashimi with a modern twist. Their menu consists of torched wagyu, black cod, and sashimi made with a contemporary twist. At the Chinese Kitchen, patrons will receive delicious wok fried and open grill made dishes. Both of these kitchens offer 250 varieties of magnum wines, as well as a large selection of sakes.
Fresh in the Garden is a dinner only establishment where discerning patrons have the ability to enjoy a fine dining meal under the stars and amongst the treetops whilst being surrounded by the aromas of Soneva’s vegetable and herb gardens which are used in as many of the resort’s various restaurants as possible.
Sobah’s Restaurant is a dining establishment on its own uninhabited island just a 15-minute speedboat ride away from Soneva. Sobah himself is an award-winning chef whose restaurant is only open two nights per week. At this outlet, guests get to taste Maldivian cuisine cooked using traditional methods and ingredients that the chef forages and catches on the island.
In addition to these restaurants, Soneva also has three intimate seated restaurants as well. The first is So Hand’s On which is a restaurant with only five seats that is partnered with three-star Michelin awarded Chef Kenji Gyoten, who is the youngest chef in Japan who has attained this accolade. While the restaurant is usually operated by apprentice Chef Akira Koba year round, Chef Gyoten makes his occasional appearance at So Hand’s On as part of Soneva’s Festival of Colour.
So Bespoke is a restaurant that, like So Hand’s On, is open during lunch and dinner on a weekly schedule. This dining establishment is located within Out of the Blue and offers eight patrons per sitting a dinner theater experience at the restaurant’s sole teppanyaki table.
Once Upon a Table is another dinner theater experience that seats only eight patrons as well. While this dining establishment is mainly used for special dining events, it is also used when guest celebrity chefs (other than Chef Gyoten) come to Soneva during the Festival of Colour. Some notable chefs visiting Soneva Fushi in 2019 are 3-star Michelin chef Esben Holmboe Bang from Denmark, 3-star chef Maxime Meilleur from France, and 2-star chef Tim Raue from Germany.
Since Soneva Fushi is located on its own private island, guests who have any special dietary requirements should let the resort know in advance so they can do their best to accommodate any needs.
Park Hyatt Hadahaa
Resort and Accommodations:
As Hyatt’s leading luxury hotel brand, Park Hyatt does not normally come to mind when thinking of an eco-friendly hotel; however, this resort is one of the most sustainable resort on all of the Maldives’s 1,200 islands.
Having originally opened its doors in 2009 as an Alila hotel, the resort was the first in the Maldives to be certified for having both an eco-friendly design and construction process. During this time, developers implemented a desalination plant to create clean drinking waters, as well as a regularly tested wastewater system that treats both black and grey water for reuse amongst the resort grounds.
In keeping with the original hotel’s environmentally friendly ways, the Park Hyatt has also started its own initiatives to contribute towards a healthier world. Throughout the resort’s 50 villas, guests will find four glass bottles of complimentary drinking water per day, Fair Trade coffee capsules that are 100% biodegradable, and an in-villa iPad that offers interactive resort information to reduce on paper consumption.
The villa designs are in tune with Park Hyatt’s high standards and offer all guests with wooden fixtures using Malaysian certified sustainable woods, luxurious bathrooms with tubs and double vanities, and private deck space featuring daybeds. For some added luxury, book a Park Water Villa or Park Sunset Ocean Pool Villa to receive accommodation right on top of the gorgeous glimmering waters of the Maldives.
Activities Available on Property:
Guests staying at the Park Hyatt are blessed with one of the healthiest reefs on the archipelago that are consistently being monitored by the resort’s team of in-house marine biologists. The team hosts “Go Deeper” talks twice a week to educate guests about different topics revolving marine environment and the Maldivian culture. As a social responsibility outreach, such discussions are also provided to local school students to help preserve the reefs.
