Maldives Islands Forever
By Natalia Bogdanova
The howling winds scatter banks of snow as gray skies whisper “cold”. The concrete jungle breathes winter, shackling us into frozen chains. But why become an iced frappé if you can escape the grip of frost with an exciting trip to the South Asian paradise – the Maldives. Located a few hundred kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka and India, this small archipelago is the ultimate destination to unwind and indulge in a luxurious lifestyle. Besides being an absolute barefoot utopia, the islands boast some of the best beaches in the world and rich marine life. Just picture how sweet sun rays gently caress your skin as glassy sand crystals tickle your pores and glowing ocean waves reflect in your half-closed eyes, which smoothly run through the pages of your favorite book. The moments like this spark our moods and make us feel alive once again.
And we know it’s not that easy to find a comfy flight, a nice place to stay, to eat or to [party]. But don’t worry, iPremium scouts gathered all the information you need to safely embark on a novel tropical adventure.
Live & Let Fly
The main airlines flying to the Maldives are from the UK. You can choose a direct flight option with Sri Lankan Airways out of Heathrow and British Airways out of Gatwick, or you can fly with Qatar Airways, Emirates, or Oman Airways via the main hub from anywhere. But we recommend checking whether your booked flight is ‘non-stop’ or not beforehand since the Sri Lankan timetable varies throughout the year. Another thing to consider is these flights won't take you directly to the resort. First, you will land at Malé International Airport, where a seaplane or a speed boat will take you to your final destination. This trip might range anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour, and a half, depending on how far is your place of stay. And if you plan to stay at different hotels that are not part of the same group, you will need to return to the airport, where your other resort will pick you up.
The good news is you won’t need any vehicle to get around the archipelago, since most of the islands are car-free and distances are walkable. However, you’ll probably need a boat to visit other places to not sit on one island for the entire stay. And here comes a Maldives tour – a must-do activity on every avid traveler’s bucket list – that will allow you to see everything you need.
Here Comes the Stay
From club-like and chic boutique resorts to guesthouses and luxurious private villas, the Maldives offer numerous options that will suit singles, newlyweds, and families alike. And we picked the top places to help you make the right choice.
Best for Families
Nestled on five little islets, in a 30-minute flight from Malé, in the Noonu Atoll, Soneva Jani is a supreme quality hotel that is ideal for big families and relatives reunions. Its first island houses spacious villas that are bigger than some hotels. The largest one can fit up to 10 family members. The scale of these villas is truly exceptional. Each and every one of them is built from sustainable wood and boasts a variety of features including ladders into the ocean, illuminators to reveal an abundant marine life below, and retractable ceilings above beds to contemplate starry nights. Later this year, the resort plans to plant more villas inside the forests of screw-pine and banyan trees.
The best thing is that every one of your family members will surely find an activity to their taste. The resort has a bar with wine-tasting space, a gym, spa, yoga studio, and an excellent kids' club to assist parents. Don't miss out on a local observatory and a floating cinema, where guests wear wireless headphones to avoid bothering sea turtles that are as big as ponies. Boasting with a lovely tented restaurant hub, serving everything from grilled seafood to freshly baked pizzas, the second island is designated for foodies. The Other three islands, however, stay uninhabited – a great place to roam free and experience a castaway adventure. All in all, this resort is a must-visit destination for anyone, especially families.
LUX* NORTH MALÉ ATOLL
Best for Singles
For those in love with Miami glamour vibes, Lux* North Malé Atoll is a perfect setting to finally try out your posh looks. The villas are masterpieces to be adored at – all double-decker, spacious enough to wander freely, with rooftop decks that offer incredible views of crimson pink sunsets, and sleek bathrooms fit to fulfill all your fantasies and more. There are tons of activities to do and people to meet. You can go stand-up paddleboarding, visit an art studio, take up photography, savor craft cocktails at the beach club, or play volleyball with new acquaintances and mysterious strangers.
When hungry, head to Glow, one of the hotel's restaurants, to sample international plates with creative flair. Or check out INTI for Nikkei food, Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, that will satisfy even the most sophisticated taste buds. And although Lux* North Malé Atoll is a 55-minute speedboat ride from Malé, this trip is justified by the hotel's wonderful amenities, luxurious accommodations, and fine restaurants – a perfect setting to meet your new lover.
FOUR SEASONS MALDIVES PRIVATE ISLAND AT VOAVAH, BAA ATOLL
Best for Honeymoons
Oh, honeymoon, this sweet-sweet holiday that we all deserve to spend joyously and carefree. And this hotel will make sure all your dreams of the perfect honeymoon come true. This five-acre, seven-bedroom property on a private island has everything to keep you satisfied. You can bathe in sun rays on snow-white shores, explore Baa Atoll with your own yacht, have fun at your diving center or your SPA with 28 staff members, ready to make your vacation a living paradise. Besides extraordinary amenities, the place looks and feels marvelous. It is the very contrast between natural materials like seagrass and diamond-polished concrete that makes this villa an architectural beauty. And although it may seem that the muted palette of the interiors is too dull, its purpose is to guide your eyes back to the sublime natural views surrounding you and your partner, rather than man-made monuments. Boasting with an exquisite charm and complete privacy, the resort is an ideal getaway for couples that value luxury.
