The best luxury resorts in the Maldives

A slew of luxury hotel and resort openings have elevated this first class destination to a new level of luxury.

By Lana Bogunovich, February 28 2022
The best luxury resorts in the Maldives

Few places live up to their dreamy postcards quite like the Maldives. Officially the Republic of the Maldives (and officially pronounced Moldeevz), this tiny island nation south-west of Sri Lanka is comprised of 22 atolls and 1,200 islands dotted around the Indian Ocean.

The combination of its unique geographical makeup and remote location make the Maldives one of the world’s most exclusive destinations, attracting leading luxury hotel brands to open lavish resorts throughout the archipelago.

Located on remote, private islands, most offer the choice of overwater and beach villas, accessible by seaplane or a scenic boat ride.

Most Maldives resorts are built around their own islands.
Most Maldives resorts are built around their own islands.

With plenty of competition in the luxury stakes, most Maldives resorts cater to your every whim.

Think 24-hour personalised butler service, Michelin-star dining featuring almost any cuisine imaginable, state-of-the-art spa and fitness centres with leading wellness experts and special experiences you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else (caviar for breakfast on a lone sandbank in the middle of the ocean, anyone?).

You can also inject some off-land adventure into the mix, combining island-hopping, snorkelling and scuba diving with luxurious accommodation on a live-aboard yacht: Azalea Cruises' purpose-built superyacht includes nine well-appointed suites, each with ensuites.

Of these, six rooms are located below the waterline to offer an insight into the underwater world. Guests can also enjoy sundecks, a jacuzzi and fine dining, while the Scubaspa combines spa experiences with scuba diving.

As the destination’s popularity has soared, getting there is now easier than ever. Singapore Airlines flies from all major Australian cities direct to Singapore’s Changi Airport. From there, it’s a 4½-hour connecting flight to Malé’s Velana International, operating a minimum of once daily, with an additional flight on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Where to stay

 

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

It’s one of the most recognisable resorts in the Maldives, with images of its Ithaa Undersea Restaurant – five metres below the surface – gracing the pages of almost every magazine or social feed at least once.

And yet, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island still manages to wow us.

Marking the end of a multi-year makeover, the resort has celebrated its 25th birthday with a new look in its overwater villas, together with revamped dining and an upgraded overwater spa – yes, you can actually watch fish swimming as you’re massaged.

All 50 of the adult’s only overwater villas now feature updated interiors, blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living, and making them even more enticing.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

A 40-minute yacht ride from Malé is this newly-opened all-villa resort from Hilton’s luxury brand.

Spanning three interconnected islands, the resort features 119 beach, reef and overwater villas, each with its own infinity pool. There’s also the ultimate indulgence in two dual-level Stella Maris Ocean Villas which boast overwater hammocks, direct ocean access and are only accessible by private boat.

Culinary experiences include 11 specialty restaurants, among which is a treetop restaurant and The Ledge Grill, helmed by esteemed Australian Michelin star chef Dave Pynt.

The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands

This resort is one of three nestled across the newly-formed quad-island Fari Archipelago and sits around the Fari Marina Village.

Guests of all three properties have access to the marina, which incorporates a deluxe beach club, boutiques, restaurants and a complimentary boat transportation network.

The Ritz-Carlton itself features five more restaurants and is an all-villa resort focused on integrating indoors with outdoors to offer guests a singular private space.

Each villa boasts its own infinity pool, with direct access to the ivory sands for guests in beach villas. A dive centre can kit guests out with everything needed for on-water and underwater exploration.

Joali Being

Wellness and sustainability make up the backbone of this eco-resort on the island of Bodafushi, accessed after a 40 minute seaplane flight from Male.

The resort features 68 villas known as 'well living spaces', each with its own butler. Guests can make use of meditative musical instruments and wellbeing exercises available in their rooms along with private pools or direct beach access.

Guests are invited to customise their stay around a full health and wellness immersion program in line with the four pillars of the Joeli Being program, which after an initial assessment, are tailored to capitalise on areas of strength and improve personal fields of improvement.

Activities aim to work on areas such as mental clarity, digestive and weight rebalance and restorative sleep to promote positive health and immunity. Guests partake in scheduled sessions, self-care rituals and good nutritional programs, designed to foster long-term lifestyle change.

Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort

Located on one of the country's more remote atolls, this secluded resort is surrounded by a lagoon with two abundant reefs, where you can snorkel or view marine life through the glass floor of your overwater villa.

The main island’s chic beach villas and residences feature private pools, outdoor showers, and expansive living spaces. There’s also an overwater gym and spa, top-notch cuisine and signature experiences such as dining on caviar on a remote sandbank, reached by jet ski.

Make sure you utilise your 'Marine Butler' who, like a regular butler, is there to ensure your every whim is met, but is also trained to provide private snorkelling tours.

St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

Maldivian culture and nature are the inspiration behind this resort’s eco-conscious design and sophisticated architecture. Sprawling over the lagoon is the Whale Bar, an overwater cocktail lounge that transitions sunset-watching into stargazing on its expansive deck.

The 33 land-based and 44 overwater villas offer either ocean or garden views from private pools and decks, while the renowned St Regis butlers ensure attentive and discreet service around the clock. There’s also a choice of six restaurants, with water sports available from a dive centre.

One&Only Reethi Rah

One&Only is renowned for its sophisticated accommodation and personalised experiences in some of the world’s most captivating places, and the multi-award-winning Reethi Rah is no exception.

Choose from a beach villa with its own private garden and stretch of beach, or a water villa, from which you can jump straight into your own pool or lagoon.

The One&Only Spa offers holistic treatments and private meditation gardens and pavilions overlooking the ocean.

JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa

Opened less than a year ago, the JW Marriott promises a highly bespoke experience with five dining options, a wine cellar with carefully curated label collection, numerous fitness, wellness and water activities, and the 'Spa by JW'.

The 70 water villas and beach suites feature refined, eco-minded designs, accented by sleek bathrooms, spacious decks, outdoor showers and plunge pools.

InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort

InterContinental’s first Maldives resort boasts 81 villas and residences, each with butler service, on Maamunagau Island. With calm waters and sunset views from every angle, the resort’s natural environment drives its focus on sustainability and wellness.

In addition to the overwater spa, guests can take a holistic approach to their wellness with tailored treatments from the in-house traditional Chinese doctor.

Accessible after a short seaplane flight, guests can drop their bags and head for the ocean to start exploring the vast marine life, starting at the resort's manta ray sanctuary.

The Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa

Another new addition to the Maldivian resort community, The Emerald is located in the Raa Atoll and presents a selection of 120 beach and overwater villas with modern, tropical designs.

When you’re seeking a diversion from the view, you will be able to indulge your tastebuds at the five restaurants, snorkel with manta rays or take a massage at The Emerald Spa.

Pullman Maamutaa Maldives

Eighty spacious beach and over-water villas await guests here, with the resort having enjoyed its grand opening a few years ago.

There are 122 luxury villas to select from, but a spectacular option is the immersive Aqua Villa, which features two bedrooms - one of which is underwater.

A rarity among Maldivian resorts is that your room rate at Pullman Maamutaa includes all meals, which you can take at any of the resort's three restaurants.

Centara Grand Muthaafushi Resort & Spa

The Thai brand brings its signature hospitality into the Maldives, the 112 overwater villas wrap around an inviting palm-fringed beach and lagoon.

If diving is your thing, guests can explore a shipwreck just off the island which now makes for an artificial reef teeming with marine life. Back on land, there’s also a floating cinema or the opportunity to take a sunset cruise to visit some local villages.

Additional reporting by Matt Lennon and Chris Ashton


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