The property has also partnered with Blue Journeys, a PADI Green StarTM dive center that was awarded its green status for their outstanding sustainability efforts by using energy friendly transportation and their use of eco-friendly materials during excursions to help protect and care for the environment. With Blue Journeys, guests have the opportunity to go traditional Maldivian fishing, take a 35 mile trip to the equator, watch dolphins, seek out sea turtles on a snorkel excursion, or even go on a fluorescent night dive (or snorkel for those who don’t want to go too deep under). Guests who want to go on their own unguided excursions can also rent snorkeling and kayak equipment for free.
For our active lifestylers who want to do more than just water sports, the Park Hyatt offers a 24-hour fitness center equipped with TechnoGym cardio machines. In addition to this, their fitness center also features a yoga studio that hosts group yoga classes, as well as private sessions that can be enjoyed either at the studio, in the privacy of your room, or out on a jetty.
Enjoy a spa day at Vidhun spa to further relax into your holiday. From individual treatments to different spa packages (that can last up to 4 hours) guests can truly feel pampered here. The hotel even offers an online spa booking system for advanced reservations so guests don’t have to worry about a thing during their vacation.
Dining on Property:
In addition to the standard food and beverage outlets such as 24-hour room service, bar, and lounge, the Park Hyatt Hadahaa has three other dining establishments. The first is The Dining Room, the main dining hall which serves a semi-buffet with two à la carte options as their full breakfast option, as well as à la carte lunches and dinners.
The Island Grill is the hotel’s fine-dining establishment specializing in grilled meats and seafood over a wood-fired oven. While there are many prime cuts of meats on the menu, we recommend ordering the restaurant’s yellow-fin tuna and jobfish, which are caught by local fishermen through traditional pole and line methods, to try some of the freshest Maldivian cuisines.
Like The Island Grill, The Drift is another establishment that is open only during dinner hours. Offering varied cuisines, patrons can enjoy homemade pasta or meats in Italy, curries in Thailand, or hotpot in China.
If you’re celebrating a special event or just want to enjoy a romantic evening, private dining options are available varying from three to five courses. Guests can choose to dine in privacy on the beach, jetty, or rooftop terrace, but if you’re really looking for a surprise choose the blind dining option where you’ll eat some of your favorite ingredients blindfolded to heighten your senses.
If you like the sound of everything mentioned so far, choose Hadahaa’s culinary indulgence, offering guests five different unique dining experiences across 24 hours, starting with cocktails and canapés by the beach whilst watching the sunset, enjoying a blind dinner, then waking up to a champagne breakfast in your villa, enjoying a healthy gourmet lunch, and ending it all with afternoon tea at The Drift.
As the Park Hyatt is located on a private island, we recommend guests staying here to add a meal plan to their stay in order to save on overall costs, which can be booked in advance through email. Starting from the Half board plan, guests can enjoy daily breakfast and a 3-course dinner at The Dining Room, excluding Chef Specials. Dinners at The Island Grill will be partially supplemented.
Full board plans include daily breakfast, 2-course lunch, and a 3-course dinner at The Dining Room, excluding Chef Specials (which are 50% off). Dinners at The Island Grill will also be partially supplemented on this plan.
In our opinion, the All-Inclusive Plan is the best deal, offering all you can drink premium spirits and liqueurs, beers, and house wines in restaurants and bars, daily breakfast, 2-course à la carte lunch, 3-course à la carte dinner, excluding chef specials but at a 50% discount. Dinners at The Island Grill are included in the rate, as well as complimentary inclusions for themed night dinners, and a complimentary private beach dinner to be enjoyed on the night of your choice.
The Park Hyatt also offers group and private cooking classes for guests who want to take the hotel’s Maldivian, Italian, or pizza recipes home.
Six Senses Laamu
Resort and Accommodations:
The Six Senses Maldives resort is located on a private island within the Laamu Atoll just 5° away from the equator. As an eco-friendly hotel brand, Six Senses Laamu stands by its mission to provide sustainable holidays to its discerning guests.
The resort’s 97 villas are all designed with passive cooling elements and overhanging roofs to create shade over windows, which reduces overall air conditioning consumption levels. Every villa’s bathrooms also feature a semi-outdoor layout which provides the area with natural ventilation. Guests looking for extra-added luxury should book any of their water villas to receive overwater hammocks and bathtubs providing breathtaking views of the Maldivian sunset.
