Adored by honeymooners and celebrities, the Maldives is known for its blissful blue sea, dazzling white sand and colourful coral reefs – plus some of the world’s most lavish hotel resorts.
Everyone feels like a VIP in the Maldives, where tropical island fantasies really do come true. From glamorous transfers in seaplanes and yachts to all-inclusive champagne, these wildly decadent hotels redefine luxury for jet-setters, frazzled A-listers and couples seeking alone time. Think world-class spas, underwater restaurants, dedicated butlers, starlit picnics and bucket-list villas worth blowing the budget on.
The pampering starts the moment you are greeted with champagne and canapes on the hotel’s private transfer yacht in Malé. All 122 beach, reef and overwater villas will take your breath away too, with huge private infinity pools, hammocks, a 65-inch TV and an oversized bathtub with ocean views. You won’t want to leave, but you should, if only to marvel at the glass-bottomed spa, two huge pools and 11 restaurants and bars, including romantic treetop eaterie Terra.
Bringing Italian flair to the Indian Ocean, the Baglioni Resort in Dhaalu Atoll offers thatched beach or over-water villas with covered open-air bathrooms, rain showers and immaculate interiors. Those craving serious luxury can even opt for a presidential water villa, including daily champagne, a 24-hour butler and buggy service and a dedicated waiter and barman. Break up beach days with pasta-making classes, movies at the open-air beach cinema or a cruise on the hotel’s Hobie Getaway catamaran.
At Lhaviyani Atoll’s all-inclusive Kudadoo, guests are entitled to anything they desire at any time. Think free-flowing top-brand champagne, mind-boggling minibars, unlimited spa treatments, watersports, a cheese and wine cellar and a personal butler making it all happen seamlessly. There are just 15 exquisite over-water villas, each with its own 44sqm (474sqft) infinity pool, though you can hire out the whole island if you want to be really flash.
A resort committed to doing things differently, Raa Atoll’s JOALI is the first and only immersive art resort in the Maldives. Guests are provided with a map to pinpoint art pieces around the hotel (including underwater sculpture), there’s an on-site gallery and art studio, and even the minibars feature striking artist-designed decanters. Elsewhere, there’s a chocolate and ice cream shop, an ESPA wellness centre, a whiskey and cigar lounge and a divine Italian fine-dining restaurant with a Bellini bar.
Just a 40-minute speedboat ride from capital Malé in South Malé Atoll, this resort will have you strolling on sugar-white sand while other travellers are still waiting for their seaplane transfer. Thirty-four secluded over-water villas are inspired by local dhoni boats and reached on wooden walkways stretching over the lagoon, all with private terraces to slip straight into the sea. Optional activities, including chartering a private boat or snorkelling at night with UV torches for an underwater light show, up the luxe factor.
Families and famous faces adore this chic resort, 40 minutes by speedboat from Malé. Every possible desire is anticipated here, from the gin bar to the ice cream shack, alongside a vast array of sports and games, an art studio, 12 gobsmacking beaches and even mini sun-loungers by the children’s pool. Want to really splash the cash? Copy the Beckhams and Tom Cruise and book the extravagant Grand Sunset Residence, with two pools, an outdoor cinema and garden with its own sunken fire pit and shisha lounge.
Shoes are left at the jetty at this barefoot, award-winning resort, a brief 20-minute speedboat transfer from Malé. Inspiration for the 45 thatched over-water villas comes from Robinson Crusoe – there are even seven standalone Crusoe residences reached by private boat for the full castaway experience. When you’re ready to emerge, there is an outdoor cinema, a dive centre, to-die-for dining and a heavenly spa with daily complimentary yoga sessions.
True peace and quiet is the ultimate luxury on Mirihi in South Ari Atoll, one of the smallest island resorts in the Maldives, just a 30-minute seaplane ride from Malé. The focus here is on disconnecting and taking it easy; none of the 39 villas have televisions, and there are no motorised watersports or nightlife. Instead, guests are invited to snorkel in gin-clear water, stroll powder-soft sand or sample the Indian Ocean’s largest collection of rums, including the hotel’s own house-made brand.
No need to spend even a moment of your holiday worrying about that devastating final bill at this resort in the South Male Atoll. A hefty and gloriously indulgent all-inclusive package includes a raft of extras, such as a generous minibar, non-motorised watersports, a sunset fishing excursion, champagne breakfasts and dining options including hand-made sushi poolside and gourmet fine-dining at underwater restaurant M6m.