How The Ultimate Island Escape Has Evolved For Families, Couples And Travel AficionadosThe Maldives has always seemed a world apart. Fittingly, an otherworldly experience is just what guests find when they reach the ring-shaped coral atolls that comprise the tiny nation of the Maldives. It is a pristine place of untouched natural beauty, quiet solitude and unmatched levels of personal service. The resorts on the Maldives offer spectacular marine adventures, outstanding cuisine and some of the most spiritually resonating spa and wellness experiences in the world.
The islands of the Maldives have a long history of attracting some of the world’s most glamorous and famous travelers. Gwyneth & Brad, Prince William & Duchess Kate, Kate Moss, Kate Winslet… seemingly all the Kates that England has to offer have holidayed in this stunning archipelago dotting the Indian Ocean. The promise of endless vistas and luxurious seclusion has beckoned even the Beckhams to its beaches for a romance-rekindling vacation.
Royalty, film stars and celebrities are blessed with teams of staff and private jets to turn their travel desires into reality. Yet for many people, the Maldives remains a distant dream of a far-flung destination, with a complexity of accommodations and a lack of time and funds to arrange it all.
“Venturing into the unknown is less daunting when a familiar face awaits at the other end,” said Becky Powell, travel expert and President of Protravel International. “A trusted and reliable hotel brand will help you feel comfortable even before you’ve left home. Communicating with hotel staff in advance, and getting advice and support with planning, bookings and transfers, can help set expectations and give you confidence in the quality of care and service you will receive during your stay.” Accor, a world-leading, augmented hospitality group with more than 4,900 hotels and residences across 110 countries, is an expert at introducing travelers to new destinations. The Maldives is one of the company’s latest favorites. In recent years, Accor has doubled down on its investments in the Maldives, bringing no fewer than five of its brands to the islands. With Raffles, Fairmont, Pullman, Mövenpick and Mercure each residing on various atolls, Accor’s hotels in the Maldives are welcoming to all guests, whether they seek a more economical mid-level experience or the finest level of luxury. “The Maldives is one of the world’s most sought after destinations and our goal is to provide a diverse collection of hotels that allow guests to experience the vibrant and unspoiled marine life of the islands, in the style and manner they feel is most rewarding to them,” said Patrick Basset, Accor’s Chief Operating Officer, Upper Northeast & Southeast Asia and the Maldives. “Whether it’s a champagne breakfast on a private island, or a picnic lunch on a dive boat, the unique resorts of Accor ensure that luxuries and comforts are personally meaningful and effortlessly delivered, while honoring and protecting the mystique of this astonishing part of the world.” Of course, the first step is getting there. Guests typically fly into the Velana International Airport, centrally located in the capital city of Malé. Hotel representatives greet guests here, before escorting them onward to seaplanes, speedboats or domestic flights. Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi and Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru are located about an hour to the north; while Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort, Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort and Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort are all located to the south, about an hour and half from the Malé airport.
For the ultimate in idyllic luxury vacations, guests choose Raffles Maldives Meradhoo Resort. Since 1887, Raffles hotels have enchanted their well-traveled guests with an elegant oasis style and discreet charm. Guests feel pampered and privileged while regaling in signature Raffles indulgences, such as the Long Bar, with its list of vintages to match those reserved in the British Royal cellars, and the lotus-inspired tranquility of the Raffles Spas.
In May 2019, the Raffles resort opened along the southern tip of the Maldives, in the remote and pristine Gaafu Alifu Atoll. The magnificent retreat includes two private islands, one with 21 villas and residences, a Raffles Spa, two beachfront restaurants and a world-class dive center with an on-site marine biologist. A quick boat ride takes guests across the water to its second island, where 16 vast overwater villas reside, along with Yuzu, a sophisticated restaurant serving Nikkei cuisine; the sunset facing Yapa pool bar; and a wildly romantic fire pit dining experience right on the beach.
Together these two private islands offer two distinct experiences, bound together by Raffles’ legendary service, including the gentle and intuitive attentions of the Raffles Butlers, exclusive marine butler service, children’s butlers and private chefs.