Since the Six Senses Laamu is so secluded, it has implemented many efforts in striving to become an independently sustainable hotel to reduce carbon emissions from long-distance transport. Consequently, the resort has its own “Earth Lab” that experiments and innovates creations out of recyclable materials to ultimately become a zero-waste resort. So far, the Earth Lab has transformed crushed glass into cement products, food waste into compost, organic waste from landscaping (leaves and branches) into mulch, old towels into flower pots, and used wax into new candles.
The resort has also eliminated the use of all single-use plastics, which includes drinking straws, waste bin liners, and water bottles. Due to this, Six Senses Laamu also provides each guest with linen laundry bags their own reusable beach bag to use on the property.
In addition to this, the resort has implemented its own desalination plant to provide water to all villas and restaurants. Guests will never be short on water since it treats the seawater using reverse osmosis to pressurize the water, filters it to remove salt and particles, remineralizes the water, filters it again using ultraviolet methods, and finally bottling it in their reusable glass bottles.
The resort also features its own water treatment plant for greywater usage. To ensure that the greywaters are 100% organic and won’t hurt the environment, Six Senses Laamu also uses biodegradable laundry detergents and cleaning supplies to ensure that this water can be widely used amongst the island.
At the moment, Six Senses Laamu is working on creating a renewable energy source, but the property is currently focusing on energy conservation until this becomes available. All energy on the island is currently supplied using diesel generators with a waste heat recovery process that captures the heat produced whilst the generators are running. This is used to preheat hot water for the whole island up to 122° Fahrenheit. Guests who are interested in the resort’s green initiatives can sign up to join a free of charge back-of-house tour to see it all in action.
Activities Available on Property:
Guests staying at Six Senses Laamu are blessed to be staying amongst one of the healthiest reefs featuring tons of seagrass, which are consistently monitored by the resort’s resident marine biologists. Just 2.4 acres of seagrass can generate 26,000 gallons of oxygen per day and helps support 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates. The resort is fortunate enough to have its own house reef that spans over 12 acres worth of seagrass, which has become a daily migration point for dolphins and home to tens of thousands of fish, different types of rays, 107 green turtles, and 93 endangered hawksbill turtles recorded to date. Guests lucky enough to visit during the months between May and September may even have the opportunity to sign up for a night excursion to witness wild sea turtles hatching from their eggs.
The resort’s marine biologists are part of what makes Six Senses so special since they inspire guests and local communities by promoting education and awareness about the marine environment. Guests can join them on a guided snorkel around the house reef offered daily, or join the team on one of the three designated afternoons per week when they go on a two-hour boat excursion to two different reefs within the atoll. Evening presentations are offered five nights per week when they talk about marine life, including topics about turtles, sharks, rays, dolphins, fish families, coral reefs, and more. The marine biologists also go on a weekly reef clean up excursion, where guests are invited to join them to clean the ocean and remove as much trash as possible from the reefs around the island.
Six Senses Laamu also has its own dive center, named Deep Blue Divers, which is a PADI Green Star certified and “100% AWARE” dive center that uses certified environmentally friendly fins, sustainable cleaning products, and doesn’t use anchors. Deep Blue Divers offers a wide range of PADI courses and excursions to earn towards certifications such as Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, and Dive Master certifications. Discover Scuba Diving courses are also offered to children the age of 10 and up. In addition to this, the dive center offers its guests the opportunity to go island hopping, watch the dolphins migrate during sunset, go fishing, and try wakeboarding or water skiing.
One of the biggest perks of staying at Six Senses Laamu is the number of complimentary activities the resort offers. Deep Blue Divers itself offers free of charge windsurfing, canoeing, catamaran, stand up paddle boarding, and snorkeling equipment to those who do not require introductory lessons. Guests looking to stay active on land can use their personal bikes to explore the island (with tricycles and training wheels available for children) or use the resort’s sports pitch that is perfect for playing soccer, badminton, or volleyball. On rainy days, guests can use the hotel’s chess or checkerboards, play Jenga, play ping pong, and borrow a DVD or book.