ONE&ONLY REETHI RAH
Best for Powder-Soft Beaches & Facilities
Located on the octopus-shaped island, One&Only offers an enchanting beach experience as well as an array of wonderful facilities and amazing dining options. Besides, this award-winning resort is ideal both for couples and families alike. First unveiled over a decade ago, One&Only successfully fuses Maldivian, Chinese, and Balinese architecture, creating a barefoot, yet luxurious vibe. What’s the most fascinating is that the hotel operates according to its time zone. This time zone is one hour ahead of Malé to let residents enjoy picturesque sunsets at a more cocktail-friendly hour. The list of facilities seems endless with a dive center, rock climbing, FIFA-certified football pitch, boutique shopping, various classes at its vanguard. But the main feature is an incredible ESPA spa, which gardens promote total tranquility and superb relaxation. The accommodations are beautifully-styled in wood and natural stone. Although there are a few living options available, we recommend checking out The Grand Sunset Residence. This option comes with your private beach, outdoor cinema, and choice of pools. Necessary to say, such accommodations hosted a variety of celebrities, including the Beckhams, Tom Cruise, and Gordon Ramsay. For avid foodies, the resort houses Reethi and The Fanditha Bar – both have a great choice of plates and cocktails, and play an important role in sunset viewing. All in all, you can’t go wrong One&Only Reethi Rah.
Solid & Authentic Luxury
Because of quite similar landscapes on Maldivian islands, many hotels started inventing crazy features to trick people into coming to their properties. But Joali, with its classic entourage, went for the authenticity of a luxurious hotel rather than such trickery. Instead, the resort focused on its service, design, and food. And the service is a big part of the experience here. Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a horizon of unobtrusive smiles that further translate into impeccable care for residents. Designed by Autoban, an Istanbul-based design studio behind an extraordinary airport in Baku, the villas are truly masterpieces of contemporary architecture. Thus, it’s quite a delight to reside and be wrapped into the warm blanket of creativity. Speaking of food, the renowned Australian chef Ashley Goddard oversees the property’s four restaurants, along with the organic fruit and herb garden that sources the menus. As a result, you can choose anything from coconut and pineapple spring rolls to marinated tuna tartare and it will taste wonderful. For those who can’t skip hand-crafted cocktails, Mura Bar is an ideal destination to sip Martini and smoke shisha while spectating mind-blowing sunsets. We also recommend indulging in spa treatments that take place next to a gray and white marble hammam and a floating yoga pavilion that frames the majestic sunrise. It’s just impossible to list all the great features the resort has to offer, so now, it’s your move. Visit and experience Joali Maldives – a tropical gem with classic vibes.
WALDORF ASTORIA MALDIVES ITHAAFUSHI
Best for Movie-Like Feel
Your journey with the Waldorf Astoria begins with a luxurious yacht transfer from the airport to the snow-white sands of the island. From here, you have an opportunity to choose from a range of remarkable dining options, amenities, and upscale accommodations. Yes, you heard us right, you will need to take just a few steps from the airport to reach Astoria’s private yacht. Thus, the routine, necessary trip from Malé feels more like a pleasant stroll. The property overall gives out this Robinson Crusoe vibe, yet it is multifaceted with eleven restaurants and bars having their unique themes. From Terra’s tree-house style to traditional Shanghai designs at Li-Long, every establishment feels like a film set. This array of restaurants and bars inevitably pulls into the abyss of delicious food and drinks. In other words, you will spend a considerable time sampling yet another baba ganoush with Pinot Gris or Cava. The quality of service is great too. You will see it for yourself the same moment you step out of the boat to the cheerful sounds of applause and palisades of smiles. Besides, you will also have your concierge while residing in Astoria. The facilities also prove that the resort is of top-tier quality. Dive into infinity pools, burn calories at a glass-walled fitness center, dominate water sports, and continue practicing your asanas at the yoga pavilion. There is also a huge kids’ club that will let parents relax...at last. But the main thing about the resort is how comfortable you are in your spacious, high-tech villa with cathedral-like ceilings and incredible views of the ocean. Bathrooms come with huge round tubs beside the windows, plush Salvatore Ferragamo amenities, and both outdoor and indoor rainfall showers. Above all, you will have your private pool. This resort is a film of opulence and joy that finally came true for some. And you are next.
FOUR SEASONS MALDIVES AT LANDAA GIRAAVARU
Best for Foodies and Diving Enthusiasts
Upon arrival at Malé International Airport, you will be greeted by a smiling Four Seasons staff member, who will escort you to the resort’s seaport lounge. There, you will await your boat transfer while enjoying snacks and checking out the daily bulletin with upcoming activities. It’s such a nice touch that gets you even more excited about the resort. When you finally reach the island, the attentive staff serves coconut water in a shell, preparing you to be bathed in the ocean of luxury. And although the routine transfer to just about any resort in the Maldives can be exhausting and inconvenient for most, Four Seasons does an excellent job helping you forget all about it. Speaking of accommodations, we recommend staying in an overwater villa with secluded full ocean views facing the most spectacular sunsets. You will have a chance to see them through the floor-to-ceiling windows or from your private infinity pool. The hotel surely goes to great lengths to respect its heavenly natural surroundings. The rooms and a spacious sitting area with high wooden ceilings are just stunning. All the villas are nestled at perfect distance from each other, making it feel less crowded than other resorts. Another great feature of the resort is its food. From traditional European options to Indian and Chinese style plates, dining at FS is just incredibly good. And if you feel like going for something outside the menu, the staff will be happy to accommodate all your requests on time. And don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the sunset while dining with your significant one – reserve a private dinner on Blu beach just before the sunset. The resort also has wonderful amenities, including his/her bikes that allow you to travel around the island and The Marine Discovery Center, where kids and adults alike can get valuable information about the local sea life. Speaking of which, check out diving activities that will let you see whale sharks and huge mantas – available for sightseeing June through October. All in all, FS at Landaa Giraavaru will bring happiness and a full stomach of delicious food to anyone who will dare to step on this beauteous island.
All You Need is Food
● Ithaa Undersea Restaurant at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island – dining below the sea level has never been so breathtaking. conradmaldives.com/dine/ithaa-undersea-restaurant/
● Reethi Restaurant – an open-concept kitchen restaurant that serves a fusion of Asia-Pacific and Mediterranean flavors amid stunning marine surroundings. oneandonlyresorts.com/reethi-rah/dining/reethi
● So Hands On at Soneva Fushi – an exclusive eight-seat sushi restaurant from three Michelin-starred Japanese chef Kenji Gyoten.
● Fenesse at Jumeirah Vittaveli – classic and contemporary French fine dining on a terrace overlooking the vasts of the Indian Ocean.
● Baraabaru at Four Seasons Kuda Huraa – delicious Indian plates sourced by fresh local ingredients.
● Destination Dining in Baros Maldives – a romantic dinner with a personal chef and a waiter on a secluded sandbank, surrounded by turquoise waters of the Maldives.
● White Orchid Restaurant at JA Manafaru – celebration of fine Chinese cuisine through innovative contemporary approach.
● Manta Ray Treehouse at Joali Maldives – eclectic Maldivian dining in an extraordinary space amidst the tropical jungles.
Twist and Shout
The Maldives is not only about relaxation but also active fun...and lots of it. That’s why we summed up top five must-do activities for avid adventurers:
● Dive into The MURAKA Undersea Villa at Conrad Maldives Rangali – Now welcoming guests to experience a luxurious life both above and below the water surface, THE MURAKA at Conrad Maldives Rangali features four curated menu options – The Wanderers, The Flavors, The Soul, and The Thrill – with exclusive and modifiable culinary experiences that will blow your mind. To learn more, read here.
● Underwater LIME Spa at Huvafen Fushi: Indulge in luxurious experience at the first and only underwater spa on the planet Earth. The most soothing and relaxing treatment of all is the renowned massage that involves hydrothermal water cushions, gently heating painful areas, and evaporating your muscular tension. To learn more, read here.
● Play Golf at Kuredu Resort: Play your favorite game at the country’s first 6-hole recreational golf course with spectacular views as your backdrop. Designed both with nature and clients in mind. The course provides the options of a full-size driving range, shaded areas with local flora, and bunkers to give you that sandy feel. To learn more, read here.
● Scuba Diving at Six Senses Laamu: If you scuba-dived before and think that you’ve seen everything, you are in for an exciting surprise. Because, among other fantastic local fish, you have a chance to see gentle giants of the ocean – manta rays. Interestingly, each of them has a unique spot pattern on their belly. This activity, however, is not for beginner-level divers. Thus, if you didn’t have prior experience, you will be required to take diving classes at the resort’s diving center and get certified before checking out these majestic creatures. To learn more, read here.
● Ice Rink at Jumeirah Vittaveli: Imagine ice skating or playing hockey on a tropical island. With Jumeirah Vittaveli’s efforts, it’s a real thing now. Besides, the ice rink is made of synthetic and works entirely without water, and at a zero-energy level, making it a local gem of sustainability. To learn more, read here.
With its spectacular views, luxurious resorts, rich marine life, and delicious food, the Maldives are a must-visit, especially in winter when no monsoon season can ruin your holiday. Embrace the beginning of the year without heavy coats and dirty leather shoes, but with the tropical islands of the Maldives – ever sunny and beauteous place of joy.