For an experience of more casual luxury with just as much genuine warmth and personal attention, guests choose Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi. This luxury leisure resort opened in 2018 on the northern tip of the region, on the island of Sirru Fen Fushi. The only resort on the Shaviyani Atoll, the property overlooks one of the largest natural lagoons in the Maldives.
Fairmont is beloved for its unrivalled experiences and the resort in Maldives is no exception. Some 120 sumptuous villas are dotted around the property, with beach villas, water villas and the utterly unique jungle tented villas. These safaristyle accommodations create magical nights with the feeling of sleeping under the stars. By day, guests enjoy the al fresco living areas and outdoor rain showers.
Castaway picnics, dolphin cruises and sunset sailing are just a few of the diversions here. Yet snorkeling around the Coralarium is one of the property’s must-do experiences. An art installation and a home to millions of sea creatures, the Coralarium is designed to raise awareness of coral depletion as well as providing a thriving coral regeneration reef. An on-site manta ray cleaning station offers guests a rare and intimate glimpse of one of the world’s most majestic marine creatures, as they swim by in a beautiful display of aquatic symbiosis with smaller sea life.
A stay at any Fairmont hotel is truly unforgettable, not merely for the extraordinary experiences, but in large part due to the thoughtful and engaging colleagues who aim to make each and every stay a cherished and memorable experience.
Just south of the Fairmont, on the Noonu Atoll, Mövenpick Resort Kuredhivaru also opened in 2018 and is equally committed to sustainable development and preserving the sensitive environment of the region. The resort employs built-in solar panels, in-house water production and plant desalination to minimize its ecological impact on the environment.
The brand stays true to its culinary heritage, even while thousands of miles from its birthplace in Switzerland. Guests delight in the brand’s signature food offerings, including the Mövenpick Coffee & Wine Lounge, serving Mövenpick coffees, chocolates, ice-creams and wines; and the Mövenpick Chocolate Hour, a daily pop-up in the lobby offering guests complimentary chocolate treats, presented in new and interesting ways each day.
The littlest guests are perhaps the biggest fans of the resort, especially taking part in the Mövenpick Little Birds Club. Fun and energetic activities keep the kids active and smiling. Watersports, games and sailing cruises can be arranged for the whole family, while babysitting services allow everyone to enjoy a bit of personal time.
Meanwhile, back on the southern area of the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, on the opposite side from Raffles, sits the Pullman Maldives Maamutaa Resort and the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort.
When the goal is a limitless escape, the most recently opened Pullman Maldives Maamutaa is the destination of choice. Surrounded by a lush tropical forest, 122 villas sprawl among 19 hectares of thick mangroves, lush vegetation and a natural lake. Family villas provide ample room to spread out, while two aqua villas feature an incredible experience of ‘sleeping with the fishes’ – underwater bedrooms feature windows that display a colorful array of coral, fish and maybe even a visiting shark. In keeping with the Pullman philosophy of achieving the perfect balance between peak performance and personal wellbeing, the resort boasts one of the most generous allinclusive programs in the region. Six unique and cosmopolitan dining options include a sunken pool bar, a tapas and cocktail lounge and a vegan restaurant set amidst an organic garden. A playful food cart makes the rounds of the property throughout the day, offering refreshing sorbets and light snacks for those who prefer to nosh when the mood strikes.
Pullman guests love to stay active, and the resort thrives on sports and games, with nature walks, treasure hunts, a Fit Trail island jogging track and a complete boot-camp Raaveriya Workout that kicks off with calisthenics followed by an invigorating run on the beach and a refreshing swim in the lagoon.
Water sports are a defining factor at Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort. Sailing, kayaking, jet skiing, snorkeling and a world-class diving center are all designed to help guests feel immersed in the ocean experience and the crystal-clear azure waters that surround them.
The Mercure opened in 2017 as Accor’s first Maldives property. While it remains the company’s most prudent brand in the region with respect to price point, with 43 over water villas and 25 beach villas, there is still a strong sense of splendor here that is simply synonymous with the hospitality culture of the Maldives.
“A memorable getaway in the Maldives is a given, at any price,” added Mr. Basset. “Wherever you stay, you are surrounded by spectacular beauty. The sand and sea are perfectly unspoiled, the people are kind and hospitable, and the air and oceans are teeming with life. Once you have the opportunity to experience the Maldives, you will wish to visit the destination again and again.”