How To Choose The Right Luxury Maldives Resort

Photo Credit: Jumeirah Vittaveli

Overwater villas? Check. White-sand beaches? Check. Luxury-brand spa? Check. Snorkeling trips and beach barbecues? Check. Resorts in the Maldives can all start to look the same from afar, especially for first-time visitors with little frame of reference. However, though many of them offer similar deluxe amenities and opulent touches, each hotel’s individual character, location and on-property amenities can determine a lot about your stay. Here are five resorts in the Maldives, and what unique elements each one offers its guests.

 Four Seasons
Photo Credit: Four Seasons Resort Maldives Kuda Huraa

Families & Surf Junkies — Four Seasons Kuda Huraa

Just a quick boat ride from the Maldives’ main airport in Malé, this Four Seasons property is a great choice both for families and surfers…and families of surfers. Its proximity to the capital means that you won’t have to endure a lengthy layover and another seaplane flight to reach your final destination after you’ve already flown this far. That can be a big plus for folks traveling with tuckered-out tykes. As is the resort’s panoply of amenities and activities just for kids. The hotel’s Kuda Mas (small fish) club has daily activities for children ages 4-12, while the whole family can get together for excursions like coral reef-building, snorkeling, various cruises, and even spa treatments specially created for young ones.

The hotel is also home to an outlet of top surfing outfitters such as Tropicsurf which can put together trips to six of the Maldives’ best reef breaks nearby. For something even more special, they can also take guests on customized “surfing safaris” where you board a seaplane and fly to out-of-the-way breaks where you’ll be the only ones shooting the curl. Between sets, you can paddle back to the plane for refreshments, or take flight again to search for more waves. You’ll be back to the resort in time for sundowners at the Sunset Lounge.

Six Senses Laamu
Photo Credit: Six Senses Laamu

Spa Addicts — Six Senses Laamu

Those looking to get away from it all need not look any further than Six Senses’ property in the Maldives. Located on a secluded atoll about a 45-minute flight from Malé, as soon as guests step into the hotel’s private launch, they are encouraged to go barefoot for the rest of their stay (it’s easier to acclimate than you think!). It doesn’t hurt that the overwater villas here come with expansive decks including sunken dining areas, shaded oversized daybeds, and even hammocks right over the water. The glass-bottomed bathtubs in the outdoor bathrooms are also a fun feature you won’t see elsewhere.

Though you can spend your days going on scuba trips with the property’s onsite Ocean Dimensions outfitters, surfing the nearby Yin Yang break, or dining on garden-fresh cuisine at the resort’s treetop Leaf restaurant, one of the main focuses here is on wellness. The resort’s spa specializes in traditional Indian Ayurvedic treatments and techniques, and encourages each guest to come in for a brief complimentary health evaluation. Those looking for a serious detox experience, can opt for an entire integrated wellness plans specially tailored to their needs and goals that includes nutritional consultations, a fitness program and Eastern medicine therapies carried out by a roster of visiting experts.

You can also just enjoy one-off specialty treatments like the Abhyang Fusion aromatherapy treatment that includes a massage, reflexology, lymphatic drainage and chakra balancing for detoxification, joint relief and better sleep. The Laamu Bliss, which lasts two hours, uses Maldivian coconut oil, as well as traditional spices like ginger, clove and nutmeg in a warm body wrap before the application of a cooling cucumber skin conditioner.

Jumeirah Vittaveli
Photo Credit: Jumeirah Vittaveli

Snorkelers — Jumeirah Vittaveli

Just feel like snorkeling without having to book all-day excursions? Pick a hotel with a great house reef. Jumeirah Vittaveli is one of the best options. The resort’s island was actually once home to a small resort specifically for diving enthusiasts. Though it’s just a quick yacht ride away from the airport in Malé, the surrounding waters are teeming with coral reefs and the various fish and other wildlife that make them their home.

All you have to do is stroll down the beach and into the water, or off the deck of your overwater villa (book one of the freestanding two-story, Ocean Suites for the ultimate romantic experience). You’ll find yourself surrounded by tropical fish, and perhaps a turtle or two, as well as eagle and stingrays (which also come to one of the resort’s beaches at dusk every day for a feeding session). You can also spot baby black-tip reef sharks from time to time. If you do want a bit more adventure, the resort’s on-property diving outfit is called Best Dives Center, and can arrange everything from PADI certification, private and group dives, and sunset dolphin-spotting cruises.

Of course, there are other land-based experiences as well, including time to relax with body treatments incorporating local coconut oil at the property’s Talise Spa, or taking an Indian cooking class at its al fresco restaurant Swarna. Be sure to also spend an evening at Mu Beach Bar & Grill enjoying fresh-grilled Maldivian rock lobster.

Shangri-La Villingili
Photo Credit: Shangri-La Villingili

Golfers — Shangri-La Villingili

Finding a golf course in the Maldives is harder than you think. In fact, the Shangri-La Villingili is the only resort in the entire country that has one. It takes up half the resort’s island, and includes nine holes (plus a point that’s the highest bit of land in the country).

Apart from the time you spend fixing that slice, you’ll find plenty of other things to do here, that is, if you can tear yourself away from one of the secluded overwater villas (there are beach ones, too). The two-bedroom Villa Muthee (which means “pearl” in the local Dhivehi dialect) is located off a private jetty and has its own infinity-edge pool, several secluded sundecks, and its own spa pavilion, not to mention 24-hour butler service.

The hotel is the southernmost in the country, just south of the Equator, and an hour-long flight from Malé. So you won’t be vying with guests from other resorts as you head out on signature activities like snorkeling trips out on the nearby reefs, parasailing over the pristine waters, kite surfing or night fishing. The resort is also home to one of Shangri-La’s branded Chi Spas, where treatments include unique “Sense of Place” experiences like the Kandu Boli ritual, which incorporates cowrie shells to massage the body, and soothing coconut oil for a scalp massage.

Angsana Velavaru
Photo Credit: Angsana Velavaru

Wildlife Thrill-Seekers — Angsana Velavaru

There’s no shortage of vibrant reefs and amazing underwater opportunities in the Maldives. But one of the most special aquatic experiences in the world is getting the chance to swim with the largest fish on earth: whale sharks. These gentle giants tend to migrate seasonally in other parts of the world, but you can find them year-round in a particular part of the Maldives…that’s just a half-hour from Angsana Velavaru. So if you have your heart set on swimming with these behemoths, this resort is a phenomenal option.

Of course, the spacious overwater villas here are a draw in and of themselves. The resort is actually split into two sections. One part is on a small island with beach villas, the spa and several restaurants. Linked to it by boat service is a pier off of which the resort’s InOcean water villas extend, facing the sunrise or sunset, depending on which you book.

These villas have huge outdoor decks with private dining areas, hammocks hanging over the sea, private plunge pools, and sun-drenched rooftop lounges. Inside, you’ll find separate living and bedrooms, and deep soaking tubs with uninterrupted ocean views. Enjoy a romantic dinner on your own deck, or pop into the resort’s Mediterranean-inspired Azzurro restaurant for a dinner set to the sound of the waves beneath you.

Eric Rosen

Eric Rosen lives in Los Angeles and writes about food, wine, travel and adventure... usually in some combination of the four. He regularly contributes to Los Angeles Confidential Magazine, Cond� Nast's HotelChatter and Jaunted, TravelAge West, Palate Press, Frontiers, Edge and Wandermelon. His work has also appeared in the L.A. Times. When he is not exploring the Los Angeles dining scene...(Read More)

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