Head over to the Six Senses spa to use their fully equipped fitness center or join a group yoga and meditation class to stretch, increase stability, and relax. Sign up for the resort’s various complimentary group massage workshops to learn the art of Thai stretching, healing hands, and foot massage. Those who are looking to enjoy private yoga, personal training, and spa treatments can look at their full selection here.
Young guests staying here can visit The Den, a children’s club where they can enjoy playing in the playground, play board games, watch movies, go on a treasure hunt, bake cupcakes and pizzas, and get creative with some arts and crafts. In the evening, guests can also enjoy a family friendly activity watching a film in the resort’s outdoor cinema under the stars.
Dining on Property:
All restaurants at Six Senses take pride in offering healthy, natural and organic meals to its guests that are gluten, sugar, and soy free when possible. In order to achieve this, the resort has implemented its own flock of 24 chickens producing organic free-range eggs, an organic vegetable and herbs garden, a mushroom hut, and small beds of plants featuring 24 different types of chilies from around the world.
In addition to Six Senses’s over water bar, the property features five other food and beverage outlets. Guests get to start and end their days at the two-story restaurant, Longitude, where they can enjoy a bountiful buffet while having the opportunity to watch dolphins jump across the ocean. At night, à la carte menus offering an array of international dishes to its patrons.
Sip Sip is the resort’s poolside restaurant and bar open during the day. The establishment offers guests healthy salads, sandwiches, grilled meats, pizzas, and a couple of international dishes including a lobster Pad Thai, primavera pasta, and Maldivian chicken curry.
Guests looking for a fine-dining meal can find this at Six Senses’s signature restaurant, Leaf. The restaurant is open during lunch and dinner hours and offers three-course set menus for guests to choose from.
An alternative option is to dine at the resort’s Japanese restaurant, Zen, to enjoy a live kitchen station environment that serves a large selection of sashimi, tempura, and hot noodle dishes.
Guests with a sweet tooth will absolutely love staying here since the resort offers a complimentary all-you-can-eat ice cream and sorbet station open throughout the day until approximately 10:00 pm. The ice cream parlor offers over 42 different flavors that guests can work their way throughout the duration of their stay.
Since this is a private island property, we recommend our readers to book a meal plan. In addition to bed and breakfast rates, Six Senses also offers half board, full board, and all-inclusive rates that can be used at all of the restaurants on the resort.
For Boutique Choose:
Velaa Private Island Maldives
Resort and Accommodations:
Velaa Private Island is located on Noonu Atoll. 116 miles away from North Malé, all guests will be required to take a 45 minute seaplane transfer from Velana International Airport to the resort.
Velaa was named after the generations of sea turtles that have lived on the island throughout time and are the inspiration to the resort’s architecture and design. In addition to the use of turtle shell color palettes and patterns throughout the resort, the island itself was designed by Petr Kolar to resemble a large sea turtle from above, where over water villas were made to resemble the head and the island forming the body.
The resort’s 43 villas offer its guests a minimum of 2,400 square feet of space across its indoor and outdoor areas. With the mindset of going “beyond luxury”, each villa is equipped with its own private pool, mahogany and teak finishings, and ample deck space. Offering luxury services, all guests will be assigned with a personal butler to assist with anything from excursion bookings to setting up complimentary Apple TV services on your behalf.
Couples celebrating a special occasion may consider staying in the resort’s Romantic Pool Residence. This one-bedroom villa is only accessible by boat and truly offers its guests the maximum amount of privacy. Across its expansive 6,437 square feet of space, the residence offers its guests a large 18 yard lap pool, two private beaches, a private gym, and a private spa space featuring a jacuzzi and massage tables. Guests staying here will also receive complimentary private chef and live-in butler services who will be happy to assist with any requests.
