Eight years after the first LVMH Cheval Blanc hotel opened in Courchevel (booked solid from day one) comes beautiful ultra top-end Randheli in the Maldives, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, who also created One&Only Reethi Rah. Here he’s used the same large-scale, cathedral-roofed template for the beach villas, and the detailing is superb.
The setting is stunning, and it’s not at all apparent that the four small islands that make up the resort beyond the main, natural island Randheli are all man made. The beaches everywhere are as excellent as you’d expect them to be if you designed them yourself, while the public areas are defiantly modern, with little concession to Maldive tradition; instead the Jean-Michel Gathy designed buildings soar high, have lots of glass and brushed concrete in them and generally conform to the tastes of its demanding clientele, such as the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, who stayed here in 2014.
The rooms are sumptuous, as they should be with the highest rack rates in the entire country, and there are 45 in total, fifteen of which are on the main island, fifteen of which are expansive water villas built off two of the small islands and fourteen of which are unique over-water rooms on stilts with their own private gardens.
All categories boast a private 12m long pool and private beach (or terrace with sea access), huge living rooms, outdoor dining pergolas, outdoor showers and every other possible convenience.
They’re stunning in their elegant minimalism and all designed for total privacy. The top category room, the four bedroom Owner’s Villa, is on its own private island, and features such must-have facilities as its own staff detail, a private spa and a private fleet of dhonis.
Of course every imaginable activity is available, including a spa on its own private island, tennis courts on another and a personal Majordome assigned to each guest to take on onerous tasks such as unpacking suitcases.
Cheval Blanc is famous for its food too, though: it may be the home to a US$100 burger, but qualms about money aside (after all, that’s not really a big issue if you’re staying here) it’s also home to Le 1947 French restaurant, Iberian and Japanese at The Diptyque, seafood and Italian at The Deelani and an all-day poolside brasserie at The White.
Unrivalled luxury, stunning white-sand beaches and an amazing underwater world make the Maldives an obvious choice for a true holiday of a lifetime.
The Maldives is home to perhaps the best beaches in the world; they’re on almost every one of the country’s nearly 1200 islands and are so consistently perfect that it’s hard not to become blasé about them. While some beaches may boast softer granules than others, the basic fact remains: you’ll find consistently whiter-than-white powder sand and luminous cyan-blue water like this almost nowhere else on earth. This fact alone is enough to bring over a million people a year to this tiny, remote and otherwise little-known Indian Ocean paradise.
Resorts for Everyone
Every resort in the Maldives is its own private island, and with over 100 to choose from the only problem is selecting where you want to stay. At the top end, the world’s most exclusive hotel brands compete with each other to attain ever-greater heights of luxury, from personal butlers and private lap pools to in-room massages and pillow menus. It’s not surprising that honeymooners and those seeking a glamorous tropical getaway have long had the country at the top of their wish lists. But there’s choice beyond the five- and six-star resorts. Other islands cater for families, for divers, for those on a (relative) budget, and anyone wanting a tranquil back-to-nature experience.
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.
In the last few years, these incredible islands have finally started to open to independent travellers, meaning you no longer have to stay in resorts and remain separate from the local population, something that has kept backpackers away for decades. Intrepid individuals can now make their own itineraries and travel from island to island by public ferry, staying among the devout but friendly local population. With a fast-growing number of privately run guesthouses on inhabited islands, the Maldives and its people are now more accessible than ever.