This far-flung tropical island resort offers a daringly designed environment in a deliciously secluded location. Sea bob around its pale blue and purple reefs, unravel with an acupressure massage at the over-water spa, dine in sunken wine cellars, and pop champagne corks in a bar that looks like a whale shark.
It’s located in the southern Dhaalu Atoll, a spectacular 40-minute seaplane flight from Malé International Airport. Most of this atoll remains undeveloped and the marine life is marvellous. Snorkelers can expect daily encounters with colourful clown fish, pouty parrot fish and powder blue surgeonfish – green turtles and spinner dolphins too if you’re lucky – while divers can delight in coral-covered underwater walls, dramatic overhangs and grand sea caves.
Style & character
The hotel has taken its design inspiration from Maldivian lagoon life and the results are sensational. Eye-popping organic architecture flows through the resort, from the powerful curves of the Whale Bar to the twisting conch-shell-shaped boutique to the family villas which line the line the beachfront like a fleet of wooden dhoni boats setting out to sea. The vibe is upmarket and elegant without every feeling austere or unfriendly.
Service & facilities
Each villa is assigned a personal butler who will attend to your every whim, from buggy runs to the beach to drawing bedtime baths, and arranging a full itinerary of sunset cruises, wine-tasting and anti-gravity yoga – you’ll barely know how to think for yourself by the end of your stay. Aside from swathes of white coral sands to loll on, there’s also a sweeping infinity pool, a tip-top gym, an airy library and a lobster-shaped spa; it has six overwater treatment rooms positioned in the pincers.
Most exciting though, is the watersports centre, whose marine biologists are currently cataloging the biodiversity of this barely explored area. Recent unexpected encounters include meetings with mantas, hammerhead sharks and a pod of orcas – a rare sighting in the Indian Ocean. Divers will be in their element.
- Fitness centre
- Kids’ club
- Room service
- Steam room/hammam
The 77 villas are split into three categories: entry-level garden villas concealed in the jungle; peak roofed beach villas hugging the blinding white shore; and vast overwater villas, the best of which face west towards the sunset and expansive Indian Ocean. All are huge and every single one comes with its own private swimming pool. Interiors are sophisticated and soothing, decked out in classy shades of cream, cobalt and chartreuse.
Easy-to-use tablets allows guests to control the curtains, lighting and air-conditioning, as well as Bluetooth music and stream from Netflix, among other things.
Food & drink
There were hits and misses with the hotel’s dining: The breakfast spread was wonderfully decadent – Maldivian eggs benedict with yellowfin tuna, lobster omelette, waffle and duck leg confit – but the service was agonisingly slow with orders often mixed up when they did arrive.
The delivery at the Orientale restaurant was quick smart but its Indian and Chinese dishes weren’t particularly memorable – likewise, for the in-room and poolside dining. A real highlight though was the US$350 (£282) five-course degustation and wine-pairing evening, held in Decanter the hotel’s opulent underground wine cellar, with the executive chef and chief sommelier in attendance.
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