Large groups may consider staying in the Velaa Private Residence. Comprised of 4 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms across two floors and 14,251 square feet of space, the residence is able to accommodate up to 10 guests. Located on the island, guests will be blessed with their own private beach, a 18 yard lap pool, pool table, massage room, as well as an indoor and outdoor kitchen, all surrounded by lush vegetation providing guests with ample privacy.
Activities Available on Property:
Velaa Private Island is another resort with its own resident marine biologist who ensures that the resort’s house reefs are healthy. Having transplanted over 1,000 nursery grown corals back to the reefs, numerous species of fish now visit and live in the area. Using personal sets of snorkel gear that’s assigned to each room, guests can expect to find bannerfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, parrotfish, unicornfish, and more. UV torches are also available for night snorkeling to see the different species of marine life that glow under fluorescent lighting. Guests looking to learn more about marine life can also join the marine biologist on excursions ranging from dives to feeding manta rays.
At the water sports center, guests can use stand up paddle boards, glass-bottom kayaks (with varying seating structures up to 4 people in one boat), windsurfing, and sailing available on a complimentary basis. The resort offers numerous motorized sports available for hire, which include kite surfing, jet skiing, SEABOB-ing, Seadoo scooting, water skiing, wakeboarding, knee boarding, tubing, banana boating, and ski seating.
With their own fleet of boats inclusive of a Maldivian fishing dhoni, a traditional Ba’theli and luxury yachts, guests can go big game fishing (and have your fresh catch cooked at the resort), dolphin cruising, and island hopping. Guests can also explore the ocean in Velaa’s three-seater semi-submarine, which can go up to 6 meters under sea levels.
Containing close to 20 hectares of space, Velaa is one of few resorts that has its own golf course in the Maldives. Designed by golf champion José Maria Olazábal, the course consists of 9 tee points, six greens, seven bunkers, and a lake. Guests looking to practice their long game can venture into the golf academy’s state-of-the-art simulator room, which will provide tips for your swing. The resort has PGA qualified in-house professionals who are available for lessons at all levels.
In addition to a state-of-the-art Technogym equipped fitness center, the resort also has a tennis court, badminton equipment, squash court, 20-foot rock climbing wall, table tennis, soccer pitch, yoga and meditation pavilion (with chargeable classes), and beach volleyball equipment. However, most of these activities are not inclusive with the room rate.
There is also a library on site that are home to over 1,000 carefully curated books of various genres as well as magazines available to be read whilst enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.
Velaa Private Island is a family friendly resort with a kids club. Comprising a large playground, swimming pool with a water slide, and plenty of activities, children will have the opportunity to make new friends, learn, and develop new skills.
Dining on Property:
There are three restaurants, two bars, and a wine cellar available on property.
Athiri is the resort’s all day dining establishment. During the morning, the restaurant offers a breakfast buffet complete with fresh fruit, pastries, and numerous hot items. After that, Athiri offers à la carte lunch and dinner menus ranging from fresh wood-fired pizzas to Asian dishes right on the beach.
Right next to Athiri, guests will find Avi, which is a casual pool bar by day that transforms into a vibrant cocktail bar with a live DJ spinning at night.
Aragu is the resort’s signature Modern European restaurant that uses organic produce from around the world to create a bespoke menu personalized to each guest. Featuring a list of fresh produce that change based on seasonality and availability, guests will choose 3 or 5 ingredients, based on the number of courses preferred. Ranging from local items such as Maldivian lobster, reef fish, or island coconut, to imported items such as Japanese beef, Scottish salmon, and New Zealand lamb, guests can expect a sumptuous meal by Chef Gaushan. Since portions are on the smaller side, we recommend hungry patrons to order 5 courses.
At Aragu, guests will also find CRU, the resort’s champagne lounge featuring some of the world’s finest and rarest champagnes curated by their expert sommeliers.
37 feet above ground, Tavaru offers patrons 360° views across the island. Serving both lunch and dinner, guests can enjoy bento box meals or enjoying a live performance at one of three teppanyaki tables.
