The Maldives are a dream destination often spoken of, and for those of us lucky enough to live within an easy flight’s distance, an attainable holiday location. But how to decide which resort is the right one? With plenty of high-end options, how do you ensure your holiday dollars (or dirhams) will be spent correctly? All things being equal, I’ll place the newly opened St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort near the very top of the list.
With only 77 rooms, this is a private, luxury location to disconnect from everything (well, only if you want to — the wifi connectivity on the island is entirely comprehensive). Unlike other properties, the world class service starts upon landing at Velana International Airport. Guests are greeted directly from their incoming flight by a St. Regis airport butler and escorted first to check in their luggage to the seaplane charter and then onwards (via van, SUV, or Bentley complete with wifi) to the Great Room, a private space to await the Trans Maldivian Airways flight to the island. The lounge, tastefully decorated in a neutral palate with comfortable seating (and again, a strong wifi connection) is stocked with fruit, light snacks, and water, with coffee and tea on offer. Should you be arriving from a long flight, there are showers (stocked with the same Remède toiletries found on the island). The check in process usually takes place here, so that guests can immediately go to their villas or suites upon arrival. There are a few other special surprises (video greetings from one’s butler and choosing a welcome drink) that help further set this resort ahead of others in their category.
After the forty minute flight (over crystal blue waters and stunning atolls), guests arrive on the water and pull up to the island’s jetty. Stepping off the dock and into a unique shelter, luxury ultimately sets in with a welcome drink and a freshly scented cold towel. Our butler instantly recognized us, and before I knew it, we were on our way to our villa via golf cart. There are seven styles of rooms (including the make your friends jealous / totally Instagrammable Overwater Villas — which make up about two-thirds of the available rooms). We were given a Sunset Overwater Villa, which I would completely recommend.
And from there, the decisions are up to you: Water sports? Diving? Snorkeling off your deck? A visit to the Iridium Spa? A bike ride around the resort? TRX, Tabata HIIT, or an Anti-Gravity Yoga session? Or, perhaps you’d like to connect to your home Netflix account? A meal at one of the six F&B outlets? All of these things are possible. Butler service is available to make arrangements at any time of day, and with the exception of some of the smaller restaurants (a few of the F&B venues have limited reservations), it is up to you how you want to spend time at the resort.
While there was a lot to take in, here are a few of the things that impressed me the most:
- So. Much. Space. I think one of the things I like best about any property is the ability to spread out, to relax, and simply just be. The villas and suites at the St. Regis Maldives offer this in spades (our villa rocked in at 182 sq. meters, in case you wondering), but without sacrificing a moment of the stunning views of the Indian Ocean (yes, that even includes the bathrooms).
- A private plunge pool. As an introvert with limited extrovert tendencies, privacy and time to myself truly take a vacation from ‘relaxing’ to ‘not a care in the world.’ Certainly, there are more public pools on property (located closer to the Alba restaurant and Whale Bar), but the ability to connect my music and soak, tan, and read in a pool of my own are one of the best amenities a resort can offer.
- All kinds of culinary options. As a foodie, I find buffet style food a bit boring on vacation (which is why I tend to seek out city destinations that allow for fine dining). I was impressed by the range of food available — Asian cuisine from multiple regions at Orientale, Middle Eastern delights at Cargo, a selection of Mediterranean inspired dishes and extensive protein choices at Alba, sundowners at the eclectic Whale Bar, or a personalized pizza at the beachside Crust — it takes awhile to work through all the F&B outlets. (Don’t worry — I’ll be going into detail about each of the venues I visited in separate posts in the bear future).
- Attention to detail. Free bikes and snorkeling equipment (upon request). Sun hats in the rooms (along with cozy robes and flip flops). Funky light fixtures. A range of Remède products in the wonderfully spacious bathroom. Afternoon treats delivered — just because. Each of these little things adds up to something much bigger.
- Nature. With four ecological zones (Lagoon, Beach, Jungle, and Coastal) concentrated in such a small place, I appreciated the variety of unique flora and fauna in each (one simply has to look into the stunningly clear water to see any number of varieties of fish). Additionally, if you look closely, natural elements carry over in subtle ways across the resort (my favorite were the ‘jellyfish’ inspired lamps at Alba).
- Beautiful night skies. It will of course be obvious, but for this long time big city dweller, staying at a resort almost completely without light pollution (and in the middle of the ocean), one of my favorite memories was simply putting on a chill music mix (well, that and some One Direction), moving onto one of the outdoor hammocks and simply looking up at the stars.
- Butler service. As someone who craves privacy, I thought the Whatsapp service was fantastic (I realize this technology exists at other properties, but I really embraced it here).
- Fast wifi. I’m definitely a traveler that needs a quick and reliable connection, and the property is well equipped — no dropped signals anywhere on the island.
- Well integrated technology. I’ve used in room tablets to some success previously, but never to the level of the St. Regis Maldives. Temperature, lighting, shades, television — all of these were controlled with the in-room tablet.
- Free pressed items. Honestly, I’ve only stayed at a limited number of properties that have offered this benefit and have absolutely LOVED the offer every time. After all, with a minimum two flights to reach the resort, guests are bound to have some items not as fresh as they prefer. Bravo, St. Regis Maldives!
- Bon voyage! Much like the warm welcome from the St. Regis Maldives staff on arrival, at the very end of my interaction with the team (which extended past the initial security at the airport), I was escorted to wait in line for my return flight. With queues 20+ deep, my airport hostess went to have a word with the first class line of the airline I was flying, and I was whisked over to check in. 🙂
No place is perfect, so what could be improved a unique?
- When I visited a previous resort in the Maldives, they made great strides to cut down on plastic bottles by having big glass bottles of water available everywhere. You could ask for as much as you wanted, and there was always some available in the room. Rather than the 5-10 plastic bottles I was using a day, I’d love to see something a bit more eco-friendly (unless all those bottles were getting recycled — which I certainly hope they were) on the property.
- Some of the pricing at the restaurants seemed a bit high (even taking into consideration the length and effort it would take to get some of the ingredients to the resort — I’m looking at you, $USD28 hummus!). It would not be out of range to suggest a budget of $USD500 per day for food, more if guests plan to drink alcohol.
And now, I think I should share a few photos, just because there is a limit of how much words can do (especially against such an exquisite natural landscape). And don’t worry, because this is just the beginning! Stay tuned for plenty more photos, videos, and coverage in future upcoming posts.
Would I go back? I think you already know the answer to this question. Whether with my significant other, or just about anyone else who wanted to, this is a unique destination for a memorable occasion, honeymoon, or birthday. If you’re considering the Maldives, my mentality lies somewhere between ‘YOLO’ and #treatyoself — if you’ve worked hard and want to live out a private island fantasy, then the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli resort is the destination for you. Yes, there is a relatively high price tag involved, however, I think paying for the services and accommodation are worth it.
Think this is all too good to be true? A look at the TripAdvisor comments for the property should instill nothing but confidence.
Where is your favorite resort in the world? Do you have any bucket list destinations?
A to Za’atar was a guest of the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli resort. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.