The spectacular combination of clear waters, pure white sands, and a plethora of swanky luxury hotels has made the Maldives one of the most desirable destinations for those wanting to pamper themselves on holiday. Being home to some of the world's most impressive luxury hotels means the task of choosing where to stay can be an arduous one. Fear not, though, because Original Travel has been to the Maldives on a number of occasions, with our expert team only working with the best of a very, very good bunch. Whether you're looking for a romantic break or honeymoon, a luxury family getaway, diving holiday, or maybe you're a solo traveller looking for some proper R & R, we have handpicked a little selection of the perfect resorts just for you.
1. Soneva Fushi
It's almost impossible to choose between the squillions of spectacular island resorts that make the Maldives arguably the finest loafing destination on the planet, but I'm plumping with Soneva Fushi. The ultimate barefoot luxury paradise introduced the concept of 'no news, no shoes' in a concerted bid to make its stressed out, over-worked guests really kick back and relax. It worked then and still does to this day. This is categorically not the place for someone looking for a bit of bling, rather somewhere to unwind in blissful surroundings before dabbling in a range of excellent watersports, world class spa treatments and fabulous cuisine.
Niyama is definitely the cool kid on the block, appealing to couples, groups and solo travellers alike. Niyama's 86 pavilions and studios range from beach studios with a bath in the garden, to over-water villas and beach pavilions with private pools, all (yes - all) have iPads. Dining options are no let-down either with a choice of restaurants to suit all guests. Signature restaurant, Edge, lies 500 metres off shore, accessible only by boat; a first for a luxury hotels in the Maldives. Niyama added funk and attitude in to the mix with Subsix; the world's first underwater club. Situated six metres underground on the seabed, beneath the Edge restaurant, guests can party in style with floor to ceiling windows exhibiting clown fish, manta rays, parrot fish and other exotic marine life.
3. Cheval Blanc Randheli
Sister property to the contemporary classic Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, Cheval Blanc Randheli caters to a similar audience of high flyers with an innate appreciation for the finer things in life. Located in the same turquoise Noonu Atoll waters as the other big new noise in town, Velaa Private Island, Cheval Blanc Randheli has succeeded in upping the (already stratospheric) luxury hotels ante in the Maldives. The style is again contemporary, but with architect Jean-Michel Gathy making plenty of nods to local traditions and styles. The 'Maison's Alchemist team' (seriously) are constantly on hand to create experiences such as diving or snorkelling trips, dinners in your villa's private garden or aboard a romantic dhoni sailing boat. The resort is totally chic and a great retreat for those looking for some first class.
4. Four Seasons Landaa
Landaa Giraavaru in Baa Atoll, with its verdant, beach-fringed coral islands, is a quintessential Maldivean paradise. Here, 102 thatched bungalows lie among the palm-trees while villas on stilts stand over the lagoon's turquoise waters. Moreover, the journey to Landaa Giraavaru is almost as spectacular as the place itself as you soar in the open skies on a 30-minute seaplane ride from the international airport at Malé. The resort has everything you could ever want; be it a swim in the Olympic-sized pool with a swim-up bar, flood-lit tennis courts, a spa, water sports galore, diving in style, dolphin-watching and private picnics on the sandbanks. When it comes to dining in style, there is an array of choice, with Italian, Japanese or Arabian cuisine on offer.
5. One & Only Reethi Rah
Set on one of the largest islands in North Male Atoll, the One & Only Reethi Rah is one of the finest of the (very fine) luxury hotels in the Maldives. The original island was more than doubled in size to accommodate the 130 villas, and 15,000 coconut trees were imported. The result? One of the most immaculate luxury hotels in the Maldives, or anywhere, for that matter. The villas are seriously spacious and - whether on land or over water - extremely private. On the food front, Reethi Restaurant, the main restaurant, is a series of thatched over-water pavilions. Tapasake, as the name suggests, serves excellent Japanese cuisine including arguably the freshest sushi imaginable. On the north of the island, Fanditha is a more informal beachside spot serving Middle Eastern mezze, grills and salads. The Rah Bar might sound like a Chelsea hangout, but the clientele at this vibrant cocktail bar is more likely to be beautiful Euro-honeymooners. The obligatory spa is set within peaceful zen gardens and has eight treatment suites (not rooms) and two overwater spa suites. Conclusion? This is a must visit for any fly and flop enthusiast.