2017 was a good year for the Maldives, with many new properties hoping to cash in on those turquoise lagoons, pricey over-the-water bungalows and barefoot luxury that has become synonymous with the island nation. Big chains and independent resorts alike have opened beautiful new properties this past year – these are our favourites.
1. The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Who should go: Design lovers
Designed by Singaporean WOW Architects, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli has been awarded the ‘Special Prize Exterior’ under the category Hotels in Africa and West Asia at this year’s PRIX VERSAILLES — an award which recognises the most remarkable structures, in terms of both interior and exterior architecture. Updating the idyllic island nation with angular lines, Manta shaped pool villas and the Whale Bar which sees you emerge over the water from beneath an immense organic dome, there’s also one of the priciest lagoon-perched villas (the 3-bedroom John Jacob Astor Estate at over 25,000 US per night) in the country.
Who should go: Young couples
Hurawalhi is an adults-only resort (it does welcome teens over 15), features the largest undersea restaurant in the Maldives, and is probably one of the leading promoters of environmental sustainability, awareness and marine biodiversity in the region. The resort has its own water-bottling plant, hot water recovery system, utilises solar panels, and has teamed up with Manta Trust (a marine conservation and education specialist) to preserve the natural habitat of the Lhaviyani Atoll. If you’re wanting to dive the Maldives, there are over 50 dive sites nearby and one of the most reliable manta-spotting cleaning stations in the country.
Who should go: Boho luxe castaways
While Kanuhura isn’t new to the Maldives, they have undergone a massive (read: $40 million massive) renovation. Targeting the “gypset traveler” the 80 room resort also bagged the “Leading Family Resort in the Maldives” at the June 2017 World Travel Awards. But what really stands out at Kanuhura is the food. From Brazilian fare at Fogo to oysters and caviar aboard the floating Dhoni Restaurant, if eat, sleep, repeat (plus a little spa-time for good measure) sounds like your perfect holiday, look no further.
Who should go: Group of friends
Good news for those not necessarily on a honeymoon but still wanting to visit the Maldives. Kandima is one of many newer resorts trying to shake things up in the lovey-dovey holiday-centric country. While a honeymoon here is still on point, the target audience isn’t necessarily those looking for total isolation. With the largest pool in the Maldives, restaurants like Sea Dragon serving authentic Chinese cuisine meant to be shared family style, or over-the-water lounging pods that fit more than 10 people at the Beach Club, groups are most definitely catered to here. The vibe throughout Kandima is young, hip and playful, (kids club included if you have a burgeoning brood) which makes it ideal for those seeking a Maldivian getaway that includes more than two.
5. Vakkaru Maldives
Who should go: Large families who need space for everyone
The Maldives’ newest resort has a lot going for it – powder soft sands, as per, but with the added element of scientific backing. (A 2015 study of the Baa Atoll, where Vakkaru is located, suggested that the sands were created by parrotfish grinding up the surrounding coral reefs and excreting it as sand.) A mix of beach and over-water villas feature locally sourced materials in their design and construction, paying homage to the traditional Maldivian architecture. The villas can accomodate any size of family – for optimum privacy for you and your brood, book the over-water villa right at the end of the stretch. And when you do need to offload the kids, there are two separate kids clubs with activities, amenities and excursions that cater to all different age groups, as well as tennis, volleyball and badminton courts for the sporty.