Once upon a time, in an archipelago surrounded by the clearest blue water, there were only honeymooners. The Maldives used to be a destination mainly for those in love, just married or celebrating anniversaries, but not anymore.
This year has seen a flurry of new hotels from local and international developers keen to attract a wider range of guests, from families to groups of friends and younger visitors.
Nowhere does this better than Finolhu, which opened in July. Think vintage-inspired beach shacks serving crab and buckets of prawns, retro touches and quirky Instagram-ready signs on the quiet Baa atoll, half an hour plane ride from Male.
From vintage-style Marshall amps in the rooms, to al-fresco treatment divans in the spa inspired by 1970s divas, and a Milk Bar serving up avocado on toast and healthy smoothies, this is a fun shakeup of what a Maldives resort should be.
At Amilla Fushi, they are playing to the Maldives’ amazing weather and gorgeous island scapes as a perfect place to focus on wellness. This year, they have created five private ‘wellness tree houses’ (collaborating with Bodyism), which encompass a bedroom, bathroom, and your own spa and infinity pool. You can go for a digital detox, arrange a yoga program, or just eat clean with your own healthy minibar and meals.
If you want to catch a few breaks, head to Gili Lankanfushi on the North Male atoll, which has set itself up as the place to learn to surf. The resort shares its reef with the famous Jails surf break, which attracts the best of the surf crowd each surf season (April to October).
There are more beginner-friendly breaks a 10-minute boat ride from the resort, and the hotel has teamed up with Tropicsurf to offer both group and private surf lessons all year round. The calm lagoon is perfect for newbies, while keen learners can head out to the Ninjas break.
Other resorts focus on giving something back to the environment and teaching guests about marine conservation. At Baros, the original (and still extremely luxurious) Maldives resort, visitors can spend time with the onsite marine biologists and see how the island is creating its own coral reef out of guest-sponsored ‘trays’ that attract octopus, batfish and surgeonfish.
Hurawalhi will open in November, and is also looking to attract the eco-interested guest. Some 60 percent of the island will be solar-powered, and it has its own water-bottling plant and food-recycling program already in place. It has partnered with Wise Oceans to support research into local manta ray populations.
Recognizing that the Maldives is an extremely fragile ecosystem, the hotel is wearing its green heart on its sleeve, something that more and more travellers expect to see, without losing any of the luxury touches you would expect in the Maldives.
There are now plenty of options for everyone to experience some of the most beautiful seas in the world, whether you want to dive, surf, party, detox, or just make the world a better place. See you there!SHOW MORE