Stepping foot on Lhivayani’s latest island resort you couldn’t feel further from the stresses of today’s world. Situated on the most southernly point of this pristine Atoll, there’s a real sense of the less developed, less touristic side of the Maldives. With just 4 of the 50+ islands inhabited, you’re encouraged to lose yourself, albeit for a brief, magical moment.
Le Meridien Maldives Resort and Spa is the most recent to open under the Marriot Bonvoy collection in the island country, and with it means the opportunity to use your Bonvoy points to help with your stay. Having only opened in September last year, many guests are redeeming their points, only to realise that they’re going to have to work some serious magic to be able to return, something virtually every guest we’ve spoken to wants to do.
Just 35-minutes from Male via seaplane, the resort is a 5-star gem and everything you would expect from a Maldivian hotel, taking the best from the best of other resorts and making it their own. While it’s easy to boast about their wide range of room options which start at a beach villa and go all the way to a 3-bedroom mansion set on one corner of the island, the real star of the show are the magical moments they try to make for guests.
From Dolphin excursions (and it goes to say this is the first one ever we’ve actually spotted Dolphins), private island picnic, outdoor cinema showings and even a hydroponic garden tour and Greenhouse private dinner with the freshest ingredients you’ll ever find, picked from the gardens just moments before.
The resort itself currently has 99 rooms, with a further 42 yet to be completed, which range from Garden Villas to Overwater villas, both with or without pools. There are two bedroom villas as well both on the sand or over the water.
Depending on your appetite for the Maldives, head for a beach villas if you want to feel the island life, with your feet in the coral sand and outdoor shower in your bedroom, or if you want a more comfortable, insta-friendly air-conditioned palace, head for the overwater villas, where an indoor bathroom complements an overwater deck, either with a pool, or netting to relax in to and enjoy the sunset or sunrise.
For leisure, non-motorised watersports are all included, and there’s anything from kayaking to windsurfing and of course – snorkling. However, this isn’t a resort best known for its snorkling, something that all resorts need a few years for the sealife to return after construction is complete. That said, giant stingrays, reef fish and turtles were all welcome guests to the expansive lagoon the resort is situated on.
If that all sounds too exhausting, head to the resort’s overwater Explore Spa, which features a wide range of treatments in overwater cabanas with windows on the floor to enjoy the coral and fish as you’re pummelled into a blissful submission by talented masseurs.
In fact, this is a big draw for the island, as the huge white sandy lagoon is the perfect swimming pool, with bath-like temperatures and a never-ending soft coral bed to stand up- even 400 metres out from the island.
But it will be hard to peel yourself away from the island’s hidden gem, the adults-only pool at Riviera which although small, is the perfect place to refresh and relax with sun beds, sunset views and drinks and tapas style cuisine to tantalise the tastebuds.
While we were there the island came to life not only with impromptu DJ sets from internationally acclaimed artists, but also from the staff themselves. Our Riviera hosts Deepak and Manoj were expert mixologists and delightful entertainers, that kept us laughing and relaxed through the day and into the early evenings.
For dining, our top recommendation is to head to Tabemasu for stunning Japanese cuisine, either at the Teppanaki table or sat under the stars and over the water sampling the freshest of sushi and sashimi.
For sure the island still needs to grow into its roots, and as the nature continues to soften the edges of the resort, so will the little elements (such as tiny housekeeping improvements and a greater emphasis on island maintenance) that will elevate the resort to a very strong competitor in Maldives already highly competitive market.
It’s an island on an upwards trajectory, and while the resort has already got occupancy of 80%, don’t leave it too long before it will be hard to find your own little spot in paradise.
TOP TIPOpt for all-inclusive, as all Maldives resort prices are expensive and bringing your own drinks into the islands is banned. The All-Inclusive option at Le Meridien is an excellent option, allowing for virtually everything and hardly a hidden extra charge in sight.
Visit Le Meridien Maldives’ website for more information and to book: lemeridien-maldives.com