Under Tavaru, guests will find the resort’s wine cellar. Featuring more than 500 bins, Velaa is home to the largest collection of wine in the Maldives. Ranging from boutique wineries to grand marques, guests can enjoy some of the finest and rarest wines from the cellar.
Resort and Accommodations:
Joali Maldives is located on Muravandhoo island in the Raa Atoll, one of the ring shaped reefs formed by corals in the world. Tucked northwest from Malé, guests will have two options to make their way to Joali from Velana International Airport. The first is only available during daylight hours, where guests will venture on a private or shared 40-minute seaplane transfer with access to the resort’s private airport lounge prior to boarding the flight. The second option is taking a 45-minute commercial flight to Ifuru Airport followed by a 25-minute speedboat ride to the island. Once guests have arrived on the island, they will be greeted by pristine white beaches, coconut palms bearing sweet fruit, as well as the luxurious architecture and happy employees that make Joali the amazing resort it is.
The resort was built with the mindset of preserving the island’s fragile ecosystem. Consequently, the resort’s 73 villas were designed and built around Muravandhoo’s natural characteristics to save as much of its pristine environment as possible, which has resulted in the resort’s lush ground with over a thousand native trees growing within its 24 acres of space.
Joali’s villas vary across 9 different room types with the option to stay on the beach or over the water. All villas offer a minimum of 2,583 square feet of total space, which all include a private infinity-style pool, ample deck space, a deep soaking tub and a separate shower stall.
Larger groups may consider staying in the resort’s Four Bedroom Beach Residence with the capacity to accommodate up to eight guests. Spanning a total of 5,382 square feet of interior space across two floors and an additional 7,535 square feet of exterior space, guests staying here will be able to enjoy a private library, personal live-in Jagudar (the Urdu word for Magician and what the resort calls their Butlers) service, a private buggy and chauffeur service, a spa suite, as well as an indoor and outdoor dining area.
Activities Available on Property:
Although the Raa Atoll fell victim to El Niño (the unusual rise in ocean water temperatures affected by climate change), which negatively impacted much of the atoll’s reefs and seabed levels back in 2016, guests will still have the opportunity to see manta rays, sea turtles, and schools of various types of tropical fish. With the help of their resident marine biologist tasked in saving their reefs, Muravandhoo is only going to become a more popular place for marine life to visit in the future.
Joali offers its guests a wide range of water sports, including glass bottom kayaking, SEABOB-ing, waterskiing, parasailing, wake boarding, and scuba diving; however, snorkeling gear is the only complimentary equipment provided in the room rate.
With its own fleet of boats that range from yachts, speedboats, to traditional dhonis, guests can sign up for excursions to go fishing, scuba diving at various hotspots, or see manta rays and whale sharks.
Guests staying at Joali are blessed with a wide range of land sports for guests who prefer to stay dry whilst on their holiday. With their state-of-the-art fitness center located on the second floor, guests can workout to breathtaking views overlooking the tranquil ocean and lush greens surrounding the island. If you’re a little more competitive, then grab a partner to play a game of tennis on their floodlit courts. Conversely, if you’re looking to relax, take a yoga class on their over-water pavilion whilst the sun rises or sets.
All guests are provided with their own set of bikes during their holiday to explore the resort’s expansive grounds. Visit the Flower Garden featuring local plants and flowers and join a workshop or event to learn how to make flower arrangements and further your botanical skills.
Channel your inner artist at the studio and gallery by learning how to paint, draw, or venture into clays with their guest artists. If you love your time at the studio, visit Maison de Joali, the resort’s store to take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art or homeware created in the studio by visiting artists.
As a children friendly resort, young guests will have a ball on the island. Featuring its own kids club, children can venture on treasure hunts, learn about local Maldivian folklores by a camp fire, or become a chef. Children can even go to the spa to enjoy a relaxing child-friendly treatment ranging from natural face masks, hairstyling, hand and foot care, or dress up in different costumes.
Dining on Property:
Joali has six dining establishments and two bar/lounges available at the resort.
