BACK WITH A BANG
Condé Nast Traveller India|November 2021 - December 2021 - January 2022
The Maldives may have shut its borders for a spell but the hotel scene never lost its momentum, showing off shiny new openings and revamped classics as soon as it could. We check out the best of the bunch
PATINA MALDIVES

This is an island for aesthetes. One of the coolest, cleverest resorts to open this year—even more of an achievement during a pandemic—and the first of a progressive new brand of hotels from Capella, which counts the Sir Norman Foster-designed Capella Singapore and Bill Bensley’s Capella Ubud among its showstopping properties. (Patina Ubud is in the works). Here, Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan has been handed the reins, designing his first hotel, and has come up with something that feels truly special, transplanting his take on tropical modernism to the Indian Ocean. In keeping with the movement, the architecture encourages interaction with nature. Long, linear wooden structures are open to the elements, and cooled by swirling fans and perforated screens, all chiaroscuro light and shadow. Custom-made furniture from Denon and Paola Lenti sits beneath triangular sun shades strung between towering palms. Then there’s the art collection, like a treasure hunt for grown-ups, with James Turrell’s Skyspace light gallery the star attraction. Yoga gurus from Rishikesh hold classes inside the installation in the soft morning glow. In the evening, when it’s illuminated violet, the skylight frames the moon. The 90 pool villas aren’t the largest in the Maldives but they impress in other ways, with glass walls that fully retract on three sides. In the bathrooms, there are exfoliating seaweed soaps from Haeckels and 3D-printed vitamins appear on pillows instead of chocolates at bedtime. The Flow Spa is original too, with treatment rooms that look like sugar cubes tossed into the long grass. Hi-tech therapies– flotation pods, LED-light therapy, Iris sound immersions—are offered alongside deep-reaching rituals that might include an out-of-body experience in the watsu pool with Balinese healer Purnomo Diretno. But the best part might be the eight bars and restaurants, each one exceptional. Patina, as well as The Ritz-Carlton (overleaf), are the first hotels built in the man-made Fari Islands in the North Malé atoll. With space at a premium, artificial isles aren’t new in the Maldives— the Waldorf Astoria, Hard Rock Hotel and local Hulhumalé island are all also fresh arrivals. But at both resorts currently open in the Faris, serious sustainability efforts and conservation projects try to go a long way to mitigate any environmental impact of the construction. This is next-generation Maldives—so smart and thoughtful that it’s hard to believe it has only been around for a few months. LEE COBAJ Seven nights in a one bedroom beach pool villa from about 4,65,089 per person; includes flights from Mumbai and return speed boat transfers. All other prices quoted in this feature are also through Turquoise Holidays. Call its dedicated Maldives hotline on +44 1494 687 199 for expert advice on the new places to stay, the best islands and the latest offers. turquoiseholidays.co.uk

ANANTARA KIHAVAH MALDIVES VILLAS

When this hotel landed in the Baa atoll in 2011, it was a sleeker, clubbier Anantara outpost than family-friendly Dhigu, honeymooners’ Veli and quiet Naladhu that the brand already had in these waters. And there were plenty of head-turning attractions: the glass-bottomed baths in the overwater villas, the underwater restaurant, reportedly the country’s longest swimming pool. But plenty more splashier arrivals have since played their cards in the ongoing game of Maldives hotel top trumps. So Anantara’s latest update puts it back on the board, with knockout new multi-bedroom beach and pool residences, each with their own kitchen, gym, spa treatment room and pool deck. The rest of the island is lush (no trees were felled during construction) and its central sandy path provides peekaboo pops of turquoise water while leading to diversions including an art studio, kids’ club and outdoor cinema beneath a celestial sky. At the overwater spa, there are new vitamin-drip therapies, part of the region’s only Cocoon Medical Spa, and an updated relaxation platform with saunas and plunge pools. Sea-Fire Spice Sky is the theme for a quartet of dining spaces including an underwater restaurant and wine cellar. An overwater Japanese restaurant serving sushi, Wagyu steaks and teppanyaki grills and a curated Asian fine dining menu with authentic tandoori dishes and fresh seafood are among the other offerings here. The overwater observatory, the only one in the Maldives, has the country’s most powerful telescope (a research-grade 16-inch Meade LX200). Here, astronomer Ali Shameem, who grew up fascinated by the stars on the island of Maalhos, guides guests through the cosmos—the bonus of being almost on the equator means you can see constellations in both hemispheres. For all the slick hotel tricks, it’s always the hypnotic sea and sky that are the real knockouts. RAMSEY QUBEIN Seven nights in a beach pool villa from 4,26,830 per person; includes return seaplane transfers.and international flights from Mumbai.

JW MARRIOTT MALDIVES RESORT AND SPA

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