On 1 February, the Maldives became the 54th member of the Commonwealth. Not that one needs a reason to visit the small Indian Ocean nation, but it’s as good a reason as any to focus on the idyllic 26 atolls and their resorts.
The Maldives left the Commonwealth in 2016 under former ruler Abdulla Yameen after it was threatened with suspension over its human rights record. In December 2018 newly elected President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih approached the body’s secretary-general expressing the country’s interest in rejoining, which, because of evidence of reforms, it was officially allowed to do last week.
Only a few days earlier the island nation was voted by UK and Middle Eastern travellers as ‘Favourite Holiday Destination in the World’ at the 13th Ultimate Luxury Travel Related Awards gala in Dubai. We choose 5 different but all equally eye-catching resorts spread among the islands.
Only opened last year, the twin-island Raffles Maldives Meradhoo is located on the southern tip of the Maldives in the remote and pristine Gaafu Alifu Atoll. The resort, with its over-water suites, has a sublime spa, world-class restaurants and bars (including the famed Long Bar) and – as with all Raffles properties – an outstanding butler service.
Within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Baa Attoll, Vakkaru Maldives is beautifully secluded from neighbouring islands. During 2019 its three villa types were refurbished, transforming 125 villas and suites into 113 more contemporary and spacious ones. Drawing on the rich traditions of the locale, the resort has kept the natural beauty of the island as unspoilt as possible, and the hotel is committed to developing a sustainable business through various green initiatives and innovations. “The hotel is a timeless sanctuary, surrounded by beauty and nurtured by nature.”
Six Senses Laamu
Six Senses Laamu is the only resort on the virtually uncharted Laamu Atoll. The island is of outstanding natural beauty, powder white sand, lush tropical vegetation and crystal clear waters. Six Senses Laamu’s 97 thatched villas are eco-friendly, and the in-house restaurants and bars have been designed to take maximum advantage of the island’s idyllic beauty with panoramic views.
COMO Maalifushi is the first luxury resort in the Maldives to open in the pristine Thaa Atoll in the archipelago’s southwest. With 65 over-water villas and garden suites, it is also home to an award-winning Shambhala Spa, with 8 treatment rooms set over the water.
Niyama Private Island
Set on two pristine islands on the Dhaalu Atoll, one of which has a family focus, and the other is for couples, the Niyama resort is a mix of modern and traditional Maldivian design and facilities, with a distinctive edgy feel. Besides its more abundant suites, Niyama offers the Crescent, a quintet of extraordinary villas close to the action but far from the bustle, where up to 14 adults and 8 children can “experience a holiday fantasyland amidst azure skies, turquoise sea.”
Of the Maldives’ readmission to the Commonwealth, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We are delighted to welcome the country and its people back to the Commonwealth.
“The reform process underway in Maldives aligns with the values and principles of the Commonwealth and we encourage the nation to continue on this path.
Solih said in his statement, “Today is a happy day for Maldivians as we return to the family of Commonwealth nations.”
Cathay Pacific is one of the major international airlines, with connections to cities across the world, to fly into the capital of Malé.