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The best of the Maldives

Written by  Maxine Albert

LUX
FOUR SEASONS LANDAA GIRAAVARU

Although many choose to relax in the Maldives after traveling to nearby India or Sri Lanka, I had wondered if the destination was worthy of a visit on its own. The moment I touched down at the Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru in the Baa Atoll, a 44 acre UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, after my 40 minute seaplane from Malé and took in the utter gorgeousness my answer was unequivocally - Yes. Think a lush tropical island with crystalline turquoise water, sugary sand beaches, coral reefs and a spectacular spa delightfully isolated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s ideal for couples, friends and families alike with activities aplenty for all.

True to the brand, the Four Season’s second Maldives resort delivers the utmost in service, accommodations and amenities. Not to mention the ravishing setting. There’s a carefree, easy ambiance perfect for bicycling around the palm shaded sandy paths or simply lolling about. Water enthusiasts will love the locale’s proximity to many virgin dive sites and (June to Dec.) it’s a short boat ride from manta ray hotspots. You can snorkel anytime right off the beach amid colorful fish, turtles, dolphins and coral gardens in the lagoon in front of the Water Sports Facility and the Interactive Marine Discovery Centre.
The award winning Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat with ten open air pavilions, three overwater and a team of outstanding practitioners from around the globe, sets Landaa Giraavaru apart. All guests receive a wellness consultation with the Ayurvedic (Indian holistic) doctors based on your body type followed by lifestyle and diet recommendations to create a healthy balanced state. A superb therapist from Bhutan gave me a Kundalini back massage that both rejuvenated and relaxed. Not only does this healing sanctuary offer regular yoga, in Anti-Gravity Yoga, using hammocks suspended in air, I felt joyous and stress free. Another highlight was the otherworldly Om Supti Night Spa Ritual. After a blissful two and a half hour massage, facial plus herbal bath in a candle lit jungle clearing I returned to my villa and drifted into a deep, peaceful sleep.
The restaurants are varied and all of the highest quality. These include all day Café Landaa, fresh fish at Fuego Grill, tagines and mezze at Al Barakat and the Italian restaurant Blu, which also offers breakfast with exquisite aquamarine water views.
The 103 spacious, beachy chic overwater or beach villas with thatched ceilings handsomely decorated in white and turquoise are private hideaways, hidden behind gates. Guests enjoy barefoot luxury at its best with their own beach access, gardens, vast outdoor spaces with loungers, huge pools, sundecks and terraces with panoramic Indian Ocean views. www.fourseasons.com/maldiveslg

CHEVAL BLANC RANDHELI
Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Noonu Atoll is arguably the most fashionable resort in the Maldives. What else would you expect from the latest addition to the renowned LVMH luxury-goods portfolio. A verdant island with a dreamy lagoon, remarkable gastronomy and French flair comprise a delightful cocktail of ultimate luxury.
Guests arrive on Cheval Blanc’s custom de Havilland seaplane painted in their signature taupe, yellow and white for the 40 minute flight north of Malé to Randheli. I was greeted with warm bonjours by a group of smartly attired smiling Ambassadeurs including female staffers with yellow parasols. Everything here is color coordinated and crafted with the same precision as a Louis Vuitton bag.
This oasis of high style features 45 palatial island, garden or water villas with 23-foot thatched roof ceilings. All come with butlers and are decked out with every amenity. Generous interiors with large glass doors done in neutral tones with splashes of yellow showcase bespoke furnishings and original artworks. Outdoor living areas offer large infinity pools, daybeds and terraces over the turquoise lagoon. For those seeking seclusion in paradise the 4 bedroom 10,764 square foot owner’s villa situated on its own island promises a uniquely idyllic experience.
As to the extraordinary cuisine: Guests savor international specialties at The White Restaurant, fine dining at Le 1947, Mediterranean delights at The Deelani and world class Japanese at Diptyque. Another decadent trapping is the spa on its own island with pampering treatments by LVMH‘s perfume and cosmetics giant Guerlain.
There’s no shortage of activities and play toys here for both children and adults including a fully equipped water center with traditional wooden dhonis, speedboats and yachts for aqua sports. Many, however, choose to loll in the privacy of their designer castaway retreat. www.chevalblanc.com/randheli

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