Vandhoo serves guests both breakfast and dinner. During breakfast hours, guests will be invited to enjoy a large selection of cooked items and a cold room featuring jams, cheeses, and fruit. For dinner, Vandhoo serves a largely international menu featuring cuisine from South East Asia, China, the Mediterranean, and Arabic countries. In tune with the resort’s artistic flair, the dishes served provide discerning patrons with an immersive gastronomical experience.
Saoke is a dinner-only establishment. Showcasing Japanese cuisine in all its glory, patrons dining here will enjoy menus featuring sushi or grilled items from a teppanyaki chef.
Bellinis is another dinner-only establishment that offers guests with an Italian fine dining experience ranging from “nonna approved” ravioli to grappas. The restaurant even serves their own homemade limoncello from their bar!
Mura Bar is the only dining establishment that serves lunch at the resort. Situated right next to pool and on top of the beach, guests can enjoy salads seafood, and more whilst sipping cocktails. The bar also features an in-door lounge where aficionados can enjoy some of the finest selection of whiskey and cigars in a private setting overlooking the beach.
Next to Mura Bar, guests will find Lajoie, the resort’s artisanal chocolate and ice-cream parlor. Ranging from refreshing fruit flavors to the finest dark chocolates, guests can satisfy all of their sweet cravings.
Apart from the poolside bar, guests can also choose to lounge at The Living Room. Spread across three rooms, this is the ultimate chill-out zone for people looking for some quiet time. Featuring a small library and various of other entertainment perfect for group gatherings, guests can enjoy this space whilst sipping on coffee or eating snacks.
Milaidhoo Island Maldives
Resort and Accommodations:
Milaidhoo Island is one of three #NoFilter hotel recommendations located in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which is home to the largest stretch of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. Located 126 kilometers north west from Malé, all guests arriving at Velana International Airport before 3:30pm will be escorted to Milaidhoo’s private airport lounge prior to hopping on a shared 35-minute seaplane transfer with others staying at the island. Guests arriving after 3:30pm will be required to take a domestic flight to Dharavandhoo airport, where they’ll be invited on a 15-minute speedboat transfer to the resort.
Milaidhoo’s philosophy is to use a personal approach to make everyone feel welcome. Employees are members of the family who embark on requests with passion and genuine interest, while guests are called storywriters who each craft their own unique memorable holiday on the island.
The resort’s 50 villas residences were designed to be in harmony with the island. Providing a minimum of 2,637 square feet of space, all villas open up 180° so guests can enjoy the beauty of the island from the comfort of their rooms. In addition to this, guests will all be able to enjoy their own private freshwater pool, large sun deck, an “undhoali” hanging Maldivian swing, ocean views, private wine fridge (with the option to stock it with some of your own choices), a luxurious bathroom equipped with a soaking tub and separate rain shower, and luxurious toiletries by Acqua Di Parma.
Guests looking for an extra luxurious holiday may reserve their Beach or Ocean Residence, which span 5,274 square feet and 5,113 square feet in space respectively. In addition to the extra space, storywriters staying in these one-bedroom residences will also receive complimentary laundry service, on demand movies, a private half-day excursion of your choice, a dedicated full-service butler, a bottle of champagne, a dedicated chef to customize all meals during your stay, private outdoor cinema on the deck, and more.
As a resort that is in the process of becoming Green Globe certified, Milaidhoo Island has implemented many environmentally friendly initiatives to keep their island and reefs clean. Guests will all be provided with glass bottled drinking water to eliminate single-use plastics. The resort has also invested in a STP plant to create a grey water system, and sells eco-friendly sun screen that are animal and reef friendly.
Designed as a romantic retreat for couples, the resort only accommodates guests from the age of 9 and older.
Activities Available on Property:
Milaidhoo Island is enclosed by coral reefs in all directions. This provides guests with some amazing snorkeling and diving opportunities just mere feet away from their villas. Guests can expect to see eagle rays, bannerfish, triggerfish, parrotfish, batfish, unicornfish, rainbow runners, up to five different species of sea turtles, and more right by the reef drop off.
With a 5-star PADI dive center and Green Fin certified water sports center, the are tons of water sports to be enjoyed on property. This includes diving, night UV snorkeling, kayaking, glass bottomed kayaking, zayaking (the dry method of snorkeling), stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing, and sailing on catamarans. However, the only complimentary equipment for use are standard kayaks and snorkeling gear.
The resort’s fleet of boats include a traditional Maldivian Dhoni, where guests can learn the trick of the trade by a local Maldivian fisherman. Conversely, guests can board their luxury craft to go on private or scheduled group manta ray or sea turtle excursion in Hanifaru Bay and neighboring areas.
Milaidhoo has two resident marine biologists on property who help study and conserve the reefs to ensure the marine life is healthy in the nearby areas. Available for many excursions, guests can join them on dives to learn about the various wildlife in the area, help identify and photograph any marine life species that the team is tracking, and plant coral trays to provide more healthy homes for the reef fish.
Guests looking to stay active on land can enjoy a state-of-the-art well equipped gym, or join a complimentary yoga or meditation class in the resort’s yoga pavilion that is available on a daily basis. Guests looking to further relax can venture into Milaidhoo’s library filled with an impressive collection of books ranging from history, nature, and fictional favorites.
Foodies will also love staying a Milaidhoo. In addition to a fully immersed cooking class that includes picking local herbs to create new dishes, or learning to cook some of your favorite meals during your stay, guests can also join a bar tender in creating new concoctions that may be good enough to make it onto their menu.
Dining on Property:
Milaidhoo Island has four dining establishments on property for guests to enjoy.
Ocean Restaurant is the resort’s all day dining establishment. In the morning, it offers guests a wide range of breakfast items across their buffet including tropical fruit, numerous hot items, and a large range of about twenty different types of cheeses a day. Lunch and dinners at Ocean remain casual with à la carte options ranging from Asian favorites, sandwiches, pastas, salads, and grilled seafoods or meat. The restaurant also celebrates two buffet theme nights, Asian on Mondays and Mediterranean on Thursdays, providing live cooking stations for guests to order food from.
Compass Pool Bar is open all day, with light food served between 12:00pm and 6:00pm ranging from salads, wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, and ocassionally bento boxes. Once the sun goes down, the establishment turns into a relaxing cocktail lounge.
Ba’theli lounge and restaurant allows guests to dine on one of three traditional Maldivian style trade boats. As a dinner only restaurant, Ba’theli serves Maldivian inspired island cuisine that was often served around the Maldivian Spice Route, a popular port for goods trading over 5,000 years ago. Whilst dining here, storywriters can enjoy a six course Maldivian Heritage Degustation menu, or order individual dishes from its à la carte menu ranging from coconut barbecued sea bass, Maldivian five spiced lamb, or pandan wrapped yellow fin tuna.
The Shoreline Grill is the resort’s fine dining establishment that serves prime cuts of meat and fresh caught seafood. At this restaurant, guests have the option to dine al fresco on the beach, inside the restaurant with impeccable views of the show kitchens, or even enjoy a live show at the restaurant’s teppanyaki table. At the Shoreline, guests will find the resort’s wine room offering storywriters the option to enjoy flights of wine and canapés with the helpful knowledge of their sommelier.
Milaidhoo offers half board dining plans as well as their all inclusive “gourmet plan”. On the half board plan, guests will be able to enjoy a breakfast buffet with non-alcoholic beverages and a three course dinner at Ocean Restaurant (not inclusive of non-alcoholic drinks). The Gourmet Plan definitely provides storywriters with more flexibility, where premium brands of spirits, beers, cocktails, and wines are included in terms of beverage choices. Guests will also be able to dine à la carte at Ocean or the Shoreline Grill and be invited to dine at Ba’theli once every four days.
While restaurant menus typically denote items that contains spice, pork, alcohol, as well as dishes that are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free friendly, we suggest guests with any dietary restrictions to disclose this information in their pre-arrival form so that the resort will be prepared for your requirements.