One & Only Reethi Rah – Maldives
Surrounded by the wonders of the Indian Ocean, One&Only Reethi Rah – Maldives makes its home on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll. A jewel among a string of coral atolls, lagoons and white sands, it is about 700 km (430 mi) southwest of Sri Lanka.
One & Only Reethi Rah is still king of the Maldivian resorts. There may be resorts that cost more, but none have surpassed this extraordinary place, which is all about glamour and style, and shamelessly so. If you aren’t comfortable with almost mind-boggling pampering and luxury, this probably isn’t the place for you.
Rooms are some of the most enormous in the country, with high ceilings and beautifully furnished Asian interiors. Some have their own pools, and those that don’t enjoy direct access to the lagoon or beach. Though you would never guess it, the island is largely man-made and landscaped for optimum beach space, which means there’s an unusual number of perfect crescent beaches around the island (if you arrive by seaplane the island’s atypical geography is clearly apparent). From its original 15.8 hectares, the island now stands at an incredible (for the Maldives, at least) 44 hectares, which gives the island a spread-out feel, meaning plenty of privacy, empty beaches and guaranteed tranquillity.
The island is too large to be covered comfortably on foot, and so guests get around by bicycle, though club cars can be called from reception as well. Other unique features include a canal that was built for the sea to flow through the island (a unique example of this in the Maldives), a sumptuous black slate lap pool built out over the ocean and a reception like a Balinese palace. Vegetation is thick and the spotless white-sand beaches truly alluring.
There are three restaurants on the island, a huge ESPA-run spa that focuses on Asian treatments, including Balinese and Thai massage, two tennis courts and a pro-tennis trainer, a superb diving school, a kids club and a full water-sports program.
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Formerly known as ‘King’s Island,’ the Maldives is a surreal land of blue lagoons and soft white sands awash in an ocean of teal and indigo. Its beguiling name means ‘garland of islands’ in Dhivehi, the local language. Although no one knows who first named this glittering archipelago that stretches north-to-south across the equator, explorers, traders and travellers have been coming here for centuries – each generation as enchanted as the last.
Very little has changed since ancient mariners first sailed these seas. Just one-sixth of the country’s 1,190 islands are inhabited – mostly peaceful fishing villages nestled among the palms. The Maldives today remains a necklace of soft sand atolls laid out on the shimmering azure waters of the Indian Ocean.
Maldivian culture is a distinctive blend of the different influences that have shaped the isles over the years – from African drumming to Oriental jewellery-work.
An iconic part of Maldives heritage is the “Bodu Beru”, which literally translates from the local tongue Dhivehi as ‘Big Drums’. Carved from coconut wood, with a goat skin drum head, their beating sound echoes throughout local ceremonies, a sign of celebration and a reminder of the Maldives’ strong East African roots.
Unrivalled luxury, stunning white-sand beaches and an amazing underwater world make the Maldives an obvious choice for a true holiday of a lifetime.
With some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world, the clear waters of the Maldives are a magnet for anyone with an interest in marine life. The richness and variety is astonishing; dazzling coral walls, magnificent caves and schools of brightly coloured tropical fish await you when you get down to the reef. In deeper waters lurk manta rays, turtles, sharks and even the world’s largest fish, the whale shark. The best bit? The water is so warm many people don’t even wear a wetsuit.