At a Glance
There’s a reason celebrities and honeymooners have been hiding away at Reethi Rah, the largest resort in the Maldives (with 130 villas and 32 overwater thatch-roofed bungalows)—and one of its most pampering—for nearly two decades. Reethi Rah means “beautiful island,” and the resort lives up to its name with five-star butler service and plenty of privacy, thanks to more than 100 acres of lush, tropical interior and four miles of white-sand coastline. Jean-Michel Gathy’s clean-lined, Asian-inspired interiors mix natural materials such as seagrass, teak, coconut husks and thatch, and the emphasis here is on indoor-outdoor living, with outdoor showers and plenty of space for dining and lounging. The resort offers prime access to the surrounding waters and underwater adventures, thanks in part to the property's incredible marine center with its own on-site marine biologist, who can take guests on shark safaris. The sea-facing gym, at-the-ready trainers and expansive, well-equipped spa make the possibility of personal transformation a reality. Treatments were designed with a holistic Ayurvedic approach to well-being that incorporates ESPA eco-therapy and soundwave therapy and emphasizes reconnecting with nature.
**The Standout: **Guided dives at a nearby shipwreck and swims with sea turtles, manta rays, baby sharks and tropical fish Don't Miss: Toes-in-the-sand lunch at Moroccan restaurant Fanditha and dinner at Tapasake (Japanese-meets- Peruvian)
- The privacy factor: some villas are tucked into lush vegetation that opens onto white sand beaches
- The kids’ club for ages 4-11, complete with pint-size chaise longues around its own pool
- The eco-oriented approach to well-being and gorgeous spa, with a Bodyism program by James Duigan, plus, a fitness center with a Watsu pool
A Rolls-Royce of a beach hotel, the One & Only lays its indulgences on thick. Guests are collected from the Malé airport in a plush 55-foot yacht (complete with on board air-conditioning and Wi-Fi) and the tone is set: this is a beach holiday for the rich and famous. Reethi Rah, which means beautiful island, is 109 acres and has six kilometers of white-sand coastline and a lush, tropical interior. Guests are whisked through tunnels of tropical greenery on golf carts to their private villas, where butlers manage their stay. Amongst the 130 villas are 32 overwater villas and a variety of beach villas (the lowest category without a private pool and the largest with two bedrooms). They are scattered along twelve different beaches.
Privacy is key here, and each villa (aside from the overwater ones) is tucked away in thick vegetation that opens to a marvelous swath of meticulously raked white-sand beach and turquoise sea. Outdoor living space around the villas include dining and lounging areas, outdoor showers as well as a hammock on the beach. Interiors by Jean-Michel Gathy blend an Asian sensibility with natural materials like sea grass, teak and mahogany and native touches such as coconut shell tables and thatch that are jazzed up with jewel tone silk pillows, terrazzo floors and brightly colored tiles in the bathrooms.
This may look like a natural paradise island but a team of 70 gardeners groom the grounds, which is why beaches seem more picture-perfect here than elsewhere. In fact, while many celebrities may choose to hole up in their villas, the island is equipped with genies of all kind to provide endless opportunities for entertainment. The youngest guests have a kids’ zone complete with a palm-shaded pool with mini-sized chaise lounges. (The club is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., offering endless activities, from pirate cruises to sushi-making classes.) Older kids tend to hang out at the Beach Club, where there are art classes, climbing walls, volleyball, tennis, pool and ping-pong tables, a golf simulator hut, and every water sport option available.
The state-of-the-art Marine Center has a resident marine biologist as well as scuba instructors and cruises to see sharks, whales, dolphins and manta rays. The resort’s ESPA boasts among its many treatments the only Watsu massage in the Maldives. Even the ocean-view gym with its TRX, Kinesis and Pilates machine comes with a team of trainers, including some from London celebrity trainer James Duigan’s Bodyism outfit, so you can embark on a boot-camp program or just join accompanied gym runs around the island.
For those not looking to diet, there are seven restaurants on the island from Fanditha, the chill-out beach restaurant with tables set up on carpets on the sand, and Tapasake, which has a Nobu-trained chef and is the toughest island reservation. At the main beach area are another five dining outlets, including Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern and gourmet options. These venues are backed up by a 22,000-bottle wine cellar, so it’s not surprising that men are expected to dress for dinner or that women parade to dinner in their Jimmy Choos and clad in cat-walk fashion. Rah Bar, where lunch is served by the pool, turns into a lounge at night with live music and cocktails.
Who Should Stay
A see-and-be-seen scene with all the bells and whistles, including private butlers
Who Should Not Stay
Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley