The one and only trip you need to take this year is to the Maldives
Written by Michelle Lyn Photos courtesy of One&Only Reethi Rah
Elusively located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives (pronounced mall-deeves) is synonymous with romance, often reserved for once-in-a-lifetime trips like honeymoons. The island nation consists of nearly 1,200 islands with white-sand beaches that taper off into the clearest aquamarine water imaginable. Southwest of India, a visit to the Maldives requires a trek halfway around the world, but Cathay Pacific offers a comfortable route from LAX with only one stop in Hong Kong. With a premium economy class that rivals that of a business class cabin on other airlines, the 14-hour flight to Asia passes swiftly, leaving a less daunting six-hour final leg from Hong Kong to Malé.
Despite its reputation as an adult getaway, several resorts expertly balance luxury and romance with a family-friendly ambience. The One&Only Reethi Rah is one of these properties. Upon arriving at Malé International Airport, the resort’s yacht is waiting to whisk guests off to their private island. Maldivians are naturally warm and affectionate, so don’t be surprised if staff members pick up your children and carry them onboard, repeating a mantra to relax and enjoy. A 45-minute ride on the yacht’s upper deck provides a stunning vantage point when pulling into the resort’s harbor, where staff members waving from the dock offer a regal welcome.
The humidity is the first to greet you, but it’s no matter as a cool wet towel quickly appears alongside a refreshing glass of lemongrass juice from the butler assigned to anticipate and attend to your every need during your stay. A personal mobile phone enables guests to call their butlers at any time, for anything. While the island of Reethi Rah is only a few miles long, golf carts shuttle guests to and fro at their behest. The all-villa resort features accommodations on the beach or over the water, with villas spread throughout the property. Bicycles are available at all villas (complete with children’s seats, if necessary), in addition to beach bags and flip-flops for each guest.
After settling in, a quick stroll over to Reethi restaurant reveals a stunning buffet in an enclosed, refrigerated glass room, and a superfood bar that whips up exotic combinations guaranteed to provide multiple internal and external health benefits. Tables on the stilted deck offer unrestricted views of palm trees and still, cerulean blue water as far as the eye can see. There are several other restaurants, all equally unique, but with a wide range of cuisines. Tapasake serves Japanese food while guests marvel at sharks swimming below them; Fanditha is a Moroccan oasis, complete with pillows and futons on the beach to enjoy sundowner drinks; and The Chef’s Garden is an organic garden oasis where dining takes place among orchids in the greenhouse while live music plays in the courtyard.
Spending days lounging on picture-perfect beaches is blissful, but there is no shortage of activities available to while away the time either. If traveling with kids in tow, they will eagerly look forward to visiting the KidsOnly club, where staff is maternal and caring. The club has a pint-sized pool and waterslide, with plenty of room to roam under the shade of palm trees. It also offers various excursions, so one day the kids might be making sushi and the next day cruising around the island pretending to be pirates.
If craving peace and relaxation, head straight to the spa, where you can meditate in the gardens, practice yoga in an overwater pavilion or indulge in an Ayurvedic spa treatment. Men can take advantage of barber services and treat themselves to some masculine pampering as well.
One would be remiss to travel all the way to the Maldives and not connect with the local sea life. An onsite marine biology team provides excursions to Turtle Reef, where they explain environmental changes to the reef that can be seen while snorkeling with sea turtles. With the nation being an average of just four feet above sea level, it is very possible that the islands might be submerged in the not so distant future, so all the more reason to visit soon.
The concept of a disappearing island materializes with the Sunset Sandbar Experience, where a handful of guests are taken out to the middle of the ocean. There, just before sunset, a tiny sandbar emerges and an evening picnic is set up. Before dinner, snorkel or explore the tiny patch of land covered in coral and baby bird eggs.
Perhaps one of the most thoughtful services provided by the One&Only team is a personal photography session with a photographer who will cart guests around to the most picturesque spots on the island to capture sunset shots that make for lifetime keepsakes.
When the time to depart sadly comes, a large portion of the team congregates at the dock for pictures and hugs goodbye, and before long, your yacht disappears into the sea, heading back to the airport. While the journey to arrive in the Maldives may be a long one, it is but a distant memory as you reflect on what is sure to be the most magical of vacations.