Winter sun favourite the Maldives is back on the radar and more luxurious than ever. We round-up the latest openings and exciting new additions
By Jonathan Whiley
This month sees the addition of a new overwater residence at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. Spanning 895 square metres, the Hadahaa Overwater Presidential Residence features three bedrooms with ensuite air-conditioned bathrooms to comfortably accommodate up to six guests. It boasts a private infinity pool and terrace, a shaded outdoor dining and lounge area, while separate decks adjoin the master and king bedrooms. There’s also a private gym, large whirlpool on the master bedroom terrace, spa, TV room and next-generation games console, kitchenette and the services of a 24-hour private butler, spa therapist and personalised chef.
Don’t miss the resorts new dining too; intimate Japanese Koi @ The Drift serves the freshest sushi and sashimi or the Chef’s Garden Treehouse, an entirely plant-based restaurant featuring ingredients sourced from the chef’s organic garden or within the atoll. hyatt.com
Soar high above the treetops with Soneva Fushi’s latest dining experience. ‘Flying Sauces’ combines world-class gastronomy with the thrill and excitement of ziplining – all set against magnificent views over the jungle and ocean beyond. The experience is designed to give guests a new perspective of the resort’s unique island eco-system, allowing them to reconnect with the sights and sounds of nature while enjoying fine dining hospitality.
After being securely strapped into safety harnesses, diners soar along a 200-metre zipline route to reach an elevated dining platform, enjoying an amuse bouche, refreshing shooters and other gastronomic surprises along the way. Once they arrive, chef Rasal prepares a six-course, seasonal menu in the open kitchen paired with a selection of over 9,000 fine wines from Soneva Fushi’s extensive cellar. soneva.com
Super chic Maldivian hideaway, JOALI, has unveiled a first-of-its-kind immersive wellbeing retreat. Launched last month, JOALI BEING is set on the secluded island of Bodufushi in Raa Atoll, home to 68 beach and water villas with their very own butler. With the island’s wild forest remaining untouched, it was built using Biophilic design principles; a scientific system of architecture and design integrating nature.
The retreat features a herbology centre, sound therapy hall and nature-immersive sound discovery path with resident therapists, movement experts and nutritionists. Fully customisable ‘Immersion Programmes’ are available, while culinary offerings include vegetarian cuisine at Plantae, ocean-to-table fare at Su and a tea lounge, SAI. It is also home to one of only three turtle rehabilitation and conservation sanctuaries in the Maldives. joalibeing.com
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi has launched the ultimate getaway experience; the largest exclusive-hire private island in the Maldives, accommodating up to 24 guests. Ithaafushi, the Private Island, features two, three and four-bedroom residents and comes with its own dedicated culinary team to rustle up bespoke menus. A wellness concierge is available too; in addition to its own gym, meditation and yoga pavilion. On the main island, don’t miss the Aqua Wellness Centre, a first in the Maldives, featuring hydrotherapy pool and a menu of water therapy treatments. ithaafushiprivateisland.co
Prepare to swoon at head-turning Patina, one of this year’s marquee openings in the Maldives. The first in a new brand of hotels by Capella Hotel Group, this design-led resort in the Fari Islands in the North Male Atoll has 90 villas (beach and overwater), designed by Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan. Modernism at its most impressive; a contemporary marina and beach club, custom-built furniture, retractable glass walls and a show-stopping art pavilion – Skyspace – designed by California artist, James Turrell.
Sustainability is at its core with locally-sourced material and sustainable building practices used in its construction, zero-waste kitchens and a plan to expand its solar plant to provide 50 per cent of the resort’s energy needs by 2030. patinahotels.com
Conrad Maldives Rangali is set to write its next chapter with a major revamp in February next year. Significant refurbishments include the transformation to 50 overwater villas, new touches to MURAKA – the world’s first underwater villa residence – a fully revamped Atoll Market, new Teens’ Club and gym. There will also be a ‘refresh’ of the Overwater Spa on Rangali Island and public areas such as the infinity pool. conradmaldives.com
Celebrate Maldivian culture at all-inclusive Heritance Aarah with the launch of a unique Maldivian village experience. It includes a showcase of a typical Maldivian household and key local industries such as coral stone carpentry and local handicraft workshops. Interactive sessions include a local culinary experience in an open kitchen, coconut tree expeditions and a chance to learn a little Dhivehi; the country’s official language. heritancehotels.com/aarah
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives has launched a series of experiences to celebrate their first festive season in tropical style. These include a Christmas Day ‘glitz and glam brunch’, Santa’s sunset arrival, gingerbread house making, treasure hunt, pirate safari and lobster dinner under the stars. The 100-villa resort launched earlier this year in the Fari Islands with a spherical design led by Kerry Hill Architects, inspired by the circular forms of the turquoise lagoon. There are seven restaurants and an exclusive spa partnership with Bamford. ritzcarlton.com
Three new experiences
Enjoy ‘opera under the sea’ this festive season as renowned Turkish soprano, Burcu Hanci, performs at Hurawalhi Island Resort’s stunning 5.8 Undersea Restaurant from December 27 until January 5. hurawalhi.com
Set the mood
Milaidhoo in the Baa Atoll’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, has introduced ‘Mood Dining’; a new series of dining and wellness packages with curated menus paired with activities. Devised to induce specific moons, they can target jetlag, help digestion and ease the symptoms of long Covid. milaidhoo.com
Rekindle romance with a unique sunset to sunrise stay in Finolhu’s new ‘Beach Bubble’. Located on a long, private sandbank, a private chef will prepare a romantic barbecue and a ‘Bubble Butler’ will attend to any requests as you gaze at the stars. finolhu.com
Bite sized news
Six Senses Kanuhura, the group’s second property in the Maldives, will open late next year as a ‘northerly’ sister to the popular Six Senses Laamu with 80 overwater, beach and family villas.
Baros Maldives has launched a new ‘eco explorer’ programme led by their resident marine biologist. It includes a coral frame planting experience and an opportunity to get involved in the ‘Coral Cube’ initiative to plant living coral fragments to the reef. Available through Scott Dunn. scottdunn.com/maldives/hotels/baros
Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi has launched a new Turtle Ranger programme to inspire the next generation of eco-conscious travellers. Guests can join the resort’s marine biologist and monitor critically-endangered Hawksbill Turtles and release hatchlings into the ocean and plant new coral.
Hard Rock Hotel Maldives has become the first resort in the country to accept cryptocurrency. The hotel is part of Crossroads Maldives and is a 20-minute speedboat ride from Male International Airport.